Sunderland and District Teachers’ Association Football Club (later to
become Sunderland A.F.C.) were formed / founded in October 1879, following
a meeting at the British School, Norfolk Street. This fact has been
published hundreds of times over a period well in excess of 100 years.
The fact is embedded in the club’s folklore and has been endorsed by both
professional and amateur historians over and over again. Historians, of
course, tend to weave their research into their own story or narrative,
so what has been published is always a personal interpretation of the
information they have unearthed; few of the readers of such publications
will have ever seen the original sources the historians have used to arrive
at their conclusions.
For a change, we thought it would be useful to collect the source information
that has been used by historians. Anyone who is interested can then examine
it and come to their own conclusions.
What follows are links to PDF files that contain details of all the relevant
source information regarding the formation of Sunderland A.F.C. that we at
TheStatCat have gathered over the years. The PDFs are merely a collection
and ordering of information that is already available in the public domain.
We are happy for anyone to download / print these PDFs for their own perusal;
all we ask is that if you find some information you haven’t seen before, and
use it elsewhere, you give a mention to
The first PDF covers the evidence for the October 1879 date. This evidence
is all anecdotal.
The above file refers out to two other PDFs which contain full transcripts
of newspaper articles that are significant primary sources: an 1887 series
from the Sunderland Echo entitled “Football in Sunderland”; and the memoirs
of one of the founders of the club, John Grayston, which were published in
the Sunderland Weekly News in 1931.
The final PDF is a collection of “factual” information that was actually
reported in newspapers in the 1870s through to the club’s first known match
in November 1880. A lot of this information has only recently come to light;
we first discovered most of it in the summer of 2014 and have been gradually
adding to it since.
If anyone discovers any further information, we are happy to incorporate it
and give appropriate credit. This corner of the website could then become a
freely available collection of everything that is known about the formation
of Sunderland A.F.C. To let us know, email email@example.com with details of information and its source.
Of course, we can’t resist publishing our own interpretation of the anecdotes
and facts, and that’s on the next tab of this webpage.