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Sunderland and ’73: The People’s History

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Published on 13 March 2023

Paul Dobson’s framed tickets, programmes and photos from Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup triumph CREDIT: Julian Germain
Paul Dobson’s framed tickets, programmes and photos from Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup triumph CREDIT: Julian Germain

Lifelong Black Cats fans are being invited to submit their 1973 FA Cup memorabilia to be used in an upcoming exhibition and book marking 50 years since Sunderland won the cup at Wembley.

The University of Sunderland has teamed up with internationally renowned photographer and football artist Julian Germain, and the likes of A Love Supreme, Foundation of Light, Back on the Map and The Cultural Spring for The People’s Visual History of the 1973 FA Cup

The project, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will celebrate one of the most significant events in the history of Sunderland, reflecting upon the experiences of supporters during the Bob Stokoe era. 

Sunderland fans’ photos, memorabilia, scrapbooks and memories are at the heart of this project and supporters are being invited to bring along such material to a series of upcoming events in the city, which will see their items scanned in to be added to an evolving exhibition and book.

Julian, who is also a Visiting Professor at the University, said: “Snapshot photographs as well as other creative endeavours such as home-made banners, scarves or scrapbooks seldom get published or exhibited so they very rarely get seen, but they offer a valuable and distinctive viewpoint from the more familiar images produced by the press, as well as fantastic images and objects that capture the emotions and experiences of the time. 

“Perhaps you have a picture of yourself during that cup run, maybe at Notts County in the third round or at Hillsbrough in the semi-final against Arsenal, or maybe your family was gathered around the neighbour’s colour telly to watch the final? Or it could just be you or your mum or grandad, proudly wearing a replica Sunderland shirt, or waving a banner or scarf at the victory parade?” 

The project team’s first event is on Saturday 18 March from 12.30pm at the Beacon of Light in Sunderland. An exhibition of materials collected so far will be on display, with the stand itself created by volunteers of the Men's Shed, part of Hendon charity Back on the Map's volunteer-led programme of activities. 

Amanda Ritson, Programme Manager at the NEPN (North East Photography Network) based at the University’s Northern Centre of Photography, St Peter’s Campus, said: “We are hugely grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and players of the National Lottery for supporting our project which uniquely brings together a range of different partners and allows the University to develop deeper relationships with communities in the city and surrounding coalfields.

“The project seeks to bring together materials lovingly preserved or passed down to be celebrated in exhibition and book form, so that this collective heritage is conserved for future generations.”

Paul Dobson, Co-editor of A Love Supreme, said: “We are thrilled to be a partner on the project as it will provide the opportunity for the biggest single event in history of the club, and a huge one for the city, to be viewed and remembered afresh. Since A Love Supreme began offering fans’ opinions to the football world in 1989, FA Cup 1973 has loomed large in our contributions – even from those who weren’t alive at the time - and we look forward to celebrating those memories and seeing what else is unearthed in the form of personal photos and memorabilia.

“To see these memories and images collected during the project’s various events will be special, and they will be collected and featured in a special book to be published later this year, ensuring that those memories will not fade.

Co-ordinator of the Coals to Goals heritage project at the Foundation of Light, Alyson Dixon, added: “The 1973 FA Cup was a special occasion for the club and the city, and this project will be a great way of unearthing and preserving people's memories of the event.”

The project is open to all – not just those lucky enough to have experienced the ’73 Cup win.

More information about the project can be found here