It's been a while since we featured a Cult Hero on these pages and when Michael Graham realised that we had neglected to cover Bryan "Pop" Robson I was swiftly given a clip around the ear and sent to work!
Bryan "Pop" Robson may be a name mentioned by fans these days mainly due to his work as Chief Scout with the club however he should undoubtedly never be forgotten for his three spells on Wearside as a striker in the 1970's and early 80's and one defining moment late in his career which cemented his position as a Cult Hero.
As this is obviously not a site you visit to read about that lot up the road I'll try not to dwell on Robson's early days too long, however it would be incredibly remiss to ignore the near ten years the centre forward spent on Tyneside during his formative years as a player.
Despite being born and raised in Sunderland it would be Newcastle United that would take an interest in Robson having spotted him playing for local amateur side Clara Vale Juniors. Being of a Mackem persuasion didn't hold Bryan back from going on to establish himself as a firm favourite at St. James' Park however with his exploits for the side's promotion run in 1964/65 as the Magpie's returned to the top flight and thanks to his partnership with Wyn Davies which helped the side to victory in the Fairs Cup of 1969.
Robson's time on Tyneside would eventually turn sour however when following a disagreement with the club's board it was suggested by Lord Westwood, Newcastle's Managing Director at the time, that he either put up or shut up. Bryan responded immediately with a written transfer request.
With bridges well and truly burnt at St. James' Park Robson would soon find himself part of a club record transfer as he moved to West Ham for £120,000. Scoring on his debut against Nottingham Forest in February of 1971 would set something of a precedent for his time in London as Robson would go on to become the hammers' top goal scorer in two of three seasons he spent at Upton Park.
Pop Pop Pop Pop Robson, score a little goal for me... (via munday83)
However despite all the goals Robson was part of a surprise transfer in July of 1974 when Sunderland paid £145,000 to bring the striker to Roker Park. It soon looked a wise investment as Robson's goals would help lead Sunderland back to the top flight as Division Two Champions, mainly thanks to a fantastic unbeaten home record that term.
Robson, never one to settle at one club for too long, wasn't part of Sunderland's Division One setup long however as a transfer in October of 1976 reunited him with West Ham. Across the forward's two spells with the London outfit he made over 250 appearances and managed an impressive 104 goals.
In fact Bryan garnered something of a reputation for toing and froing between clubs as following a further three years at Upton Park he would return to Wearside in the summer of 1979. Much like his first spell with The Black Cats, Robson's goals would prove to be vital for club and inspired another return to the top flight as runners up in 1980. The forward's second stint with the club would prove to be short-lived, 52 appearances and 23 goals, before moving to Carlisle in 1981.
The early 1980's proved to be a turbulent time for Robson with regards to transfers, with the phrase "more clubs than Tiger Woods" springing to mind. Having spent a successful season with Carlisle, twenty-one goals in forty-eight appearances, Bryan moved back to London, this time with Chelsea. Following a handful of appearances in the capital Robson then found himself back with Carlisle on a loan for the remainder of the 1982/83 season before moving back, for a third and final time, to Roker Park for the 1983/84 season.
Despite rapidly coming towards the end of his playing career, Robson is probably most fondly remembered by Sunderland fans for his impact on the final day of the 1983/84 season. With Sunderland travelling to Leicester City needing a win to avoid relegation from Division One, Robson was brought into the side at the ripe old age of 38 years and 182 days. The stage was set and the script was perfect as "Pop" went on to score his last goal in the red and white stripes in a 2-0 win to save the club from relegation.
Across Robson's three spells at Roker Park he made over one-hundred and seventy four appearances, racking up sixty-seven goals and even stepped up to manage the side as caretaker for a single game in 1984 following the dismissal of Alan Durban.
Robson has since gone on to take up a number of positions behind the scenes at Sunderland over the years ranging from reserve team coach to academy director and most recently chief scout.
Byran "Pop" Robson, Roker Report salutes you!