My relationship with Sunderland AFC (Association Football Club) began when I was conceived, some time in 1970 (I can’t be bothered to calculate exactly when and I won’t, out of respect to my parents)
I need to explain; when a child is born in the North East of England, the mother has a lot of ‘say’ when it comes to a child’s name, religion and schooling. The father has one job, that’s to make sure you don’t end up supporting the ’other team’. (Note: this is regardless of whether you are a girl or a boy, that’s irrelevant)
So, Michael Robson did his job and I was born and will die a Sunderland supporter. My earliest memory of going to a match was at Sunderland’s old stadium Roker Park. It was probably around 1977. So there I was, a 6 year old, plonked into the empty television camera box in the Clockstand, watching Sunderland vs Preston North End. I don’t recall the result, but do remember being in awe of the 30,000 roaring Sunderland fans (Mackem’s), This experience not only confirmed my religion as a true ‘mackem’ but increased my ’naughty word’ vocabulary ten-fold in 90 minutes, the rest as they say, ‘is xxxxxxx history’.
My pick of Sunderland’s history:
1. 1879 – Sunderland and District Teachers was founded by James Allan. They dropped the ‘teachers and district’ in 1880.
2. 1890 – Sunderland joined the football league, we won it in 1892 and 1893 becoming the first ever team to score 100 goals in a season. We came second in 1894 and won the league again in 1895.
3. 1908 – Sunderland record their biggest ever league away win 1-9 against Newcastle united.
4. 1933 – Over 75,000 supporters saw a FA Cup quarter final replay vs Derby Country – Still a club record and my uncle Geordie was there!
5. 1948 – True rebel talent, Len Shackleton (Shack) ‘the clown prince of soccer’ (think Zlatan on a good day) signs for Sunderland from Newcastle for a world record fee of £20,500. Read his autobiography it is amazing.
6. 1961 – Brian Clough signs for Sunderland. A pure genius who scored 251 goals in 274 games in his career. What would he be worth today?
7. 1973 – second division Sunderland, defeat Leeds united, one of the best teams in Europe at the time to win the FA cup.
8. 1985 – A young Gary Robson gets his first trip to Wembley to witness a 1-0 defeat against Norwich in the Milk Cup (league cup) final. An emotional experience with Sunderland supporters in fine song throughout the match. A young Robson is physically ill and inconsolable after coping with one of the biggest setbacks in his life and a bloody long drive home to Durham.
9. 1990 – A slightly older Gary Robson witnesses the game of his life as Sunderland defeat Newcastle at St James’s park. We go to Wembley in the play off final, lose to Swindon, but get promoted as Swindon are disqualified for dodgy financial dealings!
10. Sunderland now. I’m writing this from a hotel room in London after a disappointing 0-2 home defeat to Aston Villa. But overall I’m happy, we are holding our own in the Premier League, we have a great Chairman in Niall Quinn, a good manager in Steve Bruce and some talent on the pitch; Darren Bent has scored 10 goals so far this season, captain Lorik Cana is scaring the pants off everyone he meets, Andy Reid has stopped eating pie and started playing football. We have an owner with enough cash to make sure we will become an established Premier league team. The future is bright, must buy some shades.
Proper facts on Sunderland
Independent information on Sunderland
If you are going to see Sunderland and need some inside info, drop me a line. 99% of people in The North East of England are completely obsessed with the beautiful game, the rest of them support Newcastle and Middlesbrough.
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