Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the day that Sunderland won the FA Cup at Wembley. Sports writer Richard Mason meets Sunderland's goalkeeper on that day, Jimmy Montgomery.

JIMMY MONTGOMERY is standing in the tunnel of the Stadium of Light, posing for his umpteenth picture alongside the FA Cup, which has been couriered to the 1973 winners for the day for publicity purposes.

Wearied by repeated requests by ESPN TV crews to hold his medal one way, then another, to stand this way, then that, to smile, then not, then to turn to the camera, Montgomery, Sunderland's goalkeeper on that day at Wembley, the goalkeeper who made that double save, looks to the ground and mutters: "I should have held the first one."

Now a club ambassador, Montgomery entertains fans on matchdays, still takes part in talk-ins, and has been asked about the 1973 FA Cup final on every single day of the last 40 years of his life. Would he change a thing? Not likely.

His memory of the day is as clear as it was on the fifth of the fifth, 1973, and despite being asked countless times to recollect his thoughts of the day that Sunderland, the great underdogs, beat Leads United, the cup holders and the best team in the country, to lift what was in those days the biggest trophy in club football, Montgomery will never tire of talking about it.

"Sunderland fans always want to talk about it. I do talk-ins now, still, and 80 per cent of the talk-in is about the FA Cup. Some of them were only six or seven when it happened, it's just something you'll never forget and it's there forever, for the grandchildren," said Montgomery, ahead of the club's official celebration of the anniversary at the Stadium of Light tomorrow evening.

"I don't think a day has gone by since when I haven't spoken about it. Whether it's a Leeds supporter coming up to say 'you ruined my day' in 1973, or Sunderland supporters saying it was the day of their lives. It's great to talk about it.

"I still remember it vividly and I'm sure those who were there remember it vividly too. If you asked them to go through their particular day, for the cup final, they would recollect every minute from leaving the house onwards.

"My wife puts on the programme 'Meanwhile Back In Sunderland' which Tyne Tees made because her mam and dad were interviewed on that particular programme. They were going to Wembley on the day and it's quite poignant. It's on Youtube, I've got a DVD of it and it's great. From the early hours of the morning in Sunderland, then in town through the afternoon, when there's nobody about, then suddenly when we win it's bedlam."

Sunderland were the nation's preferred team to win. The bookies had the odds stacked in Leeds' favour, but United's unpopularity at the time saw all neutral fans willing the Rokerites on.

Leeds, led by Don Revie, were portrayed as the strait-laced side, while Sunderland seemed more relaxed in the run-up to the game.

Montgomery recalled: "We had breakfast, the usual pre-match stuff, then we had the television people in, we were in a room doing interviews. They showed the Leeds United players, they had a press conference too, they were suited and booted, we were ragtag and bobtail stuff, tracksuits and whatever.

"We were happy-go-lucky lads. When one of the reporters asked a question, Billy Hughes had a laughing box and kept switching it on. That summed up our mood really.

"We were underdogs against Man City, we were underdogs against Arsenal, we were used to it. It was great being the underdogs, we had nothing to lose, so to speak.

"Everybody was saying we'd be beaten by three, four, five, and we were there to make the numbers up. We knew we had a great chance, there was a great spirit in the team."

That spirit was to set Sunderland in great stead for the final. They had earned a reputation under manager Bob Stokoe as being an attractive, attacking team, with the triumvirate of Dennis Tueart, Billy Hughes and Ian Porterfield all capable of playing at a higher level than the Division Two standard at which they had been competing.

But for the cup final, they had to run, chase and harry Leeds, and Montgomery, who made 627 appearances for Sunderland, always thought one goal would win it and, courtesy of Ian Porterfield, that's exactly what happened.

"You could show me the match now and wherever you play it from I could tell you what happened next," said Montgomery. "It's vivid in the mind. You can remember the key points, Porterfield's goal, Ritchie Pitt's tackle in the first 30 seconds to let Leeds know what we're about.

"To a man they were superb, the lads, in particular Dave Watson, who was unbelievable. Everybody on the pitch did their job. Porterfield's goal was pivotal, my first thoughts were if we keep a clean sheet, we've won the cup. We duly did."

The clean sheet was no accident. Montgomery, with a double save from Trevor Cherry and Peter Lorimer which has entered Cup folklore, is more responsible than most for that.

Montgomery recalled: "The save itself, first one from Trevor Cherry - Dick Malone insists he was fouled, but what he's trying to say is that he wasn't marking him - then when I saw the ball go out to a white shirt I got up and made the save. Off the bar, it comes out, by this time I'm off the ground facing the ball and there's Dick Malone clearing it for a throw-in.

"If I'd have held the first one you'd not have been talking about the second one. I was doing my job. It's what I got paid for, saving shots, and it's all I wanted to do. It's part and parcel of the job.

"I've spoken to Peter Lorimer a few times and he's always said "Jim, I couldn't have hit it any better if I tried. Open goal, hit it as sweet as I could, where you come from I don't know."

All that was left was for Sunderland to maintain the hard work and see the most unlikely of wins out.

Montgomery continued: "Vic Halom barged Harvey into the net, they get a free-kick, it's knocked to the edge of the box on the right, as he plays it, the referee blows his whistle. Micky Horswill goes down on his knees, all hell breaks loose.

"I turn around to the crowd, giving them high fives, when I turn around Bob Stokoe is on top of me.

Those famous images of Stokoe tearing down the middle of the Wembley pitch and leaping into Montgomery's arms are the most iconic in the FA Cup's long and illustrious history, which Montgomery feels are enhanced even further on Meanwhile Back In Sunderland.

The footage of the run, since immortalised in bronze outside the club's stadium, is interwoven with celebrations back in the town with a turn, clad head to toe in red and white, playing You'll Never Walk Alone on a Hammond organ accompanied by hundreds of well-oiled Sunderland fans, while a worse-for-wear female fan exposes her underpants carrying the name of her favourite team.

"When I watch the tapes now, to see him running across, especially with that background music, is unbelievable," said Montgomery who, along with several members of the squad that day, will attend Monday night's Premier League fixture against Stoke City.

"It's iconic. It's always played out.

"It's one of those moments you could never replicate. I never get tired of seeing it."

Stokoe, and Montgomery, provided the footballing world with those memories, which hark back to a day where the FA Cup final was the most important day in club football, where football fans of every persuasion would all tune in.

Now? It's a 5.15pm kick off while other games take place. The decision, we're told, is to appease 'global TV broadcasters' and has been supported by the FA's 'key stakeholders'. Montgomery has his own views on that.

"It's farcical", he said. "They talk about the TV people wanting it then, but they don't think about the normal punter who has to get down there and get back.

"If there's extra time there's no chance of some of the fans getting home.

"Unfortunately, that's the way of the FA Cup now, it has been downgraded, probably from the day Manchester United pulled out that year. Maybe when they stopped the Cup Winners' Cup, that was a big incentive for people to win the FA Cup.

"I still maintain that for a British person to play football, that is the one trophy you want to win.

"Some fantastic players never had their hands on that cup and that is what I look back on."