The Sunderland AFC Collection

A Club That Abandons Its History Is Nothing

Ryehill Football has teamed up with two of our friends; the nationally acclaimed football colouriser, and Wigan Athletic fan, George Chilvers and Rangers fan Andy Imrie “the Photo Doctor” to produce a fantastic set of Sunderland AFC Art Prints for supporters to collect and to give as gifts for your Sunderland supporting family member or friend. They look superb framed and the Art Prints have a white border for that purpose. We also have one or two others from our collection that we have added.

All of the Art Prints in the collection measures 42cm x 29.7cm and are produced on the highest quality thick 350gsm silk paper. They are all priced at just £7.50 plus £4 for postage and packing, posted out in strong purpose made folders. The images below do not do the final product justice!

The series is now available to buy, with more to be added in due course.

Note that the watermark does not appear on the Art Print that you will receive. Superb quality is guaranteed. Postage is just £4 for any amount of prints purchased. Buy 1 print and you pay £4 postage, buy 7 and you pay £4 postage and buy over £75 and postage is free.

We also have others on the site to buy separately relating to Raich Carter, SAFC as World Champions and our First Ever Game v Ferryhill.

Email with any issues.

James Thorpe - Gave his life for Sunderland AFC

James Thorpe; Gave His Life For SAFC

Available for purchase soon. 


Bobby Gurney

The scorer of 228 goals in 390 first class appearances for Sunderland AFC, Bobby Gurney ranks alongside Raich Carter and the pre war English footballing icon Charlie Buchan as our greatest ever players. Here we see Gurney practicing at his beloved Roker Park. Born locally at Silksworth, Gurney sometimes travelled on the local supporters bus to the matches that he was playing in. Helping the club win both the league championship in 1935/36 and the FA Cup in 1937 no one can deny Gurney his place in the clubs rich pre war history. Simply one of our greatest ever.



Budapest 1913

In 1913 Sunderland AFC went on an end of season tour of Eastern Europe which took in Hungary. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy or so we are told and so the touring party took in the sights and sounds of Budapest in their spare time. Here we see Buchan, Thomson, Holley, Kyle et al in a Charabanc wearing their civilian clothes as they tour their host city.




The Original Black Cat

In January 1909, Sunderland were going through what was for them a relatively lean spell. It had been seven years since we had won the League, and the team which was to win the Championship with a record number of points and get to the Cup Final in 1913 was only just starting to come together. A 4-1 home defeat to Liverpool on New Years Day 1909 left the club in the bottom half of the First Division. When the players came into the dressing room the following day before the game against Bury, they found a stray black cat in residence. Sunderland won 3-1 that day, despite Harry Low missing a penalty, and this coincidence started the “lucky black cat” story. A fortnight later when we went to Bramall Lane and won 3-2 in the FA Cup after being 0-2 down in the second half, the feline mascot was offically adopted by the players. However pictures of a Black Cat with the players had been taken as early as circa 1903.

Pictured above are some of the Sunderland players, including a pipe smoking club captain and hardman; Charlie Thomson, with the clubs lucky Black Cat circa 1910/1913. Clearly it had just had kittens. Watered and fed by the club the cat caught rodents inside Roker Park.




Bob Kyle

Bob Kyle is the club’s longest serving manager having been in charge for 19 seasons and 758 league games, over 250 more games than the club’s next longest serving manager (Alan Brown). Kyle arrived at Sunderland from the Belfast Distillery Club, who he had played for and then managed since June 1897, for the start of the 1905/06 campaign, at a time when Sunderland was in a certain amount of disarray.

The 1903/04 and 1904/05 seasons, for Sunderland, had been dogged by controversy. The McCombie affair in which Sunderland were judged to have broken wage rules led to Directors and the then Manager being banned. As a direct result of this in October 1904 new Directors took over the club, including “Mr. Sunderland”, Fred Taylor, who would serve the club for decades. Furthermore the then Secretary Manager Alex Mackie left at the end of the 1904/05 season to take up the Secretary Manager position with Middlesbrough. On advertising the post Sunderland were inundated with 70 applications for the job. The then Caretaker, Fred Dale, was widely tipped to take over.

However Kyle had a growing reputation in British football having won three Irish League titles, two Irish Cups, one City Cup, three County Antrim Shields and one Belfast Charity Cup with Distillery. Also his Belfast team had defeated Sunderland in a 1903/04 friendly match adding to his reputation on Wearside. He took up his position at Roker Park in June 1905.

Kyle’s first 3 seasons in charge were relatively poor as he dismantled the previous Sunderland squad and rebuilt his own, astutely.  His first notable signing was Tommy Tait. A host of other quality players then followed. These included Harry Low, the legendary LR Roose, George Holley and Charlie Thomson. Frank Cuggy followed in 1909 but the final piece in Kyle’s jigsaw was the capture of the heroic figure of Charlie Buchan.

In the 16 seasons that followed the first three, Sunderland were league champions, runners up, third three times and were out of the top 10 on only 3 occasions. Kyle of course led Sunderland to the now legendary 9 v 1 triumph over arch rivals Newcastle United at St James Park.

The official statistical records show that Kyle topped the 750 mark in league games; however controversy surrounds his eventual demise. The last 12 games of the 1927/28 season were said to have been overseen by the Directors, with Kyle unofficially departing Roker on 15 March 1928.  With Kyle went Billy Williams, who had been Sunderland’s trainer since 1897. In 35 seasons since joining the league in 1890 Sunderland AFC had employed a mere 4 managers.


1913 FA Cup Final

An iconic match that drew a then worlds record crowd to watch, for the first time in an English cup final, the undoubted best two teams in the land. Sunderland and Aston Villa, the establishment clubs that would dominate the early pioneering days of world football. Played at The Crystal Palace Villa would win 1 v 0 but not before running battles had taken place, 17 minutes injury time added and the referee ultimately banned from the game for failing to control the teams, particularly SAFC captain Charlie Thomson who fought a running duel with Villa’s Hampton all game.

Here for the first time ever is a colourised scene from the match. Totally unique. Read about this iconic match here.


Ned Doig



The Hemy Painting

Anyone walking into the main foyer of the Stadium of Light can’t help notice the stunning painting, behind its protective glass casing, of the fixture between Sunderland and Aston Villa played at our then home ground of Newcastle Road. That this English first division match, played on 2 January 1895 ended 4 v 4 was run of the mill, that the painting is recognised as the oldest of an Association Football match anywhere in the world marks it out as something special.

The “Hemy Painting” as it is commonly referred to is in due deference to the artist Thomas Maria Madawaska Hemy. The painting has over the years had two titles; “A Corner Kick” and “The Last Minute – Now or Never”. Both Sunderland and Villa at that time were huge clubs. A draw wherever they played and this meeting of the two sides was eagerly anticipated. What is interesting to note is that Thomas Hemy was actually at the Aston Villa game. We know this because in The Echo’s 7 January 1895 edition their reporter at Newcastle Road spoke to him and their conversation was recorded in print. Interestingly there is no mention made of Hemy being their to paint the now iconic match scene.

SAFC v Villa 1893/94

The Oldest Club Rivalry

A trip to the National Football Museum, now in Manchester, informs the interested observer that in their opinion Sunderland AFC and Aston Villa gave world football its first great club rivalry. It should of course be appreciated that in the 1890’s and outside of England; Planet Earth was only just waking up to association football.

It is a little known fact that Sunderland AFC has played Villa more times for league points than any other club and that a pathway for the red and whites entry into the Football League in time for the 1890/91 season was in part due to the then non league clubs’ 7 v 2 thrashing of Villa in a friendly match. Subsequent clashes between the two sides were widely relished and became talked about, none more so than their epic and iconic battle at The Crystal Palace in the 1913 FA Cup Final.

The Oldest Club Rivalry image features the two teams, their respective managers and directors and was taken prior to The Black Cats first home game of the season at Newcastle Road, Sunderland on 9 September 1893. The match was drawn 1 v 1, the first time the red and whites had failed to win on Wearside in 16 home games.

At The Fulwell EndAt The Fulwell End

Number one in the series dates from the 1930/31 season and shows the following Sunderland players standing in front of a then roofless Fulwell End: Eden, Clunas, Urwin, Murray, Gurney, MacDougall, Bell, Gallacher, Shaw, Andrews, Connor. All top class players of the day they would lay the foundations for the clubs superb team of the mid 1930’s, a team that Bill Shankly, no less, waxed lyrical about and would be used as the template for building the invincible Liverpool side of the 1970’s. By the time the 1930’s came around Sunderland along with perhaps Arsenal were the top clubs in England. Bobby Gurney of course was a maestro. The local Silksworth lad who became a red and white legend.

Underneath The Roker End

Underneath The Roker End

We move on a couple of years from At The Fulwell End and to the other end of the famous Roker Park ground. Here we have the players and officials Underneath The Roker End in 1932/33. A quirky scenario for a team picture. Perhaps it was raining? Who knows. Gurney is still central to the team but is ably supported by the likes of Gallacher and Alex Hastings. Manager Johnny Cochrane of course plotting and scheming the usual defeat of the opposition behind the scenes, backed to the hilt by an ambitious board of directors, always aiming to make SAFC the number 1 club.

Back row – Prior, Hall, MacDougall, Clark, Shaw, Middleton, Johnston, Reid
Middle row – White, Murray, Hastings, Cochrane (manager), Gurney, Edgar, Taylor
Front row – Gallacher, Thomson, Davis, Connor, McNab

Charlie BuchanCharlie Buchan; “Touched By God”

Given the stature with which Charlie Buchan was viewed in the game the ace marksman could legitimately claim to be the greatest Sunderland player ever. Football player, decorated WW1 hero, newspaper columnist, friend of the stars; Buchan kept company with the likes of cricketing icon Sir Jack Hobbs. A superstar of his day here we see Buchan limbering up before a 1920’s SAFC game. Buchan, like his adoring Wearside public wept when he was sold to Arsenal. Buried at Golders Green cemetery in London his epitaph reads “God’s finger touched him and he slept”, perhaps in recognition of who gave him his talent.

The Holy Grail

The Holy Grail

By the time Sunderland AFC won their first FA Cup in 1937 the club had already been league champions six times, and its star of the day was Hendon born Horatio Carter. RAICH CARTER, ‘The Great Horatio’, was by common consent the finest English inside-forward of his generation and his delight was complete when the boy who was born where the club was formed lifted the football clubs Holy Grail, the FA Cup. Still revered in his native Hendon to this day the local sports centre stands like a shrine to his memory in a hard and working class area that does not adopt heroes lightly. Here we see Carter held aloft by his team mates as they parade the famous trophy around Wembley stadium. Job done.

SAFC 1887


By 1886/87 Sunderland were still amateur and four years off tasting the Football League. We didnt even have our famous stripes! That would come one season later from this epic Victorian football image. These are some of our footballing forefathers, the pioneers who worked towards propelling us forward and in the early years they helped us to become a club of stature. The red and white halved shirts had taken over from our original all blue kit and mighty fine the players look in it.

Back row – Wallace, Kirtley, Potts, Wilkinson, Smart, Dale, Reed
Front row – Lord, Davison, Stewart, Monaghan, McMillan, Gloag

v Everton 1894/95

v Everton 1894/95

It was 27 October 1894 when Sunderland AFC travelled to Goodison Park on Merseyside to play an Everton team that they would pip to the title. The Sunderland Echo summed the match up thus: “The uncertainty of football was never better shown than in this game at Goodison Park where with 4 minutes to go it looked odds on a 2-0 Sunderland win. However in these last 4 minutes Everton managed to draw level to the great disappointment of the travelling supporters who had been delighted with the splendid display of football given by their team. Many hundreds of Everton supporters had already left the ground so news of the draw was as surprising as it was pleasing”.

Here we see Ned Doig valiantly trying to keep Everton at bay whilst the expectation of the crowd behind the goal is palpable. Everton may well have pulled two goals back but in the wider scheme of things it wouldnt matter. For not only would Sunderland AFC become league champions that season we would also become World Champions following our defeat of Heart of Midlothian at Tynecastle, Edinburgh in April 1895.

Sunderland AFC, World Champions. It has a nice ring to it and this quite amazing image shows some of our world champions in action. Colourised from the original woodcut illustration.

Barney TraversBarney Travers

Born Sunderland 1894 Barney Travers started his footballing career with Sunderland Co-op, playing in the local Wednesday League. From there he moved to Oak Villa and Lambton Star, then Sunderland West End, before signing for Sunderland AFC in July 1919. He fought during WW1 and was taken prisoner, remaining a POW until The Armistice in November 1918. Travers played 63 times for Sunderland scoring an impressive 28 goals before he was transferred to Fulham on 21 February 1921 for £3,000. It was at Fulham that he was temporarily suspended by the Football Association for an alleged bribe in the South Shields v Fulham match in March 1921. Barney subsequently made his way to Spain where he was prevented from playing for Sabadell but became Vienna Player Manager in May 1922. He returned to Sunderland where he had a fruit and veg stall in the then Town.

Also available – Sunderland AFC World Championship 1894/95 Art Print