Sunderland AFC were formed in 1879 at a meeting of schoolteachers called by James Allanwho had started teaching at Hendon Board School.

At first the club was called Sunderland and District Teachers’ Association Football Club, but after one year non-teachers were allowed to join and the name was changed to Sunderland AFC.

Blue House Field was the club’s first home before the Black Cats enjoyed brief spells at other locations, with the club eventually settling at Newcastle Road in 1886.

Prior to their relocation the club won its first trophy – the Durham Senior Cup – with the Redcar club secretary proclaiming ‘where is Sunderland’ after the pair were drawn against each other.

Redcar and the world of football would soon find out.

However, in 1887 the club was almost destroyed as an influx of Scottish players saw James Allan depart and form Sunderland Albion, with the majority of Sunderland’s stars following him in the process.

An intense rivalry and battle for survival formed with the town unable to support two football clubs, but Sunderland’s election to the Football League and the emergence of the Team of All the Talents saw Albion cease to exist.

A notice outside the ground displayed ‘we have arrived and we are staying here’.

Sunderland remained in the First Division for 68 years winning six league titles along the way as legends were born and records were set.

The club were crowned champions in 1892, 1893 and 1895 with a move to Roker Park – home to the club for 99 years – coming in 1898 before the 20th century began with another title success in 1902.

A record-breaking 9-1 win at St James’ Park came in 1908 against Newcastle United with a fifth top-flight title secured in 1913, with the Black Cats bouncing back from five defeats in their opening seven games to win 25 out of the next 31.

That year Sunderland also reached the FA Cup final but they suffered Wembley heartbreak as Aston Villa secured a 1-0 win.

1925 signalled the end of an era as Charlie Buchan, who scored 209 goals for the club, departed and David Halliday and 17-year-old Bobby Gurney arrived, with the latter scoring 43 goals during the 1928-29 season after Sunderland defeated Middlesbrough in a relegation play-off one year earlier.

Roker Park’s capacity was also increased to 60,000 during this period with Raich Carter joining soon after – the youngster was an England international by the end of his debut season.

In 1933 an FA Cup replay with Derby County drew a record 75,118 spectators – a record which stands to this day – and Sunderland were champions again three years later in 1936 following the tragic passing of goalkeeper Jimmy Thorpe.

One season later Sunderland made history yet against as captain Carter led the club to their first FA Cup triumph, with the Black Cats securing a 3-1 win over Preston North End at Wembley.

The team also included Gurney whose 228 goals for Sunderland remains a club record.

After football resumed following World War II, Sunderland continued to be a major force within the game posting a combined gate of over one million during the 1949-50 season.

Sunderland finished third that year, missing out on the title by a solitary point.

And that was a familiar theme that played out throughout the 50s as the Bank of England club failed to live up to the hype before the Black Cats exited the top flight for the first time in 1958.

Alan Brown rebuilt the side combining young players including Jimmy Montgomery and Len Ashurst with astute buys such as George Herd, Brian Clough and Charlie Hurley, but Clough’s time at Sunderland and as a player was cruelly cut short due to an injury suffered on Boxing Day 1962.

Still a club legend, Clough scored an incredible 53 goals in 58 games before taking football management by storm.

Sunderland still managed to bounce back sealing a top-flight return in 1964, but Brown’s dismissal and a return to the Bank of England policy saw the team dismantled and it culminated in a second relegation in 1970.

Bob Stokoe was soon installed as manager and the rest, as they say, is history.

The legendary manager guided Sunderland to their second FA Cup with a dramatic and unlikely win over Leeds United in the 1973 final, before guiding the club back to the First Division in 1976.

Unfortunately the return was not consolidated and relegation once again followed before managers came and went in rapid succession during the 80s.

Promoted under Ken Knighton in 1980, there years of struggle followed under Alan Durban before relegation was confirmed in 1985 under Len Ashurst, with the Black Cats losing 1-0 to Norwich City in the Milk Cup final during the same season.

In 1987 Sunderland were victims of the new play-off system which, at the time, included teams at the bottom of the table, but in 1988 the club returned to the Second Division under Denis Smith in emphatic fashion.

Sunderland were promoted once more soon after due to Swindon Town being refused entry to the top flight, with the Premiership forming in 1992 before Peter Reid arrived on Wearside tasked with securing promotion.

In Reid’s first full season he secured the First Division title with 83 points.

Relegation followed after just one season back in the big time but Reid was retained as the club bid farewell to Roker Park after 99 years at the famous stadium.

Sunderland’s arrival at the Stadium of Light was almost marked with a return to the Premier League but a penalty shootout defeat to Charlton Athletic at Wembley following a 4-4 draw after extra-time saw the Lads suffer heartbreak.

One season later Sunderland made no mistake securing promotion with a record-shattering 105 points, and this time they capatalised on their success with Reid guiding the club to seventh place in the top flight – their highest position for 45 years.

Kevin Phillips, now a firm-favourite on Wearside, continue to cement his legacy scoring 30 league goals to become the only Englishman to win the European Golden Boot, with a second successive seventh-place finish secured one season later.

In 2003 Reid’s tenure came to an end as the Black Cats were relegated with Mick McCarthy his successor, and the Irishman enjoyed a successful spell as manager guiding the club to their first FA Cup semi-final in 12 years in 2004 before securing a top-flight return in 2005.

However, the cheers turned to years for Sunderland fans as a frustrating season ended in relegation and McCarthy departed, with the summer of 2006 yielding monumental change as Drumaville Consortium, headed by Niall Quinn, gained control of the club.

A slow start to the Championship season saw Roy Keane replace Quinn as manager, and the Irishman made an immediate impact firing Sunderland up the table as the title was secured.

In 2008 Ellis Short gained a controlling interest in the club before completing a deal to take charge in May 2009.

Sunderland have remained in the Premier League to this very day with the likes of Ricky Sbragia, Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat completing some of the greatest escapes in football history.

In October 2015 Sam Allardyce arrived and was tasked with repeating the feat and he did exactly that, with all on Wearside focussed on a bright future heading into the 2016-17 season.

Back to top