Remember when local newspapers published a sports edition on Saturday evening to cover that day’s football results? Well, this report is from Geoff Storey of Football Echo (from the Echo in Sunderland), on April 25 1981:
Sunderland 1 Brighton 2
Sunderland’s fight against relegation turned into a nightmare against Brighton at Roker Park this afternoon when an injury time goal gave them everything to do against Liverpool next week.
Brighton who needed maximum points to starve off their relegation threat had gone ahead in the 35th minute through Mick Robinson’s 22nd goal of the season and despite Sunderland having most of the play they were unable to make their advantage count.
Alan Brown set the ground alight in the 61st minute when he equalised with his fifth goal of the season but Gary Williams stunned the Roker fans with an injury time goal for Brighton.
Afterwards, there is a barebones account of the action in the match, which doesn’t actually make very interesting reading, so I’ll spare you it. In any case, I have actual glorious video highlights of this do-or-die game. I didn’t even know was televised! Enjoy…
While Steve Foster’s body-check escaped a caution, which was no surprise in those days, Andy Ritchie was certainly very lucky after his X-rated tackle. Journalist Geoff Strong put it like this:
In the 54th minute Andy Ritchie who had already been booked was amazingly allowed to stay on the field following a disgraceful tackle on Elliott which sent the Sunderland defender flying but there was no sterner action than a talking to.
However, it is for Gary Williams’ stunning late volley from Smith’s floated cross that the match is best remembered by Seagulls’ fans.
The seemingly daunting trip to Roker Park was part three of Albion’s four-match winning streak at the end of the 1980/81 season that preserved the club’s First Division status. Sunderland were crestfallen after the game, but then incredibly went on to beat Liverpool at Anfield the following week to maintain their place as well.
Oh, and in case you were wandering, Gustavo Poyet was 13 years old when this match took place…