Johnny Mapson

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Johnny Mapson
Personal information
Full name John Mapson
Date of birth (1917-05-02)2 May 1917
Place of birth Birkenhead, England
Date of death 19 August 1999(1999-08-19) (aged 82)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1935–1936 Reading 2 (0)
1936–1954 Sunderland 345 (0)
Total 347 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

John Mapson (2 May 1917 – 19 August 1999) was an English professional football player.

Born in Birkenhead (at that time a part of Cheshire), Mapson moved to Swindon in his youth and worked in a succession of jobs including grocer's boy, in a bakehouse and as a milk boy before signing for Reading F.C. in April 1935. In March 1936 he transferred to Sunderland A.F.C. for the sum of £2000, beginning a career that would last with Sunderland A.F.C. for nearly twenty years.

The death of goalkeeper Jimmy Thorpe on 5 February 1936 propelled the 18-year-old Mapson, with only a couple of Third Division appearances for Reading F.C., into the championship chasing Sunderland A.F.C. first team. Sunderland A.F.C. won the Football League Championship in 1936, although Mapson did not make enough appearances to qualify for a medal. The following season Mapson established himself as a first team regular as Sunderland A.F.C. won the FA Cup on the day before his twentieth birthday.

Mapson was considered positionally astute as a goalkeeper, rarely having to make a last-ditch dive and had a distinctive method of catching the ball (one arm over the other to one side of his body).

Mapson's career was interrupted by World War II, during which he worked in an engineering works, assisting Reading F.C. in wartime football and helping them to win the London War Cup in 1941.

After World War II Mapson returned as first choice goalkeeper for Sunderland in an increasingly star-studded team during the so-called "Bank of England club" era of the early 1950s, so named as the club broke successive transfer records to buy and field a team of established internationals. Although ultimately unsuccessful in winning honours, the Sunderland team at this time was one of the great glamour sides of the era, fielding players of the quality of Len Shackleton and Trevor Ford.

In 1939 Mapson travelled with the Football Association touring party to South Africa, playing against the national side, and in 1941 played for England against Wales in a wartime international.

Mapson retired in May 1954 and lived with his daughter in Washington, Tyne and Wear until his death on 19 August 1999. He was the last surviving member of the Sunderland 1937 FA Cup Final winning side.


  • Johnny Mapson, Post War English & Scottish Football League A - Z Player's Transfer Database
  • Dykes, Garth; Lamming, Doug (2000). All the Lads. Sunderland AFC. ISBN 1-899538-15-1. 
  • Graham, Bob (1995). The History of Sunderland A.F.C. Wearside Publications. ISBN 0-9527352-1-0.