18 January 1947 Blackpool 0 Sunderland 5


Overplayed all way


Blackpool 0, Sunderland 5 

By “Spectator”

THE Cup-tie defeat a week ago has not slain interest in Blackpool football.

There were nearly 12,000 people waiting for the teams to appear in the Sunderland match this afternoon ten minutes before the kick-off, and at every minute the number was increasing.

In this game were two teams who were dismissed from the Cup on the grounds of Second Division clubs a week ago.

Big team shuffles reflected these unexpected defeats. Only two of last week’s forwards remained. and one of them was in a new position.

Sunderland played two young recruits on the wings, one of them 22-years-old Tom Ellison, who at 8st. 101b. ranks as one of the featherweights of present-day heavyweight football.

The turf had been rolled and appeared sufficiently firm to suit Blackpool, who hate gluepot pitches. 

An interesting fact was that six of the eleven Sunderland players were born in Durham. 


BLACKPOOL: Wallace, Shimwell, Sibley, Buchan (T.), Suart, Johnston, Nelson, Mortensen, McKnight, Blair and McIntosh.

SUNDERLAND: Mapson, Stelling, Jones, Scotson, Hall, Wright, Ellison, Robinson, Whitelum, Watson and Reynolds.

Referee: Mr. G. Sunderland, of Barnsley,


Blackpool defended the south goal.

It was a goal which might have fallen in the first two minutes after Suart and Sibley had left a bouncing ball to each other and in the end compelled Wallace to launch himself in a heap at Whitelum’s feet to hold a desperate sort of back pass.

That was the only major incident until Mortensen took a pass from Blair and shot wide of the far post from 15 yards out.

The offside whistle halted McKnight after one brisk exchange of passes with his former Irish partner, Nelson.

The Sunderland defence had a few gaps in it. Mortensen raced into one of them and would have reached shooting position if McKnight had not wandered in front of him into an offside trap.

In the next minute Johnston raced about half the length of the field to aid a defence which in these early minutes was not too compact on its left wing.


All over the ground you could hear the call, “Keep it open, Blackpool.”

Both teams were keeping it open, but long passes were repeatedly missing their men and few shooting positions being created.

The one man who was making them was Mortensen again.

From one of them, he nearly gave Blackpool the lead in the 15th minute, zig-zagging past two men before shooting a ball which cannoned off a third and rolled loose in an open goalmouth before a desperate full-back cleared it anywhere. 

Ten of the first 15 minutes had been in Blackpool's possession. The long pass was producing few shooting chances, but at least it was forcing Sunderland into retreat.

Blackpool’s pressure continued. A copybook centre by Nelson forced Mapson to a forced clearance in a raid which was not repelled until the Sunderland defence had conceded the game’s first corner in the 18th minute.

McKnight was prepared to chase everything against the 6ft. Hall. Once he beat his watchdog to it and shot over the bar as both men leaped at a high, punted ball.

Within a minute Blackpool were nearly in arrears as a long forward pass escaped Suart and left Robinson and Whitelum in front of Wallace on their own.

When Whitelum shot. Wallace leaped at the ball, punched it in the air, and hurled himself backwards to it again as it came to rest on the roof of the net.


From the corner Sunderland nearly snatched the lead as Robinson headed a flying ball inches wide of an untenanted goal.

It made no difference. The goal came two minutes later, in the 24th minute of the half.

Blackpool conceded a corner, and not for the first time this season, left a man unmarked from it.

The man was ROBINSON, who, after the ball had been crossed, found it at his feet as it was beaten out of the pack, and shot it into the net with a complete assurance.

That is the price that has to be paid when a calm, calculating forward such as Jackie Robinson is left unguarded from a corner.

In the next minute. Nelson made position for Mortensen to shoot a low ball which was magnificently fielded by Mapson under McKnight’s challenge.

But it was the Sunderland forwards who were in the game afterwards.

Under constant pressure the Blackpool defence at times was at sixes and sevens.


Repeatedly, the left flank of this defence was outpaced or beaten to the possession of the ball.

Wallace made a grand clearance from Whitelum before fielding a centre crossed high and fast by Reynolds into a defence scattered again in front of him.

After the goal Blackpool’s football had gone into a decline. Passes went wrong everywhere, and the full-backs were too often losing the ball to Sunderland’s young wing forwards.

Nelson is one of those game little forwards who refuse to submit to terrier tackles.

Near the interval he created a raid all on his own which ended in Johnston crossing a centre which Mapson held near the far post as Mortensen hurled himself vainly at the flying ball.

That was the last incident of the half which had contained little to excite the crowd.

Half-time: Blackpool 0, Sunderland 1.


It was still patchwork football early in the second half. It was earnest enough, but it led nowhere.

Yet it might have led to a goal and an increase of Sunderland’s lead after a series of amazing miskicks in Blackpool’s goalmouth had presented a couple of chances to two forwards who were too surprised to take them.

 Another minute, and Blackpool might have made it 1-1, as Johnston and Mortensen made a position for McKnight.

On went the centre-forward two or three yards offside, as I saw it.

No linesman’s flag was lifted. The centre-forward had a gift chance, missed it, shot high over the bar.

Before and after this escape Sunderland were attacking repeatedly, battering a Blackpool defence which was still wilting under pressure.

One wide-open position offered Itself to Reynolds, who cut in fast, and shot a ball which Wallace held on the line.


Blackpool were being repeatedly beaten to the tackle by a team which was fast and direct, if little else.

There were frequent raids by Blackpool afterwards, but goals always seemed remote. The forwards lost the ball repeatedly to Sunderland’s fast-tackling fullbacks and half-backs.

Yet when Nelson was upset near the corner flag he nearly equalised from the free-kick, Mapson beating out a ball which was curling away from him under the bar.

In the next minute, the 20th of the half, Sunderland’s lead was increased by a goal in two passes - a grand goal.

Watson took a loose ball, and ran forward half a dozen yards on his own.

REYNOLDS, his young partner called for a pass, and was given a perfect one. Past Shimwell the outside-left brushed, and shot a ball beyond the deserted Wallace’s dive to his left.


It was nearly 2-1 a minute later. Mortensen shot with a bare sort of chance, and the unprepared Mapson made an indifferent sort of clearance on the line as the ball seemed to skid away , from him.

There were Blackpool raids in rapid succession afterwards, but no gap could be torn in a Sunderland defence which had steadied remarkably after losing position a lot in the first half- hour.

In one scene which became a bit ugly a centre from the left wing appeared to hit the face of the far post of Sunderland’s goal and to bounce back into the arms of Mapson, who afterwards was the centre of a swarm of men before the referee intervened.

In the 80th minute of the match it was all over, ROBINSON shooting a great third goal for Sunderland from 20 yards out from another unmarked position.

Hundreds left the ground when that happened. I was not disposed to blame them.


Those people missed a fourth goal five minutes from time. Again ROBINSON shot it with Blackpool’s defence scattered all over the field and the goalkeeper at his mercy.

In the last minute McKnight had a goal disallowed for Blackpool, who by that time were so completely out of the match that there was scarcely a protest against the decision.

Nor was that the end, for with only a minute left ROBINSON completed a remarkable second-half  “hat trick” with his fourth goal of the match.



SUNDERLAND 5 (Robinson 24, 80, 85, 89 mins, Reynolds 65 min)


MR. RONNIE ANDERSON, the Blackpool referee, had to act for 10 minutes as a deputy linesman in the Blackpool-Sunderland match this afternoon.

Mr. H. Haworth, of Blackburn, one of the appointed linesmen, was on a train delayed on the line.

“It is the first time I have ever been late for a match since I entered the game,” he said, as he left a taxi which raced with him to the ground and reached the gates five minutes after the teams had taken the field.


This was Blackpool’s zero match of the season. The experiments were a failure. Again, in spite of all the shuffling, the Blackpool forward line was revealed with only two men in it who could take a direct route to goal as Sunderland’s forwards always took it.

One, inevitably, was Mortensen. The other was Nelson, who, however immature his football may yet be. was not as quickly dispossessed by close tackles as were the three other men in the line.

The defence, too as the score indicates, was no less to blame for this complete defeat. There were gaps in it everywhere. Hesitant tackles lost the ball repeatedly.

What the team selectors will do now I do not know. I do not envy them their task.

Sunderland showed, as so many other teams have shown Blackpool this season, that the fast, direct pass pays.


By “Spectator”

INQUESTS on Blackpool’s Cup defeat are still in session everywhere. It may be a long time before all the coroners, and juries forget about it.

Yet there is a significant unanimity in the opinions expressed about the cause of the biggest fiasco in Blackpool football for years.

The short-passing game lost the match. That is the beginning and the end of it. It merely dots the “i’s ” and crosses the “t's” of all that has been written on the subject in this column for months.

I am not pretending to be one of those Smart Alecs who are always wise after the event.

I can only record that when Manager Joe Smith and three of his directors visited Hillsborough in the lowering fog on the morning of the match and reported that the pitch was about as thick in mud as an Irish bog. I said, "That’s not so good for your team.”

When I saw the pitch half an hour before the kick-off I decided that the first comment was an understatement.

There was a talk on tactics in Blackpool’s hotel immediately before the team left for the ground
as there always is, League match or Cup-tie.

Forgotten warning

THESE are private conferences.

Yet I would take a bet that during this one the Blackpool manager reiterated the warning he has given repeatedly since the rains came.

That warning has been taken seriously, I think, at the time - for there is not a man on the staff who has not respect for the manager’s judgement and knowledge of the game - but too often has been forgotten out on the field.

The warning is: “You can’t play on these mid-winter grounds the football which won the top position in the table in the autumn.”

Repeatedly the Blackpool forwards played it. Now it has been played once too often - and the price which has to be paid is an early dismissal from the Cup and the threat of one of those dismal hangovers which made the closing weeks of last season a bleak anticlimax.

Today's shuffle

THE sequel, which everybody expected, was a shuffle in the forward line for this afternoon's Sunderland match, and another venture into the transfer market  - this time for Nat Lofthouse, the Bolton Wanderers centre-forward, who I can disclose, will almost certainly come to Blackpool, whatever the price - and it will be a big one - if he still wants to leave Burnden Park when the Wanderers are out of the Cup.

Stanley Mortensen, I know, will construe this latest bid no reflection on his own football.

There is not a gamer forward in football than this young man.

But ever since the season opened, even at a time when he was protesting himself that he preferred the centre position to any other. I have been writing that he has not the build for the position.

I expressed the view at a time when you must have heavyweights to battle with massed middle-of-the-field defences he was taking punishment which might ultimately affect his whole career.

Mortensen request

I KNOW that after the Cup-tie at Sheffield he asked in despair at last to be transferred back to one of the inside positions.

So George McKnight is given the chance to which his recent scoring achievements in the Central League entitle him, a chance, too, which his reputation in Irish football warrants.

I hope he is able to take it. But he will not come off - nor will any other centre-forward, not if a mint of money is paid for him - unless the rest of the line forsake the short, delayed pass, and unless a greater punch is revealed on the wings.

The lesson for Blackpool is that whatever material a club may be able to command it will all go to seed if the wrong tactics are employed.

Jottings from all parts 

BY "SPECTATOR" 18 January 1947

Sunderland’s point

BEFORE this afternoon’s match it was eight years since last a Sunderland First Division team played in Blackpool.

The 1939 fixture was a midweek game, postponed on account of the Cup-ties. It was Dai Astley’s first match in a tangerine jersey after his £8,000 transfer from Derby County.

Alec Munro gave Blackpool a 1-0 interval lead, and after another goal had been disallowed six minutes from time Sunderland equalised with only three minutes left.

The Blackpool men who lost a £1 bonus were:

Wallace, Blair (D.), Butler, Hall (J.), Hayward, Johnston, Munro, Buchan (W.), Astley, Eastham and Finan.

THERE was not one foul with a vestige of malice in it during the Sheffield Wednesday-Blackpool Cup-tie. Both teams played a game which had no quarter in it, but no rancour or bitterness, either.

First two men to shake hands when it was all over were two who had been challenging each other all the afternoon - the Blackpool centre-forward, Stan Mortensen, and the Wednesday centre-half, Tommy Gale, who, on this form, may have come back in time to retrieve the Wednesday’s fortunes.


WHEN George McKnight scored four goals for Blackpool Reserve last weekend he was the first Blackpool forward to hit the net four times in one match since Jock Dodds shot four against Manchester City in a dramatic 5-4 game on October 6, 1945.

A few weeks earlier, on the first day of the 1945-46 season, Stanley Mortensen scored four at Bury

McKnight has now scored 15 goals in 18 Central League games. He has earned his trial in the first team.


NOTHING new in Blackpool taking the count in the Cup’s first round. In the 19 years between the wars Blackpool team lost in the first match of the Cup no fewer than nine times.

Between 1926 and 1929 the team never went beyond the first game, lost in this sequence to Swansea Town, Bolton Wanderers and Oldham Athletic at home in successive years before losing at Plymouth the next time out.

ALL the way from Barrow to Sheffield, the father of Ronnie Suart went to watch his son play in the Cup-tie.

He had no cause to be ashamed of the game his son played. The centre-half is back again to the game he was playing early in the season.


NAMES familiar in pre-war Blackpool football were in the Cup score sheets last weekend.

Charles McClelland, son of the forward who came to Blackpool via Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End and Middlesbrough, scored the goal which gave Blackburn Rovers a replay at Hull.

And for Bolton Wanderers in the rout of Stockport County, the son of Matthew Barrass, another ex-Blackpool forward, shot one of the Burnden Park team’s five goals.


COMPLIMENT to Manager Joe Smith in the Sheffield Wednesday boardroom after last weekend’s Cup-tie blackout: “You’re a good loser, Joe.”

Yes, he is a good loser.

The cynics may retort that he is having plenty of practice lately, but the fact remains that this man who won everything in the game that can be won when he was a player can accept a defeat as graciously as in the old days he accepted his Cup medals.


BEHIND - THE - SCENES story of the Cup-tie. For three days before the match Stanley Mortensen was ill, confined to his home with a chill.

When I met him before the team left Blackpool he admitted, “If it wasn’t a Cup-tie I wouldn’t play.”

Yet during the match he was racing about every minute, was tireless, aggressive, battering on his own against the Wednesday defence.

What a great heart this forward has.


COMMENT by Sheffield Wednesday director after Blackpool’s Cup defeat last weekend: “This is ridiculous. We can’t afford to win Cup-ties.”

I agree that it was ridiculous. But this win will do the Wednesday no particular harm.

It may be - I hope it is - the turn of the tide for a club which has had none of the breaks this season, a club whose relegation to the Third Division would be a minor tragedy in football.


STANLEY MORTENSEN’S 16 goals in 24 games for Blackpool is no record or anything approaching it.

But as the next man in marksmen’s list, Willie Buchan, has only seven goals to his name -  and three of those were penalties  - the days of Jimmy Hampson are inevitably recalled.

There is a similarity between these two centre-forwards, too. Jimmy was not a giant - nor is Stan.

Yet both over the first 20 or 30 yards will always grade among the game’s fastest forwards.


AMONG the spectators at the Sheffield Wednesday Cup-tie was Danny Blair, captain of Blackpool’s second promotion team and one of the best full-backs -and one of the smallest, too - of his generation.

Few people know it, but Danny left his native Scotland to make a name in professional football in the United States before he became famous in Britain.

When the Villa transferred him to Blackpool for £1,000 it was one of the best bargains Blackpool ever made.


IF Joe Cockcroft, the former West Ham wing-half, had not been included at the last minute in the Wednesday team last weekend, there would not have been a man in the Sheffield club’s colours who played against Blackpool in the two War Cup Final matches in 1943.

Blackpool fielded two survivors of that game, and by a coincidence they were wing half-backs, too - George Farrow and Harry Johnston.


YOU may have seen today in the Sunderland forward line player who exercised the player’s one privilege in the transfer market.

When Jackie Robinson left Sheffield Wednesday Middlesbrough bid £8,000 for him Sunderland had earlier made a £6,000 offer.

"I want to go to Sunderland," said this forward who was one of the men of the match when Blackpool played the Wednesday in the 1943 War Cup Final.

He went to Sunderland, and the Wednesday lost £2,000 - without whining about it, either.



I HEARD at the end of the Sunderland match today: writes “Spectator,” that Blackpool were interested in Eddie Burbanks, the Sunderland outside-left, who was one of Blackpool’s guest players during the war and was left out of the Sunderland team today.

Mr. Joe Smith, the Blackpool manager, was not at today’s game, but was reported to be watching a player at Chester.

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