Excellence or Lucky Black Cats: Sunderland versus Everton
Today will mark the 80th visit by Everton to Sunderland for a top-flight match, not to mention the number of times Everton have travelled to that part of the North-East for domestic cup encounters. Schoolmaster James Allan is the man responsible for the formation of “Sunderland and District AFC” in 1879. When Stoke City failed to win re-election in 1891, Sunderland joined the Football League to replace the Potters thereby becoming the first ‘new’ club to join the recently formed Football League.
Sunderland were more than worthy of their place in the League as they soon became known as the ‘Team of all Talents’ a phrase coined by the father of the Football League William McGregor when the Wearsiders beat his beloved Aston Villa (7-2). Sunderland succeeded Everton as League Champions in 1892 and retained the title the following season (1892/93). The man who was responsible for their goalscoring during this time was Johnny Campbell who scored over 30 goals in both Title-Winning seasons as Sunderland became the first team to score 100 goals in a single season. In 1893/94 Sunderland finished runners-up to Aston Villa but the next campaign (1894/95) Sunderland regained their place at the summit of English football as they finished ahead of Everton by five points thanks in no small part to beating the Toffees (2-1) towards the end of the campaign at Newcastle Road their home stadium before they moved to Roker Park in 1898/99.
Everton’s first victory at Roker Park in a League game was also the first time that the Blues had returned from Wearside with maximum points since the beginning of hostilities between the two sides. Everton had only garnered two draws from Sunderland on Wearside and had scored a meagre seven goals whilst conceding nineteen, in the eleven League encounters as well as being knocked out of the FA Cup in 1891(1-0).
On 16 November 1901 Sunderland were the League leaders and Everton were close behind them in second position in the table. As the Liverpool Mercury reported the following Monday:
Everton's great victory at Roker Park must have come as a somewhat welcome surprise to their many supporters, especially following so inglorious a display as that witnessed at home on Monday last against the Rovers in the semi-Final tie for the Lancashire Cup. These in-and-out performances have furnished a topic for much discussion, and the two recent League victories away from home have somewhat atoned for previous failures. That the team possess the ability to hold their own among the strongest opponents cannot now be denied, and possibly the great revolution has come about owing to a desire on the part of the directorate to see new talent. Be that as it may, the best efforts of the side were seen at Sunderland, and their clever victory should do much towards increasing the gates at Goodison Park.
It was the first time in the career of the club that full points had been extracted from Sunderland at Wearside, and that they won in such substantial fashion, simply astonished the natives. They fully deserved their victory, which was obtained as the result of superior play in every department, and they now figure at the head of the League table. The Sunderland team lacked the qualities, which brought them to the top of the League, while the forwards retained their great weakness that of failing to shoot when in favourable opportunity presented itself. In the field their dash and combination had fallen off while Everton, on the other hand, were evidently in their best humour, for a man they played with a strength and swiftness that carried all before them. Kitchen in goal stopped several difficult shots in a marvellous manner, though most of the efforts of the Sunderland forwards went wide. Eccles and Balmer played a sound game throughout their tackling and clearing being among the foremost features of the game. The half-backs, too, gave a capital exposition of how to break up opposing combination, and the failure of the home forwards to take advantage was due in great measure to the close attentions of Booth, Abbott, and Wolstenholmes
In conjunction with the forwards they formed a most powerful attacking side, and the work of the van in particular was eminently satisfactory. They were admitted on all hands to have been the fastest quintet that had been seen on Roker Park this season, and, as the score would indicate, they had a capital notion as to the locality of the net. The effort that led up to Sharp scoring the third goal was magnificent. Settle broke through the Sunderland ranks unaided, and whipped the ball across to the right wing with accompanying success.
Many of the crowd were under the impression, that Sharp was offside, and from the attitude of Doig, it seemed as though he shared the general opinion. Sharp however, though behinds the backs, did not infringe the rules, as he was onside, when he received the ball. With Sunderland thus left further behind, tremendous efforts were put forward to reduce the lead, and right to the close the high pace which had prevailed all through did not flag in the least. The home defenders were somewhat too desperate when matters were hard against them, and the penalty kick by which Everton scored their last goal was the climax to a continuance of over-vigorous play by Watson. The Goodison Park habitues will be pleased to note that in the last two matches, at Grimsby and Sunderland respectively, Settle has been demonstrating some of that form which a season or two ago gained for him international honours, and that he now heads the list of goal-scorers with ten to his credit.
Sunderland: - Doig; McCombie, Watson; Ferguson, McAllister, Jackson; Craggs, Hogg (r), Millar (captain), Gemmell, McLatchie
Everton: - Kitchen; Balmer, Eccles; Wolstenholmes, Booth (captain), Abbott; Sharp, Proudfoot, Young Settle, Bell.
Unfortunately for Everton that away victory over Sunderland combined with the victory against the same opponents later in the season at Goodison Park was not enough to prevent Sunderland from becoming League Champions for the fourth time in their history as Everton trailed them by three points at the end of the 1901/02 campaign.
Everton recorded their second League victory at Roker Park on 18 March 1905. The Toffees were League leaders at the time of the game. The Liverpool Courier reflected upon the match and its significance the following Monday:-
Everton encountered a very difficult hurdle in the League course in the shape of Sunderland, but they negotiated it with complete success. True, it required all their resourcefulness to accomplish the Wearsiders downfall by three goals to two, for they were meeting a combination which hitherto had performed with considerable success against them, and who in the earlier part of the season registered a victory at Goodison. Thanks to brilliant play in the return encounter Everton wiped that account off the slate. Having thus got rid of those formidable rivals, the path to championship honours should now be comparatively easy; if the locals will continue that irresistible form they are now showing, and which spells winning matches. The result of Saturday's contest ought to lend encouragement for their great task at Stoke next Saturday. The only absentee from the accustomed ranks was W.Balmer, whose injury in the Sheffield Wednesday prevented his playing, and his brother filled the vacancy. The Wearsiders, who seem to have been experimenting of late, gave a trial to a local youth named Thompson, whom they have just signed on, and again brought in Holley, another Sunderland youth, who was dropped in the Derby County match.
To have two goals chalked up against them at half-time, and then to responded with three goals in the second half, especially against a strong side such as Sunderland, says much for the conquering mood in which the Evertonians appear to be at the present time. To most teams this substantial lead would have been demoralising, and taken all the heart out of them. Not so, Everton however. They recognised that there was a great deal at stake. It was a hard and keenly fought game, and with a few exceptions of the fast order, the 18,000 spectators being treated to a fine exposition of the game. They had the satisfaction of seeing Everton displaying the sparkle and brilliancy which latterly has characterised their play.
….If Everton were a little time getting into their stride, they afterwards came out in their true colours. The forwards sped along with characteristic dash, the short passing game being adopted with successful results. As already indicated, Sharp was the hero of the vanguard. He put in many pretty touches, and the way he outwitted Gemmill and Bridgett and got past Jackson was a treat to see. His centres were very well timed, and one in particular might have been better taken advantage of by one of his colleagues. He had useful assistance from McDermott, whose dribbling was often very noticeable. On the other wing Settle did capital work, and his colleagues, H.P.Hardman, although rather weak in shooting, got through any amount of work in neat style. The qualities of the halves were thoroughly tested, and the examination showed by Makepeace, Taylor, and Abbott to be very reliable and effective, while R.Balmer and Crelly were frequently responsible for getting their side out of a tight corner. Roose was kept fairly busy, and did exceedingly well with some of the shots with which he was plied.
Once again the victory at Roker Park was not enough for the Blues as that home defeat to Sunderland earlier in the season had deprived the Toffees of an important two points and it was the Rokerites local rivals Newcastle United who benefitted as they won the title by a single point over Everton. Sunderland ended the campaign in fifth place seven points adrift of the Toffees.
Sunderland won the Division One title once more in 1913, beating Everton home (3-1) and away (0-4) along the way. Sunderland very nearly completed the League and FA Cup double but they lost to that other Football League powerhouse Aston Villa (0-1) in the final
The last campaign before the suspension of the Football League due to WW1 saw Everton visit Sunderland on 6 April 1915. The Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury reported the match the next day.
The three to nothing victory of Everton over Sunderland at Roker Park yesterday was fully deserved. It was Sunderland's fourth match in five days, and their players showed they had enough football, for the play in the early part was only moderate and the pace slow. Neither side could get into their stride, and the attacks, which were made, were easily repulsed. As the game proceeded, Everton improved and became increasingly aggressive. The wingmen, Palmer and Harrison, were especially prominent. Chances were missed, however, half an hour from the start Kirsopp beat Scott with a shot which cannoned off Hobson's foot, and a minute before the interval Parker took Scott by surprise with a long shot which added a second goal. Everton were now clearly the dominant team in all departments. Sunderland made a series of attacks, however, especially about the middle of the second half. Once or twice they were dangerous, but Fern's clearances were prompt and effective, and the visitors defence was never bustled. On the other hand that of the Wearsiders was none too safe, and the goal with which Parker finished the match was a perfect one. Sunderland were quite outclassed, and some of their failure, no doubt was due to being jaded through overwork. Everton all through played fine football. The display of Thompson and Fleetwood was particularly excellent while as a pivot Parker fed his wings with marked success, and gave them opportunities of which, on the whole, commendable advantage was taken.
Everton: - Fern; Thompson, Weller; Fleetwood (Captain), Wareing, Grenyer; Palmer, Kirsopp, Parker, Clennell, Harrison.
On this occasion the victory at Sunderland was significant as Everton went on to claim the League title by a single point from Oldham Athletic.
Although Everton’s record had improved against Sunderland on Wearside the matches between the sides prior to WW1 showed that the Toffees had won only five of the twenty-five encounters and drawn on two occasions, Sunderland had triumphed eighteen times while scoring forty-nine goals to Everton’s twenty-five.
Everton won on their next visit to Roker Park early in the 1919/20 campaign as The Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury reported:
The renaissance of first class football on the North-East coast was strikingly illustrated at Sunderland on Saturday when Everton gained a hard fought victory by the odd goal in five. There was a reminiscent air of old times in seeing the famous Roker Park people by 20,000 spectators and a battle novel served up for their delectation. The match under notice proved one of the fastest and well balanced seen so far this season. The pace thanks to a crisp atmosphere and a perfect turf, was almost phenomenally fast' and if the nicer touches of classic forward play were occasionally wanting, there was much in the footwork of both sides to command attention and stimulate applause. As is indicated there was too many margins in the degree of quality regarding the two front lines.
Both were a little over-anxious, and both missed many golden opportunities. Best, the Sunderland centre forward, was certainly far more frequently in the picture than his vis-Ă -vis Gault and he shot with much more accuracy yet the Evertonians were the more polished and smarter on the intricate passage. The draw-back was that they failed to bring so many promising movements to a successful conclusion. Still it would be ungracious to cavil at a well merited victory, and considering the calibre of their antagonists, who, be it remembered were playing on their own ground, the two points must be regarded as of special value. Everton: Fern; Thompson, Maconnachie; Fleetwood, Wareing, Grenyer; Miller, Kirsopp, Gault, Clennell, Donnachie
Everton were victorious on their next two visits to Roker Park but then endured five consecutive league defeats on the ground including a game where they lost (7-3) on 10 October 1925, a strange match unfolded; Everton had taken the lead in the second-half, but then completely collapsed in the final half-hour of the game as the Daily Courier reported:-
Everton's defeat at Sunderland by seven goals to three was an amazing affair. There was a period in the game when it looked as if, to use a boxing phrase, the Blue “had them going.” And yet they lost by four clear goals. It is difficult to explain away the debacle. For the first half and 15 minutes of the second the visitors held their own, and when Troup put them ahead it looked as if Everton might possibly spring a surprise on the Wearsiders.
From the time, however, that Halliday made the scores three all the home team went ahead, and put on four more before the whistle went. It must be stated, however, that Chadwick and Brown both received injuries in the second half that did not add to their effectiveness for the rest of the game. The opening stages were even Sunderland opening the score after ten minutes, Parker sending onto the net following a free kick. Ten minutes later the Blues were level the goal evidently took the home team by surprise. Play had hovered about just over the half-way line when, the ball going forward to Dean he turned, and, taking it in his stride beat McInroy with a long low shot. Sunderland took the lead after half an hour's play, Marshall giving no chance to Menham with a close range drive.
After this Everton played sparkling football, and it was only just reward when Troup taking advantage of a mistake by England, dashed up and put the side’s level. The hopes of Everton were high when five minutes after the interval Troup again beat McInroy with a beautiful left foot shot, but ten minutes later Halliday equalised, and after that the Blues' defence went to pieces. The rest of the story is the recording of the Wearsiders' four goals.
Ramsey obtained the fourth, Halliday the fifth, Clunas the sixth, from a penalty kick against McDonald for handling, and Marshall the seventh. One of the goals, it is true was a penalty but Ellis looked like getting through when Everton right back handled. It is certainly something of a mystery how after such a promising start, the Blues should have collapsed in this fashion.
To be penetrated seven times is an eloquent testimony that the Blues' defence found the fierce Sunderland raids towards the close too much for it, it was surprising considering that Hart, Bain, and Brown had held the Wearsiders' attack fairly well up to the last 30 minutes. O'Donnell and McDonald did their best, and repeatedly stemmed formidable rushes, but towards the close began to show signs of the strain. Menham had a trying experience in his first game with the Blues. The shots which beat him were extremely difficult ones; on the other hand he made many fine clearances, for which he was deservedly cheered.
Sunderland: - McInroy; Cresswell (captain), England; Clunas, Parker, Andrews; Prior, Marshall, Halliday, Ramsey, Ellis.
Everton: - Menham; McDonald, O'Donnell; Brown, Bain, Hart (captain); Peacock, Irvine, Dean, Chadwick, Troup.
Everton’s hopes of winning the title were still alive at the end of March 1928, as despite a poor run of form they remained in second place in the table but were a full seven points behind League leaders Huddersfield Town. Evertonians patience had been severely tested as the team had failed to register maximum points since they had beaten Middlesbrough (2-1) on 7 January 1928 and they had also been knocked out of the FA Cup by Arsenal during a ten match sequence without a victory.
A trip to Sunderland given the recent history between the two sides on Wearside would not have given those Everton supporters much hope, especially as their talisman Dixie Dean was absent from the side, but Sunderland were not enjoying the best of season’s and were struggling at the wrong end of the table on the last day of March 1928. As the Daily Courier reported:
Everton won their first match since January 7 at Sunderland. Their victory was all the more remarkable seeing that Dean, their record goal scorer, was engaged in the International match. Everton relied on three reserves inside forwards, and they gave a good account of themselves –up to a point. It was a hard and fast game, and Everton were full value for their victory. The early part was in favour of Sunderland. The Sunderland forwards worked hard, and played with great dash in midfield. Cresswell, still a favourite at Sunderland, was always a thorn in their side, and O'Donnell was equally effective with his more robust methods of tackling, and sure, strong kicking. Despite the good work of the Everton backs, the Sunderland forwards had a number of chances of scoring, but these were frittered away by futile passing in front of goal. After the first 20 minutes Everton gradually assumed the upper hand, and in the second half the surprising thing was they did not score more than two goals. The first was obtained in the first few minutes of the second half. From a corner kick, well placed by Troup, Virr, who was standing almost on the goal-line, headed the ball through the goal. From then onwards Everton monopolised the attack, most of the raids being made by Critchley.
Many chances were missed, but more than once they were unlucky. When one of the home backs handled from a shot from Bain, most referees would have awarded a penalty kick. Everton's second goal came four minutes from the end, after Parker, the Sunderland centre-half, had been carried off the field with a damaged ankle. From a lobbed pass from Martin, Easton dashed in and placed into the net. It was certainly Everton's best display for some weeks past. The chief honours went to the defence. Davies was reliable in goal, making a number of difficult saves. Cresswell gave one of his best displays and O'Donnell was also most reliable.
Sunderland: - McInroy; Murray, Thompson; Clunas, Parker, Whelan; Wilks, Gurney, Halliday, Wood, Hargreaves.
Everton: - Davies; Cresswell (captain), O'Donnell; Kelly, Hart, Virr; Critchley, Easton, Bain, Martin, Troup.
Halliday scored 35 goals for Sunderland that season and it was just as well for the Wearsiders as they avoided relegation by a single point. Everton went on to win the title mainly due to Huddersfield Town’s loss of form in April and May which resulted in four defeats in their last six home games and Everton’s nine match unbeaten run at the end of the season which saw six wins and three draws that gleaned fifteen points from a possible eighteen and enabled the Blues to take the title by two points.
Everton’s next win at Roker Park also helped the Blues to go on to become English League Champions. They travelled to Wearside on 5 September 1931 and the Liverpool Post and Mercury in a report by “Bee” wrote:
Everton played one of their heartiest game at Sunderland's ground, and for the third successive match the Goodison players got three goals, and for the second time in the short season's period they sacrificed two goals-the first case being versus Birmingham. The last game was a hard one to win. It had seemed that Sunderland were to be swept off their feet. Everton took a two goals lead, and Sunderland had plainly been unsettled by such a turn, after their mid-week success against Birmingham. Everton were value for their lead because they had a steady notion of combination, whereas the Roker attack was uneven. If Connor could not be held by Clark and Bocking it was left to Cresswell and Sagar to hold out, with Dunn and Johnson and the half-backs giving unstinted help. Devine was possibly a better raider than Connor, and this in spite of the fact, that Devine was off the field for some minutes through damage sustained when gee tried to leap over him, and got him “studded.” As I say, Sunderland were dependent upon their left flank. Cover that corner and the home team could do nothing tangible.
It was Eden who scored right on half-time to make Everton realise that they had to battle to the end to win this hard game in a gale of wind and with some sunshine as a hindrance. Connor certainly provided the most thrilling solo to make Eden's goal, but Eden, having tasted a goal, was wont to make shots too far out, and finally he lost his confidence and passed upward, where no fellow-player was situate, nor yet could reach. Without denial, the display of Everton bore touches of that combined influence that makes the attack so engaging. But they were mere spasmodic efforts; the call to defensive arms was so urgent in the second half that the team almost forgot how to produce the even-swinging ground passing movements that made the side go so well at Portsmouth. Yet one had to admire the way the Everton defence got out of their difficulties. They were hardly ever flurried in the harassing period when Sunderland were going all out for a 2-2 result. One goal to the home side at that period would have meant a tremendous lot to the verve and nerve of the Everton players. The game looked like turning Sunderland's way when Dunn deliberately (I thought) handled in the penalty area, what time he had his back to the referee, Mr. Walden of Derby.
Finally Stein, who had a moderate second half came up to take a pass from Dean and appearing to offer a centre he scooped the ball beyond Middleton's reach. That made the game 3-1 for Everton, and all seemed over. To show the persistence of Sunderland one must state that the best shot of the match was the goal got by Gurney in the last moment of play. So Sunderland scored in the last moment of each half, and Everton were thankful Sunderland's forwards kept their shooting boots so unemployed till the minute had passed by. Everton deserved their success in spite of their trifling faults.
Everton: Menham; McDonald, O'Donnell; Brown, Bain, Hart; Peacock, Irvine, Dean, Chadwick, Troup
Following that victory at Roker Park, Everton hit a fallow period at the venue as Sunderland won five of the next six League meetings with Everton gaining only a single point in the 1935/36 campaign, ironically the season that saw Sunderland become English Champions for the sixth time in their history and sadly for their supporters, their most recent League triumph. The following season (36/37) Sunderland lifted the FA Cup for the first time when they beat Preston North End in the final at Wembley (3-1).
Prior to the suspension of games due to the Second World War the final League meeting at Roker Park between the two sides arrived on 7 April 1939 when Everton emerged victorious and were within touching distance of the title if they could hold their nerve over a hectic Easter weekend in which they had to play Sunderland home and away and navigate a trip to Chelsea in between. Stork reported on events at Roker Park in the Liverpool Daily Post:
Everton started their holiday tour with a smart win by 2-1 at Sunderland before a crowd of 40,000. It was a hard won victory, but one that should have a big say at the end of the season. They have two heavy games ahead of them between now and Monday, but their Roker success has put them in high feature. Although Sunderland tried their utmost to wipe out the deficit, the Everton defence stood solid. But they will never have to play any harder for any other 2 points which they may gain between now and the end of the season. They had the advantage of a goal scored by Lawton in 2 minutes. That, of course gave them a good start, and they never looked back during the first half, when they were definitely the better side.
Sunderland was completely taken by surprise by this early goal, and for some time they could not get together. The blow was weighing heavily upon them whereas Everton played with a smoothness that looked good and was good, but at 15 minutes, Sunderland equalized. Carter scoring after Jones had headed the ball away. It was not one of those goals which people rave about. Neither for that matter, was Lawton’s opening shot, but both were of immense value to the respecting sides. But within 2 minutes of Carter’s goal Gillick had put Everton ahead with another rather streaky sort of shot.
Gillick had missed with his first effort and was distinctly, lucky-to-get a second chance, but he showed his quickness by the way he took it. That ended the scoring, but there were times when both Sunderland and Everton should have added to their goal crop, Carter missed a rather simple one, for instance, and so, for that matter, did one or two of the Everton, boys, but in a game of this importance it was not surprising to find players making errors.
It had been a great battle, in the first half and Sunderland came out with the determination to at least pull the game out of the fire, and they should have done so with the chances at their disposal. They were the better side in this half than Everton, but it rather struck me that Everton had gone into defence, which has became a habit of theirs in recent days. They had got on top by attacking methods, so why change them when they have the lead. This change of tactics naturally brought Sunderland into the game a lot more than they had been and Sagar and his backs had some hot work to do, but it was mainly from rushing tactics.
There were one or two minor injuries but no one was hurt, to the same Everton team is likely to play Chelsea to-day. Cook was not as good as usual and Jones was a little uncertain in the first half, but was as staunch as a rock in the second when Sunderland was calling the tune. Result Sunderland 1 Everton 2.
Sunderland: - Heywood; Gorman, Hall; Houston, Lockie, Hasting; Dune, Carter, Robinson, Smeaton, Burbanks
Everton: - Sagar; Cook (captain), Greenhalgh; Mercer, Jones, Watson; Gillick, Bentham, Lawton, Stevenson, Boyes.
Referee J.R.Mellor (Bradford) Attendance 40, 521.
Everton travelled to Stamford Bridge on the Saturday and they came away with both points and they finished a happy Easter by overcoming Sunderland (6-2) at Goodison. But although the gap between Everton and Wolves – their closest challengers – was at eight points they still had to gain a few more points to seal the deal. A combination of results eventually helped them to become Champions at the Valley where although they lost the game with Charlton Athletic, their rivals Wolves had only drawn against Bolton and Everton were officially the English League Champions. But there is little doubt that the win at Roker Park had given the team the belief that they could achieve their season long aim.
From 1949 onwards Sunderland became big spenders in the game as they tried to recapture their place among English football’s elite clubs, which led to Sunderland being labelled the “Bank of England club”. In 1950 they finished in third place in the League their highest final position since they had won the title in 1936. However, a transgression of Football League rules relating to payments to players in excess of the minimum wage led to the suspension of their Chairman and three directors of the club in 1957. The following season (57/58) saw the Wearsiders relegated for the first time in their history after a run of 68 years in the top-flight.
Everton did not register a single League victory at Roker Park until 1967 having lost seven of the eleven meetings following the resumption of League football after WW2. Everton also lost at Roker Park in the FA Cup Fifth Round tie played in 1964 as Second Division Sunderland went on to win promotion back to the top-flight.
The win for Everton at Roker Park in 1967 came via a Jimmy Husband (55’) goal and a late own goal from Kinnell (84’)
Everton: West; Wright, Wilson; Hurst, Labone, Kendall; Young, Ball, Husband, Harvey, Temple.
Unfortunately for the Sunderland fans their return to the top-flight was not a happy period for the club as the six seasons that the club spent as members of the First Division were largely spent in the lower half of the table until they succumbed to what seemed the inevitable outcome, and the club were duly relegated in 1970.
Going into the Everton match Sunderland still had their fate largely in their own hands despite Crystal Palace’s victory over Manchester City (1-0) the previous evening which meant that if Sunderland won both their remaining home matches against both of the Merseyside giants they would more than likely survive another season but the goalless draw at home to Champions Everton on 8 April 1970 was followed by a defeat to Liverpool (0-1) a week later. Sheffield Wednesday also had an opportunity to save their top-flight status, but that club also spurned the opportunity as they took only a point from their final two fixtures and joined Sunderland in relegation.
Everton: West; Wright, Brown; Kendall, Kenyon, Harvey; Husband, Ball, Royle, Hurst, Morrissey
Whilst a Division Two side, Sunderland produced one of the most startling FA Cup final results in the history of the competition when they defeated mighty Leeds United (1-0) at Wembley in 1973 to lift the FA Cup for only the second time in their history. Sunderland remained in the lower league until they won promotion by winning the Second Division in 1976. But their first season back in the top-flight didn’t go to plan as they were relegated on the last day of the season following some shenanigans at Highfield Road, where Coventry gained a point from a dubious match with Bristol City (2-2) and Sunderland’s defeat at Goodison Park. (0-2), Everton’s goal scorers that evening were Bruce Rioch and Bob Latchford, earlier in the campaign Ronnie Goodlass had scored direct from a corner-kick to win the points for the Toffees at Roker Park.
In 1979 Sunderland beat Everton (2-1) at Roker Park in the Third Round of the FA Cup Martin Dobson’s goal had been too little too late for the Blues. The next season (79/80) Sunderland regained their place in the First Division by winning promotion from the Second Division.
Everton were the first visitors to Roker Park on Sunderland’s return to the top-flight but the Toffees were once again defeated by the home team (3-1) on the opening day of the (80/81) campaign as Peter Eastoe’s late goal was a mere consolation, because John Hawley (24') from the penalty spot, Stan Cummins (29') and an own goal by Mike Lyons (77') had given Sunderland a three goal advantage. Everton: McDonagh; Gidman, Ratcliffe; Wright, Lyons, Megson; McMahon, Sharp, Latchford, Hartford, McBride
Everton also lost on their next three visits to the stadium and had to wait until Boxing Day 1984 to return to Merseyside with maximum points from Wearside. Sunderland were struggling at the wrong end of the table whilst Everton were looking to enhance their title prospects when the game started. Derek Mountfield scored twice for the Toffees in the opening twenty minutes of the game and Sunderland manager Len Ashurst described his defence as being ‘sloppy’ in allowing Mountfield the space inside the area to plunder both of his goals. Ian Atkins was making his Everton debut at his old stomping ground and Paul Bracewell - who was also a former Roker Park player - was in brilliant form as the Toffees controlled the game. Mark Proctor reduced the deficit twenty-five minutes from the end but it only flattered the home team as the Blues deservedly ran out winners.
Everton went on to have a magnificent season and they also completed the double over Sunderland later that season as they ran out winners by four goals to one scoring three goals that were considered good enough for goal of the month if not goal of the season. Sadly for Sunderland they were relegated and also lost the League Cup Final at Wembley to Norwich City (0-1) to complete their misery. Everton: Southall; Atkins, Bailey; Ratcliffe, Mountfield, Reid; Steven, Gray, Sharp, Bracewell, Sheedy
Sunderland fans had to suffer the ignominy of relegation to the third tier of English football in 1987 but they managed to regain their place in the Second Division at the first time of asking. In 1990, they were promoted back to the top flight in unusual circumstances. Sunderland lost to Swindon Town in the play-off final, but Swindon's promotion was revoked after the club was found guilty of financial irregularities and Sunderland were promoted instead.
The final Football League First Division match held at Roker Park with Everton took place on Saturday 15 September 1990. Peter Davenport converted a penalty after eight minutes but Graeme Sharp equalised for the visitors to bring the sides level. Marco Gabbiadini (33’) put the home side back in front but a minute before half-time Mike Newell (44’) restored parity and the match ended in a draw (2-2). Sunderland were once again relegated on the last day of the campaign as they lost at Manchester City (3-2) and Luton Town beat Derby County (2-0).
Everton: Southall; Atteveld, Hinchcliffe; Ratcliffe, Watson, Milligan; Nevin, McCall, Sharp, Newell, Ebbrell
Sunderland were not founder members of the Premier League but they did reach the FA Cup Final in 1992 as a Second Division club but they couldn’t repeat their triumph of 1973 as they lost to Liverpool (2-0) at Wembley. But when they eventually reached the Premier League they enjoyed a topsy-turvy season and by the time they played Everton at Roker Park on 3 May 1997, in their penultimate game of the campaign they were in deep trouble at the bottom of the table. The game was not only an important one for the hosts but it marked the last time that Roker Park would welcome Everton or any other club for a major fixture, as it was to be demolished and the site was to be used for housing as Sunderland were to move into a brand new stadium for the coming season.
Simon Turnbull of The Independent reported:
When the famous roar was already a fading echo, and Roker Park had passed into history, Peter Reid was reminded that he had been this way before. In his programme notes, the Sunderland manager recalled playing at Roker 'as a teenager in front of more than 60,000 fans.' Such was the roar in the days before the giant Roker end was cut down to modest size, it must have seemed to the young Bolton Wanderer that more than 51,983 were packed in when Tony Towers and Pop Robson scored the goals which secured promotion for Sunderland on Easter Monday in 1976.
But relegation has become as synonymous with Sunderland as Roker itself, and Reid's recall of the most recent demotion was more accurate. He was manager of Manchester City that day in the 1990-91 season, when two goals by his record Sunderland signing, Niall Quinn, and one by David White consigned the Wearsiders to second-class football with a 3-2 defeat at Maine Road. 'I knew someone would bring that up,' Reid said on Saturday after a victory which earned his side a fighting chance of beating the drop. 'I couldn't believe the number of Sunderland fans at Maine Road that day. Their support was a big influence on me taking the job here. They deserve to see Premiership football.'
Some 15,000 red and whites invaded Moss Side for that tearful denouement, and 12,000 are expected at Selhurst Park next Sunday. In Reid's estimation, they will be celebrating survival when the turnstiles open a week tomorrow for the official Roker Park farewell match against Liverpool. 'I'm almost convinced,' he said.
Rokerites, eternal pessimists, are not so sure. Sunderland could lose to Wimbledon and stay up but could win and still go down. Yet another last-day let-down would not be entirely unexpected.
If the Wearmouth stadium does play host to Bury and Stockport after being christened by Ajax on 30 July, the 7 million pounds Reid has left unspent from his 10 million pounds kitty will have been a false economy. Yet if Manchester United and Newcastle appear on the fixture list, the 275,000 pounds Reid invested in Lionel Perez and Chris Waddle will have paid rich dividends.
Perez was again Sunderland's saviour on Saturday, when Everton threatened to exploit their nervous start, while Waddle was the match-winner with the scoring free-kick and the cross for Allan Johnson's headed goal after Paul Stewart's first-half penalty. Stewart informed Reid on Saturday night that he will not serve the remaining year on his contract because his wife and children do not want to uproot from their Blackpool home. Waddle's contract terminates when the final whistle blows on Sunday. But in the month he has spent with the club he once supported, the veteran entertainer has shown that, at 36, he still has much to offer the Premiership.
Unfortunately the victory over Everton proved insufficient for Sunderland to preserve their Premiership status as they lost at Wimbledon (1-0), while Coventry carved out a victory at White Hart Lane by beating Spurs (1-2) and Sunderland and its fans were faced with yet another season in a lower league.
The following three trips to Wearside saw Everton beaten by the hosts and it wasn’t until Kevin Campbell notched the winner in August 2002 that Everton enjoyed a Premier League victory at the Stadium of Light.
Everton: Simonsen; Watson, Pistone; Stubbs, Weir, Unsworth; Gemmill, Radzinski, Ferguson, Alexandersson, Blomqvist
Everton then went six Premier League matches unbeaten at the new stadium winning three and drawing three matches, before finally losing on 20 April 2013 when Stephane Sessegnon scored the game's only goal just before half-time, stabbing a shot beyond Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard. It was an important three points for the hosts as the win helped the club to avoid relegation and it was also a blow to Everton’s dreams of obtaining a Champions League position as Everton manager David Moyes reflected: "We won't get a top four position. Every game was becoming a must-win and that will be difficult now. "It was an important game for us and we could not take anything from it. "We did not play well. We had an awful lot of pressure in the second half but we maybe didn't have the quality to get the goal."
Everton have met Sunderland thirteen times in the Premier League era and have returned home with maximum points on five occasions scoring eleven goals, Sunderland have also won five whilst scoring thirteen goals and the other five matches have been drawn.
Last Time: 12 April 2014 as reported on the BBC website: By Chris Bevan
Everton moved into the Premier League's top four after Wes Brown's own goal gifted them a seventh straight win and left Sunderland bottom of the table. A spirited Black Cats display was undone with 15 minutes to go when Brown diverted Gerard Deulofeu's cross into his own net while trying to clear.
Sunderland's best chance came when Fabio Borini's shot was cleared by John Stones with Tim Howard beaten. Gus Poyet's side remain seven points adrift of safety, with six games to go. Everton have broken their record for the most points in a season in the Premier League era (since 1992) after surpassing the 65 points they managed in 2007-08. Their highest tally in the old Division One was 90 points in 42 matches in 1984-85. The Toffees have also equalled their club record by winning seven league games in succession for the first time since April 1987. Just as in 1984-85, they finished that season as league champions.
The Black Cats boss said this week that his side need a "miracle" to stay up and this defeat, along with wins for the two teams immediately above them - Fulham and Cardiff - will only make that harder to achieve.
Brown's own goal was a cruel way for Sunderland to be denied a point but that will not matter to in-form Everton, who occupy a Champions League place for the first time since the start of January.
If last week's win over their nearest rivals Arsenal was an example of Everton at their free-flowing attacking best, this was a reminder that Roberto Martinez's men can scrap for points, too.
The Toffees had plenty of the ball in the first half but created just one clear chance, when Steven Naismith spun away from Brown in the box but blasted over the bar.
Sunderland were not faring much better in front of goal, mustering only shots from distance by Borini in the first half-hour, and they needed Everton's assistance in finding a way through the visitors' defence.
Leighton Baines inadvertently played in Borini but, after he rounded Howard, his angled shot was blocked on the line by Stones. The home side looked more dangerous at the start of the second half but they could not force the Toffees goalkeeper into a meaningful save.
Everton survived a goalmouth scramble after Phil Bardsley's header was blocked, while Ki Sung-Yueng nodded wide from an Adam Johnson cross, and the game remained in the balance.
Naismith went close again at the other end, firing wide after goalkeeper Vito Mannone came out of his area and failed to deal with a bouncing ball. In the final half-hour, Martinez's side finally began to show signs they could open up the Sunderland defence, but their goal still came almost out of nothing.
After good work by Deulofeu down the right, Brown tried to block his pull-back at the near post but only succeeded in steering the ball past Mannone.
Sunderland pushed forward in the final 15 minutes but the closest they came to an equaliser were long-range strikes by Ki and Connor Wickham, both of which were kept out by Howard.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet: "If you need to show somebody somewhere in the world where they don't watch Sunderland every week, you show him this game and tell him this is the story of the season and that's it. You don't need to show anything else because that's it. Something always happens and that something is always, or most of the time, against us. "I don't have a word because it's not one feeling, really. It hurts, it hurts because it doesn't matter what we do, something happens. And it's not an excuse, I don't really believe in luck."
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "It was a difficult game and you could tell what was at stake for both teams.”From our point of view, to keep a clean sheet in those circumstances was very pleasing and it was also important to take one of our chances too. It makes for a very satisfying performance full of character and personality."
"We came into this game on the back of a stylish win at home to Arsenal but, in this league, you have to adapt quickly to playing different teams and doing what you have to do."
Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (3)
Sunderland: 25 Mannone: 02 Bardsley Booked, 28 Alonso; 04 Ki, 16 O'Shea, 05 Brown; 11 Johnson Booked, 33 Cattermole, 10 Wickham, 14 Colback (Larsson Booked).31 Borini
07 Larsson, 08 Gardner, 23 Giaccherini, 24 CuĂ©llar, 27 Vergini, 30 Scocco, 32 Ustari
Everton: 24 Howard: 23 Coleman Booked, 03 Baines; 18 Barry, 26 Stones, 15 Distin; 10 Deulofeu (McGeady), 16 McCarthy; 17 Lukaku, 14 Naismith, 21 Osman (Barkley)
01 Robles; 02 Hibbert, 07 McGeady, 11 Mirallas, 20 Barkley, 29 Garbutt, 32 Alcaraz
Ref: Lee Probert Att: 38,445
Sunderland versus Everton Top Flight games only
PL W D L GF GA
79 20 14 45 88 154