Bob regularly returned to his native north east to go to Sunderland matches and had read about bitter Board room in-fighting. In 1983 with the club seemingly going backwards he finally resolved to contact the Chairman to introduce himself and offer to help the club he loved. At the time, he had no thoughts or aspirations of joining the Board.
Sir Tom Cowie and Bob finally met up during the 1983/4 season at Roker Park and Cowie invited him to come to a few games that season. “I remember if the result was a good one I also got invited into the board room after the match!” said Bob.
With the power battle raging in the board room Sir Tom Cowie approached Bob again in June 1984 and asked him to join the Sunderland Board. Cowie sold him 5% of his shares and asked him to sign a personal bank guarantee for £50,000 to show his commitment.
By the end of the 1984/1985 season Bob had been witness to more fierce board room conflict, had seen the team go to the milk cup final at Wembley and lose to Norwich courtesy of a bizarre own goal, watched the team free fall into the Second Division and had been delegated the job of sacking the Manager Len Ashurst.
“As a memory goes it’s a strange one for me. I can vividly recall Len scoring a wonder goal as a fan. I remember being in line with him when he struck the ball from the Clock Stand to the Fulwell End to score against Newcastle. The next thing I knew I was being given the job of sacking him! I’m glad to say we’re still good friends today.”