Sunderland face Norwich City on 21 December 2013. One man who loved facing the Canaries was Charlie Hurley and many older Sunderland fans still fondly recall his performance at Carrow Road in the fifth round of the 1961 FA Cup. Mark Metcalf takes up the story from his authorised biography CHARLIE HURLEY - “The Greatest Centre-Half the World Has Ever Seen”
After beating Arsenal and Liverpool in rounds three and four, Sunderland drew Norwich City away in the next round of the FA Cup and not for the first time a player and team were motivated by mind games from the opposition. Charlie Hurley recalls: “I will always remember Norwich because I remember reading the headlines the day before the match. I don’t know if it was a wind up or not but it said ‘Hurley, the weakness’ so I couldn’t fathom that one out. It put my back up anyway. We took a bit of a battering and then we had a good spell in the first half where we could have got something. Then we got one corner with about ten minutes to go which Harry Hooper took.
“He was the type of guy who’d say ‘which way do you want the lace Charlie?’ It shows you how long ago it was. He always curled the corner away from the ‘keeper, beautiful for someone good in the air. One corner, and bop and in the back of the net, half way up the iron stanchion at the back of the net. Before I could even get off the floor there was a mass of players on my back. I was carrying six on my back when I went over to shake hands with Harry Hooper.
|Stan Anderson and Charlie Hurley|
Then we took a pounding for ten minutes, and we won 1-0. Those types of games will always stick in your mind. An awful lot of Sunderland fans from those days who I talk to pick that game out. It was packed at Norwich that day, in those days fans and players were one, there were no prima donnas in those days. OK, we were earning a lot more than the fans even in those days but our players loved the fans.”
Stan Anderson rates Hurley’s performance at Norwich as the best he saw him make from him in a Sunderland shirt. “He was brilliant. It is a shame that TV in those days wasn’t as good as it is now because if they’d looked at that goal from all the angles that they do now – it was such a bullet-like header from 12-15 yards out. I remember it coming over my head and just turning to look and I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.
“He must have hit it flush on the head and if it had hit the crossbar it would probably have broke it. It just absolutely flashed into the net. The goal won us the match. I bet we were under the cosh for eighty-five per cent of the time but Norwich never looked like scoring. I remember one of the Norwich players asking ‘How the bloody hell have we lost this match?’
The goal arrived with eleven minutes remaining and Argus described it as: “From a Hooper corner-kick Hurley beat Keenan with a magnificently placed header which was a goal all the way.”
“Hurley could be the rage of the Continent in a classy side like Real Madrid,” wrote Charlie Summerbell in the Daily Mirror the following week. Madrid were, of course, the best side in the world at the time having won the first five European Cups between 1956 and 1960.