Sunderland-crest-logoManager – Dick Advocaat

Captain – John O’Shea

Nickname – The Black Cats

Ground – Stadium of Light

Rivals – Newcastle United (Tyne-Wear Derby)

Founded in the year 1879 Sunderland AFC is one of the oldest clubs in English football. Nicknamed “The Black Cats” Sunderland have been 6 time champions of England and has also won the FA Cup twice.

Sunderland has been a part of 14 of the 23 Premier League seasons till date. The black cats play their home games at the “Stadium of Light” and have an intense rivalry with neighbors Newcastle United and the games between these two are known as Tyne-Wear derbies.

Stadium-of-Light-Sunderland

The home of Sunderland AFC since 1997 – Stadium of Light (mcfc.co.uk)

Champions of the World

Sunderland was founded in the year 1879 as Sunderland and District Teachers’ Association Football club by James Allan who was the schoolmaster at Hendon Board School. Initially only teachers were allowed to join the club but that rule was soon scraped and the team was renamed and re-branded as “Sunderland AFC”.

During their early years Sunderland participated in the FA Cup and several other amateur competitions even winning the “Durham Senior Cup” in 1884. In 1890/91 Sunderland became the first new team to enter the Football league after it’s formation in 1888.

Sunderland-winners-1891/92

Sunderland won their 1st league title in just their second season in the top division (spartacus-educational.com)

Sunderland won their 1st English league title in just their second season in the football league in 1891/92. Sunderland during this time were playing their home games at the “Newcastle Road” stadium in Sunderland.

Sunderland made it two out of three by winning the league title once again in the 1892/93 and in process scoring over a 100 goals in that campaign. Sunderland almost made it a hat-trick of league titles the next season but ultimately finished 2nd behind champions Aston Villa.

John-Campbell-Sunderland

John Campbell was Sunderland’s highest scorer in five of their first six seasons in the Football league. Campbell in his Sunderland career scored an impressive 136 goals in 186 games and won three league titles in his 7 years with them

Sunderland overcame their disappointment of falling short the previous season by winning their 3rd league title in the 1894/95 season. At the end of the season the English champions Sunderland faced of against the newly crowned Scottish League champions Heart of Midlothian in a game which was publicized as the “Championship of the World”.

Sunderland went on to win the game 5-3 and earned the right to call themselves the Champions of the World.

Last Days of Success

Roker-Park-Sunderland-Stadium-painting

Roker Park was the home of Sunderland AFC for nearly a century from 1898 to 1997 (www.readytogo.net)

Sunderland made the switch to the Roker Park Stadium in Tyne and Wear at the end of the 1897/98 campaign. After the turn of the century Sunderland won their 4th league title in the 1901/02 season by finishing 3 points ahead of 2nd placed Everton.

The black cats had to wait over a decade before they again had the opportunity to lift the English league trophy. In addition to winning their 5th league in the 1912/13 season Sunderland also had the opportunity to win the double but lost the FA Cup final against Aston Villa 1-0.

Sunderland-1912/13

The almost double winning Sunderland squad of 1912/13 (www.imspartacus.co)

First World War broke out in 1914 and as a result the football league competitions was suspended temporarily for a number of years. When league football once again kicked off after the war Sunderland almost won another league title in the 1922/23 season but ultimately finished 2nd behind Liverpool.

The club for the first time faced relegation threats in the 1927/28 campaign but in the end survived by a single point. After the near scare Sunderland steadied themselves and won their 6th and final league title in the 1935/36 season.

Sunderland followed up their 6th league title with their first FA Cup trophy in the 1936/37 season by beating Preston North End 3-1 in the Final. 2nd World War broke out in 1939 and the league was once again suspended for the next few years.

Money can’t buy success

Len-Shackleton-Sunderland

Out of all the signings Sunderland made after the 2nd world war Len Shackleton stands out as being one of the most successful playing a total of 348 games for them and scoring 101 goals (independent.co.uk)

Post the end of the 2nd World War Sunderland were one of the most lavish spenders in the transfer market. Some of their transfer buys including Ivor Broadis, Len Shackleton, Dickie Davis and Trevor Ford got them the nickname “Bank of England Club”.

Despite their big money spending’s Sunderland remained a mid-table club for much of the 1950’s. In the 1957/58 they finished 21st and were relegated from the 1st division for the 1st time since making their debut in the football league 68 years ago.

Following their relegation Sunderland would spend the next six years outside the top division. After narrowly missing out on promotion in the 1961/62 and 1962/63 seasons Sunderland finally won promotion for the 1964/65 season after finishing 2nd in the 2nd division.

Sunderland-1972/73

The 1972/73 FA Cup winning Sunderland side (Pinterest.com)

Sunderland’s second stint in the top division would not be nearly half as successful as their first stint. Following their promotion back to the top flight for 1964/65 season Sunderland would struggle in the division with 5 consecutive bottom half finishes before finally getting relegated for the second time in the 1969/70 campaign.

Whilst playing in the 2nd division Sunderland would go on to win their 2nd FA Cup title in the 1972/73 by beating Leeds United in the final 1-0 thanks to a goal from Ian Porterfield in the 1st half. This would Sunderland’s last major honor till date.

Sunderland’s FA Cup triumph in 1972/73 was the 1st time that a 2nd division team won the competition since West Brom did in 1931: –

Sunderland’s FA Cup triumph qualified them for the 1973/74 Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup competition but they could go beyond the 2nd round of the tournament. This would be Sunderland’s first and last appearance in a major European competition.

Sunderland once again gained promotion to the 1st division after winning the 1975/75 2nd division campaign however unlike the last two times Sunderland’s stay in the top division this time would last only for a season as they got relegated after finishing 20th in the 1976/77 campaign.

Zig-Zag – Sunderland 1970´s campaign

Sunderland after getting relegated back to the 2nd division at the end of the 1976/77 campaign would remain in the 2nd division the next few years making strong challenges to get back up.

After a few narrow misses Sunderland would once again gain promotion to the top flight for the 1980/81 season after finishing as runners-up.

Once again Sunderland struggled in the top division with consecutive below par finishes before ultimately getting relegated at the end of the 1984/85 season. In the same 1984/85 campaign Sunderland would make their first appearance in the League Cup final but luck would just not be on their side as they lost the final to Norwich City 1-0.

Sunderland-1984/85

The 1984/85 Sunderland team that got relegated from the 1st division and lost the League Cup final (searlecanada.org)

The 1986/87 season saw the lowest point in Sunderland’s history as they got relegated to the 3rd tier of English football for the first time after finishing 20th in the 2nd division and then losing the promotion play-off semi-finals.

The reality of being in the 3rd division seemed to spur Sunderland on as they bounced back immediately by winning the 1987/88 3rd division and thereby securing themselves a place for the 1988/99 2nd division campaign.

Sunderland would complete their remarkable journey from the 3rd to the top division of English football within 5 seasons after getting promoted at the end of the 1989/90 camapaign.

Sunderland beat Norwich 1-0 in the 1991/92 FA Cup semi-final and would make another appearance in the FA Cup final while being in the 2nd division: –

Sunderland finished 6th in the 1989/90 season and made it to the 2nd division playoffs were they beat Newcastle to get to the finals.The Black Cats lost the playoff final but still won promotion after their opponents in the final Swindon Town were found guilty of financial irregularities and hence their promotion was revoked.

Sunderland could only manage to stay in the 1st division for just a single season before getting relegated once again. In the 1991/92 campaign Sunderland reached the FA Cup final while being a 2nd division club however this time they would lose the final to Liverpool 2-0.

Sunderland Premier League Era

Peter-Reid-Sunderland-manager

Sunderland owes a lot to manager Peter Reid, he took them from being a club struggling to stay in the 1st division to top Premier League team in his 8 years with them(express.co.uk)

Sunderland were on the edging of dropping back to the 2nd division in the 1994/95 season when Peter Reid took charge at the club. He guided them to safety that season and in the very next campaign he got them promoted to the Premier League for the first time by winning the 1995/96 1st division title.

Their time in the Premier League was short lived though as they got relegated back to the 1st division after just a single season. It is 1st division that Sunderland were united with one of the most prolific strikers in the clubs history – Kevin Phillips.

Kevin-Phillips-Sunderland

Kevin Phillips would spend a total of 6 seasons at Sunderland and in that time he played a total of 235 games for them in all competitions scoring 130 goals(guardian.com)

After nearly a 100 years at Roker Park Sunderland made the switch to the “Stadium of Light” in Tyne & Wear in 1997. Sunderland almost made a immediate return to the Premier League with the help of striker Kevin Phillips but ended up losing the playoff final against Charlton.

Sunderland won the 1998/99 1st division and gained promotion to Premier League by accumulating over a 100 points and losing just 3 games all season.

Sunderland exceeded expectations with a 7th place finish in their first season back in the Premier League. They narrowly missed out on a UEFA Cup spot but Kevin Phillips with a total of 30 goals in all competitions won both the Premier League Golden Boot and European Golden Shoe. He still remains the only English footballer to have won the European Golden Shoe.

Sunderland’s 7th place finishing in the 1999/00 season still remains their best ever finish in the Premier League. Watch how good they were thumping Chelsea 4-1: –

Sunderland followed up their 7th place finish in the 1999/00 season with another 7th place finish in the 2000/01 season. Sunderland struggled in the 2001/02 season and it resulted in Peter Reid being sacked midway through the season.

Sunderland showcased one of the worst performances in Premier League history in the 2002/03 season when they ended the season with just 19 points and scoring just 21 goals all season.

Stability – 2005/2015 campaign

Mick McCarthy was appointed as manager towards the end of the 2002/03 campaign but he couldn’t save the team from relegation. Back in the 1st division McCarthy led a strong Sunderland effort to getting promoted but ended up falling short losing the playoff semifinals.

Sunderland were not ready to make any excuses next season as they ensured promotion for the 2005/06 Premier League season by winning the newly formed 2004/05 Championship title.

Talk about getting promoted in style, 2004/05 Sunderland Championship campaign: –

McCarthy found time in the Premier League to be harder and after struggling for much of the 2005/06 season he was sacked with 10 games remaining. Sunderland ended up getting relegated after accumulating just 15 points all season.

After their relegation the club was bought by a consortium headed by former player Niall Quinn. The new management brought in Manchester legend Roy Keane as manager and he got them promoted back to the Premier League by winning the 2006/07 Championship title.

Roy-Keane-Sunderland-manager

The former Manchester United Captain was brought in as replacement for Mick McCarthy and he certainly delivered for Sunderland in his 3 years with them (guardian.com)

Back in the Premier League Sunderland were desperate to prove a point and show that they belong among the best. Even though they finished in the bottom quarter of the table (15th) it was a successful campaign considering their previous to two miserable seasons in the Premier League.

Sunderland had a bad start to the 2008/09 season which resulted in Roy Keane resigning as manager. Ricky Sbragia took over as care-taker manager and guided them to a 16th place finish after which he stepped down as manager.

Steve-Bruce-Niall-Quinn-and-Ellis Short

Steve Bruce with owner Ellis Short and former club chairman and manager Niall Qinn (zimbio.com)

Off the pitch American businessman Ellis Short completed a swift takeover of the club from the Drumaville consortium. His first order of business was the appointment of Steve Bruce as the new Sunderland manager.

Under Steve Bruce Sunderland had a strong start to the 2009/10 season but a mid season struggle resulted in the team ultimately finishing 13th. Sunderland once again had a strong start to the 2010/11 but similar to the previous season they suffered a mid-season slump partly due to the departure of striker Darren Bent to Aston Villa for a club record fee of 24£ million.

Sunderland ended the campaign 10th in the table and this still remains their best ever finish in the league in the last 8 seasons.

Welcome to Survivor – Sunderland

Steve Bruce was sacked after a poor start to the 2011/12 campaign and was replaced by Martin O’Neill who guided them to a 13th place finish. Sunderland struggled in their 2nd season under Martin O’Neill and with the threat of relegation looming large the club made the drastic decision of sacking O’Neill.

Paolo-Di-Canio

Sunderland manager for just 13 games and 3 wins but led them away from relegation in the 2012/13 season. (fourfourtweet.co.uk)

Sunderland appointed former Juventus and AC Milan striker Paolo Di Canio as manager with just 7 games remaining. The black cats picked up 8 points from those 7 games which was enough to secure a 17th place finish.

Sunderland had a miserable start to the 2013/14 season which saw them picking up just one point from the first 5 games. Di Canio was sacked from the job and Gus Poyet was his replacement.

Watch Sunderland’s League Cup 2-1 QF win over Chelsea, they would also beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge later on in the league becoming the first team in 77 games to beat a Chelsea team at home managed by Jose Mourinho: –

Gus Poyet had a immediate impact at the club as they started clawing their way back up the table. Poyet led them to the League Cup final but ended up losing it against Manchester City 3-1. The defeat in the League Cup also resulted in a drastic drop in form in the league picking up just 1 point in the 7 games following the final.

With just 6 games left in the season Sunderland were looking the odds own favorites to go down in league. However in what turned to be one of the most incredible stories of survival in recent memory Sunderland would secure survival with one game remaining in the season after beating the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and holding eventual champions Manchester City to a draw.

The 2014/15 Sunderland Campaign: –

The 2014/15 campaign was another mediocre one for Sunderland where they struggled for most of the season. Their season however took the wrong turn after Christmas when they managed to pick up only 1 win from the next 12 games and resulted in the sacking of Gus Poyet.

Dick Advocaat was brought in as manager and he managed to keep them up and they ultimately finished 16th.

Club Records

Most Appearances: – Jimmy Montgomery (627)

Most Goals: – Bobby Gurney (228)

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