Happy Birthday Sunderland AFC – 136 Years Old!

On Monday 27 September 1880 there was a critical announcement, as far as the formation of SAFC is concerned, detailed in the Sunderland Daily Echo that points to a  formation date of 25 September 1880. It read as follows:


“The teachers of Sunderland and District have formed a football club and the office bearers have been appointed as follows: Captain and treasurer, Mr Singleton; Vice Captain, Mr Allan; Secretary, Mr Elliot, 4 Rudland Terrace; Committee, messrs Gibbons, Chappell, Coates and Sewell”.


Announcement in the Sunderland Daily Echo & Shipping Gazette on Monday 27 September 1880.

Notwithstanding one or two spelling mistakes in the announcement it is clear that the date usually given for the formation of Sunderland AFC, October 1879, is not factually correct. It has now been established that SAFC were in fact formed on or around Monday 27 September 1880.

However we can go further than this and probably pin the formation date down exactly to 25 September 1880.

On page 4 of the same edition of the Sunderland Daily Echo the following was reported (extract only):

“On Saturday afternoon (25 September 1880) the Sunderland and District Teachers Association held a meeting in The Rectory Park School for the purpose of hearing MR TE Heller, secretary of the National Union of Elementary Teachers and a member of the London School Board on Union and educational matters”.

First of all what we now know is that Sunderland and District Teachers Association was an actual group, established well before SAFC was formed. They met in the then town of Sunderland to discuss educational matters.

Secondly, the article in question is a very long one and describes what was discussed. We can state that given the announcement on 27 September 1880 that representatives from the Sunderland and District Teachers Association formed the football club that would become Sunderland AFC after, highly likely, the meeting at Rectory Park School on Saturday 25 September 1880.

So where was Rectory Park School? Part of it overlooked Galley’s Gill where the graveyard was, situated slightly to the West of where the old Vaux Car Park now is. The Ship Isis pub on Silksworth Row was clearly visible from the school. It is believed that it was also known as Bishopwearmouth School.

It’s ironic that this location in the now city of Sunderland is just the other side of the river to the present Sunderland Stadium of Light. Without knowing it SAFC when it left Roker Park moved towards the geographical location where it was formed. Take the river away and it’s a mere few hundred yards. If the school was still insitu it would have been visible from the platform of St Peter’s Metro station, the nearest Tyne and Wear system transit point to the now home of Sunderland AFC.

We can now clearly state that in an evidence based world that what became Sunderland Association Football Club was formed on 25 September 1880. The actual company, Sunderland AFC, would not be registered at Companies House (equivalent) until the late 1890’s.

Happy birthday Sunderland AFC – 136 years old today!

Download a copy of the Sunderland Daily Echo 27 September 1880 announcement (PDF)

The Myth Surrounding October 1879

New book chronicling the Founding Fathers of Sunderland AFC can be bought by following this link

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