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History of Sunderland Football Club

History of Sunderland Football Club



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James Allan arrived in Sunderland from Scotland to teach at Hendon Board School in 1877. He had developed an interest in football while at Glasgow University but discovered that rugby was the predominant winter team sport in the North-East. As Roger Hutchinson points out in Into the Light (1999) "Allan uncovered a group of other teachers in the area who shared his interest in righting this wrong, and at a meeting in Norfolk Street in the October of 1879 the Sunderland and District Teachers' Association Football Club was formed."

The team originally played at Blue House Field that was close to the Hendon Board School where James Allan was employed. The captain was Robert Singleton, the headmaster of Gray School in Sunderland. Other school teachers in the side included John Graystone and Walter Chappell.

Allan and his friends rented the ground at Hendon for £10 a year. They also had to pay the travelling cost of taking a team to away games throughout the North-East. At a meeting in October 1880 they discussed the possibility of closing the club. However, it was eventually decided to raise the money by opening it up to non-teaching members. As a result the club changed its name to Sunderland Association Football Club.

As the author of Sunderland: The Official History points out: "The club was formed not by shipbuilders or miners, but by school teachers, local school master James Allan having taken the initiative in organising such a venture. More surprisingly still, the teachers not only formed the club, but made up the entire team too, and the club's original name - Sunderland and District Teachers' Association Football Club - reflected this."

At the time rugby and cricket were Sunderland's main sports. Another problem was that there were only three other football teams in the whole of County Durham. This meant that the team had to do a lot of travelling to get games. This included matches against clubs such as Sedgefield, Bishop Middleham, Ferryhill, Ovingham and Newcastle Rangers.

James Allan was a talented centre-forward with a good goalscoring record. In 1883 Allan's goals helped Sunderland reach the final of the Northumberland & Durham Cup. The following year the club played Darlington in the first final of the Durham Cup. Sunderland won 4-0 but Darlington complained that the 2,000 fans were guilty of intimidating their players. The Football Association ordered the final to be replayed and sent Major Francis Marindin to referee the game. This time Sunderland won the game 2-0.

The following season Sunderland entered the FA Cup for the first time. In the first round the club lost 3-1 to Redcar. That season James Allan was one of the six Sunderland players selected for the Durham County side which played Northumberland.

On 20th December, 1885, Sunderland beat Castletown 23-0 in the first round of the Durham Association Challenge Cup. James Allan, who played on the left-wing, scored 12 of the goals. This remains a Sunderland club record.

In an attempt to improve the team Sunderland began recruiting players from Scotland. The Football Association decided that professionalism should be allowed, but with restrictions. Any professionals had either to have been born in the town they represented, or to have lived within six miles of their club's headquarters for the previous two years.

In 1887 Sunderland beat Middlesbrough 4-2 in an early round of the FA Cup. Middlesbrough protested that three of Sunderland's players (Monaghan, Hastings and Richardson) were living in Scotland and was lodged at the Royal Hotel at the club's expense. In January 1888, the Football Association examined the Sunderland books and discovered "a payment of thirty shillings in the cash book to Hastings, Monaghan and Richardson for train fares from Dumfries to Sunderland". Sunderland was kicked out of the FA Cup and ordered to pay the expenses of the inquiry. The three players concerned were each suspended from football in England for three months.

James Allan, who disliked the idea of recruiting professional players, resigned from the club. On 13th March 1888 he organized a meeting at the Empress Hotel. The meeting decided to create Sunderland Albion. Allan managed to persuade six first-team players from Sunderland to join him.

Sunderland and Sunderland Albion now became bitter rivals. The two clubs were drawn together in the 1888-89 FA Cup. However, Sunderland withdrew rather than allow Albion to benefit from the increased gate receipts.

On 2nd March, 1888, William McGregorcirculated a letter to Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End, and West Bromwich Albion suggesting that "ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home and away fixtures each season."

John J. Bentley of Bolton Wanderers and Tom Mitchell of Blackburn Rovers responded very positively to the suggestion. They suggested that other clubs should be invited to the meeting being held on 23rd March, 1888. This included Accrington, Burnley, Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Old Carthusians, and Everton should be invited to the meeting.

The following month the Football League was formed. It consisted of six clubs from Lancashire (Preston North End, Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, Bolton Wanderers and Everton) and six from the Midlands (Aston Villa, Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers). The main reason Sunderland was excluded was because the other clubs in the league objected to the costs of travelling to the North-East. McGregor also wanted to restrict the league to twelve clubs. Therefore, the applications of Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, Darwen and Bootle were rejected.

Preston North End won the first championship that year without losing a single match and acquired the name the "Invincibles". Preston also won the league the following season. This time it was much closer as they only beat Everton by one point.

Sunderland continued to do well in friendly games. During the 1889-90 season they beat league teams Blackburn Rovers (1-0), Bolton Wanderers (3-2), Everton (2-0) and Notts County (2-1). They also held league champions, Preston North End, to a 1-1 draw. Sunderland also won the Durham Association Challenge Cup for the fourth time in five years.

Sunderland once again applied to join the Football League. The club also offered to pay towards the travelling costs of opponents in order to compensate for the extra travelling they would have to do. As a result of this application, Sunderland replace Stoke in the league. Sunderland made their intentions clear by erecting a sign outside the ground stating, “We have arrived and we’re staying here.”

Ted Doig joined Sunderland and his first game for his new club was on 20th September, 1890. As he was not officially registered as a Sunderland player the club suffered a deduction of two points. Sunderland finished in 7th place in the league (it would have been 5th if they had not suffered the points deduction. Sunderland also reached the semi-final of the FA Cup. Aston Villa won the game 4-1.

The following season Sunderland won the Football League championship and reached the semi-final of the FA Cup. William McGregor described Sunderland as having a "talented man in every position" and as a result they acquired the name the "Team of All Talents".

Sunderland retained the championship in 1892-93 and were runners-up to Aston Villa in the 1893-94 season. Sunderland were also champions in 1894-95. Ted Doig did not miss a Football League or FA Cup game between 20th September 1890 and 9th September 1895.

Alf Common joined Sunderland in 1900. In the 1900-01 season Sunderland finished 2nd to Liverpool in the First Division championship. Common scored 5 goals in 20 appearances that year. However, he was considered one of the best young players in England and Sheffield United paid Sunderland £350 for his services. He was a great success at his new club and in 1904 Sunderland bought him back for a new record transfer fee of £520.

Alf Common only played in 21 games before he was on the move again. In February, 1905, Middlesbrough, who were in danger of being relegated from the First Division, purchased Common for the record breaking fee of £1,000. One journalist described the transfer of Common as "flesh and blood for sale". Another sports writer wrote: "We are tempted to wonder whether Association football players will eventually rival thoroughbred yearling racehorses in the market."

The reason for the sale was that Sunderland believed they had an able replacement in the nineteen year old George Holley had already been scoring plenty of goals for the reserves. Playing at inside-left, Holley soon became the club's top goalscorer.

In January 1908 Sunderland signed Leigh Roose. He was brought in to replace Ted Doig who had moved to Liverpool. Roose was considered the best goalkeeper in Britain and the football journalist, James Catton, described Leigh Roose in Athletic News as "the Prince of Goalkeepers". Frederick Wall, the Secretary of the Football Association described Roose as "a sensation... a clever man who had what is sometimes described as the eccentricity of genius. His daring was seen in the goal, where he was often taking risks and emerging triumphant." Rouse was an entertainer, who carried out pranks to get laughs. This included sitting on the crossbar at half-time.

Rumours began to circulate that his new club were making illegal payments in order to gain Roose's services. As an amateur he was only allowed to be paid expenses. The Football Association asked Roose to compile a list of each individual expense claim made in the 1907-8 season. Roose made a joke of the situation by including "Pistol to ward off opposition - 4d. Coat and gloves to keep warm when not occupied - 3d. Using the toilet (twice) - 2d." Sunderland insisted that they only paid Roose his travel expenses. Unable to prove otherwise, the Football Association dropped its case against the club.

In 1908 Sunderland signed Charlie Thomson from Heart of Midlothian. A centre-half, Thomson was also captain of the Scotland international team. He joined a side that included Britain's best goalkeeper, Leigh Roose and one of the countries best goalscorers, George Holley. That season Sunderland finished 3rd in the First Division. Their local rivals Newcastle United won the title with 53 points. However, Sunderland had the satisfaction of beating Newcastle 9-1 at St. James' Park with Holley scoring a hat-trick. James Catton wrote in the Athletic News: "When some beardless boys have become grandfathers, they will gather the younger generation round them and tell a tale of Tyneside, about the stalwart Sunderland footballers who travelled to St James' Park and thrashed the famous Novocastrians as if they had been a poor lot of unfortunates from some home for the blind. The greatest match of this season provided the sensation of the year and we shall have to turn back the days to when the game was in its infancy for a parallel performance. Never have I watched forwards who have seized their opportunities with more eagerness and unerring power."

Leigh Roose was especially popular with female fans. The Daily Mail dubbed him "London's most eligible bachelor". In 1909 he began a relationship with Marie Lloyd, the star of the country's music halls. It caused a stir as Lloyd was married at the time to the singer Alec Hurley. Roose was often seen at Lloyd's concerts and she would always be in the crowd when Sunderland played in London.

Roose become a strong favourite with the Sunderland fans. They liked the way he set up attacks by running out to the half-way line. Roose told a journalist that he was surprised that not more goalkeepers did not follow his example: "The law states that any (goalkeeper) is free to run over half of the field of play before ridding themselves of the ball. This not only helps to puzzle the attacking forwards, but to build the foundations for swift, incisive counter-attacking play. Why then do so few make use of it?"

George Holley, who played for Sunderland with Leigh Roose later explained why this strategy was not followed by other goalkeepers. "He was the only one who did it because he was the only one who could kick or throw a ball that accurately over long distances, giving himself time to return to his goal without fear of conceding."

Several clubs complained to the Football Association about Roose's strategy. Several committee members felt that Roose was ruining the game as a spectacle by his ability to break up creative and attacking play. However, they could not agree about what to do about it.

Some journalists were critical of the way Roose played. The Athletic News published an article following Sunderland's 4-1 win over Liverpool in September 1909: "The great man of the side was Roose. His one failing is his habit of running out with the ball, a failing which I suppose will be with him (for the rest of his career), but he is a brilliant goalkeeper without doubt."

Leigh Roose did sometimes give away goals by using this strategy. In October, 1909, Ernest Needham, who was playing in goal for Sheffield United against Sunderland, scored with a long kick after Roose advanced too far out of his goal. Sunderland came to the conclusion that Roose would be unable to regain full fitness and decided not to employ him for the 1910-11 season.

In March 1911, Sunderland paid a transfer fee of £1,200 for Charlie Buchan. This beat the £1,000 paid by Middlesbrough for Alf Common in 1905. The Sunderland fans did not immediately take to Buchan and he suffered a great deal of barracking from the Roker Park crowd. Buchan asked to be dropped from the side but Bob Kyle, the manager, refused. After one game in November, 1911, Buchan told Kyle: "I'll never kick another ball for Sunderland." Kyle persuaded Buchan to play one more game for the club. He agreed and scored two goals in the 3-1 victory. Buchan recalled that this was the turning point and never again got "the bird" from the crowd.

Charlie Buchan gradually developed a very good partnership with George Holley, Sunderland's leading goalscorer. Buchan later argued that in a game against Bradford City, Holley performance was the best he ever saw by an inside-forward. "He scored a magnificent hat-trick, running nearly half the length of the field each time and coolly dribbling the ball round goalkeeper Jock Ewart before placing it in the net."

George Holley also supplied Buchan with the passes for a large percentage of the goals he scored for Sunderland. In one game he scored five goals against Kenneth Campbell, the Scottish international goalkeeper, who at the time played for Liverpool. "Four of them I just touched into the net. Holley had beaten the defence and even drawn Campbell out of position before giving me the goals on a plate."

At the beginning of the 1912-13 season Bob Kyle paid £3,000 for two defenders, Charlie Gladwin and Joe Butler. This was a large sum of money. At the time, the record transfer fee was the £1,800 paid by Blackburn Rovers to West Ham United for prolific goalscorer Danny Shea.

Kyle also purchased James Richardson from Huddersfield Town to play alongside Charlie Buchan, George Holley, Henry Martin and Jackie Mordue, in the forward line. The defence was made up of Joe Butler in goal, Charlie Gladwin and Albert Milton, full backs, with Frank Cuggy, Charlie Thomson and Harry Low playing in the half-back line.

The season started badly and by mid-October Sunderland was bottom of the First Division table with only two points in seven games. However, the new players gradually integrated into the side and the club moved up the table by winning the next five games. By the end of December 1912 Sunderland was challenging for the title with Charlie Buchan, George Holley and Jackie Mordue, all having scored 12 goals each. However, according to Buchan it was a defender, Charlie Gladwin, that was the real reason why Sunderland played so well. "He stabilized the defence and gave the wing half-backs Frank Cuggy and Harry Low the confidence to go upfield and join in attacking movements. Sunderland became a first-class team from the moment he joined the side."

January 1913 saw Sunderland beat Arsenal (4-1), Tottenham Hotspur (2-1), Chelsea (4-0), Middlesbrough (2-0) and Derby County (3-0). It was now clear that only Aston Villa could deprive Sunderland of the First Division championship.

Sunderland also had a good FA Cup run. On the way to the final Sunderland beat Manchester City (2-0), Swindon Town (4-2), Newcastle United (3-0) and Burnley (3-2). The final was played in front of 120,000 at Crystal Palace against Aston Villa, their rivals for the league championship. Early in the game, Clem Stephenson told Charlie Buchan that the previous night he had dreamt that Villa won the game 1-0 with Tommy Barber scoring the only goal with a header.

The game included a running battle between Charlie Thomson, the Sunderland centre-half and Harry Hampton, Aston Villa's tough centre-forward. Hampton had a reputation for being rough on goalkeepers. One local commentator reported that: "Thomson was the centre of one of the main talking points of the game after a thrilling duel with the Villa forward Hampton. He had scored for England against Thomson's Scotland by charging the keeper over the line. Charlie was determined this was not going to happen during the Cup Final, so early on he laid Hampton out to let him know who was boss!"

Thomson decided to protect his goalkeeper, Joe Butler, by making a heavy challenge on Hampton early on the game. A journalist reported: "Thomson had great difficulty in holding the nippy Villa inside forwards and fouled Hampton so badly that the centre forward was prostrate for several minutes. Later in the game Hampton viciously retaliated by kicking Thomson when he was on the ground and it was regrettable that the game was marred by such unseemly incidents."

Charlie Buchan recorded in his autobiography, A Lifetime in Football,: "Thomson and Hampton soon got at loggerheads and rather overstepped the mark in one particular episode. Though neither was sent off the field, they each received a month's suspension." The referee, Albert Adams, was also banned for a month for failing to maintain order. Adams was never asked again to officiate in another professional football game.

Just before the end of the first-half, Clem Stephenson was brought down in the 18-yard box by Charlie Gladwin. However, Charlie Wallace, dragged his penalty shot wide of the post.

Soon after the interval Harry Hampton had a goal disallowed for offside. This was followed by Sam Hardy, the Aston Villa goalkeeper being injured after a clash with Henry Martin and for a time Sunderland played against ten men. Although they hit the upright twice and had one shot cleared off the line, they could not score against Jim Harrop, the Villa centre-half, who had replaced Hardy as goalkeeper.

With 15 minutes remaining Charlie Wallace took a corner-kick. He scuffed the ball and it came into the box at waist height. With the Sunderland defence expecting a high-ball, Tommy Barber was able to ghost in from midfield and head it into the net. Stephenson's dream had come true.

Four days later Sunderland played Aston Villa in the league. Sunderland was only two points in front of their rivals with only three games to go, they had to avoid defeat in order to make sure they won the First Division championship. Over 70,000 watched Harold Halse score the opening goal. However, Sunderland fought back and Walter Tinsley converted a pass from Henry Martin to earn a 1-1 draw.

Sunderland won their last two matches against Bolton Wanderers (4-1) and Bradford City (1-0) to win the title by four points from Aston Villa. Charlie Buchan finished as the club's top scorer with an impressive 32 goals in 46 games.

By the time the Football League resumed after the First World War, several of its best players were past their best. In both the 1920-21 and 1921-22 seasons the club finished in 12th place.

Bob Kyle completely rebuilt the playing squad and by the 1922-23 season Charlie Buchan was the only survivor of the Sunderland team that won the Football League title in the 1912-13 season. Sunderland had a much better season and finished in second place, six points behind Liverpool. Buchan scored 30 goals that made him the top scorer in the whole of the First Division.

In 1931 Johnny Cochrane, the manager of Sunderland, signed the 17 year old Raich Carter. He joined a team that included players such as Alex Hastings, Patsy Gallacher, Bob Gurney and Jimmy Connor.

In the 1934-35 season Sunderland finished as runners-up to Arsenal in the First Division of the Football League. The forward line included Raich Carter, Patsy Gallacher, Bob Gurney and Jimmy Connor. According to Charlie Buchan Carter was the star of the Sunderland forward-line. He wrote: "His wonderful positional sense and beautifully timed passes made him the best forward of his generation."

Despite only being 23 years old, Raich Carter was made captain of the Sunderland team as a result of an injury to Alex Hastings. In the 1935-36 season Carter was in great form that season scoring 24 goals in his first 22 games and Sunderland built up a good lead in the championship.

On 1st February 1936, Sunderland played Chelsea at Roker Park. According to newspaper reports it was a particularly ill-tempered game and Chelsea's Billy Mitchell, the Northern Ireland international wing-half, was sent off. The visiting forwards appeared to be targeting Jimmy Thorpe, the Sunderland goalkeeper, and he took a terrible battering during the match. After the game Thorpe was admitted to the local Monkwearmouth and Southwick Hospital suffering from broken ribs and a badly bruised head. James Thorpe died on 9th February, 1936.

Sunderland was devastated by the death of their 22 year-old goalkeeper. However, they continued their good form and by 13th April, 1936, the club only needed to draw at Birmingham City to clinch the title. The result was a 7-2 victory. That season Sunderland became the first club to score over 100 goals in a season. Raich Carter was joint top scorer with Bob Gurney with 31 goals.

In the 1936-37 season Sunderland could only finish 8th in the Football League. However, they had a great FA Cup run beating Luton Town (3-1), Swansea (3-0), Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-0) and Millwall (2-1) to reach the final against Preston North End.

The match took place on 1st May 1937. In the 38th minute, Hugh O'Donnellpassed to his brother, Frank O''Donnell, who scored the opening goal. Preston North End held the lead until early in the second-half. In the 52nd minute Eddie Burbanks took a corner. Carter headed the ball to Bob Gurney, who back-headed the ball into the net.

Frank Garrick, the author of Raich Carter: The Biography, described what happened next: "In the 72nd minute, Raich Carter was given a chance to atone for his missed chance. He was in the inside-left position when a bouncing pass came over from Gurney to his right. Carter beat the fullback, raced the goalkeeper to the ball and lobbed it out of his reach into the net. Both players finished in a heap on the ground and Sunderland were in the lead. Carter was mobbed by his teammates and the cheering lasted for several minutes."

Six minutes later, Patsy Gallacher created a third goal with a skilfully judged pass to Eddie Burbanks who shot home from a narrow angle. Carter had led Sunderland to its first FA Cup final victory.

Like many teams in the north of England, Sunderland's early origins owed much to a Scottish influence when, during 1877, James Allan arrived in the area from Glasgow University to take up a teaching position. He introduced the Association game to his school colleagues, which eventually led to the formation of the Sunderland and District Teachers Association with their home ground based at Blue House Field, Hendon.

John "Teddy" Doig succeeded the long serving "Stonewall" Kirtley as Sunderland's goalkeeper. Kirtley made a number of blunders in the opening games, and was blamed for a heavy defeat against Wolves. His replacement was brought in rather quickly though, and was unregistered in his first match and Sunderland were deducted two points as a consequence. Indeed, the whole manner of his arrival was surrounded in controversy, for he had signed for Blackburn but then walked out on them after one game - perhaps Sunderland had made him a better offer - and was duly suspended.

When some beardless boys have become grandfathers, they will gather the younger generation round them and tell a tale of Tyneside, about the stalwart Sunderland footballers who travelled to St James' Park and thrashed the famous Novocastrians as if they had been a poor lot of unfortunates from some home for the blind. Never have I watched forwards who have seized their opportunities with more eagerness and unerring power.

The game got underway in misty conditions with a light rain. The first half was a normal enough affair, Sunderland taking an cash lead on nine minutes through simple tap in by Hogg. The game erupted on half time though, as Newcastle were awarded a controversial penalty when Thomson was adjudged to have hand balled. The Sunderland players were incensed with the referee but their protests made no difference. Shepherd smacked home the spot kick and made it 1-1 at the interval.The Sunderland placers were livid and came out like men possessed after the half time break. Attacking the Leazes End, they set about destroying this Championship side. A further eight goals were smashed in during an amazing half hour period, six of them coming in only ten minutes!

Holley got the hall rolling just three minutes after the restart, the striker taking advantage when a brilliant run and cross from Bridgett caused confusion in the Newcastle defence. Ten minutes later, the Lads' increasing dominance of the game paid further dividends, as Hogg smashed his second of the game to make it 3-1.

By now, Sunderland were clearly on top, but a devastating ten minute spell was about to stun the whole football world. In the 63rd minute, Holley cleverly jinked past a couple of defenders to make it 4-1, and four minutes later completed his hat-nick with a thunderbolt shot. Two minutes later, Bridgett won a battle for the ball with Whitson before rounding him and making it 6-1.

The crowd created an atmosphere that even made our captain Charlie Thomson "excitable". Thomson was the centre of one of the main talking points of the game after a thrilling duel with the Villa forward Hampton. Charlie was determined this was not going to happen during the Cup Final, so early on he laid Hampton out to let him know who was boss! Hampton was later to retaliate by kicking Thomson when he was on the ground, but amazingly neither were sent off, although they were both suspended for the opening month of the next season!"

His (Leigh Roose) style of play was also completely different from any other goalkeeper of the time. Here was someone prepared to take on menacing centre forwards at their own game, rushing out to break up opposing attacks by whatever means possible - diving on the ball, kicking it clear, or resorting to more brutal means, such as clattering into a player with his six-foot frame. Up until then, this just hadn't happened. Goalkeepers were supposed to stay on or at least near their goal line at all times, daring to venture out only on rare occasions. Not Leigh, who spent long periods of each match playing in the position known today as 'sweeper', tidying up every loose ball in the gap immediately behind his defenders.... As George Holley put it, "He was the mould from which the rest were created."

Leigh's reflexes were astonishing, and he could punch the heavy brown footballs used in Edwardian days further than many of his opponents were able to kick it. Then there was his very own secret weapon, bouncing the ball all the way up as far as the halfway line before punting it towards the opposition goal with one of his monstrous trademark kicks. This was perfectly within the letter of the law, though few goalkeepers risked doing it for fear of either leaving their goal unattended or being steamrollered by a centre forward. It became a highly effective, direct way of launching attacks and Leigh used it to his side's advantage whenever possible....

One aspect of the game that had remained constant over the years was Leigh's attack-minded style of goalkeeping, running out as far as the halfway line while in possession of the ball before releasing it with one giant kick or throw. Although other keepers had by now become more adventurous in their play, using the whole of the penalty area rather than staying routed to their line waiting for a shot, Leigh was still in a world of his own when it came to using an entire half.

The crowd began to barrack me and I must admit I deserved it. I asked to be dropped from the side but the manager would not listen.

Finally after one game in mid-November when the crowd had, with every reason, been noisily expressive about my play, I stormed into the dressing-room and declared in a loud voice: "I'll never kick another ball for Sunderland."

Unfortunately, the local reporter heard me. In the evening paper, there were bold headlines on my statement. On Monday morning there were more reports.

Though I received hundreds of letters urging me to carry on, I packed up my bag and went home to Woolwich.

On the following Saturday, Sunderland were to play Woolwich Arsenal at the Manor Field, which was only about half-a mile from my home. I did not expect to play.

But two days before the game, Manager Kyle came to the house and, after a talk with my father, persuaded me to turn out. "Do your best to show the locals you can do it," he said, "and if you fail, we can talk about it afterwards."

I played, scored a couple of goals in a 3-I win for Sunderland, and felt much better afterwards. I stayed the following week at home and somehow felt a lot stronger.

That was the turning point. I returned to Sunderland and began to put on weight. I quickly ran up to 12st. 8lb. - my playing weight for the rest of my days - and struck a little form.

No longer did I get "the bird" from the crowd. They were very kind to me, as they were for the fourteen and a half years I spent with the club.

During this testing time I owed a debt of gratitude to trainer Billy Williams that I never repaid nor ever could repay. He looked after me like a father. If I got the slightest knock he came round to my house to attend to it at once. He also nursed me during training hours, saw that I did not overtax my strength and gave me tonics when he thought them necessary. At the time it was very often.

After I had been a few weeks at Sunderland, he noticed that I smoked quite a number of cigarettes during the day. Cigarettes were his pet aversion.

One day he handed me a new pipe, a pouch full of tobacco and a box of matches. "I want you to promise me that you will give this a fair trial and leave cigarettes alone," he said.

Taken by surprise, I gave him my promise. I smoked nothing but a pipe from that day until just over three years ago when I parted company with my teeth.

Trainer Williams was a strict disciplinarian. One day I arrived a minute or two after the time we were due to report for duty. There he stood at the door waiting for me to enter. Without a word, he pulled his watch from his pocket, looked at it then put it back. I felt very guilty. A few seconds later, he pulled out his watch again and repeated the performance. It made me feel so small that I vowed I would never be late for training again. I kept my vow.

While we were in the dressing-rooms during training hours or on match days, smoking was strictly forbidden. If a club director came into the room smoking, he was quickly ordered out. Williams was king of his own castle.

The date was 7th December, 1912, the score 7-0...For Charlie Buchan it was a personal triumph. Strangely, the man of the match was Liverpool's goalkeeper Campbell, who was outstanding; but for him it would have been double figures for Sunderland. There were clear opportunities early on for both sides, but it was Sunderland who took the lead. From a quick break Hall ran away, laid off the ball to Buchan, who with a swift low shot opened the scoring... Buchan coolly slotting home a cross from Martin. After the interval the Lads were straight on the attack looking for more goals. Nevertheless, it took until 21 minutes after break for the fifth goal, Buchan once again the man, registering his hat trick after converting a left-wing cross. Five minutes later and Buchan was beginning to make it a one-man show. Mordue took a corner, flighting it in beautifully, and after Campbell parried a shot, Buchan lashed the loose ball into the back of the net for the sixth. Having totally outclassed the opposition, we now took it easy, but with only four minutes left Holley strolled down the wing and crossed to Buchan who put in his fifth goal, and Sunderland's seventh.

Bob Kyle went into the transfer market. He bought Charlie Gladwin, six-foot-one-inch, fourteen stone Blackpool right-back, and Joe Butler, Stockport County goalkeeper.

Local people thought he must have gone crazy to pay something like £3,000 for the two. In those days, when the record transfer fee was £1,850, paid by Blackburn Rovers to West Ham United for inside-right Danny Shea, it was a lot of money, worth, I should say, ten times the amount today.

It was money well spent. From the moment Gladwin and Butler joined the side, Sunderland went ahead and became the finest team I ever played for, and one of the best I have ever seen.

Not only did we win the League Championship with a record number of points, but we nearly brought off the elusive League and Cup double, accomplished only by Preston North End and Aston Villa.

We reached the F.A. Cup final, only to be beaten by Aston Villa at the Crystal Palace before a record crowd.

Joe Butler, short and sturdy, very like Bill Shortt, the Plymouth Argyle and Welsh international goalkeeper, was reliable rather than spectacular, but it was Gladwin who revitalized the side.

There are people who say that no one player can make a poor side into a great one, and that there isn't one worth a £3,000 transfer fee. Gladwin proved they are wrong.

He used his tremendous physique to the fullest advantage. Before a game he would say: "When there's a corner-kick against us, all clear out of the penalty-area. Leave it to me."

We invariably did. But one day Charlie Thomson, our captain and centre-half with the big, black, flowing moustache, forgot the instruction.

The ball came across the goal ... Gladwin, as usual, got it and his mighty clearance struck Thomson full in the face. He went down like a log.

That was just before half-time. Thomson was brought round in time to take his place after the interval, but when he came out he joined the other side and started to play against us. He was suffering from concussion.

Gladwin was one of those full-backs who never read a newspaper or knew whom he was playing against. He was a natural player who went for the ball-and usually got it. Before a game, a colleague would say to him: "You're up against Jocky Simpson today so you're for it." All Gladwin would say was: "Who's Jocky Simpson?" At that time, Simpson was as well-known and as famous as Stanley Matthews is today.

At other times, one would say to Gladwin: "You must be on your best behaviour, Tityrus is reporting the game."

Now Tityrus, the mighty atom Jimmy Catton, was the out standing sports writer of his day and editor of the Athletic News, known then as the "Footballers' Bible".

Yet Gladwin's only remark was: "Who's Tityrus"?

Before every game, Gladwin pushed his finger down his throat and made himself sick. It was his way of conquering his nerves. Yet on the field he was one of the most uncompromising and fearless players I have known.

He stabilized the defence and gave the wing half-backs Frank Cuggy and Harry Low the confidence to go upfield and join in attacking movements.

Sunderland became a first-class team from the moment he joined the side. He was worth his weight in gold; yes, more than the £34,500 paid for Jackie Sewell.

With Gladwin and Butler consolidating the defence, Sunderland gradually crept up the League table until we knew we had a chance of winning the championship-there was only one team we feared, Aston Villa.

A week before the final we got a shock - George Holley, our great inside-left, received a severe ankle injury which threatened to keep him out of the game. After a test on the morning of the final, it was decided to play him.

It proved to be the most sensational of all the Crystal Palace finals. It was crowded with incidents, some of which are better forgotten.

First, there was the trouble between Charlie Thomson, our centre-half and Harry Hampton, Villa's dynamic centre-forward, the terror of goalkeepers. It was Hampton, who, in 1913, won an international for England at Stamford Bridge by charging Brownlie, the Scottish goalkeeper, with the ball in his arms, into the net.

Thomson and Hampton soon got at loggerheads and rather overstepped the mark in one particular episode. Though neither was sent off the field, they each received a month's suspension; the first month of the following season.

There was also an injury to Villa goalkeeper, Sam Hardy, which kept him off the field for about twenty minutes. The game was held up for seven minutes, making it the longest final, apart from extra-time, in the history of the event.

Hardy, I consider the finest goalkeeper I played against. By uncanny anticipation and wonderful positional sense he seemed to act like a magnet to the ball.

I never saw him dive full length to make a save. He advanced a yard or two and so narrowed the shooting angle that forwards usually sent the ball straight at him.

When the game was resumed, with Villa centre-half Jim Harrop in goal, we peppered away at the Villa goal. We hit the upright twice, but simply could not get the bail into the net.

Then, midway in this half, with Hardy back in goal, Villa forced a corner-kick on the right. Charlie Wallace took it and sent the ball waist-high somewhere about the penalty-line, a bad kick really.

Tom Barber, Villa right-half, dashed forward and got his head to the ball. As our defenders stood apparently spellbound the ball passed slowly between them into the corner of the net.

This amazing goal was enough to give Villa the Cup and made a dream come true for Clem Stephenson, Villa inside-left, of the stocky frame and north-country accent.

When we were lined up for a throw-in soon after the game started, Clem said to me: "Charlie, we're going to beat you by a goal to nothing."

"Oh," I replied, "what makes you think that?"

"I dreamed it last night," said Clem "also that Tom Barber's going to score the winning goal." I could not help but think of a song at the time which had these words: "Dreams very often come true."

A great schemer and tactician, Clem brought the best out of his colleagues by his accurate, well-timed passes. He was by no means fast but made the ball do the work.

He was the general who led the brilliant Huddersfield team to three successive League championships.

Young Carter, the Hendon schoolboy was, I am told, the best forward on the field in the match against Scotland on Saturday at Leicester which England won five to one.

Carter is improving every time he turns out with the seniors. I think he should be brought on slowly and he should not be overworked. It is many years since I saw a more promising pure footballer.

I think we will win. I am proud to captain the Sunderland team in the final, and the finest wedding present I could possibly get would be to receive the cup from His Majesty tomorrow and to bring it to Sunderland on Monday. Sunderland expects, and our boys won't fail for the want of trying.

From the kick-off it was clear that the players were suffering from nerves. In the opening exchanges passes regularly went astray. The Sunderland teamm took longer to settle down than Preston but gradually they came more into the game. Bob Gurney missed a difficult chance from an Eddie Burbanks cross and then put the ball in the net only to be judged offside. In the 38th minute, Frank O'Donnell combined with his brother Hugh, on the Preston left wing, to split the Sunderland defence and score the opening goal. This meant the Preston striker had scored in every round in the competition. More significant to Sunderland players and supporters was the knowledge that no team in a Wembley final had wonn the cup having conceded the first goal. However, this was the fourth time in five ties that Sunderland had fallen behind, so they knew they could come back. At half-time the score remained 1-0. In the dressing room one player claimed that O'Donnell must be stopped at alll costs. This provoked Raich Carter into a forceful response: "We have got to be more in the game. We have got to make the ball work more, find the man more. Let's play football as we can play it, and we shall be alright." It is interesting that there does not seem to have been any significant comment from the manager or the trainer.

With the captain's words in their ears, the Sunderland team equalised within six minutes of the restart. Burbanks took a corner which Carter headed forward to Gurney who had his back to the goal and back-headed the ball into the net. This goal further revived the Sunderland players, confidence flowed and the football was transformed. Sunderland were really playing now and they laid siege to the Preston goal. Next Carter missed what the Echo described as "an absolute sitter" when, on receiving a pass from Burbanks, he topped his shot into the side netting. The moan from around the stadium reinforced Carter's sense of disappointment. A chance had come and he had missed it.

At the other end of the pitch one of the great battles of the match between Sunderland's centre-half Bert Johnston and the Preston number nine O'Donnell continued to rage. Johnston had only prevented his opponent from scoring a second goal by bringing him down. The referee administered a stern warning but no caution or dismissal as would be the case today. As the duel continued Johnston gradually achieved mastery. At the same time Charlie Thomson, in midfield for Sunderland, was playing more and more impressively. He gave support to the defence and was involved in the moves which led to the goals.

In the 72nd minute, Raich Carter was given a chance to atone for his missed chance. Carter was mobbed by his teammates and the cheering lasted for several minutes. Choruses of the song "Blaydon Races" echoed around the stadium.

Raich Carter strode alone on to the field some time after the other players, as if disdaining their company, as if to underline that his special qualities were worthy of a separate entrance... It seemed that he treated the crowd and the game with massive disdain, as if the whole affair was far beneath his dignity. He showed only one speck of interest in the proceedings, but it was decisive. He was about 30 yards from the Barnsley goal and with his back to it, when he received a fast, wild cross. He killed it in mid-air with his right foot and hit an alarming left-foot volley into the roof of the Barnsley goal. Carter didn't wait to see where the ball had gone. He knew. He continued to spin through 180 degrees and strolled back to the halfway line as if nothing had happened. Normally the Barnsley crowd greeted any goal by the opposition with a loud silence, but as Carter reached the halfway line a rare thing happened: someone shouted, "I wish we'd get 11 like thee, Carter lad." The great player allowed himself a thin smile, as well he might, for he never received a greater accolade than that.

In 1960, Arthur Appleton in his book Hotbed of Soccer wrote that, "before the War Sunderland fans had, in the main, been slow to value Carter at his true worth, partly because he had developed with other excellent players ... although he was a local boy he was not generally taken to heart mainly, I think, because of his impassive demeanour. His efficiency as a footballer, although recognised by quite a few, was not fully appreciated until he had left - and really emerged as a national figure - during and immediately after the War. Carter was Sunderland's most consistently effective inside forward since Buchan.


Ten interesting facts about Sunderland

Sunderland is situated at the mouth of the River Wear and dates back to 1179, when a small fishing village was granted a charter.

Sunderland is situated at the mouth of the River Wear and dates back to 1179, when a small fishing village was granted a charter. Over the centuries, Sunderland grew as a port, trading coal and salt and was once famously hailed as the "Largest Shipbuilding Town in the World". Ships were built on the Wear from at least 1346 onwards and by the mid-eighteenth century Sunderland was one of the chief shipbuilding towns in the country. Now it relies on the car making industry and other business to support the town&aposs economy.

Here are ten interesting facts about Sunderland:

1. A person who from the Sunderland area is sometimes colloquially known as a Mackem.

2. The Victoria Hall was a large concert hall on Toward Road facing onto Mowbray Park. The Hall was the scene of a tragedy on 16 June 1883 when 183 children died, when they rushed towards a staircase for treats during a variety show. At the bottom of the staircase, the door had been opened inward and bolted in such a way as to leave only a gap wide enough for one child to pass at a time. As children surged down the stairs toward the door, those at the front became trapped, and were crushed by the weight of the crowd behind them.

3. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Sunderland found itself as a key target of the German Luftwaffe, who claimed the lives of 267 people in the town as well as causing damage or destruction to some 4,000 homes.

4. Glass has been made in Sunderland for around 1,500 years but overseas competition forced the closure of all of the town’s glass-making factories. However, the National Glass Centre opened in 1998, reflecting Sunderland&aposs distinguished history of glass-making.

5. Vaux Breweries was established in the town centre in the 1880s and for 110 years was a major employer. Following a series of consolidations in the British Brewing industry, however, the brewery was finally closed in July 1999.

6. The Sunderland Empire Theatre opened in 1907 on High Street West and is infamous for playing host to the final performance of British comic actor Sid James who died of a heart attack whilst on stage on April 26,1976.

7. In July 1986, Sunderland became home to a car factory owned by Japanese carmaker Nissan. This was the first European factory to be built by a Japanese carmaker.

8. Sunderland A.F.C after 99 years at their historic Roker Park stadium, they moved into the new 42,000-seat Stadium of Light on the banks of the River Wear in 1997

9. Each year on the last weekend in July, the city hosts the Sunderland International Airshow, which is the largest free air show in Europe.

10. Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, on Borough Road, was the first municipally funded museum in the country outside London. It houses a comprehensive collection of the locally produced Sunderland Lustreware pottery.


Historical Football Kits

James Allen, a teacher at the Hendon Board School, formed the club with some of his colleagues in 1879 as Sunderland & District Teachers AFC. A year later the club opened its membership to non-teachers and became Sunderland AFC. In 1884 Sunderland won their first trophy, the Durham Senior Cup.

In December 1884 the club dropped their original all-navy colours in favour of red and white but the familiar stripes did not appear until 24 September 1887. Instead, the team turned out in halved shirts with individual differences as was common at the time. The players provided their own knickerbockers in white, navy or black. (An alternate version is given on the club's website which states that stripes were introduced in September 1886 and worn interchangeably with the halved tops.)

In 1887, with professionalism now legal, players began to arrive from Scotland (where payments were still outlawed). A number of established players, seeing their places in the team being taken by these newcomers, set up the rival Sunderland Albion. Rivalry was intense but with wealthy directors from the coal and shipbuilding industry, Sunderland were able to build the stronger side, dubbed “The Team of All the Talents" and Albion eventually closed down in 1892.

In 1890 they became the first new club to be voted into the Football League, replacing Stoke. As the only club from the north-east in the competition, Sunderland was not a popular destination and they had to agree to pay their visitors’ traveling expenses. They made their intentions clear by erecting a sign outside the ground stating, “We have arrived and we’re staying here.”

It was not long before the chippy newcomers made their mark, winning the League championship in 1892, 1893 and 1895 (they were runners up in 1894). In 1898 the club moved into their new Roker Park stadium, which could hold 30,000 spectators. In 1902 Sunderland won their fourth League title

Their fifth title came in 1913 and they almost completed “the double,” losing 0-1 to Aston Villa in front of a record 120,000 spectators at Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final. In this match the team wore the coat of arms of Sunderland on their shirts.

During the 1920s “The Roker Men” had a relatively lean time but regularly finished near the top of the First Division. The club’s sixth championship title came in 1936 and a year later they won the FA Cup for the first time. A simplified version of Sunderland's coat of arms was worn in the final and in many league matches the following season.

After the Second World War, huge crowds flocked to Roker Park and the directors’ policy of paying large transfer fees earned them the nickname of “The Bank of England.” Sunderland were one of the first clubs to install floodlights (1952) and in the mid 50s the team played against the likes of Moscow Dynamo and Hearts wearing a set of flame red shirts in shiny material to aid visibility. In March 1956 they were drawn against Newcastle in the FA Cup sixth round and wore a set of red shirts with white sleeves (probably borrowed) while Newcastle wore their white change shirts.

High spending did not bring success and in 1958 Sunderland were relegated to the Second Division after 68 years in the top flight, a record only recently surpassed by Arsenal.

During the early 1960s the club played in white shorts as they tried to rebuild and in 1964 they were promoted back to Division One. From 1966 until at least 1970 the team wore a simple monogram on their all-white and all-red change strips but this never appeared on their striped "home" shirts. They were never far from the foot of the table and in 1970 they dropped back into Division Two. When Bob Stokoe was appointed as manager in October 1972 his first act was to restore the traditional black shorts, which was greeted enthusiastically by supporters.

In 1973, while still in the Second Division, Sunderland reached the FA Cup final where they met the holders Leeds United, then at the height of their powers. The rank outsiders famously won the match by the only goal to record one of the most romantic FA Cup feats ever. No doubt due to this success, the monogram (technically a "cypher") worn in the final became a permanent feature for the next four seasons.

It took until 1976 for Sunderland to regain their place in Division One but a disastrous season saw them relegated immediately in 1977. For the 1977-78 season a new crest was introduced that featured a ship (to symbolise the town's association with shipbuilding) above the club's signature stripes.

In 1980 Sunderland returned to the top flight. The traditional kit was abandoned between 1981 and 1983 for an odd concoction designed by French firm Le Coq Sportif. This proved deeply unpopular and was replaced in 1983 with a more traditional design. Despite these sartorial changes, Sunderland struggled near the foot of the table every season until they were relegated in 1985. Then in 1987, the unthinkable happened and they were relegated again, this time through the new play-off system to Division Three. The humiliation was short lived and the club stormed to the Third Division championship. Only two seasons later, in 1990, Sunderland returned to Division One in extraordinary circumstances. They were beaten in the play-off final by Swindon Town but the Wiltshire club were later denied promotion as a punishment for making illegal payments to players and Sunderland went up instead.

From 1991, the clubs crest was modified slightly: the colours were simplified and the ship and the football were reversed out.

The return was brief and Sunderland were back in Division Two after one season. They returned to the top tier in 1996 but went down immediately.

In 1997, after 99 years at Roker Park, Sunderland moved into their brand new Stadium of Light, one of the most impressive grounds in the country at the time. A competition was launched to find a new nickname for the club, with over half of the 11,000 fans who participated voting for “The Black Cats.” An interesting account of the association between the club and black cats can be found on the club’s web site. A new badge was also introduced. The ship was dropped (the shipbuilding industry was by now long gone) and two local landmarks were added. Above the shield is a winding wheel (the Stadium of Light was built on the site of the Monkwearmouth Colliery). The traditional red and white stripes, so beloved by the passionate supporters of this community minded club, remained.

In the new millennium Sunderland have continued to move between the top two tiers with some regularity. In March 2013 the club courted controversy by appointing Paulo di Canio as manager. The former Italian international had previously made several public statements in support of fascism, prompting the former Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Milliband to resign as club vice chairman. The Durham Miners' Association removed its banner from the Stadium of Light in protest. Di Canio's aggressive approach to management led to his dismissal after players protested to the Chief Executive about his "systematic destruction of the players' self-esteem and self worth." A succession of managers came and went while the team struggled to avoid relegation until 2016-17, when they dropped into the second tier after 10 years in the Premier League.

Worse was to come. The following season Sunderland finished bottom and were relegated to League One, only the second time they had found themselves in the third tier. In April 2018, after sacking their manager the owner, Ellis Short cleared the club's debts and sold it to an international consortium led by Stewart Donald, the chairman of Eastleigh FC. To underline their fresh start it was decided that the team would wear in red shorts with their striped tops. The reaction from supporters was overwhelmingly negative and it was decided they would play in black shorts at The Stadium of Light and red shorts away from home.


Sunderland AFC: Club History, Pt. 1: School Time

When James Allan arrived at Hendon Board School from Glasgow University as second assistant master the only football in Sunderland was rugby. He watched Sunderland Rovers play where the gas tanks are now in Commercial Road, but he didn't join in. He returned from a holiday back home with a round ball and began kicking it about the Hendon schoolyard. John Grayston, the first secretary of the teachers' association football club, and a pupil teacher at Hendon at the time, said that that yard was the spiritual home of the Sunderland Football Club.

The yard was still there, up until the late 1970's, with dips and curves. The old school was latterly used, in the main, as storage premises. What a coincidence that thirty-five years or so later a boy, Raich Carter, was born nearby and played in that same schoolyard and for Hendon School, Sunderland Bays, England Boys and England and then led Sunderland to . their long-delayed first Cup Final win.

In mid-October, 1879, Allan got interested teachers to meet at the British Day School at the corner of Norfolk Street and Borough Road. The stone-edged building is still there. Robert Singleton of Gray School was made captain. There was scarcely anyone to play against and many Saturdays were spent practising. The few clubs in the North East formed the Northumberland and Durham F. A. and began a knockout tournament. But some of the teachers were feeling the expense and it was decided to open the club to outsiders. People were invited to take part in practice matches.

New clubs appeared most often in colliery areas. The two leading early clubs in the North East, excepting the longer established Cleveland clubs, Middlesbrough and Redcar, were Newcastle Rangers who played at Leazes Terrace, later St. James' Park, and Tyne who defeated Sunderland in the 1883 Final on their ground near Brandling Park, Newcastle, before a "large assemblage".

With more clubs about, the expense of travelling made the association form into separate counties and the Durham F. A. had its inaugural meeting at Mrs. Brown's Three Tuns Hotel in Durham on 28 May 1883. Sunderland was one of the nine clubs represented.

In the Durham Senior Cup's first season, Sunderland, as winners of the Northern section of Birtley, Catchgate Red Stars, Hamsterley Rangers, Hobson Wanderers, Jarrow, Milkwell Burn, Tantobie and Whitburn, met Darlington, the southern section winners, in the Final at Newcastle Road. Sunderland won but Darlington protested that there had been interference by Sunderland supporters and the referee said that three Sunderland players had threatened him and that he had never given the fourth goal.

The Final was replayed at Birtley and excursion trains were run from Sunderland and Darlington. I should think this would be the first football excursion train from Sunderland, on 3 May, 1884. The game didn't start till 4.20 and Sunderland scored twice to win their first trophy.

The players had a pride in physical fitness and Grayston, who at twenty-one weighed 12 – stone, said although they changed in the Wolseley pub when they played at Horatio Street most of them were teetotal. They were nonplussed by the team play and short passing of Port Glasgow when they came down, Grayston touched the ball only three times in the first half. The Scotsmen won 11-0, but Sunderland learnt their lesson.

At Abbs Field for 1884-85 Sunderland trained twice a week and were as "hard as nails and as fit as pugilists". They had a reputation for being rough. In fact they were trained by a pugilist at the time and once in Newcastle this worthy knocked down a spectator who was rushing at a Sunderland player.

On 8 November 1884, Sunderland played in the English Cup for the first time, at Redcar, where they were beaten 3-1. The players paid their own expenses. Sunderland had suggested to Redcar earlier that they should play what was then termed as home and home matches, but the secretary of that old club asked: Where was Sunderland. Later, when Sunderland were the better known club they refused to meet Redcar in friendlies.

Darlington and Sunderland met again in the Final of the Durham Senior Cup, Darlington winning 3-0. Sunderland protested on six counts, one of them that the game was played in Darlington. Their protests were dismissed, so they didn't enter the competition the next season. Towards the end of 1884-85 when playing an army eleven in Dumfries there was the first reported bad injury: a compound fracture of the leg to Watson, a back who had just joined them from Birtley. A benefit match was arranged immediately. Jimmy Allan, treasurer, was accused of bribing the unfortunate Watson with £2. He quietened his accuser by threatening court action. The payment, if there was any, would have been for Watson to play for Sunderland.

The game was ostensibly amateur but some players, in the main Scots playing in Lancashire, were being paid and found jobs. Sunderland was one of twenty-eight clubs who in 1884 supported professionalism. They were the only club to do so in the North East, in fact the only other one outside of Lancashire was Aston Villa.

Jimmy Hunter who had been invited to come from Dumfries was fixed up with a job at J. L. Thompson's shipyard and was probably the first player to receive a back-hander. A small sub-committee was formed for this, operating independently. The club got an injection of players from Workmen‘s Hall team, mainly a shipyard team, including Fred Dale, who became captain and much later caretaker manager for a brief period Arnie Davison, right winger, and Bill Kirtley, who played in goal right through to League football. Old Bill looked after the billiards room in the old corner offices at Roker Park up to the mid-thirties, fifty years on.

Sunderland played 31 games in 1884-85, winning 21 and scoring 100 goals to 41 against. The only tabular derivation at the time was that of balance of goals: in favour, 59. A and B reserve sides were now being run. Committee meetings which after the move over the river had been held at Thomas Street School near the Wheat Sheaf, now finally moved out of schoolrooms first to the Workmen's Hall, in Whitburn Street nearby.

Both J. L. and Robert Thompson, the shipbuilders, came on to the committee, as well as James Marr and the Rev. Robinson Hindle of Eppleton. Alderman J. W. Wayman was president. Committee members paid 10s/6d, and the hundred or so ordinary members and players 5s/-. Travelling expenses for 1885-86 were paid out of funds. The gateman at Abbs Field got 10s/-and the policeman 2s/6d.

Up to December of that season receipts were over a pound only three times. Then Port Glasgow came down again, on New Year's Day, 1886, and after paying all expenses including the Scotsmen’s, Sunderland were £3 to the good. This time they were beaten only 2-1. In the New Year the Rev. W.A. McGonigle and Grayston were given the job of approaching the Misses Thompson for the regular use of the field in Newcastle Road. The first game was played there on 3 April 1886. Darlington, agreeing to be friends again, were the visitors. Sunderland won 3-1. People came more readily to the new ground which was nearer to the town on the side of the main highway north. On Easter Monday over three thousand were there to see the illustrious Sheffield side who won 4-3.

Expenditure for 1885-86 was £95. For 1886-87 it was nearly £350. Gate receipts were more than that and with subscriptions there was a balance of f67. E41 was taken for one match, that against Accrington, the first professional side to come to Sunderland. Sunderland gladly paid them their asking price of £25. Two Middlesbrough players who strengthened Sunderland were paid 3s/- each for loss of work. Accrington won 3-1.

The expenses shocked some people. Was not the club supposed to be amateur. Eleven pairs of boots at 6s/11d each eleven shirts at 6s/1 d each and a pair of gloves for 7s/6d (they must have been good), caused the local press to observe that this was the nearest approach to professionalism known to them. And as for f45 for entertaining teams. What did that hide?

Dowk Oliver from Southwick began that season at left back. He was the only player from those times to become know nationally and once was reserve back for England. In 1886-87 Sunderland had their first English Cup win. over Morpeth Harriers 7-1.

Late in the season Jimmy Allan after scoring an acrobatic goal against a Sunderland and District team was badly injured. A substitute came on for him. Over five thousand people saw this match and the takings, for charity, were an impressive £50. Few of the teachers were left now, although Grayston often acted as umpire. Allan was being superseded, his treasurer's office going to Samuel Tyzack, a coal owner. Robert Thompson became president and James Marr chairman. These men developed Allan’s work and outlook. Insurances were taken out, an accident fund paid into. There was a cabin for reporters, high in the stand. Sunderland brought leading clubs in 1887-88 paying £40 to Renton and £30 to Blackburn Rovers. Seven Scots, four from Dumfries, were paid to play. Receipts and expenditure both soared to nearly a thousand pounds. The elimination of local men was deplored by some people.

Money was flowing in. Sunderland were now keen to make a name nationally and after knocking Morpeth Harriers out of the English Cup again, receipts were £70 when they defeated Newcastle West End. They were then drawn to meet Middlesbrough. Oddly, the clubs had never met. Nearly 8,000 sew a dramatic match at Linthorpe Road where Middlesbrough fought back to draw 2-2.

In the replay, before their biggest crowd so far, Sunderland won 4-2, and seemingly were through to the last sixteen and a home tie with Old Foresters.

That night in a pub two Middlesbrough supporters heard one of Sunderland's Scotsmen telling the story of how he'd been paid 30s/- for playing. With this evidence Middlesbrough protested about the qualifications of three of Sunderland's Scots. F. A, enquiries were held at Darlington and then London. Sunderland lost, had to pay the cost of the enquiries, the three players were suspended for three months for professionalism, and Middlesbrough were given the tie. There was antipathy between the clubs for years.

Then the rebuffed club was hit by Jimmy Allan and nearly disintegrated. He called dissatisfied members and most of the Scottish players to a meeting in the old Empress Hotel in Union Street and formed Sunderland Albion. And he had the ground for them – the old Blue House Field at Hendon with headquarters at the Waverley Hotel in Norman Street between Hendon School and the field. He offered Grayston the position of paid secretary and when Grayston refused it, did not speak to him for three years.

James Hartley, Junior, of the Wear Glassworks, Millfield – Allan lived nearby in Whitehall Terrace, poured money into Albion and seven of Sunderland’s Scots joined them, as did Alderman Dr. Potts, Sunderland’s first president.

Allan organised quickly and well and before that season was over Albion had beaten Newcastle West End. For the start of 1888-89 they fielded four sides. The struggle for survival was on. The season was dominated by it. There was not sufficient support in the town for two major clubs.

In the Cup Sunderland beat Elswick Rangers and Newcastle East End, each tie attracting about 5,000 spectators. Albion, entering earlier. knocked out Shankhouse Black Watch, Newcastle West End and Birtley and then the two Sunderland clubs were drawn against each other. They were also drawn to meet in the Durham Challenge Cup.

Rather than put a lot of gate money into Albion's hands Sunderland withdrew from both competitions. James Marr said that Cupties had served their purpose and the unhealthy excitement they caused made scientific football impossible – they could now safely be abandoned.

There was an unprecedented outcry, so sustained that Sunderland reluctantly agreed to meet Albion in a friendly and suggested paying them £20 for expenses with the rest going to charity. Albion said Sunderland could give their share away if they wanted to, but they couldn't afford to.

Over 10,000 turned up to see the first local derby. Sunderland won 2-0. Albion's share of the net profit was £70, so Sunderland may as well not have withdrawn from the Cups. With the whole town behind them Albion pressed for a second meeting. Sunderland refused to go to Hendon, so Newcastle Road was the venue again, on 12 January, 1889.

Again some 10,000 people were there, and with trouble feared twenty policemen were on duty. About the kick-off the Sunderland Echo wrote: "Then the rivals faced each other in breathless expectation, with eyes on the alert and straining muscles, every movement dominated and dictated by the all-supreme will. At 2.20 p.m, Breconridge dealt the tegumentary cylinder a resonant thwack, and as it swished through the ambient air a multitudinous roar of 'They're off‘ proclaimed that THE GAME had begun." They had real kick-offs then, not just taps.

Albion were leading 2-0 at halftime, but just before the end, with the score 2-2, most of their players left the field in protest when a goal was given after a clearance from their goalkeeper rebounded from Breconridge. They maintained that the ball went over the crossbar. There were no nets then.

Stones were thrown at the Albion's brake in North Bridge Street as they returned, and Allan, struck in the eye, had to be taken to a surgery. A complaint of "brutal conduct" by Sunderland supporters was dismissed after a four-hour enquiry in the Grand Hotel. Sunderland were annoyed at Albion importing players for the match and Allan's behaviour – he had been on the line as umpire—was criticised.

W. T. Wallace, the Sunderland secretary, said Allan had been doing his best to break up the Sunderland club. Allan retorted in the Echo that the Sunderland club was indebted to him for its existence, and if he had felt disposed he could have shown the club's early Cup opponents the true standing of nine of the Sunderland players.

Albion went on to meet Grimsby in the First Round Proper. They did not meet Sunderland again for three years. Most of Sunderland's team departed at the end of the season: only four were left.

Albion were now the stronger and but for the determination of the Sunderland committee the senior club could have dropped back into a minor role. It didn't because Robert Thompson decided that a good full-time paid secretary was needed. Grayston said he knew just the man, a man who was out of work in Newcastle. Thompson gave him E10 and said fit him out and bring him to Ellerslie Terrace.

Sunderland were to take blows in the future especially in 1904 and 1957, but they always had momentum to carry them on. They hadn't much of that in the close season of 1889, but it was enough to bring them greatness. The feelings and decisions of such as Robert Thompson were crucial. The story after 1889 is really one of the ups and downs of football, not of survival.

The side which came in 1889 was the one dubbed the Team of all the Talents, and this was before Sunderland got into the League. When they beat Aston Villa 7-2 in an arranged fixture, William McGregor, the founder of the League, said Sunderland had a talented man in every position. They played 55 matches that season.


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The story of every season is told, along with a match report of the game of the year, a team photo, league table and a list of major new signings and players who debuted having come through the youth system.

The Absolute Record covers every game Sunderland are known to have played.

Line-ups, captains, scorers, attendances, debuts, final appearances etc are all listed for every league and cup game, along with an accompanying list of every friendly match.

The Absolute Record also provides Top 10s for a long list of categories. These include the tallest and smallest players, the heaviest and lightest and the oldest and youngest players and scorers.

The top 10 scorers are also listed along with those scoring the most hat-tricks, best scoring rate and even the teams who have scored the most own goals for Sunderland.

A further chapter on goalkeepers covers all angles, such as best clean sheet ratio and the outfield players to take over in goal.

A special section on penalties reveals the best scoring and saving rates, the most penalties in a season and the penalty shoot-out record. More have been won than lost, even if Sunderland have the unwanted tendency of losing the most important ones.

Managers aren’t forgotten – even if we would all like to forget some of them. Each manager’s win-ratio is included, along with their record against Sunderland after leaving.

This is all just part of the Absolute Record which also lists the career details of every player to ever appear in the first team, every international, every sending off, the top transfer buys and sales and even the club’s entire record in the FA Youth Cup.

*To order in advance and add a name to The Absolute Record go to www.safctheabsoluterecord.co.uk

Books must be ordered by August 31 to guarantee inclusion of a name of your choice in the book.

The book costs £30 + postage and packing. Books can also be ordered and collected without any postage and packing costs.

The first 100 books ordered will be personally signed by a Sunderland legend and include a personalised and numbered frontispiece.


Into the Light : A Complete History of Sunderland Football Club

Into the Light reveals the full thrilling story of Sunderland Football Club - charting the club's progress from being the first great team to dominate the Football League, to the squad which returned to the top of English soccer at the dawn of the new millennium. Hutchinson traces a journey from Newcastle Road to the Stadium of Light by way of Roker Park.

The early days of the Team Of All The Talents - the side in red-and-white stripes which took the English League by storm, breaking records and their opponents' hearts year after brilliant year - are brought vividly to life for the first time.

Great goalscorers like Johnny Campbell and Jimmy Gillespie and sensational goalkeepers such as the legendary Ned Doig stride out of the pages of Into The Light and the figures whose brilliance made Roker roar - from Len Shackleton and Brian Clough to the modern greats - are vividly portrayed.

League successes came easily and early to Sunderland. Into The Light explores the club's devotion to winning trophies with style. The long - and finally triumphant - quest for FA cup victories is followed game by game. The heartbreaks and disappointments are also here in this see-saw ride through 120 years of English football, which ends as it began - right at the very top. This is the history of a football club and more - it is the tale of British soccer.


Sunderland through the decades: Has the last ten years been the worst of them all?

As December arrives we enter the final month of another decade.

For Sunderland AFC it&aposs their 14th of existence, and after a double-relegation that sees them at their lowest point in their history, there&aposs certainly an argument that 2010-2019 is the worst decade of the club&aposs history.

To get a true feel of how it compares to the 13 that preceded it, we look back at the history of the club through the decades, with thanks and credit to Sunderland: The Complete Record by Rob Mason, Mike Gibson and Barry Jackson.

1880-1889 - The pre-Football League years

Number of league titles: 0

Other notable trophies won: Durham Challenge Cup (x4) North of England Temperance Festival 1884

League finishes: N/A

Considered to be formed in 1879 as Sunderland and District Teachers, they dropped the latter part of their name in 1880 to become more inclusive than just for school teachers.

They wouldn&apost become a professional club until the very end of the decade, and instead played friendly matches and club competitions in that time.

They lost their first game to Ferryhill 1-0 in November 1880, with W Elliott scoring the club&aposs first ever goal in their next game that same month as they beat Ovingham 4-0.

They would win four Durham Challenge Cups before becoming a professional Football League club (although the last technically came in the next decade in the 1889-90 season - prior to Sunderland&aposs admission into the Football League.) They were also twice beaten finalists also.

The club played in six different venues in this decade, closing it out at Newcastle Road, while the club&aposs third venue, Horatio Street, was the first that was north of the River Wear, where the club has since been. Newcastle Road was the most notable of their six homes in their first decade, however. They would spend 12 years here in total.

In December 1884 they recorded the club&aposs largest ever victory (23-0 against Castletown) with club founder James Allen netting 12. Their worst ever defeat was an 11-0 reverse to Cambuslang in January 1888. Earlier that season (September 1887) they played their first ever game in red and white stripes, beating Darlington St Augustine&aposs 1-0.

This decade also saw Sunderland enter the FA Cup for the very first time in 1884. They exited in the first round in the first three seasons, losing to Redcar twice, and Newcastle West End in 1886.

They made it to round three in 1887-88 and beat Middlesbrough after a replay, but were disqualified after a Boro appeal for fielding three professional players.

With the Football League formed in 1888, Sunderland went through qualifying that season, as an amateur club still, and were eliminated from the tournament after deciding not to play Sunderland Albion in the fourth qualifying round (Albion were a side set up by founder Allen who, by now retired from playing, had fallen out with the club over the handling of a situation with the FA).

Preston won the first two Football League titles, and dropped only four points in their first season. They lost 4-1 in Sunderland in a friendly in 1889, however.

Sunderland did turn professional themselves later in 1888, losing their first professional game in a friendly at home to Blackburn.

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1890-1899 - The &aposTeam of all Talents&apos

Number of league titles: 3

Other notable trophies won: World Championships

League finishes: 7th 1st 1st 2nd 1st 5th 15th 2nd 7th

Their second decade began well, as they won their final appearance in the Durham Challenge Cup and also defeated Aston Villa (runners-up in the first Football League campaign) 7-2 in a friendly. They became known as &aposThe Team of all Talents&apos after being dubbed as such by founder of the league William McGregor.

In May 1890 they were admitted to the Football League, with Reverend J Hindle offering to pay travel expenses to visiting teams to appease those with geographical objections to Sunderland&aposs admission.

A sign was erected above the entrance of the Newcastle Road ground which read: "We have arrived and we are staying here." Indeed they would, for almost seven decades. They were a English top flight side until 1958 (a record of 68 years, which was only recently beaten by Arsenal).

After finishing seventh in their first season, they won the next two Football League titles, and won it a third time in 1895 after missing out to Aston Villa in 1894. In February 1893 they beat Newcastle United 6-1 on Tyneside in the first ever game contested between the two sides under their current names.

As well as three FA Cup semi-final appearances, they were crowned &aposChampions of the World&apos in April 1895 after beating Hearts in a game of English league champions vs Scottish league champions.

With many players and manager Tom Watson leaving, however, Sunderland&aposs dominance over English football slipped. In 1896-97 they finished second bottom and stayed in the top flight thanks to two goals from Jimmy Gillespie to see off Newton Heath (later to be Manchester United) in a test match (that day&aposs promotion-relegation play-off).

Before the decade was out they moved to what would become their home for a year short of a century. With Newcastle Road&aposs capacity not enough to keep up with demand, they moved to Roker Park and lost 1-0 to Glasgow Celtic on Boxing Day of 1889 in the first ever friendly there.

Three days earlier Robert Hogg made sure they saw out the club&aposs most glorious decade in style as he scored the club&aposs first ever hat-trick against Newcastle United in a 4-2 league win.

1900-1909 - The Rokerites

Number of league titles: 1

Other notable trophies won: Sheriff of London Charity Shield

League finishes: 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 6th, 5th, 14th, 10th, 16th, 3rd

In a new home and under the management of Alex Mackie, Sunderland continued as one the most dominant sides in England in the first half of the decade, winning a fourth top tier title in 1902. The year before they&aposd missed out to Liverpool who were managed by former Sunderland boss Watson.

During that time, long-serving goalkeeper Teddy Doig set a club record by not conceding a goal for an incredible 806 minutes. Mackie was in charge for six seasons and is said to have based his side around a strong defence.

In 1903 they won the Sheriff of London Charity Shield. Unlike the more recent trophy of the same name, the game was contested between the champions of the professional game and those of the amateurs. Sunderland beat Corinthians 3-0.

He left for Middlesbrough in 1905 having served a three-month suspension for illegal payments to players. Six directors at the club, including chairman Sinclair Todd, were suspended from football for two-and-a-half years over the FA charge.

In the FA Cup, a quarter final place in 1909 was as good as it got.

1910-1919 - World War One

Number of league titles: 1

Other notable trophies won: 0

League finishes: 8th, 3rd, 8th, 1st, 7th, 8th

Sunderland won their fifth league title in he first half of the decade, but after one year of football co-existing with the outbreak of World War One, it was closed down in 1915.

Prior to the that, Sunderland signed striker Charlie Buchan in 1911 and in his second season he netted 27 goals to help Sunderland to the league title. Returning to the club after serving during the war, he would go on to net 322 goals for the club in total and remains the club&aposs second highest goalscorer of all time.

They reached their first ever FA Cup final in 1913 too, losing 1-0 at Crystal Palace in front of over 120,000 people. It was the first ever FA Cup final contested by the league&aposs top two.

With no football between 1915 and 1999, however, Sunderland lost a number of current and former players, including 1913 title-winning full-back Albert Milton.

Having just recently built a new stand to expand the capacity at Roker Park, the no football period also saw Sunderland just manage to stay in business, with Councillor Walter Raine coming up with idea of asking supporters to become guarantors to the football club. It secured the club&aposs survival with Scottish international John Auld who played in the club&aposs first ever league game and captained them to their first two league titles among those chipping in.

1920-1929 - Not so roaring Twenties

Number of league titles: 0

Other notable trophies won: 0

League finishes: 5th, 12th, 12th, 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 3rd, 3rd, 15th, 4th

Despite finishing in the top four in half of the seasons in this decade, the 1920&aposs are considerate a moderate to poor period of the club&aposs early history. It is the only decade pre-World War Two that the club failed to win a single trophy, with 1923&aposs second place finish their best league effort, while round five was as good as it got in the FA Cup.

Buchan continued his goalscoring form in the early years, top scoring for the club in every season until his departure in 1925. He was replaced by Dave Halliday who in four seasons became the club&aposs most prolific striker in its history. He netted at least 35 goals in all four season.

He was sold to Arsenal in 1929, replaced by another man who would become a club legend, Bobby Gurney.

1930-39 - Glory returns

Number of league titles: 1

Other notable trophies won: FA Cup 1937 Charity Shield (1936)

League finishes: 9th, 11th, 13th, 12th, 6th, 2nd, 1st, 8th, 8th, 16th

While the decade started poorly for Sunderland, it was key to the future success. As well as Gurney settling and leading the scoring charts every season, November 1921 saw Sunderland-born Horatio Stratton Carter - better known as Raich - sign. He made his debut in 1922 aged 18 and would go on to captain the side and score the winning goal as Sunderland beat Preston at Wembley.

One year prior Gurney and Carter scored 31 goals apiece as Sunderland won the First Division title for a sixth and, to date, final time. Johnny Cochrane the manager who led Sunderland to both 1930s glories.

1938-39 was to be the last season before the outbreak of World War Two and it would be Gurney&aposs final season too. He broke his leg in an FA Cup replay at Blackburn in just the second minute of the game, incredibly carrying on until half time.

As war broke out in September 1939 that ended millions of lives over the next six years, so too did Sunderland&aposs glorious and dominant formative years.

1940-1949 - During and Post World War Two

Number of league titles: 0

Other notable trophies won: West Riding FA Cup 1943

League finishes: 9th, 20th, 8th

Unlike WWI, football did continue during WWII, albeit just minor competitions. Sunderland reached a number of cup finals, and won the West Riding FA Cup in 1943. Roker Park suffered bomb damage during the war, but no contracted players died during the conflict.

The FA Cup resumed a season earlier than the Football League, with the cup competition getting under way in January 1946. Sunderland reached round five, but were beaten at home by Birmingham, with the Roker End still closed because of bomb damage. It didn&apost stop fans running across the pitch at half-time to take up a place in the potentially unsafe stand.

With club legend Carter now at Derby, Sunderland struggled when the league resumed in August 1946. They narrowly avoided relegation in the second season, finishing four points above Blackburn.

April 1946 saw Willie Watson join from Huddersfield. He was the first of many big-money signings which earned Sunderland a well-known nickname. Len Shackleton - the Clown Prince of Soccer - joined two years later.

1950-1959 - The Bank of England Club

Number of league titles: 0

Other notable trophies won: 0

League finishes: 3rd, 12th, 12th, 9th, 18th, 4th, 9th, 20th, 21st(R), 15th (D2)

Despite a respectable third-place finish in the first season of the decade, the 1950&aposs were bad years for Sunderland. Despite all the money they spent, they lacked an end product and lost more games than they won between 1950 and 1954.

Perhaps foreshadowing the way the game would eventually go, Sunderland&aposs failures despite their spending only meant that the spending continued. They hoped spending more money would cure their woes.

They never did and in 1958 they suffered the unthinkable. Relegated from the top tier, it ended their 68-year run in the top flight which stretched back to the league&aposs third season when Sunderland were first admitted.

Off the pitch, the issues were just as bad. Although widely considered to not be the only one, the were found guilty of making illegal payments to players and were made an example of. Fined £5,000, chairman Ted Ditchburn and other directors were suspended.


A History of Football in the North East: Sunderland

This series of articles looks at the modern history of football in the north-east of England. It will cover the most important events in the recent history of Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle United. In this second article, the focus will be on Sunderland AFC from the 1980s up until today.

A Modern History of Sunderland

The start of the 1980s is a very good place to start when covering the modern history of this club. The end of the 1970s marked the end of one era, and the beginning of a new one. Sunderland celebrated their centenary with a tribute match against an England XI, which they lost 2-0. In the previous decade, Sunderland had enjoyed a spell in Europe, and were looking towards a bright future. However the coming decade would bring a much tougher time.

Sunderland had been relegated to the second division (the league we know as the Championship today). Newly-appointed manager Ken Knighton was given the task of achieving promotion back to the first division. Knighton succeeded at this, but was nonetheless sacked the following season with Sunderland struggling at the bottom of the first division. Mick Doherty came in as caretaker manager to help Sunderland secure safety. The role was then given permanently to Alan Durban. Under Durban the club managed to stay in the division the following three years, but were still struggling. Unable to take the club forward, Durban was replaced with Len Ashurst. Despite taking Sunderland to the League Cup Final, which they lost against Norwich City, Sunderland were again relegated to Division Two. Ashurst was sacked, but that would not be the end of Sunderland’s downfall.

In came Lawrie McMenemy. He was not able to succeed in his task of bringing Sunderland back to the top division. Instead in 1987, Sunderland would be the first victim of the newly-introduced play-offs which, at this point in time, included teams at the bottom of the division. After losing against Gillingham, Sunderland were relegated to the then third division. McMenemy was sacked before the end of the season. A new manager was appointed with Denis Smith and, under him, the Black Cats achieved promotion at the first attempt, as champions in 1988.

Two years after came yet another promotion in dramatic circumstances. After beating their big-brother and fierce rivals Newcastle United in the play-off semi finals, Sunderland actually lost the final against Swindon Town 1-0 but still gained promotion. Swindon were denied entry to the top division due to financial irregularities. Sunderland’s visit to the top flight was a short one though as they were yet again relegated after their first season, and subsequently struggled in the second division. Still, the club managed to reach the FA Cup final that same season, but lost 2-0 against Liverpool. As far as managers go, Denis Smith left that same season and was replaced by Malcolm Crosby. Crosby was in charge for less than a year, and was replaced by former England player Terry Butcher. Butcher was then replaced after only 45 games, by Mick Buxton. Sunderland went through six managers in ten years.

None of them were able to gain promotion for Sunderland. When Buxton left, Sunderland were struggling at the bottom of the second division. In an effort to save themselves from relegation a certain Peter Reid was brought in. Relegation was avoided easily and Sunderland won the second division in style the following season. Sunderland would then play in the recently formed Premier League for the first time. There, they would set a new record in a wholly unwanted fashion. They would be the first club to get relegated from the Premiership with 40 points.

A new era would be marked in 1997 as Sunderland moved out of Roker Park, and into a brand new 42.000 all -seater stadium, Tmarchhe Stadium Of Light. That move seemed to spark some success, as Sunderland achieved third place in the Second Divison that season. They then reached the final of the play-offs, but were beaten by Charlton Athletic in an absolutely thrilling match. The next season no mistakes were made, and Sunderland won the league with a record 105 points. This would be a sign of what was to come from Sunderland and a certain Kevin Phillips.

Back in the Premiership for the 1999-00 season, Phillips scored 30 goals and won the European Golden Shoe. Sunderland finished seventh in the Premier League. That same season they also beat rivals Newcastle United 2-1 in a match that would cost Magpie manager Ruud Gullit his job. The following season another seventh place was achieved, and the club looked like becoming contenders for European football. However, the 2001-02 season would se Sunderland slide back into the relegation battle. They would eventually finish 17th, narrowly avoiding relegation. Still, six Sunderland players represented England in the 2002 World Cup.

There would be a brutal end to Sunderlands Premier League status in the 2002-03 season. After an awful start to the campaign, Peter Reid was sacked in October. Howard Wilkinson was brought in to secure the place in the league, but was unsuccessful and sacked after only 20 games. In a final effort to turn things around, Mick McCarthy was appointed manager in March. McCarthy failed to turn Sunderland’s fortune around, and thus ended the season bottom of the league, with only four games won and a record low 19 points.

Two years would pass before Sunderland won promotion back to the Premier League. In that return season the club would only be able to beat their own abysmal record of lowest points tally. They collected 15 points. McCarthy was sacked in March of that season and replaced by Kevin Ball. In 2006 things would change for Sunderland. Niall Quinn had a consortium takeover the club and eventually appoint Roy Keane as manager. With Quinn as chairman a large amount of money was brought into the club. Six players were signed and Sunderland went on to have a fantastic run in the Championship. After 17 matches unbeaten Sunderland fans were again looking forward to Premier League football.

In the first season back in the Premier League, Keane once again spent big. Bringing in goalkeeper Craig Gordon for 9 million pounds, along with 10 other players. The season was a struggle, but Premier League status was secured with two games to go. Once again though, a manager would have to leave after a run of poor results. In December 2008 Roy Keane left the club and Ricky Sbagria was appointed caretaker. Under Sbagria, the club narrowly avoided relegation although he was let go at the end of the season.

Steve Bruce was regarded as the manager to take the club to level it sought, and was put in charge before the 2009-10 season. Bruce was given money to spend, and brought in striker Darren Bent for 10 million pounds, along with a few others. Sunderland had a decent campaign. Bent was a success, scoring 24 goals as Sunderland finished 13th. Subsequently Bruce was given more money to spend. Before next season players like Asamoah Gyan and Stephane Sessegnon were signed. Yet another successful season followed, as the Black Cats finished 10th, beating Chelsea 3-0 along the way.

However it was to be the same old story all over again for Sunderland, as Bruce lost his grip on the club next season, and was let go before Christmas 2011. Optimism would once again rise at the Stadium of Light, as former Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill was appointed as manager. His first 10 games saw Sunderland pick up 22 points, and eventually finish 13th. In his second season in charge, despite a good start, a horrible run of results put Sunderland back in the relegation zone. O’Neill was sacked in March of that season.

Few could predict what was to come. Former player and openly fascist Paolo Di Canio was appointed in a process that ended in Vice-Chairman David Miliband leaving his post because of Di Canio’s former political statements. Di Canio did save the club from relegation and was viewed as a saviour by many fans. However, a horrible start to the next season meant the Italian was given the slip only eight games in.

Another exciting appointment was made in Gus Poyet. No immediate effect was seen, and Sunderland looked destined for the drop. But somehow Poyet pulled of a great escape and Sunderland stayed in the league once again. Despite a good start to the next season, the club gradually slided towards relegation. Beating the drop looked almost impossible as Poyet was sacked with nine games to go. In came Dutch legend Dick Advocaat, and once again Sunderland pulled off a great escape when everything looked bleak. Despite retiring at the end of the season, Advocaat decided to stay on as manager for the coming 2015-16 season.

The final article of the series will cover the modern history of Newcastle United.


Football’s Origins

Football has always been around in some shape or form since the beginning of the twelfth century, but the game really started to develop in the middle of the nineteenth century. Initially, the 1800s had seen football’s popularity embodied by public schools, but this dynamic was beginning to shift.

According to the Football Association’s official history, a chap called Ebenezer Morley helped create the FA after suggesting there should be standardised rules for football as there was for cricket- created by the Marylebone Cricket Club. This led to the official formation of the FA in 1863. From this, the official rules saw changes such as the standardisation of pitch size, the outlawing of hacking and the allowance of a “fair catch” on the pitch.

Football in England c.1680 Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In the years that followed, the FA developed its own tournament and the Football Association Challenge Cup was created in 1871. A year later, international football was played with England taking on Scotland at Hamilton Crescent, finishing 0-0 and leading to the formation of the Scottish FA in 1873.

Over the next decade, more teams outside of London began to form and play under FA rules, guided by district and county associations. Subsequently, this led to issues where northern clubs were pushing for professional footballers, whereas the southern clubs preferred playing as amateurs. In 1885, the FA buckled to the pressure of the northern clubs and legalised professionalism. Subsequently, the English Football League was founded in 1888 and consisted of twelve member teams. Preston North End became the first ever league winners in the league’s debut season.

The English Football League also had a rival, the Football Alliance League, which Sunderland Albion were a part of until 1891, but this league ultimately dissolved in 1892 and its fourteen member clubs became the English Football League Second Division. The First Division then expanded to sixteen member clubs, with the Second Division taking twelve clubs, which later expanded to sixteen in 1894.

The original FA Cup Photo by EMPICS Sport - PA Images via Getty Images


Share All sharing options for: Sunderland’s new owner can learn from what has gone on in the past to ensure a brighter future

Photo by Dave Winter/Icon Sport via Getty Images

Provided the EFL ticks the right boxes on the proposed new ownership deal, which is highly likely, then in my opinion Sunderland AFC have pulled off a major coup in selling the majority shareholding in the club to 23-year-old Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, reputedly with access to trust fund billions, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic during which the club’s finances have been compromised. In my view, despite our unbeaten away record in the league, the team’s performances have been negatively affected by the lack of fans at games this season.

This is at a time when Wigan’s latest takeover has been rejected, and although our deal is not yet “in the bag”, so to speak, there appear to have been alternatives, apparently including Matthew Pauls from the USA. For reasons I will explain later, I am happy that the club will likely not have a North America-based owner.

The prospective takeover deal says something about the worldwide standing of the club, its amazing fan base and the facilities both at the Stadium of Light and at the Cleadon Academy of Light training facility.

When the club enjoyed two successive top seven Premiership finishes under chairman Bob Murray and manager Peter Reid in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, average home crowds were 41,375 and 46,780. Even in the season when Sam Allardyce guided us away from relegation, 2015-2016, we averaged 43,071. So, although most fans are fed up with hearing it, we have great potential as a club, and are too often called a “sleeping giant”.

Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

If current owner Stewart Donald’s gamble had paid off to get The Black Cats promoted in 2019, he would have been hailed as a hero, and the whole rather dubious funding issue that later emerged would have been buried in a deal to attract funds and transition us into a competitive Championship outfit.

We are currently in the COVID-19-driven gloom of our third successive League One season and have had to learn live with the anticipated promotions just not happening. Although it will be an unpopular view with many fans, Donald does deserve some credit if the slated takeover does take place, given our current position in the league. Obviously with a decent winning run under Lee Johnson this current situation could all change, and soon.

It is only relatively recently in the history of Sunderland AFC that owners and the Board have been under strong media focus. From what I gather, in the early history of the club, it was run by a committee that selected the manager, but I presume this had all changed by the time we became the “Bank of England” club in the immediate post-war period. In 1949-50 we finished third in the top league, just one point behind champions Portsmouth, and I am happy to say that the Black Cats were top of the league in the week I was born early in 1955.

Certainly, by time the club’s hierarchy was involved in some financial scandals in the late 1950s, being found guilty of making payments in excess of the maximum wage to players, they were fined £5,000 (£121,000 today) and the chairman and three directors were suspended. So, by then the structure was fairly familiar.

I was eighteen when we won the FA Cup in 1973, but although attending every round except the final, the talk on the terraces was never about who owned the club. All I remember on that front when attending home games from 1968 onwards was that if we played badly there were occasional chants of “Sack the Board”, a common sound at Newcastle games.

Photo by Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

As mentioned in my previous piece, Tom Cowie made his money in the world of transport and was a friend of my father’s, but by the time he became chairman in 1980 I was working away from Wearside down in Hertfordshire.

The Cowie years were difficult for the club and if he had been at the helm in this modern era dominated by social media, I sense that rather like Steward Donald and Charlie Methven now, he would have been hounded in these forums and struggled to win any popularity competitions. Cowie was regularly at loggerheads with his incumbent team managers Alan Durban, Len Ashurst and Lawrie McMenemy but held on until Bob Murray became chairman in 1987 following our first relegation to the old Third Division.

The following two decades of Murray’s leadership brought immense change and some notable success during the Peter Reid era. Sir Bob, as he is now known, was clearly a different character to Cowie much gentler in nature and a gifted strategic thinker. He was behind the move to the Stadium of Light and the visionary hiring of Reid in the spring of 1995.

Murray also stuck by Reid in the yo-yo years following the 1996 promotion, achieved mainly on the basis of a strong defence with just 33 goals conceded, and the subsequent relegation in 1997 on 40 points.

Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

Most chairmen these days will sack the manager if there is even a hint of relegation from the Premiership note for example the goings-on at Watford in the past 8 years under the ownership of the Pozzo family. Billy McKinlay was once sacked after just 8 days in charge at Vicarage Road despite the team getting 4 points out of a possible 6 in a single month the Hornets had three head coaches. They seem to hire and fire at least a couple of managers each season, making Silvio Berlusconi appear like a stable leader. They treated Nigel Pearson shabbily just before their relegation from the Premiership last spring.

Bob Murray in my view should have kept Peter Reid on in the Sunderland hotseat in the 2002-3 season, even after his unpromising start and his failed attempt to replace Niall Quinn as the “target man” with the £6.75m signing of Tore Andre Flo, who by any analysis flopped at the Stadium of Light.

But in the end Reid was sacked in October 2002. As supporters we never really know what actually goes on behind the scenes but one thing is clear: Howard Wilkinson was a disastrous appointment following Reid’s departure. He was a hire which Murray was talked into when “calling Wilkinson for advice” about who to bring on board after the former Evertonian’s era. Everyone makes mistakes, which after his departure Wilkinson accused Sir Bob of, but overall, the two-decade long Murray chairmanship is generally remembered for its successes.

I do not recall Bob Murray being hounded in the media even after Howard Wilkinson’s disastrous tenure with that terrible subsequent 19-point relegation to the Championship. But that was again before the days of the current all-powerful voices of social media. The groundswell on that medium over the past year or two which changed current SAFC owner Stewart Donald from an open an interactive leader to a guarded and cagy individual, was not a factor in Murray’s time.

Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images

The altogether wonderful and charismatic Niall Quinn returned as a favourite son, displaying a passion for the club, connecting really well with the supporters and was the driver behind the sale of Murray’s shares to the Irish Drumaville consortium in 2006.

Quinn served briefly as manager when Roy Keane was approached for the Stadium of Light hotseat. Keane was at the club for just 15 months but brought us a rapid promotion back into the Premiership where we survived the crucial first season, the first of a ten-year stay in the world’s top league.

I have read the autobiographies penned by Peter Reid, Niall Quinn and Roy Keane. I could write at greater length about these great figures who influenced Sunderland in the modern era, but I will leave that for another opportunity. In 2009, Ellis Short took on the majority shareholding at the Stadium of Light.

I have previously elaborated in these pages about the terrible mistakes made at the club under Short’s leadership, the constant revolving door of both managers and players, how short-term, bullying American corporate thinking affected the way our beloved Sunderland AFC was run. He was essentially an absentee who paid the bills, as accurately observed by Stewart Donald in the excellent Netflix documentary “Sunderland ‘Til I Die”.

Becoming a US citizen in 2015 after residing in that country for a decade and having worked in the Biotech/Pharma industry in the USA, I know only too well from personal experience that the “hire and fire” culture is not a solution, but a symptom of poor and cowardly management. My personal view is that the influence of American corporate management styles has had a negative effect on working life in the UK. It certainly did for Sunderland AFC’s managers.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Short fired perfectly decent, well respected managers such as Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill. Even though the former cashed in on Jordan Henderson and Simon Mignolet, these were experienced men who could even have taken the club down a division and brought us back up the next season, following e.g. the current Burnley, Norwich or Watford model. I strangely even miss Gus Poyet who was definitely a passionate guy, capable of inspiring the team to some amazing performances.

I have mentioned the “hire and fire” in the current context of Watford. This notion is very common in top level football but does not build anything worthwhile in the longer term. A fan posted the following on the BBC website when the Saints went top of the league at one point this season: “Southampton are the perfect example of what happens when you give a manager time to implement their plans, ideas and tactics and don’t panic when you don’t see immediate results. Patience is a virtue.” This is in essence why Short failed as Sunderland’s owner there was no long-term planning. Paolo Di Canio was a bizarre appointment in 2013 – need I say more.

We have a history of wanting to change the manager at this football club. We have had 18 come through the door, including caretakers, since Steve Bruce departed just nine years ago. The list is so extensive that the topic of our managers has its own Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Sunderland_A.F.C._managers - even without the caretakers we have had 12 managers in that time. There is no evidence of long-term planning at the club this needs to change under the proposed new owners.

The issues involving the current ownership, i.e. the Stewart/ Methven era have been discussed in detail on Roker Report’s pages and in the associated podcasts. There is no doubting this fact: most fans feel let down we are now a League One outfit and unless changes are made in the playing staff in the current transfer window, we will struggle to get promoted to the Championship this year.

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To me the main strategic errors have been illustrated in the handling of strikers, as in the case of Josh Maja. Two years ago he left us for Bordeaux, after contributing 15 goals in half a season, to be replaced by… Will Grigg.

The first season in League One did have many distractions for the club’s leadership a new manager, a new Board that was getting to grips with running the club and reforming finances, aiming for promotion while trimming expenditure which meant that some high earners were forced out. But to many fans there seemed to be one core agenda: cutting costs.

This has left us with a playing squad that appears impoverished. Despite having fans who believe that we should be easily winning this division, the team has been so deeply emaciated by the current owners that almost all players of value have left. There are some signs of hope: a new manager who delivered a 4-0 win at League One leaders Lincoln City, the team being undefeated away from home this season, and some decent signings last summer such as Bailey Wright.

My personal message to the new Board once the Kyril Louis-Dreyfus acquisition has taken place: make a long-term plan in collaboration with the club’s executive management, especially Kristjaan Speakman and Lee Johnson, and stick to it.

Manchester City, Wolves, Southampton, Sheffield United and Leeds United have all been at this level for a few seasons in the not-too-distant past they formulated and executed solid plans which came to fruition. We have great fans who will stay loyal if the club is moving in the right direction.


Watch the video: Sunderlands Relegated 2016-17 Premier League XI: Where Are They Now? (August 2022).