Saddlers Memorable Matches
Walsall 4 Sunderland 3 19 August 1961
To some younger fans (myself included) the name Tony Richards may not mean that much. When people in Walsall talk about Saddlers legends the usual names come up- Alan Buckley, Mick Kearns, Jimmy Walker but rarely does Richards get a mention.
Despite this in 1999 fans voted him our player of the millennium ahead of Buckley and others.
The game against Sunderland was the greatest exhibition of what Richards was about as well as being, according to Walsall historians, 'a game that had almost everything'.
Over 18,000 people crammed into Fellows Park to watch the Saddlers first game in Division 2 for over half a century. It took just 13 minutes for Richards to strike from the penalty spot and sent the fans into mad celebrations.
The game was however also remembered by some as the debut in a Sunderland shirt of one Brian Clough and it was he who equalised within a couple of minutes. Both sides grabbed another goal before half time- George Herd for Sunderland and Tommy Wilson for the Saddlers.
Sunderland took the lead again just after the break with a penalty of their own but from that point on the game belonged to Richards. After 66 minutes he cooly slotted home for an equaliser and with the tension growing amongst the fans, Richards stayed calm to smash home the winner eight minutes later.
Records show that Richards had many great games for Walsall but this one is said to have been his best and an indication of why he was the Walsall player of the millennium.
If you remember Tony Richards or the game against Sunderland let us know on our forum.
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