Roker Park – The Home of Sunderland for 99 Years

Roker Park opened in 1898 and it was Sunderland’s sixth ground since their formation in 1879.

Source: Co Create, Newcastle University.

Sunderland made the move to Roker Park after their Stadium: “Newcastle Road” was declared too small for the increasing crowd numbers.

The first ever match played at Roker Park was a friendly against Liverpool and The Black Cats’ came out on top thanks to one goal by Jim Leslie.

The Stadium famously hosted four matches in the 1966 World Cup, including the quarter finals when the, then Soviet Union beat Hungary 2-1.

The official capacity was increased to 60,000 in the 1930s, however in 1933 75,118 supporters squeezed into Roker Park for an F.A Cup tie against Derby, which turned out to be the record attendance the North-East and it still stands today!

Due to FA rules in the early 1990s, Roker Park would need to be made into an all-seater Stadium if they were to be promoted to the top flight.

This meant that Sunderland would not be able to achieve the high attendances that they usually expect.

The site that Roker Park was built on was too small for an expansion so Chairman, Bob Murray unveiled plans to build a 48,000 seater stadium near the Nissan Car factory in 1992.

Source: SportsByte.

Nissan eventually objected to the plans and in 1997 the Stadium of Light was build in Monkwearmouth with an original capacity of 42,000 before eventually being extended to just under 49,000.

During its time as Sunderland’s home for 99 years, the Stadium hosted four World Cup matches and three England internationals.

It was also known for the noise the Sunderland fans created within the stadium, developing the nickname: “The Roker Roar”.

The last ever competitive game played at this wonderful stadium was a 3-0 victory against Everton in the 1996-97 season, which was also the Black Cats first ever season in the new Premier League.

It saddens me that I am too young to have experienced visiting this stadium, but it holds a place in many Sunderland fans hearts!