Sunderland A.F.C.

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Logo Sunderland.svg
Full name Sunderland Association Football Club
Nickname(s) "The Black Cats"[1]
Short name SAFC
Founded 1879; 136 years ago (1879)
(as Sunderland and District Teachers)
Ground Stadium of Light
Ground Capacity 48,707[2]
Owner Ellis Short
Chairman Ellis Short
Manager Gus Poyet
League Premier League
2013–14 Premier League, 14th
Website Club home page
Current season

Sunderland Association Football Club (Listeni/ˈsʌndərlənd/, local /ˈsʊn(d)lən/) is an English professional football club based in Sunderland that plays in the Premier League. Since its formation in 1879,[3] the club has won six First Division titles—in 1892, 1893, 1895, 1902, 1913, and 1936, the FA Cup twice, in 1937 and 1973 and the FA Community Shield in 1936. They were also Football League Cup finalists in 1985 and 2014.

Sunderland won their first FA Cup in 1937 with a 3–1 victory over Preston North End, and remained in the top league for 68 successive seasons until they were relegated for the first time in 1958. Sunderland's most notable trophy after the Second World War was their second FA Cup in 1973, when the club secured a 1–0 victory over Leeds United. The team has won the second tier title five times in that period and the third tier title once.

Sunderland play their home games at the 48,707 capacity all-seater Stadium of Light having moved from Roker Park in 1997.The original ground capacity was 42,000 which was increased to 49,000 following expansion in 2000. Sunderland have a long-standing rivalry with their neighbouring club Newcastle United, with whom they have contested the Tyne–Wear derby since 1898. Since their establishment in the Premier League in 2007, Sunderland have became one of the world's wealthiest football brands, being valued at USD $53 million in 2014, 31st in the world overall[4][5]


For a statistical breakdown by season, see List of Sunderland A.F.C. seasons.

Early years and league triumphs[edit]

Team photo taken in 1884

Founded in 1879 as 'Sunderland and District Teachers A.F.C.' by schoolmaster James Allan, Sunderland joined The Football League for the 1890–91 season. They replaced Stoke, who had failed to be re-elected, becoming the first new club to join the league since its inauguration in 1888.[6] During the late 19th century, they were declared the "Team of All Talents" by William McGregor,[7] the founder of the league, after a 7–2 win against Aston Villa.[7] Sunderland won the league championship in the 1891–92 season, one season after joining The Football League. The club's 42 points were five clear of nearest rivals Preston North End, and this performance led The Times to describe the players as "a wonderfully fine team".[8] Sunderland successfully defended the title the following season, aided by centre forward Johnny Campbell, who broke the 30-goal mark for the second time in consecutive seasons. In the process, they became the first team to score 100 goals in a season, a feat not matched until 1919–20, when West Bromwich Albion set a new record.[9]

One of the earliest football paintings in the world, Thomas MM Hemy's "Sunderland v. Aston Villa 1895" depicts a match between the two most successful English teams of the decade.

Sunderland came close to winning a third successive league championship in the 1893–94 season, finishing second behind Aston Villa. However, they regained the title in the 1894–95 season, ending the season five points ahead of Everton. After winning the English League Championship, Sunderland played against Heart of Midlothian, the champions of the Scottish League, in a game described as the Championship of the World title match.[10] Sunderland won the game 5–3 and were announced "Champions of the world".[11] Sunderland came close to winning another league title in the 1897–98 season, when they finished as runners-up to Sheffield United.[12] That season was their last at Newcastle Road, as they moved to Roker Park the following season.[13] After coming second in 1900–01, the club won their fourth league title in the 1901–02 season, beating Everton by a three-point margin.[14]

In 1904, Sunderland's management was embroiled in a payment scandal involving player Andrew McCombie. The club was said to have given the player £100 (£9.4 thousand today) to help him start his own business, on the understanding that he would repay the money after his benefit game.[15] However, McCombie refused to repay the money, claiming it had been a gift. An investigation conducted by the Football Association concluded that the money given to McCombie was part of a "re-signing/win/draw bonus", which violated the Association's rules. Sunderland were fined £250 (£23.5 thousand today), and six directors were suspended for two and a half years for not showing a true record of the club's financial dealings. Sunderland manager Alex Mackie was also suspended for three months for his involvement in the affair.[15][16]

Further league championship titles[edit]

On 5 December 1908, Sunderland achieved their highest ever league win, against north-east rivals Newcastle United. They won the game 9–1; Billy Hogg and George Holley each scored hat-tricks.[17] The club won the league again in 1913,[18] but lost their first FA Cup final 1–0 to Aston Villa, in a very tough loss.[19] This was the closest the club has come to winning the league title and the FA Cup in the same season.[20] Two seasons later the First World War brought the league to a halt. After the league's resumption, Sunderland came close to winning another championship in the 1922–23 season, when they were runners-up to Liverpool.[21] They also came close the following season, finishing third, four points from the top of the league.[22] The club escaped relegation from the First Division by one point in the 1927–28 season despite 35 goals from Dave Halliday.

Sunderland's 1937 FA Cup winning side

The point was won in a match against Middlesbrough, and they finished in fifteenth place.[23] Halliday improved his goal scoring to 43 goals in 42 games the following season,[24] an all-time Sunderland record for goals scored in a single season.[25]

The club's sixth league championship came in the 1935–36 season,[26] and they won the FA Cup the following season, after a 3–1 victory against Preston North End at Wembley Stadium.[27] The remainder of the decade saw mid-table finishes, until the league and FA Cup were suspended for the duration of the Second World War. Some football was still played as a morale boosting exercise, in the form of the Football League War Cup. Sunderland were finalists in the tournament in 1942, but were beaten by Wolverhampton Wanderers.[28]

For Sunderland, the immediate post-war years were characterised by significant spending; the club paid £18,000 (£555 thousand today) for Carlisle United's Ivor Broadis in January 1949.[15] Broadis was also Carlisle's manager at the time, and this is the first instance of a player transferring himself to another club.[29] This, along with record-breaking transfer fees to secure the services of Len Shackleton and Welsh international Trevor Ford, led to a contemporary nickname, the "Bank of England club".[30] The club finished third in the First Division in 1950,[31] their highest finish since the 1936 championship.

Financial troubles and three cup finals[edit]

The late 1950s saw a sharp downturn in Sunderland's fortunes, and the club was once again implicated in a major financial scandal in 1957.[16] Found guilty of making payments to players in excess of the maximum wage, they were fined £5,000 (£105,000 today), and their chairman and three directors were suspended.[15][32][33] The following year, Sunderland were relegated from the highest division for the first time in their 68-year league history.[34]

Ian Porterfield's winning goal in the 1973 FA Cup Final

Sunderland's absence from the top flight lasted six years. The club came within one game of promotion back to the First Division in the 1962–63 season. Sunderland required only a draw in their final game against promotion rivals Chelsea, who had another game left to play after this match, to secure promotion. However, they were defeated,[35] and Chelsea won their last game 7–0 to clinch promotion, finishing ahead of Sunderland on goal average.[36] After the close call in the previous season, the club was promoted to Division One in 1964 after finishing in second place. Sunderland beat Charlton Athletic in the final stages of the season, where they clinched promotion with a game to spare.[37] At the end of the decade, they were again relegated to the Second Division after finishing 21st.[38]

The homecoming open top bus parade after victory in the 1973 FA Cup final

Sunderland won their last major trophy in 1973, in a 1–0 victory over Don Revie's Leeds United in the FA Cup Final.[39] A Second Division club at the time, Sunderland won the game thanks mostly to the efforts of their goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery, who saved two of Leeds shots at goal in quick succession, one being from hot-shot Peter Lorimer.[40] Ian Porterfield scored a volley in the 30th minute to beat Leeds and take the trophy.[40] Since 1973 only two other clubs, Southampton in 1976,[41] and West Ham United in 1980,[42] have equalled Sunderland's achievement of lifting the FA Cup while playing outside the top tier of English football.

By winning the 1973 FA Cup Final, Sunderland qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, the club's only appearance in European competition to date.[43] Sunderland beat Vasas Budapest 3–0 on aggregate, and were drawn against Lisbon club Sporting in the second round.[43] They won the first leg at Roker Park 2–1 but were defeated 2–0 in the away leg, and were knocked out of the competition 3–2 on aggregate.[43] After spending six seasons in the Second Division, Sunderland were promoted to Division One in the 1975–76 season; they topped the table over Bristol City by three points.[44] However, Sunderland were relegated the following season back into Division Two, without their FA Cup Final winning manager Bob Stokoe, who had resigned because of health problems at the start of the season.[45] The club celebrated its 100-year centenary in the 1979–80 season with a testimonial against an England XI side, which they lost 2–0.[46]

Sunderland appeared in their first League Cup final in 1985, but lost 1–0 to Norwich City.[47] In 1987, Sunderland saw one of the lowest points in their history, when they were relegated to the Third Division of the English league for the first time.[48] Under new chairman Bob Murray and new manager Denis Smith, the club was promoted the following season.[49] In 1990, they were promoted back to the top flight in unusual circumstances. Sunderland lost to Swindon Town in the play-off final, but Swindon's promotion was revoked after the club was found guilty of financial irregularities and Sunderland were promoted instead.[50] They stayed up for one year before being relegated on the final day of the following season.[51]

The Davy lamp monument, outside the Stadium of Light

Sunderland's next 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, as Sunderland lost 2–0 to Liverpool.[52] The early 1990s was a turbulent period for the club.

Recent highs and lows[edit]

In 1995, they faced the prospect of a return to the third-tier of English football.[53] Peter Reid was brought in as manager, and quickly turned things around. Reid's time in charge had a stabilising effect; he remained manager for seven years.[54] After promotion from Division One in the 1995–96 season,[55] Sunderland began their first season in the Premier League, but finished third from the bottom and were relegated back to the First Division.[56] In 1997, Sunderland left Roker Park, their home for 99 years. Bearing fond memories of the stadium, former Sunderland player Len Shackleton said, "There will never be another place like Roker".[57] The club moved to the Stadium of Light, a 42,000-seat arena that, at the time, was the largest stadium built in England after the Second World War.[58] The capacity was later increased to 49,000.[59] Sunderland returned to the Premier League as First Division champions in 1999 with a then-record 105 points.[60] Sunderland's 1999–2000 season started at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea beat them 4–0.[61] However, in the return match later in the season Sunderland turned the tables on Chelsea, avenging their 4–0 defeat with a 4–1 win at the Stadium of Light.[62] Sunderland also achieved a 2–1 victory over rivals Newcastle United at St. James' Park,[63] a result which helped bring about the resignation of Newcastle's manager, Ruud Gullit.[64] At the end of the season Sunderland finished seventh, with Kevin Phillips winning the European Golden Shoe in his first top-flight season, scoring 30 goals.[65]

Another seventh place finish in the 2000–01 season was followed by two less successful seasons, and they were relegated to the second-tier with a then-record low 19 points in 2003.[25][66] Former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy took over at the club, and, in 2005, he took Sunderland up as champions for the third time in less than ten years.[25] However, the club's stay in the top flight was short-lived; as Sunderland were once again relegated, this time with a new record-low total of 15 points. McCarthy left the club in mid-season, and he was replaced temporarily by former Sunderland player Kevin Ball.[67] The record-low fifteen-point performance was surpassed in the 2007–08 season by Derby County, who finished on eleven points.[68]

Former player Niall Quinn led the takeover of the club in 2006, and spent six more years at the club in the roles of manager, chairman and Director of International Development

Drumaville Consortium takeover and Premiership stability[edit]

Following Sunderland's relegation from the Premier League, the club was taken over by the Irish Drumaville Consortium,[25] headed by ex-player Niall Quinn, who appointed former Manchester United captain Roy Keane as the new manager.[69] Under Keane, the club rose steadily up the table with an unbeaten run of 17 games[70] to win promotion to the Premier League,[71] and were named winners of the Championship after beating Luton Town 5–0 at Kenilworth Road on 6 May 2007.[72]

The club's form in the 2007–08 season was better than during their last season in the Premier League, as they finished 15th with 39 points.[73] Following an inconsistent start to the 2008–09 season Keane resigned, to be replaced by coach Ricky Sbragia as caretaker until the end of the season. After keeping Sunderland in the Premier League, Sbragia stepped down from his managerial post.[74] Meanwhile off the pitch, Irish-American tycoon Ellis Short completed a full takeover of the club from the Irish Drumaville Consortium,[75] and Steve Bruce was announced as the new manager on 3 June.[76]

One of Bruce's first signings, Darren Bent, cost a club record fee of £10 million. Sunderland started their first season under Bruce strongly, including victories against Arsenal and Liverpool, but then went 14 matches without a win over the winter,[77] eventually finishing the 2009–10 season 13th. Sunderland completed the signing of Ghana international Asamoah Gyan in August 2010 for a fee around £13 million, becoming their new record transfer fee.[78] Sunderland started the next season strongly, this time with a seven match unbeaten run against teams including Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. However, the run was ended with a 5–1 defeat to local rivals Newcastle United on 31 October 2010. Sunderland bounced back with another good run, the highlight being a 3–0 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. This run left Sunderland challenging for a European qualification place by the end of 2010. However, striker Darren Bent left Sunderland for Aston Villa in January 2011 in a deal potentially worth £24 million (a record transfer fee received for the club).[79] Following Bent's departure Sunderland suffered a mid-season slump and finished 10th — their highest top-flight finish for 10 years.[80]

In July 2011, Sunderland signed a partnership agreement with Ghanaian club Asante Kotoko.[81] Ellis Short replaced Quinn as chairman in October 2011, with Quinn becoming Director of International Development.[82] Bruce was sacked on 30 November 2011,[83][84] following a poor run of results, and was replaced by Martin O'Neill.[85][86] O'Neill made an instant impact, with Sunderland taking 13 points from a possible 18 in his first six games in charge, including a 1–0 defeat of leaders Manchester City on New Year's Day 2012. O'Neill was named the Premier League Manager of the Month for December. Sunderland also beat Peterborough United in the Third round of the FA Cup, and advanced to the Fifth Round after an extra time winner from Stéphane Sessègnon in a replay with Middlesbrough. In the fifth round, the Black Cats defeated Arsenal 2–0 to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2004.

On 20 February 2012, Niall Quinn left the club with immediate effect.[87] On his departure, Quinn said: "Everything is in place for Sunderland to really make a statement, which was always my aim."[87] On 24 August 2012, Sunderland announced the signing of Steven Fletcher from Wolverhampton Wanderers for a fee of £14 million and England international winger Adam Johnson from Manchester City. Despite this, Sunderland endured a difficult start to the season, with their first victory not coming until late September against Wigan. Despite the £5 million signing of Danny Graham in January, Sunderland suffered a further slump, taking just 3 points from eight games, and with the threat of relegation looming, O'Neill was sacked on 30 March, following a 1–0 home defeat by Manchester United.[88]

Paolo Di Canio was announced as O'Neill's replacement the following day,[89] bringing his own backroom staff. The appointment prompted the immediate resignation of club Vice Chairman David Miliband due to Di Canio's "past political statements".[90] The appointment of Di Canio also sparked opposition from the Durham Miners' Association,[91] which threatened to remove one of its mining banners from Sunderland's Stadium of Light, which is built on the former site of the Wearmouth Colliery, as a symbol of its anger over the appointment.[92][93][94][95] The background to the opposition was past statements made by Di Canio supporting Fascism.[91][94][96] The threat by the Durham Miners' Association was removed after meeting with the management of the club.[97]

After a 2–1 loss at Chelsea, Di Canio's second match in charge saw Sunderland beat Newcastle 3–0 at St James' Park in the Tyne Wear Derby and their first win at St James Park since November 2000. Sunderland then beat Everton at home the following weekend. Although they failed to win again that season, Wigan Athletic's defeat at Arsenal guaranteed the Black Cats' survival with one game to go. Over the summer, the club appointed Italian former agent Roberto De Fanti as the club's first director of football.[98] This prompted an overhaul with 14 new players joining the club, although Simon Mignolet[99] and Stephane Sessegnon[100] left the club (to Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion respectively).

After a run of one draw and four defeats in the opening five league games of the 2013–14 season, Di Canio was fired from the club. Gus Poyet was announced as his replacement on 8 October 2013.[101] Despite Sunderland losing 4–0 at Swansea in his first game in charge,[102] Poyet brought a turnaround in Sunderland 's fortunes as they brought their way back into contention for survival with wins against Newcastle, Manchester City and Everton, before thrashing Fulham 4–1 (with Adam Johnson scoring the first hat trick from a Sunderland player since 2010). Poyet also led Sunderland to the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City after a dramatic penalty shootout win at Manchester United in the semi-final.[103] Sunderland were defeated 3–1 by City in the final, despite leading 1–0 at half time through a Fabio Borini goal.[104]

Following the Capital One Cup final defeat, Sunderland suffered a dreadful run of form, with six defeats and a draw from the following seven matches, to leave the club facing relegation to the Championship after seven seasons in the Premier League.[105][106] Following a 5–1 defeat at Tottenham, manager Gus Poyet stated the club needed "a miracle" to stay up,[107] and Sunderland sat bottom of the table with 6 games remaining, 7 points adrift. However, they drew 2–2 at Manchester City and then defeated Chelsea 1–2, becoming the first side to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League under Jose Mourinho, ending a streak of 77 games over two spells.[108] The Black Cats went on to win their next 3 games, against Cardiff (4–0), Manchester United (0–1) and West Bromwich Albion (2–0) to avoid relegation with a game to spare.[109]

Colours and crest[edit]

Sunderland's club badge, used from 1977–97

Sunderland played in an all blue strip from their formation until 1884,[25] when they adopted a red and white halved strip.[110] They assumed the current strip of red and white stripes in the 1887–88 season.[111] Their badge included a ship, the upper part of the Sunderland coat of arms, a black cat, and a football in front of Sunderland's red and white stripes.[112] In 1977 the badge was changed, but still included the ship, football and the background of red and white stripes.[113]

This badge was used until the relocation from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light.[114] To coincide with the move, Sunderland released a new crest divided into four quarters; the upper right and lower left featured their traditional red and white colours, but the ship was omitted. The upper left section features the Penshaw Monument and the lower right section shows the Wearmouth Bridge.[114] A colliery wheel at the top of the crest commemorates County Durham's mining history, and the land the Stadium of Light was built on, formerly the Monkwearmouth Colliery. The crest also contains two lions, the black cats of Sunderland, and a banner displaying the club's motto, Consectatio Excellentiae, which means "In pursuit of excellence".[114]


Sunderland's stadium for 99 years, Roker Park
Average match attendances since 1891

Sunderland have had seven stadiums throughout their history; the first was at Blue House Field in Hendon in 1879. The ground was close to the place where Sunderland formed, at Hendon Board School; at that time the rent for use of the ground was £10 (£900 today).[15][115] The club relocated briefly to Groves Field in Ashbrooke in 1882, before moving again the following season.[116] The club's third stadium was Horatio Street in Roker, the first Sunderland stadium north of the River Wear; the club played a single season there before another move,[117] this time to Abbs Field in Fulwell for two seasons. Abbs Field was notable for being the first Sunderland ground to which they charged admission.[118]

Sunderland moved to Newcastle Road in 1886. By 1898, the ground reached a capacity of 15,000 after renovations, and its rent had risen to £100 (£9.7 thousand today) a year.[15][119] Near the turn of the 20th century, Sunderland needed a bigger stadium. They returned to Roker and set up home in Roker Park. It was opened on 10 September 1898, and the home team played a match the same day against Liverpool,[120] which they won. The stadium's capacity increased to 50,000 after redevelopment with architect Archibald Leitch in 1913. Sunderland were nearly bankrupted by the cost of renovating the Main Stand, and Roker Park was put up for sale but no further action was taken. On 8 March 1933, an overcrowded Roker Park recorded the highest ever attendance at a Sunderland match, 75,118 against Derby County in a FA Cup sixth round replay.[25] Roker Park suffered a bombing in 1943, in which one corner of the stadium was destroyed. A special constable was killed while patrolling the stadium. By the 1990s, the stadium was no longer large enough, and had no room for possible expansion.[121] In January 1990, the Taylor Report was released after overcrowding at the Hillsborough Stadium resulted in 96 deaths, an incident known as the Hillsborough Disaster.[122] The report recommended that all major stadiums must be converted to an all-seater design.[123] As a result, Roker Park's capacity was reduced. It was demolished in 1997 and a housing estate built in its place.[120]

The Stadium of Light has been Sunderland's home ground since 1997.

In 1997, Sunderland moved to their present ground, Stadium of Light in Monkwearmouth, which was opened by Prince Andrew, Duke of York. Built with an original capacity of 42,000, it hosted its first game against Dutch team Ajax.[124] The stadium bears a similar name to the Portuguese club Benfica's ground Estádio da Luz, albeit in a different language. Stadium expansion in 2000 saw the capacity increase to 49,000. A Davy lamp monument stands outside the stadium, and a miners banner was presented to the club by the Durham Miners' Association,[94][95] as a reminder of the Monkwearmouth Colliery pit the stadium was built on.

Supporters and rivalries[edit]

Sunderland are considered a big football club, based on average attendances compared with the lack of recent silverware and league standings. Sunderland held the seventh highest average home attendance out of the 20 clubs in the Premier League at the end of the 2013–14 season with an average of 41,089.[125] Sunderland fans often sell out allocations for away games, in the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season, 9000 Sunderland fans attended Old Trafford for the second leg of the Capital One Cup, which they won to go through to the final. At Wembley, London was taken over by thousands of Mackems, the sights of Covent Garden and Leicester Square was awash with red and white, local shops completely sold out of alcohol but only one arrest was reported by the Police. Support is drawn from across the North East, in particular County Durham, and beyond. The club has many supporter branches across the world, including the United States, Australia, Canada, Cambodia, and Greece.[126] Sunderland fans are known to be mostly politically left wing, and in some of the games the fans were singing "The Red Flag". Former chairman Bob Murray described Sunderland as a "Labour Club".[95][127]

Sunderland supporters during a match at Roker Park in 1996

The club has an official quarterly magazine, called the Legion of Light, which season ticket holders receive for no cost.[128] One of the club's current fanzine is A Love Supreme.[129] Others in the past have been It's The Hope I Can't Stand, It's An Easy One For Norman/It's An Easy One For Given, Sex and Chocolate, Wise Men Say and The Roker Roar (later The Wearside Roar).[130]

Traditionally, Sunderland's main rivals are Newcastle United, with whom they contest the Tyne–Wear derby. The club was rivals with fellow Sunderland-based team, Sunderland Albion, in the 1880s and 1890s. The clubs met in the FA Cup in the third qualifying round; Sunderland, however, withdrew from the competition to deny Albion a share of the gate receipts.[131] In the same season the clubs were drawn again in the Durham Challenge Cup; in a ploy again to prevent Albion from gaining money from the ticket sales, Sunderland proposed that the gate money be donated to charity. Albion declined and Sunderland won the match 2–0.[131] Sunderland achieved their first victory over Newcastle United at home in 28 years, when they won the derby in the 2008–09 season[132]

Affiliated clubs[edit]

Sunderland have recently created affiliations with several African clubs including Ghana's Asante Kotoko,[133] Eqypt's El-Ittihad El-Iskandary [134] and South Africa's Bidvest Wits. Sunderland also have an affiliation with Belgian side Lierse S.K., allowing the possibility for young African players who would not qualify for a UK work permit to spend three years with Lierse to gain a Belgian passport.[135] In August 2014, Sunderland announced a commercial partneship with Washington D.C. based MLS club DC United.[136] The partnership draws on the club's existing links to the USA through American owner Ellis Short, player Jozy Altidore, as well as the pre-existing friendship agreement between the two cities.

Statistics and records[edit]

League positions since 1890–91 season.

The holder of the record for the most league appearances is Jimmy Montgomery, having made 527 first team appearances between 1961 and 1976.[137] The club's top league goal scorer is Charlie Buchan, who scored 209 goals from 1911–1925;[138] Bobby Gurney is the record goalscorer over all competitions with 227 goals between 1926 and 1939.[139] Dave Halliday holds the record for the most goals scored in a season: 43 in the 1928–29 season in the Football League First Division.[138] As of October 2014 John O'Shea is the most capped player for the club, making 100 appearances for the Republic of Ireland.[138]

The club's widest victory margin in the league was in the 9–1 win against Newcastle United in the First Division in 1908. Sunderland's biggest ever win in the FA cup was against Fair field (a non-league team) and the final score was 11 – 1.[140] Their heaviest defeats in the league were 8–0 against Sheffield Wednesday in 1911, West Ham United in 1968, Watford in 1982 and Southampton in 2014[140] Sunderland joined the top division in England, The Football League, in the 1890–91 season and were not relegated until 1957–58 (a span of 67 seasons). In December 2014, Sunderland won a fourth consecutive derby against local rivals Newcastle United for the first time in their history.

Sunderland's record home attendance is 75,200 for a sixth round replay FA Cup match against Derby County on 8 March 1933.[141]


The biggest transfer fee Sunderland have ever received for one of their players is £24 million for Darren Bent who moved to Aston Villa on 18 January 2011. The biggest fee Sunderland have received for a player produced by the Sunderland academy is £16 million (rising to a possible £20 million) for Jordan Henderson, who moved to Liverpool on 9 July 2011. The biggest transfer fee paid by Sunderland is the eventual £16 million after add-ons for Bent, who was bought from Tottenham Hotspur in July 2009.


  • Seasons spent at Level 1 of the football league system: 84
  • Seasons spent at Level 2 of the football league system: 29
  • Seasons spent at Level 3 of the football league system: 1
  • Seasons spent at Level 4 of the football league system: 0

As of season 2014/15


A Black Cat logo on the exterior of the Stadium of Light

Sunderland's official nickname is The Black Cats. They have other nicknames, such as The Rokerites and the Roker Men.[142] After leaving Roker Park for the Stadium of Light in 1997, the club decided on a vote to settle the nickname for the last time.[143] The Black Cats won the majority of the 11,000 votes, beating off other used nicknames such as the Light Brigade, the Miners, and the Sols.[1][142] There is a long historical link between black cats and Sunderland, including the "Black Cat Battery", an Artillery battery based on the River Wear.[142]

Around the early 19th century, the southern side of the River Wear contained four gun batteries, which guarded the river mouth during the Napoleonic wars.[144] In 1805, the battery was manned by local militia, the Sunderland Loyal Volunteers, one of whom was a cooper by trade named Joshua Dunn. He was said to have "fled from the howling of an approaching black cat, convinced by the influence of the full moon and a warming dram or two that it was the devil incarnate". From that point onwards the John Paul Jones Battery was known as the Black Cat Battery.[144]

A Sunderland supporter, Billy Morris, took a black cat in his top pocket as a good luck charm to the 1937 FA Cup final in which Sunderland brought home the trophy for the first time.[142] During the 1960s a black cat lived in Roker Park, fed and watered by the football club.[142] Since the 1960s the emblem of the Sunderland A.F.C. Supporters Association has been a black cat.[145]

As well as the "Team of All Talents" at the turn of the 20th century,[25] Sunderland were known as the "Bank of England club" during the 1950s. This was a reference to the club's spending in the transfer market at the time, which saw the transfer-record broken twice.[25] 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, led some fans to jokingly dub the team "Sund-Ireland".[146]


The first sponsor to appear on Sunderland kits was Cowie's, the business group of then chairman Tom Cowie, between 1983–85.[147][148] The club was sponsored by the Vaux Breweries between 1985 and 1999, with drink brands such as Lambtons sometimes appearing on kits. Subsequently, the club were sponsored by Sunderland car dealership company Reg Vardy from 1999 to 2007.[147] Sunderland were sponsored by the Irish bookmaker Boylesports, who signed a four-year contract with the club in 2007 worth up to £12 million.[149] In April 2010, Sunderland signed a two-year shirt sponsorship deal with tombola, a local online bingo company.[150] On 25 June 2012, Sunderland announced the strengthening of their partership with the Invest in Africa iniative, with the iniative becoming the club's shirt sponsor for two years. The project is closely linked with Tullow Oil.[151] However, after a year the club announced a new sponsorship deal with South African company Bidvest.

The first kit manufacturer to appear on Sunderland kits was Umbro, between 1975–81. French brand Le Coq Sportif produced kits between 1981–83. Nike's first stint as kit manufacturer came between 1983–86, before kits from Patrick (1986–88), Hummel (1988–94), Avec (1994–97) and Asics (1997–99). Nike returned between 2000–04. Diadora produced kits for a solitary season, 2004–05, and Lonsdale made kits between 2005–07. Umbro returned for five seasons between 2007–12, before Adidas became the club's kit manufacturer for the first time in 2012.[152]


As of 18 February 2015.[153]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Romania GK Costel Pantilimon
2 England DF Billy Jones
3 Netherlands DF Patrick van Aanholt
4 Scotland MF Liam Bridcutt
5 England DF Wes Brown
6 England MF Lee Cattermole
7 Sweden MF Sebastian Larsson
8 England MF Jack Rodwell
9 Scotland FW Steven Fletcher
10 England FW Connor Wickham
11 England MF Adam Johnson
No. Position Player
14 Spain MF Jordi Gómez
15 France DF Anthony Réveillère
16 Republic of Ireland DF John O'Shea
19 England FW Danny Graham
20 Argentina MF Ricardo Álvarez (on loan from Internazionale)
22 Uruguay DF Sebastián Coates (on loan from Liverpool)
23 Italy MF Emanuele Giaccherini
25 Italy GK Vito Mannone
27 Argentina DF Santiago Vergini (on loan from Estudiantes)
28 England FW Jermain Defoe
30 England MF Will Buckley

Current reserve players with first-team appearances[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
38 France FW Mikael Mandron (at Shrewsbury Town until 30 June 2015)
39 England MF George Honeyman
42 England MF Liam Agnew

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
13 England GK Jordan Pickford (at Bradford City until 30 June 2015)
18 Greece MF Charalampos Mavrias (at Panathinaikos until 30 June 2015)
22 France MF El-Hadji Ba (at Bastia until 30 June 2015)
29 France DF Valentin Roberge (at Reims until 30 June 2015)

Player of the Year[edit]

Club officials[edit]

Position Name
Owner/Chairman Ellis Short
Chief Executive Margaret Byrne
Finance Director Angela Lowes
Commercial Director Gary Hutchinson
Director Per Magnus Andersson
Sporting Director Lee Congerton
Position Name
Manager Uruguay Gus Poyet
Assistant manager Argentina Mauricio Taricco
First Team Coach England Charlie Oatway
Goalkeeping Coach England Andy Beasley
Fitness Coach Italy Antonio Pintus
Academy Manager England Ged McNamee
Head of Coaching England Elliott Dickman
Senior Professional Development Coach England Kevin Ball
Head Under 21 Team Coach Scotland Robbie Stockdale
Under 21 Team Coach England Chris Blake
Under 18 Head Coach England Lewis Dickman
Under 21 & 18 Development Coach England Paul Bracewell
Youth Development Phase Coach Northern Ireland Darren Kelly
Women's Manager England Carlton Fairweather
Women's Assistant Manager England Melanie Reay
Women's Head Coach England Claire Robinson
Women's Head Development Coach England Amber Whiteley
Head of Scouting England Steven Houston
European Chief Scout Netherlands Hans Gilhaus
Scout Spain Felipe Martin
Senior Physiotherapist England Peter Brand
Kit Manager England John Cooke



The following are the honours Sunderland have achieved since their foundation in 1879.[154][155][156]


1891–92, 1892–93, 1894–95, 1901–02, 1912–13, 1935–36
1975–76, 1995–96, 1998–99, 2004–05, 2006–07
Runners-up (2): 1963–64, 1979–80
Promotion (1): 1989–90





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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]