The Art Of Sunderland AFC

The Art Of Sunderland AFC

Although the vast majority of images of Sunderland has been taken through a camera lens there has been some superb examples of SAFC art, where the talented artist has used the theme of The Black Cats to produce some wonderful works. Over the years I have come across a number of examples of this art and thought that it would be interesting to show them off here. I do not know who some of the artists are and if they hit upon this page then please get in touch and Ryehill Football would be delighted to publicise your work. It’s difficult enough at times for artists to get publicity and recognition and we would be delighted to give you some.This page will be added to as more example of SAFC Art are found.

SAFC 1892

This wonderful image was painted in 1892 by a local artist called Jos R Curry a shows the Sunderland AFC team with then manager Tom Watson. I have absolutely no idea who Jos R Curry was and try and I might I can find out no details about him. We can however record who the players are:

Back Row – Porteous, Kirtley, Watson (Secretary), Oliver
Middle Row – Harvey, Stevenson, Auld (Captain), Gibson, Scott
Front Row – Smith, Campbell, Hannah

Hemy Painting

“A Corner Kick, Now Or Never”

Of course the daddy of all SAFC related artwork is the Hemy Painting that has had two or three names attributed to it over the years. The painting that now stands in the main foyer of the Stadium Of Light represented a scene from the 1895 4 v 4 draw at Newcastle Road against Aston Villa. This game was quoted by the National Football Museum as being club football’s first great rivalry. There is an article about Hemy and this painting on this site.

1890's SAFC Baines Card

This is a superb example of what was known as a Baines Card, basically due to the company in Bradford who produced them. They were produced in their hundreds for a vast array of rugby and football clubs and for Sunderland there are a number of different examples.

EFC v SAFC 1894

An absolute peach is this image from a game on Merseyside involving Everton and Sunderland. It dates from 1894 and is called a Woodcut Illustration. As there were no cameras in those days local artists used to turn up at football matches and draw a representation of the game. They were then included in various newspapers of the day. This one was originally black and white but I sent it over to a Wigan fan that I know, George Chilvers and he enhanced it and colourised it. The bigger version is immense. I’ll feature this image and the match report at some point in the future. You can see more of George’s fantastic work here – George Chilvers Colourised Football Images

Valentines Cards

This a superb example of the Valentine’s Series of postcards that were brought out in the early 1900’s. There is another example given below relating to Roker Park. Hugely sought after now they can command some hefty prices (well over £100) and there are some great examples of other clubs such as Everton and Manchester City. Again I have no idea who painted them but I’m assuming that they were especially commissioned from a single artist as the style of them all is too similar to be produced by different artists.

Roker Park

  James WatsonTh above is James Watson who played for Sunderland AFC in the early part of the 20th century. He was represented here in a series of postcards from The Heriot Series brought out circa 1904. Other Sunderland players feature including Ted Doig. Scottish examples from the likes of Hearts and Hibs are massively sought after and a Hibs one sold on E Bay last Christmas for around £175.

SAFC Scissors Cigarette Card025

This example dates from around 1905 and is from the Scissors series of cigarette cards. Again all of the major clubs were represented in the series and therefore Sunderland AFC was no exception. As far as I am aware no particular player is represented here.

Charlie ThomsonFrom around the same time period comes this gem from the Famous footballers Series of postcards. It is of Sunderland’s defensive colossus and captain Charlie Thomson. Thomson was a hugely respected figure amongst his peers and invaluable to the Wearside footballing cause.


Black Cat Drawing

This image has been included in the Ryehill football website look at The Black Cat nickname ad is a complete one off. It is believed to have been painted by a school pupil around 1909 as the teams named on the card provided our opposition in the FA Cup run of that year.

W - Leigh Richmond Roose

The famous playboy, footballer and war hero Leigh Richmod Roose is represented here in a comic postcard of the day. This dates from around 1910. Postcards were hugely popular back in the early part of the century and the post office was that efficient that you could often post say a postcard or letter from say Sunderland at 9am and it would reach its recipient in say Newcastle that afternoon.

Charlie BuchanIn the 1920’s and 1930’s there were a plethora of football magazines on the market and every so often they included freebies. Those of us old enough to remember Shoot! magazine and the like will remember freebies such as league tables and football cards. This one of Charlie Buchan was a freebie given away in 12ith a boys Magazine and was part of a set that included a dozen or so footballers of the day. Again these cards are now highly collectible.

SAFC Silk CardThe above, set against a white back drop was again brought out in the 1920’s by the Godfrey Phillips cigarette company and is made of silk. They are fairly easy to get a hold of on E Bay and other auction site and come in two sizes; The smaller size and a postcard sized silk.

SAFC v Man City 1932 - Large

A gorgeous watercolour type image of Sunderland playing against Manchester City in 1932. These appeared on football cards of the day but I was never quite sure as to whether they were colourised photographs or actual watercolours. Make your own mind up. Beautiful nonetheless.

The Football Match

No idea who the artist is for this painting but it clearly comes from the late 1940’s/early 1950’s due to the style of football strip being worn. Is this Sunderland AFC being represented? Mainly we played in black shorts during that era. Who knows. Nice painting though!

Len Shackleton

The Clown Prince Of Soccer, that how Sunderland AFC’s Len Shackleton was portrayed. A footballer of immense skill and also controversy he was a Star player of the 1950’s. Any older fans looking in will remember images such as this being included in football annuals of the day, very popular around Christmas time. again I was never quite sure what these are; are they photographs that have been colourised or genuine paintings? There are other such Sunderland examples including Charlie Fleming and Trevor Ford.

1973 Painting

This beauty relating to the 1973 FA Cup Final appeared on E Bay. No stated artist but we can perhaps take a guess that it was an enthusiast who perhaps passed away and his collection was then sold to a dealer. As football art is highly prized then there is money to be made even out of the most innocuous of paintings.


He’s another with a 1973 theme. It clearly depicts three young lads playing football on a playing field with one sizing up to score a la Ian Porterfield. Absolutely brilliant depiction of both the goal and of what we all did, kick about with our mates. This painting however has a more modern touch to it and was clearly painted sometime around 2010 perhaps.

SAFC v Hull

This looks like it dates from the mid 1970’s and it looks suspiciously like Sunderland AFC v Hull City, perhaps 1976 or so. Pop Robson in picture as well as Billy Hughes as perhaps Jeff Wealands palms one over the bar at the Roker End.

Clash of the titans

Clash Of The titans shows a representation of Sunderland laying Newcastle United in the Tyne-Wear derby. As NUFC has their away strip on I’m presuming that it represents the game taking place at the Stadium of Light and was painted by an SAFC fan.

SAFC v Man City - League Cup Final 2014

A cracking painting of events at Wembley Stadium before the 2014 League Cup Final. Shows various supporters of the two clubs meeting each other and walking around the stadium. Not sure how the Man City fan is going to get their dog into the ground.

Chris Cummings Art

This one we do know the name of the artist is; Chris Cummings. A brilliant representation of Sunderland fans on Wembley Way with one flag showing the SAFC/Feyenoord relationship. The hyperlink takes you to his website.

Stadium Of Light

Not everyone’s cup of tea but I love this. Its clearly a photograph that has been enhanced and modified using filters but what a superb representation of a match day scene with the magnificent Stadium Of Light in the background.

W - Victorian Sunderland AFC

Last but most certainly not least we have the work of the internationally acclaimed artist Paine Proffitt. Paine got to be a friend of mine through a project that we worked on together, not yet released. Sunderland fans will remember his superb work as it featured on the match day programmes during the 2015/16 campaign. He has also featured on the covers of other programmes for clubs such as West Bromwich Albion and Aberdeen. Paine is a Port Vale fan. I was lucky enough to purchase some of the Sunderland AFC originals from Paine and commissioned him to paint the front covers for The Founding Fathers Volume I and Founding Fathers II books. He has an online shop where you can purchase his superb work – and

Above are just some of the works of art depicting Sunderland AFC. As I find more I will add them and just to repeat Ryehill Football would be absolutely delighted to give any football artist publicity and recognition on this website.


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