BOBBY KERR, Footballer

Bobby Kerr with FA cupBobby Kerr was captain of Sunderland FC when they beat Leeds 1 - 0 at Wembley in 1973 to lift the FA cup. This was one of the greatest FA cup shocks of all time. Leeds were Goliath to Sunderland's David: Leeds were not only the cup holders, this was the third time they had been in the FA cup final in four years, they were probably the best team in England with 10 internationals, including 4 of Scotland's best players, and manager Don Revie was at the height of his powers.

Sunderland in contrast, were in the old Second Division with no internationals, and apparently even less chance of winning. And yet it was Bobby Kerr's hands that held the cup aloft at the end of the game, still the only Vale man to have captained a cup-winning team in England. This made him “one of the immortals” on Wearside.

The English football public at large never really took to that particular Leeds United squad, and Sunderland's win was hugely popular, not just for the David vs Goliath angle, but because of a prevalent “anyone but Leeds” sentiment.

A great many people who couldn't tell you who won the cup the previous or next years, and who wouldn't have a clue who their captain was, have an enduring memory of “this wee Scottish guy Kerr” holding the cup aloft.

Bobby Kerr FootballerHe was born in Alexandria in November 1947 and attended Levenvale Primary and then Vale of Leven Academy schools. The family lived in Levenvale and Bobby had a sister, who still lives in Balloch, and two older brothers, both of whom were good footballers. One brother George played in England for clubs such as Barnsley and then went on to be a fairly successful manager of clubs such as Lincoln City and Grimsby Town, whom he managed in the old Division 2.

Bobby joined Sunderland in 1964, where John “Solly” O'Hare from Renton, and one year older than Bobby, was already on the books. Another Valeman, Ian McColl, who arrived as manager in the summer of 1965, joined them one year later. It was McColl who selected Bobby for his debut in December 1966 and John O'Hare was also playing in the team that day. It was an auspicious start as Bobby scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Manchester City.

By the time he left Sunderland in 1979 Bobby had made 413 starts and 14 substitute appearances for the Club. His uncompromising style in his midfield role earned him the nickname of “Little general”. He left Sunderland to join Blackpool in 1979 and then joined Hartlepool where he finally hung up his boots.

When his footballing days were over, he became a pub landlord on Wearside, and has just retired from that role; “Sunderland Hero” is a role from which he won't retire.

One utterly useless piece of information about Bobby Kerr is that he is the smallest person to have captained an FA Cup winning side and to have lifted the cup on his team's behalf. You never know, it might win you a pub quiz.

See article about Bobby's life in the Scotsman newspaper.



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