In 1973, second division Sunderland famously beat first division giants, Leeds United, to win the FA Cup against the odds and goalkeeper, Jimmy Montgomery, pulled off an outrageous double save in the second half to keep his team ahead.
Jimmy is Sunderland’s all-time record appearance-maker and a club ambassador. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and for the last year, he has been a patient at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.
Hope for those with cancer
Patients with advanced cancer come from across the North East and Cumbria for treatment at the centre. The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation also funds trainee posts for both a doctor and a nurse to specialise in clinical drug trials within in it, as well as specialist posts providing patients with occupational therapy, complementary therapy and a dietician.
Jimmy says: “Until a couple of weeks ago, I was taking part in a clinical trial of a new cancer drug at the Sir Bobby Robson Centre. My recent CT scan showed it wasn’t working as they’d hoped but, thankfully, I have a number of other treatment options available and I’d very happily go back on a trial when something else becomes available.
“Clinical trials are so important for us all. If other people hadn’t put their names down to trial drugs, then cancer treatment that’s standard today just wouldn’t exist.
“The trial I took part in at the Sir Bobby Centre didn’t work for me but it will work for someone, and I’ve always had the view that if it doesn’t help me then it will help someone else.”
On every visit for treatment, Jimmy has walked past an iconic picture of himself on the pitch at Wembley after the famous FA Cup win. The photo shows Jimmy hugging the Sunderland manager, Bob Stokoe, and is on the wall of The Football Corridor in the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, where a series of pictures of North East football leads to the Sir Bobby Robson Centre.
Jimmy adds: “The thing I remember most about that win at Wembley was the atmosphere when we walked out. I can’t put it into words. There was just a mass of red and white ahead of us when we came out of the tunnel and it made the hairs on your body tingle. That’s what gave us the strength to go on and achieve what we did that day. You’ve got to have support, whether that’s The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation or in football.
“We haven’t had a derby for a good while and Sunderland’s got a good track record. Obviously, Newcastle are the Premier League club but in 1973 we were the underdogs, so who knows what could happen. And we’ve got a great set of lads and some wonderful footballers.
“Bob Moncur is my guest for the game and, as he was the last man to lift a cup for Newcastle, I’m sure we’ll have some laughs on the day!”
Sir Bobby loved the passion of the derby game. What he described in 2008 as, “a very special week in the Tyne Wear footballing calendar,” and he would no doubt have been looking forward to this weekend’s match as much as every fan.
He always believed there was more that united supporters of the two clubs than divided them and, despite being a lifelong Newcastle fan, was a very regular visitor to the Stadium of Light.
When he launched our Foundation in 2008 he asked Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough to help support his aim to find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer and all three clubs immediately agreed.
Mark Robson, says: “Dad was so proud that all of North East football came together to support his Foundation and that the work we support is helping patients from across the whole region. He always said that cancer doesn’t discriminate based on football allegiance or anything else.
“I know he’d be very excited that Sunderland and Newcastle drew each other in the cup and he’d certainly be at the game.”
Last year, there were 400 new adult patient referrals to the Sir Bobby Robson Centre and there are 30 clinical drug trials currently underway.