The 1981/82 season was not a particularly successful one for Sunderland, nor was it particularly remarkable, with them going out of both cups at the early stages and spending the rest of the season struggling at the wrong end of the league. But they did sign a future Rangers legend and debuted a new swanky shirt.
There was no lack of excitement in the dressing room, where this top from le coq sportif showed that the influence of the Parisian catwalks had marched the length of England and swamped Wearside. The maker’s logo on the sleeve is a point of continued interest for the shirt connoisseur, whilst the introduction of red shorts kept the baying fans of Roker Park temporarily pacified.
1981/1982 Sunderland shirt
This is perhaps the only example of Sunderland almost entirely abandoning red in the actual shirt, and was the last time they would not have a sponsor. Those duties would be taken on by Cowie’s, the company run by controversial Mackem chairman Tom Cowie. Cowie’s has since been rebranded with the name Arriva, whilst Tom Cowie has himself been rebranded as Sir Tom Cowie.
As chairman, Cowie was controversial for his unwillingness to pump much money into the club, and notable acquisitions were hard to come by. But in those days The Lads did splash out on a young Ally McCoist. McCoist is fondly remembered in the North East even if his record was somewhat modest. And if you want to see just how modest he insisted on being, then take a look at this.
The 1981-82 season, although not remarkable, could have ended in disaster, and it was only due to a slightly odd run-in to the end of the season that Sunderland were saved from relegation. In the last 11 games, they lost just two games, although that included a 6-1 defeat to Coventry. A few more years of continued drifting aimlessly at the bottom end of the top flight were only secured on the last day of the season with a 1-0 win over Manchester City, Mick Buckley being the scorer.
The next season, Sunderland were again saved on the last day of the season, that time by club legend, Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson, aka the Bald Assassin.