Sunderland FC Founded 1880

On the 25th September, 1880 Sunderland and District Teachers’ Association met. James Allan, of Hendon Board School and an alumnus of Glasgow University net with his associates to announce the foundation of Sunderland. Various dates/years abound depending on your definition of ‘founded’, but Sunderland were eased into existence. Sunderland historians have their Allan legend of the ‘man with the ball in his luggage’. He apparently founded the Club actually at the meeting of the Teachers’ Association! What intrigues me is the insistence Sunderland was a rugby town pre-Allan.

This was Charles Alcock’s home turf. Haha. Allan joined Sunderland Rovers RFC as a ‘spectator member’. English histories suggest the Club was founded purely for amusement. Nah. Allan was asking people to play football, the minute he got there... Sunderland is part of the Spiders’ web. Taught to play Association by a Scot, they exported it (along with Scottish engineers/shipyard workers to places like the Basque Country.) Wherever you turn, the hand of the #scotchprofessor is present.

An example of the Scotch Professor on Wearside is John Auld. He is a cracking example of how people like the English manager Tom Watson operated. Tom was manager of Newcastle, Sunderland and Liverpool. He loved the Scotch Professor. Auld was persuaded to move to Sunderland in 1889 by Watson who had gone to Scotland with the Club Treasurer and a financial benefactor Samuel Tyzack. Auld received a £170 signing-on fee and £300. The latter amount was his wages - paid 2 years in advance! He was given a boot and shoe shop. Sunderland paid the 1st year’s rent - £50 and bought the shop fixtures. Just in case Auld did not feel loved enough, he received a £200 ‘loyalty’ bonus after 2 years. John Auld got 10s bonus for an away win. 7s 6d home win. 5s the draw.

It was understood that the ’Team of All the Talents’ got 30s per week and a £10 retainer AND jobs in the JL Thompson shipyard. But, even for that team, Auld was clearly a cut above. English clubs adopted subterfuge in that difficult time between Scottish and English professionalism. Both in acquiring, and paying players. Which #scotchprofessor was going to turn down Watson? Buy 11 Scots. Win the League.

The first League Championship came in 1892, then again, in 1893, 1895 and 1902. They were runner-up in 1894 and 1898. Watson was not there for the 1898 League. He had been persuaded to join the four year old club Liverpool FC, in 1896. Sunderland’s third League Title in 1895 ensured that the phrase ‘The Team of All Talents’ given them by William McGregor in 1890 after a ‘friendly’ 7-2 defeat of Villa was richly justified. Maybe the word ‘Scottish’ should have been added, before ‘Team’. That would have been more accurate.

The final proof that the Scotch Professor was the only answer to how to play modern football came 27 April 1895. On that day at Tynecastle Park 11 Sunderland Scots beat 11 Heart of Midlothian Scots for the unofficial championship of the world. The team that had won three League Titles in four years and come second in the only one they did not win, had reached the absolute pinnacle of the game. They were the best team in the UK. The honours went down to England who... Nah. Of course it didn’t! Are you daft!

Please tell me again how England invented football. I dare you. I double dare you.

Sunderland 1895??

Giving History a Sporting Chance