A new era dawns for under Len Ashurst during the 1984/85 season.
Much like the 1970s, the 1980s proved to be a challenging time for Sunderland as a town.
Coal mining declined during the period with shipbuilding ending in 1988. The unemployment crisis rose to 20% of Mackems out of work in the mid-1980s.
However, Nissan car plant did open in 1986 and on the field, Sunderland reached a cup final the year before.
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38-year-old Sunderland player Bryan 'Pop' Robson in action during Division One match against Leicester City at Filbert Street on May 12, 1984. Robson scored in a 2-0 win which saved the club from relegation.
Scroll down to view these iconic, retro Sunderland AFC photos from the 80s – have any special memories or stories to tell? Get in touch.
Eric Gates in 1987. The Durham-born midfielder scored 46 league goals in 185 appearences before moving to Carlisle United in 1990.
Clive Walker pictured after scoring one of his two goals against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Milk Cup.
Sunderland goalkeeper Chris Turner in action on the plastic pitch of Loftus Road during a match against Queens Park Rangers in February, 1985.
Back from left: Tom Ritchie, Rob Hindmarch, Chris Turner, Alan Brown, Gordon Chisholm, Sam Allardyce; Middle row: Gary Rowell, John Cooke, John Hawley, Ian Bowyer, Steve Whitworth, Iain Munro; Front row: Kevin Arnott, Barry Dunn, Jeff Clarke, Mick Buckley, Joe Hinnigan.
Sunderland's Peter Daniels signals to teammates during a League Division One match against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road in London. Queens Park Rangers won the match 1-0.
How many members of the Sunderland AFC 1980 squad can you name? Let us know on social media.
Gordon Chisholm during a Division One match against Queens Park Rangers.
Five dedicated football fans who were helping to keep Sunderland AFC Supporters' Association alive back in the 1980s. Left to right: Carolyn Buckle, Ann Howe, Judith Tucknutt, Marie Forster and Audrey Baillie at the typewriter. Recognise anybody from the photo?
Six Sunderland AFC youth players in 1984, left to right: Gordon Armstrong, Paul Breen, David Woodcock, Cameron Duncan, John Moore and Mark Outterside.
Sunderland player Barry Venison in action during the 1985 Milk Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
Paul Hardyman played for Sunderland from 1989 to 1992.
Sunderland v Beighton in 1988. A young Alan Curbishley can be seen playing for The Seagulls in the background.
Sunderland forward Marco Gabbiadini pictured pre-season circa 1988 at Roker Park.
Sunderland defender Alan Kennedy pictured during a Division Two match against Shrewsbury at Gay Meadow.
A Sunderland team photo from 1987.
Sunderland won the match 1-0 at Roker Park.
Sunderland captain Barry VenisonLeague Division One match between Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland at Loftus Road.
Sunderland player Gordon Armstrong pictured during a pre-season photocall in August 1988.
Sunderland player Gary Owers pictured at a pre-season photocall at Roker Park in August 1988 United Kingdom.
Back from left: Peter Daniel, Rodger Wylde, Nick Pickering, Barry Venison; Middle: Gordon Chisholm, Colin West, Mark Prudhoe, Chris Turner, Gary Bennett, David Hodgson; Front: Clive Walker, Howard Gayle, Shaun Elliott, Ian Atkins, Steve Berry, Mark Proctor.