Here we are then, three games away from being back in the Premier League. Whether we get over the line or not, that’s a truly remarkable thought after so many years in the wilderness, to be back within a shout at the end of our first season back in the Championship simply shouldn’t be happening, but here we are.
Our opponents in the semi finals of the Championship play-offs (still seems weird to say that) are Luton Town, a team we haven’t beaten since 2007, although in fairness, we’ve only been in the same league twice since then. We haven’t lost to the Hatters at home since 1973, which was a particularly good year for…
Forward Vic Halom started off his professional career graduating through the youth team at Charlton Athletic in 1965, making only a handful of appearances in two years, before heading across London and joining Leyton Orient in 1967.
A more productive spell with Orient saw him make 53 appearances and score 12 times in little over a year, putting him on the radar of another London club, as he moved on to Fulham in 1968. A decent haul of 22 goals in 72 games followed before Halom was on the move again, and in 1971 he made the move North (a little bit) to join Luton Town.
Signed as a replacement for the Newcastle-bound Malcolm MacDonald, Halom was never likely to reach the ridiculous goalscoring record of the future Legends Football Phone-In panelist. A goal tally of 17 in 59 was a respectable return, but when Sunderland came calling for him in early 1973, Luton boss Harry Haslam was more than happy to let him make the move to the North East.
The timing for Halom could not have been more perfect – he narrowly avoided getting himself cup tied by making sure he was unavailable for selection at Luton (his words, not mine), and so was available for our FA Cup triumph, becoming an important player in the run-in.
Arguably the highlight of that run-in was the fifth round replay against Manchester City. The Lads had pulled of an impressive feat in drawing the first game 2-2, and so, when 52,000+ crammed into Roker Park, the stage was set for a night of footballing drama. Sunderland opened the scoring through an absolute thunderbolt courtesy of Halom after 15 minutes. A brace from Billy Hughes was enough to help the Lads over the line, besting their top flight opponents 3-1 in front of a bubbling cauldron of red and white noise.
The quarter finals saw Sunderland dispatch Halom’s most recent teammates, as the Lads eased past Luton 2-0. The semi final against Arsenal saw Halom score a great goal, taking the ball down past the Gunners defence and beating the keeper one-on-one to set Sunderland on the way to a famous 2-1 win, and on the road to Wembley.
The final against Leeds was a battle for the Wearsiders, and Halom will be the first to admit that his involvement was reduced to chasing after the ball, such was the talent and ability of their Yorkshire adversaries, but a battle that we of course came out on top of. Porterfield’s goal (stolen off the toes of Halom), Montgomery’s double save, Stokoe’s hat being nicked. The best of days in Sunderland’s history.
Halom’s career at Sunderland would last for three years in total, which would not only see him lift the FA Cup, but also gain promotion from Division Two in his final full season on Wearside. The striker eventually moved on to Oldham Athletic in 1976, enjoying a productive spell which saw him average a goal every three games for the next four years. His final move as a player would be for a year at Rotherham United in 1980, signing off with two goals in 20 games, before retiring in 1981.
After retirement, Halom moved into management, starting out on a nomadic journey which jumped from Bergsoy of Norway, to Barrow in the Conference in 1984. Brief stints in charge of Rochdale and Burton Albion followed in the mid-late 80s before Halom essentially retired from the front end of football.
Time as a scout followed over the next 30 years, including a spell at Newcastle, which, given Vic’s proclaim to “not like anyone wearing black and white” probably suggests he was responsible for the likes of Des Hamilton and Marcelino.
Halom also tried his hand at politics, standing as the candidate for Sunderland North as a Liberal Democrat in 1992, but lost the vote and promptly called time on that avenue.
You can now find Halom back in the area after a lengthy stay in Europe, and he was a delight at the Wise Men Say-hosted event honouring the 50th anniversary of our cup triumph at the Customs House in South Shields. I would plug tickets, but unless you’re Marty McFly, you’re not getting there on time now.