Days Gone By | Sunderland vs. Cardiff City
As the Bluebirds prepare for a trip to Sunderland on Saturday afternoon, we take a look back at our first-ever league and cup win against the Black Cats in years gone by.
History between the two clubs spans all the way back to 1921 however, with the Bluebirds on top in the overall head-to-head stakes, winning 27 of the 65 meetings between the two in all competitions.
The first-ever meeting between Sunderland and Cardiff City took place on January 8th, 1921, a game which swung in City’s favour and sparked major headlines.
Taking place at Roker Park, the former home of the Black Cats, the two met in the FA Cup First Round. City were chasing promotion from the old Second Division at the time in what was the Bluebirds’ first-ever appearance in the Football League, with Sunderland long-established at the top level in Division One.
In what was one of the major surprises of that season, City ran out 1-0 winners with George Beare netting the match-winning goal in a fantastic team performance. An incredible run saw the Bluebirds reach the semi-final of the competition after scalps over Southampton and Chelsea, becoming the first Welsh side to do so and keep six consecutive clean sheets in the process.
Forward Jimmy Gill, who signed at the start of that campaign, was an iconic figure for City, going on to become the club's top goalscorer. In total, he scored 20 times in all competitions, finishing the campaign eight goals clear of the next highest-scoring player, Arthur Cashmore.
During a memorable campaign, the club attracted an average home attendance at Ninian Park of more than 28,000 for their first season in the Football League, an increase from previous years in the Southern League. Home matches against Coventry City and Bristol City both recorded season-high league attendances of 42,000.
Under the guidance of Fred Stewart, the Bluebirds accumulated a total of 58 points from a possible 84 seeing themselves finish joint second alongside Birmingham City. The winner was therefore decided via a goal average, with City placing second by a margin of 0.235 and earning promotion to the First Division.
The two clubs met regularly over the next eight seasons with City’s first League win at Roker Park coming on September 5th, 1923.
After a fine start to the 1923/24 season, Stewart’s side began the campaign unbeaten with a total of two wins and one draw from their opening three league games.
In a thrilling contest in the Northeast, goals from Gill, Len Davies and Joe Clennell saw the Bluebirds secure a famous 3-0 away victory in front of a crowd of 35,000.
That campaign was most remembered for the Bluebirds’ away draw against Birmingham City on the final day of the campaign. A poor run of form in March resulted in the team dropping to fourth position but they recovered to again lead the division prior to the final game.
Needing a win to claim the First Division title, City could only achieve a draw against Birmingham City allowing Huddersfield Town to move into first place and win the championship on goal average. The margin of victory, 0.024 of a goal, remains the narrowest title win in the history of the top tier in English football and was the first time the championship had ever been decided by the method.
During an impressive season for City which saw them finish as runners-up in Division One, Jimmy Nelson made 53 appearances in all competitions, the most of any City player that campaign, while Davies finished the campaign as the club's top goal scorer for the fourth consecutive season, netting 24 goals in all competitions.
With this weekend marking the 66th competitive meeting between both clubs, neither club have faced each other for the past five seasons, following the Black Cats’ relegation from the Championship in 2018.
Our last win in the Northeast came back in January of that year after a strike from Craig Bryson and a late penalty from Joe Ralls saw City claim a narrow 2-1 away victory.