Roker Park Review – a look back at some of the best games played there
Roker Park was one of the iconic football grounds in English football, and it was the home of Sunderland until 1997.
Roker Park closed its doors 23 years ago, ahead of the Black Cats’ move to the Stadium of Light, before being demolished in 1998.
For 99 years, Sunderland played at Roker Park, so what are the best games or memories of the ground from Sunderland supporters?
Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United – First Division, 1990
Following their promotion to the First Division, Sunderland took on FA Cup holders Manchester United in their second home game of the campaign. United’s side was full of talent, with players such as Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and their captain Steve Bruce.
Coming off the back of a goalless draw with Tottenham Hotspur, the Red Devils would prove a stern test for the recently promoted Black Cats.
In the 23rd minute Gary Owers headed home from a Peter Davenport cross, to send the home fans into delirium.
United levelled in the 70th minute, when Brian McClair’s header found the back of the net, much to the disappointment of the Sunderland fans.
With time running out, Sunderland captain Gary Bennett had other ideas, as he flicked the ball over the head of Gary Pallister before placing his effort into the bottom corner to secure the Black Cats’ first home win of the season.
Sunderland 3-1 Manchester City – FA Cup 5th Round Replay, 1973
The year 1973 is known by all Sunderland fans as the year they won the FA Cup, against Leeds United at Wembley.
Voted by fans as match of the century in 1997, the Black Cats faced Manchester City in the fifth round on their way to the final.
After drawing 2-2 at Maine Road, the cup favourites travelled to Roker Park to take on Sunderland.
Vic Halom gave Sunderland the lead with a fantastic strike, before Billy Hughes doubled the hosts’ advantage just before half-time.
Colin Bell pulled a goal back for the visitors before Hughes added his second of the match to secure the Black Cats place in the quarter final.
Sunderland 2-0 West Ham United – Second Division, 1980
Two days after West Ham had won the FA Cup, they travelled to Roker Park to take on Sunderland in the final game of the season.
Knowing a point against the Hammers would be enough to see Sunderland promoted, they ended their season in style, with a 2-0 triumph to secure promotion.
Backed by a crowd of around 47,000, Sunderland took the lead when Kevin Arnott swept home to set the Black Cats on their way to promotion.
Stan Cummins doubled Sunderland’s lead 20 minutes from time to seal promotion to the First Division in front of a packed out home crowd.
Roker Park was a staple of iconic football stadiums in the 20th century, before its demolition in 1998. Many of Sunderland’s best memories were at Roker Park, and it will be seen as one of the best stadiums that Sunderland have ever had.
Many of the older generation of Sunderland supporters grew up watching Sunderland at Roker Park, which is what some of the younger generation could have only dreamed. However, as we move through more modern times, the Stadium of Light has become a fantastic place for Sunderland to build more memories.