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Sunderland AFC League 1
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Sunderland Football Club : 1879-1939

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Sunderland Football Club : 1879-1939 Empty Sunderland Football Club : 1879-1939

Post  Exilium on 2020-08-21, 11:31 am

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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.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Sunderland team in 1884
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".
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Sunderland team in 1891-92
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.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Painting by Thomas Hemy of the Sunderland v Aston Villa game played in April 1895.
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.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Painting of Ted Doig playing for Sunderland.
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.

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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.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]The Sunderland team in the 1922-23 season. Charlie Buchan is sitting third from the left.
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.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Raich Carter
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Jimmy Connor
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Bob Gurney
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.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Sunderland players carry Raich Carter on their shoulders on 1st May 1937.

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