To: Martin Bain, 22 September 2017
SAFC Chief Executive.
From: Mark Metcalf
Football author and historian.
Member of the Sports Journalists’ Association.
07392 852561 email@example.com
Reference: What year was SAFC formed? 1880 or 1879?
Dear Mr Bain,
I am writing to you in your position as Chief Executive of the football club that I have followed for half a century and who I have seen play in excess of 2000 times.
I would like you to examine the evidence that I believe clearly shows that SAFC was formed on 25 September 1880.
I write because I am interested in the history of the club and I am the author of four books on Sunderland, which are as follows:-
1. ’Whose the Greatest Centre Half the World has Seen: Charlie Hurley’ — an authorised biography. I believe this is the best selling book on a Sunderland player.
2. ’Captain of the North’ - Stan Anderson.
3. ’Almost the Double - Sunderland in 1912/13’. This book was co-authored with Paul Days, the author of the Official Club history book that was released in 1999.
4. ’Total Football; Sunderland 1935-37’. Which was co-authored with Paul Days.
You may be unaware but Paul was the author of The Official History of Sunderland AFC in 1999. Paul is, in my view, the man who knows by far the most about Sunderland AFC.
Books 1 and 2 were sold in the club shop, with the club doing well from the sales.
In addition to the above I have established a reputation as a football historian, For example, four years ago I was able to confirm who scored the very first League goal on 8 September 1888. This attracted worldwide attention.
For more on Kenny Davenport’s feat please see this article from the Daily Mail in 2013:- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2380420/The-original-King-Kenny-The-story-Kenny-Davenport-birth-Football-League.html
I recently purchased a copy of Paul Days book FOUNDING FATHERS: THE MEN WHO MADE SUNDERLAND AFC VOLUME 1. http://ryehillfootball.co.uk/foundingfathersi/
Of particular interest is the first part of the book and specifically the first two chapters titled 1879/80 - A False Start and 1880/81 Club Founding. I don’t know if you have read the book or the 2 chapters and so I have included them with this letter.
I believe that these 2 chapters demonstrate that SAFC was formed in 1880, rather than October 1879.
On page 14, Paul Days, having conducted an extensive search, concludes that no meeting of the Sunderland and District Teachers Association FC, the forerunners to SAFC, was held in October 1879. He states (p14) that regarding the meeting ‘the log book for Hendon Board school, where it might be expected to appear, fails to mention it’. The minutes for the group meeting of the Teachers Association on 15 March 1880 also makes, despite this being the first meeting since September 1879, no reference to football. Clearly if a football club had been formed there would be some mention of it.
Paul then lists a series of regional Northumberland and Durham FA meetings in the first half of 1880 where there is no mention of a new club being formed in Sunderland and in local cup competitions during this same period no such team participated. As such there is nothing to demonstrate that the Teachers formed or ran a club in the 1879/80 season.
On page 18 we get to crux of the matter with the Sunderland Daily Echo of Monday 27 September 1880 carrying the headline SUNDERLAND AND DISTRICT TEACHERS FOOTBALL CLUB and stating “The teachers of Sunderland and District have formed a football club and the office bearers are as follows………Vice Captain, Mr Allan…”
There then follows a report of the meeting that established the football club on Saturday 25 September 1880.
The Sunderland Daily Echo reports on Monday 11 October 1880 that the newly formed club’s first practice match two days earlier saw the vice captain’s side beat the captain’s side 5-0.
On Saturday 16 October 1880 the Newcastle Daily Chronicle reported “a new club has been started at Sunderland, playing under the Association rules, the name being the Sunderland and District Teachers Association Football Club”.
Over the next few weeks there are reports in the local newspapers of a second practice match before the new club plays its first Friendly match against Ferryhill on Saturday 13 November 1880 at the Blue House Field, Hendon. Paul’s book then goes on to show how years later the year 1879 become part of the folklore regarding the birth of SAFC.
I am writing to request that you read Paul Days work and state whether you agree with his conclusion that the club was formed in 1880. If you disagree then I would like to know why and whether you have any what concrete information to demonstrate that the club was formed in October 1879.
I would be happy to meet with you and discuss this issue. I would ask Paul Days to attend any such meeting. I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
Mark Metcalf - south stand season card holder along with my 9-year old son Charlie.