Sunderland Association Football Club is a professional football club, based at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, in North-East England. They play in the Premier League. They moved to the Stadium of Light in 1997 after 99 years at Roker Park.
Before the Second World War, Sunderland were league champions six times - in 1892, 1893, 1895, 1902, 1913, and most recently in 1936, when they became the last team wearing striped shirts to win the league. They were elected into the football league in 1890, becoming the first team to join after the league's birth in 1888. Sunderland stayed in the top flight until 1958, a record only which Arsenal have bettered since, in 1992. The club won their first FA Cup in 1937 with a 3-1 victory over Preston North End.
Sunderland's major triumph post WWII was the club's second FA Cup victory in 1973, when the club secured 1-0 victory over Leeds United. Statistically, Sunderland are the sixth most successful in English league history.
Glasgow born Sunderland-based school teacher James Allan started the ‘Sunderland and District Teachers Association Football Club’ formed Sunderland A.F.C. on 17 October 1879. On 16 October 1880 the club changed its name to "Sunderland Teachers Association football Club" ie the Teachers bit remained, but the statement which announced this indicated that the club opened its membership to all in order to relax financial troubles and increase the pool of players available to it. Sunderland Teachers AFC became Sunderland AFC on limited company status. Sunderland enjoyed an extremely "unhealthy" rivalry with Sunderland Albion F.C. (who confusingly had the same initials) until their demise in the early 20th century.
Ironically it was James Allan who founded Albion after being voted off the Committee of Sunderland AFC although he had formed Albion prior to the meeting.
Sunderland were admitted into The Football League for the 1890-91 season, replacing Stoke. During the late 19th century they were declared as the "Team of All Talents" by William McGregor, after a 6 v 1 over Aston Villa at Perry Barr (erroneously up to now attributed to a 7 v 2 home win against Aston Villa), the founder of the English Football League, and between 1892 and 1902 the team won the league three times and were runners-up a further three times.
In 1913, Sunderland again won the league and lost their first FA Cup Final 1-0 to Aston Villa. It was the closest the club has ever gone to The Double.
The club's sixth (and to this day last) league championship came in the 1935-36 season, and the next season the club finally won the F.A. Cup after a 3-1 victory against Preston North End at Wembley Stadium.
Following the Second World War, the club suffered a downturn in fortunes, despite breaking a number of transfer records and being labelled 'The Bank of England Club'. In 1957 the club were implicated in a major financial scandal (the second in their history after the Andrew MacCombie scandal in 1904), resulting in an unprecedented fine of £5,000 and the suspension of the club chair and three directors. In 1958 Sunderland were relegated from the top-flight for the first time in their 68-year league history.
Sunderland won their last major trophy in 1973 courtesy of 1-0 victory over Leeds United in the FA Cup Final. Sunderland, a second division club at the time, won the game thanks to an amazing double save of Jimmy Montgomery to deny Peter Lorimer, described by many as the greatest save at Wembley, and by some even as the greatest save of all time. Ian Porterfield scored a stunning volley in the 30th minute to stun Leeds and take the win. Since 1973 only one other club (Southampton in 1976) has equalled Sunderland's achievement of lifting the FA Cup while playing outside the top tier of English football.
In 1985, Sunderland appeared in their first and only (to 2007) League Cup final, losing 1-0 to Norwich City.
1987 saw one of the lowest points in Sunderland's history, as they were relegated to the third division of the English league for the first and only time. Under new Chairman Bob Murray and new manager Denis Smith the club were promoted as champions the following season. In 1990, they were promoted back to the top flight, after losing to Swindon Town in the play off final, but Swindon's victory being revoked after being found guilty of financial irregularities. They stayed up for one year before being relegated on the final day of the season.
Sunderland's last outing in a major final came in 1992 when, as a second division club, they returned to the FA Cup Final. There was to be no repeat of the heroics of 1973, with Sunderland losing 2-0 to Liverpool.
The early 1990s was a turbulent period for the club. In 1995, they faced the prospect of a return the third-tier of English football. Peter Reid was brought in, and quickly turned things around. Reid's time in charge had a stabilising effect; he remained manager for seven years, one of the longest tenures in Sunderland's history.
In 1997, Sunderland left Roker Park, their home for 99 years. They moved to the Stadium of Light, a 42,000-seat arena that, at the time, was the biggest new stadium built in England since WW2. The move saw a renaissance at the club, as attendances jumped dramatically. The Stadium capacity was later increased to 49,000.
Sunderland returned to the top-flight as champions in 1999 with a then record points total of 105. Two consecutive seventh place finishes in the Premier League were followed by two less successful seasons and they were relegated to the second-tier with a record low points total of 19 in 2003. Former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy took over at the club and in 2005 he took Sunderland up as champions (the third time in under ten years). However, the following season was a disaster; Sunderland finished on a new record-low total of 15 points. McCarthy left the club in mid-season and was replaced temporarily by Kevin Ball, a former player.
Following their relegation new hope was given to the club by ex-player Niall Quinn, along with his Drumaville Consortium, successfully launched a bid to buy out former chair Bob Murray in July 2006. The consortium appointed former Manchester United captain Roy Keane, a former international team mate of chairman Niall Quinn, as their new manager. Quinn had been in charge for the first few games of the season in a disastrous start. However, under Keane the club rose steadily up the table with an unbeaten run of seventeen games from the start of 2007. Along with Birmingham City FC, Sunderland clinched promotion to the FA Premier League for the upcoming 2007-2008 season, following Derby County's 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on April 29th. Roy Keane was informed via a text message that Sunderland AFC had been promoted while walking his dog Triggs. On May 6th 2007 Sunderland were crowned winners of Championship after beating Luton Town 5-0 at Kenilworth Road.
Promoted to the Premier League, their first game was at home against Tottenham which they won 1-0 due to an injury time goal from Michael Chopra.
Sunderland began playing in an all-blue kit, then red and white halved shirts, settling on red-and-white stripes in 1887, parading this new kit in a game against Notts Mellors. The red and white stripes can be traced back to a gift from fellow North East team South Bank FC who helped Sunderland out when they faced financial difficulties. They donated a set of red-and-white striped kits, complete with black shorts, and Sunderland have been wearing those colours ever since. For the 07/08 season, the away kit is all white, which continues a tradition of Sunderland AFC wearing the colour (the team wore white on the first game at Roker Park in 1898). There is also a third kit, which is all blue.
Following promotion from the Football League Championship in the previous season, Sunderland are in their 107th full professional league season in the FA Premiership. In 117 years (76 in the top division), they have played over 4700 league games, of which they have won 41%, drawn 24% and lost 35%. Sunderland has an all-time positive league goal-difference of over 600.
Sunderland last won the league in 1936. Since then, their highest league finish was 3rd in 1950, although they did reach seventh in consecutive seasons at the turn of the 21st century. Since they were first relegated in 1958, Sunderland has not spent longer than 6 years in a division without being promoted or relegated.
In 2000 following a poll on the official SAFC website, Sunderland confirmed the football clubs traditional nickname of "The Black Cats".
There is a long historical link between Black Cats and Sunderland; including the "Black Cat Battery", a battery gun based on the River Wear, according to Sunderland AFC. However no evidence has been found by any supporter to back this up. This link is reinforced by folklore in which the black cat is said to bring luck.
A Sunderland supporter Billy Morris took a Black Cat to the 1937 FA Cup Final in his top pocket as a good luck charm, it worked as Sunderland brought home the trophy for the first time. during the 1960's a Black Cat lived in Roker Park and was fed and watered by the football club. Its reward for catching mice and rats.
Since the 1960s, the emblem of the Sunderland AFC Supporters Association has been a black cat. After 2000, Sunderland's Mascot became "Samson the Cat" and a few years later, Delilah joined him. Samson was originally named after shirt sponsor at the time (Vaux Samson bitter). Delilah was given her name to create the "Samson and Delilah" pairing; the name of a Biblical couple.
As well as the "Team of All Talents" at the turn of the 20th century, Sunderland was also known as the "Bank of England club" during the 1950s. This was due to the club's huge spending on the transfer market at the time, which saw the transfer-record broken twice.
At the beginning of the 2006-07 season, the purchase of the club by the Irish Drumaville consortium, the appointments of Niall Quinn and Roy Keane to their respective roles as chairman and manager, as well as the relatively large number of Irish players in the squad (nine players out of 34) led some fans to jokingly dub the team "Sund-Ireland".
Newcastle United fans tend to call Sunderland Dirty Mackem Bastards or Sad Mackem Bastards (often Often abbreviated to "SMB") because of the rivalry between these two north eastern giants. Sunderland embrace this and call the hated rivals the barcodes in response.
The official club fanzine is called Legion of Light. Others have included A Love Supreme, It's The Hope I Can't Stand,Sex and Chocolate, Wise Men Say, and The Roker Roar (later The Wearside Roar).
Reached the First Division in 1890 and over the next 50 years were league champions six times.
Were relegated from the First Division for the first time in 1958, making 68 consecutive seasons spent in the English top league, still the second highest total in English football. Since then though, they have struggled to establish themselves back in the top flight.
Played their first Premiership season in 1996-97, which ended in relegation on the final day of the season.
Returned to the Premiership in 1999 and finished seventh in both of their first two seasons back at the highest level.
Were relegated from the Premiership in 2003 with a record low of four wins, 21 goals and 19 points.
They returned to the Premiership in 2005/2006 season, but went down after just one season, breaking their own record by attaining just 3 wins and 15 points.
They then returned to England's top flight after a successful 2006/07 season in the Championship, winning it under the leadership of manager Roy Keane.
Have spent most of their time since 1958 bouncing between the top two tiers of the English professional league.
Were Division 1 champions in 1999 with an English league record of 105 points, which remained unbroken for seven years until Reading topped the same table with 106 points.
In 2006-2007, following a terrible start to the season - losing their first four games, Sunderland AFC went on to win The Championship once again. This meant that they had won the Football League Champions Trophy for the 10th time in their history - albeit it 4 of them being at the second level. However, it was a monumental achievement following the debacle of the previous season. The driving factors of this transformation were the financial takeover of the club by the Drumaville consortium led by Niall Quinn, and more importantly, the appointment of Roy Keane as the manager of the first team.
Spent one season in the Third Division (1987-88). The managerial expertise of Dennis Smith and frequent goal scoring of Marco Gabbiadini and striking partner Eric Gates, ensured that their stay at this level was a short one and they went straight back up as champions.
FA Cup runners up to Aston Villa in 1913.
The team inspired by local boy Raich Carter won the clubs first F.A. Cup in 1937, beating Preston North End 3-1.
Achieved a famous 1-0 victory over the then mighty Leeds United in the 1973 F.A Cup final thanks to an Ian Porterfield goal and a Jim Montgomery wonder save.
Reached the final of the League Cup in 1985, in which they were beaten 1-0 by Norwich City. Following this game the 'Friendship Trophy' was instituted, reflecting the excellent camaraderie between the fans of the two clubs. It is competed for each time the clubs meet and is currently held by Sunderland.
Most recent cup final was the 1992 FA Cup final, which was lost to Liverpool.
Out on loan
Current management and coaching staff
19 men have chaired Sunderland A.F.C. since it became a limited company in 1895 with an average tenure of 5 and a half years. The longest serving chair is Bob Murray who chaired the club for 18 years in two separate spells (of which the second - 11 years between 1995 and 2006 - was the longest continuous spell of any chair).
Fred Taylor escaped suspension following the 1904 illegal payments scandal, a feat not matched by Bill Ditchburn following a similar scandal in 1957. Ditchburn became the first and only Sunderland chair to be suspended during his tenure. The five proceeding chairs, Turnbull, Ritson, Parker and father and son Syd and Keith Collings, were all directors on the board during the scandal.
1879-1882 - Blue House Field, Hendon
1882-1883 - Groves Field, Ashbrooke
1883-1884 - Horatio Street, Roker
1884-1886 - Abbs Field, Fulwell
1886-1898 - Newcastle Road, Monkwearmouth
1898-1997 - Roker Park, Roker
1997-present - Stadium of Light, Monkwearmouth
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'Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is' - Bill Shankly