Roy Keane is backing the spirit of 1973 to help Sunderland turn around their Premier League campaign today.
Memories of what was one of the greatest days in the club's history will echo around the Stadium of Light ahead of the visit of Reading and Wearside will rise to pay its respects to its FA Cup final hero, Ian Porterfield.
Porterfield, the man whose goal at Wembley proved the beating of Don Revie's Leeds side 34 years ago and wrote him into the city's folklore, died at a Surrey hospice on Tuesday evening. Ten of the men who walked out alongside him that day at Wembley – Micky Horswill, Jim Montgomery, Bobby Kerr, Dick Malone, Ritchie Pitt, Ron Guthrie, Dennis Tueart, Billy Hughes, Vic Halom and David Young – will join players from both sides on the pitch to observe a moment of applause in recognition of a career which also took him to Reading as both player and manager.
Keane will not allow his players to be caught up in the emotion of the tribute, but will tell them that there could be no better way to celebrate the life of a club legend than ending a run of four successive defeats with three precious points.
He said: "Over the years, there have been many occasions where you give a minute's silence or there's a minute's applause.
"It's a case of showing your respects, but the other side of it is you are a professional footballer and you have got to switch on pretty quickly.
"It's important that the club make the effort and the players and we all show our respects, of course. But when the whistle goes, you have to stay focused on the job at hand – I'm sure that's what Ian would have wanted.
"You pay your respects and then you get focused on trying to win the game of football. That would be the best way to pay our respects, by winning."
Porterfield's death after he finally lost his battle against colon cancer put a difficult week for Keane into perspective.
The former Ireland captain has lost both first-choice wide men with Kieran Richardson joining hamstring victim Carlos Edwards on the sidelines, in his case, for up to three months with a stress fracture of the back.
In addition, new signing Andrew Cole will have to delay his senior debut for the club for several weeks because of a calf injury, and with Dean Whitehead and Stanislav Varga both out for several months, a squad boosted by 12 summer arrivals has been depleted once again.
That, coupled with successive league defeats by Wigan, Liverpool and Manchester United either side of the Carling Cup humiliation at Luton, has left Keane – who has never in his career experienced a run of four defeats – in uncharted territory. However, he is refusing to be bowed by the task which lies ahead.
Keane said: "You stay positive and stay focused on the job in hand. The priority, of course, is our league matches – we try to write off the cup game, as much as it was a disappointment.
"It was always going to be a difficult start for us, but you stay focused, you look at the people you are working with, you look at the support we have, I look at the players, and it's quite easy to stay positive, I have to say.
"The players are not daft, of course they know that if we want to be anything as a football club, then we have to win a lot of our home games.
"The players are well aware of that, but like last year when every game seemed to be a must-win situation, I never picked up any sort of tension or nervousness from the players, and I haven't done that either at this moment in time."
Porterfield's funeral will take place in Surrey next Thursday afternoon. The service will be held at St Anne's Church in Church Road, Bagshot, at 2.30pm, and be followed by a private cremation at Woking Crematorium.Reuse content