Five Sunderland AFC Historic Sites you can visit around the city
Sunderland A.F.C was founded in the year 1879 by schoolteacher James Allen, an organization that for almost a century and a half has become the soul and passion of our city. Although most of the club’s history took place at Roker Park and the Stadium of Light, there are a number of little known sites dotted around the area that at once time hosted SAFC. Here on this SGM article, we showcase these places you should definitely visit
Blue House Field, Hendon
Blue House Field was the first home of SAFC, and later its breakaway rival, Sunderland Albion. The remnants of this ground continues to exist through a series of fields next to Valley Road Academy in Hendon next to corporation road and the A1018. A blue heritage plaque commemorates the site
The Cedars, Hendon
Although now a block of terraced housing, the Cedars was SAFC’s second football ground temporarily in the year 1881. Four games were played here. While it no longer exists, the site is marked on 26 Manila Street, to the South of Hendon, with a blue heritage plaque opposite the Victoria Gardens pub.
Newcastle Road, Fulwell (1886-1898)
Perhaps the most ironically named Sunderland ground of all, the Newcastle Road stadium saw the SAFC attain some of the greatest feats in its history, including becoming champions of English football three times, having a 100% record in 1892, and attaining the old nickname “The team of All Talents”. Crowds of up to 22,000 would come and watch the lads play in Newcastle Road. The location of this former ground is now Eglinton Street North, which is just up the road from the Stadium of Light. There does not appear to be a blue heritage plaque marking this ground.
Roker Park (1898-1997)
Roker Park was the home of Sunderland AFC for 99 years, marking one of the biggest spiritual homes of many SAFC fans through the good times and the bad times, through the triumphs and the heartbreaks. The ground became known for its legendary noise known as “The Roker Roar” and the largest crowds in the club’s history, up to 75,000 at its height. However, in its latter years the stadium become aged and dated, making it difficult to modernize and expand.
This led the club’s ownership to pursue the ambitious, yet difficult decision to move to the Stadium of Light in 1997. Roker Park was demolished and a housing estate was built in its place. However, many of the streets are named after former locations in the ground, including “Midfield Drive”, “Roker Park Close”, “Clockstand Close”, “Promotion Close”, and “Goalmouth Close”. Checking out these locations makes an interesting visit.
The Grave of James Allen
But rather than touring old grounds, why don’t you also go and visit the founder himself? James Allen (1857-1911) was the man where it all began. A headmaster originally from Scotland, Allan created Sunderland and District Teachers’ Association Football Club in 1879, which ultimately became SAFC. At the time, he was headmaster of the Hendon Board School, and even served as one of its first ever players. Allen is buried in Bishopwearmouth Cemetery in a family grave, with a distinctive design if you’re interested in going looking for it!