Sunderland AFC began life as "Sunderland & District Teachers Association Football Club", founded in 1879 by James Allan, a teacher at Hendon Board School. His object was to provide "recreational amusement" for the area's schoolteachers. Their first recorded competitive game was against Ferryhill Athletic on 13 November 1880, which they lost 1–0. Their first kit was an all blue strip, a contrast to the red and white stripes they play in currently. Their first ground was the Blue House Field in Hendon, close to James Allan's school, and they would change their home four times in seven years before settling at Newcastle Road in 1886. In 1881 the club's name was changed to Sunderland Association Football Club, and non-teachers were allowed to join. They turned professional in 1885, the same year that the club recruited a number of Scotsmen, their first internationally capped players. Founder James Allan left Sunderland in 1888 because of his dislike for the "professionalism" that had been creeping into the club, and subsequently formed Sunderland Albion. Tom Watson became Sunderland's first manager when he was appointed in 1888. On 5 April 1890, the Football League's founder, William McGregor, labelled Sunderland as "the team of all talents" stating that they had "a talented man in every position".
Sunderland's games consisted of local competitions and the FA Cup. Additionally, they participated in friendlies with Football League clubs; they beat the League champions Preston North End on 28 April 1889. As their popularity grew, they applied for admission into the Football League. At the League's annual meeting that considered this application, Sunderland offered to pay towards other clubs' travelling costs, to compensate for the extra distance these club would need to travel. This offer secured their place in the Football League. They replaced Stoke, one of the original League founding members, who failed to be re-elected. In their second season in the Football League, Sunderland won the title, by five points over Preston North End. This success was repeated in the following season, when Sunderland won their second League title, this time 11 points ahead of their nearest contenders. The club shared this period of success with Aston Villa; the battles between these clubs were the subject of a Thomas Hemy painting of the two clubs during the 1894–95 season. This is one of the earliest recorded paintings of a competitive Football League match; entitled A Corner Kick, the painting now stands in the doorway of Sunderland's current stadium, the Stadium of Light. Sunderland achieved their third League title in four seasons in the 1894–95 season, and after their League championship success took part in a game with Heart of Midlothian, the champions of Scotland. The game was played on 27 April 1895, and was described as the "Championship of the World title match". Sunderland won the game 5–3 and were crowned "Champions of the World".
Sunderland played in an all blue strip from their formation until 1884, when they adopted a red and white halved strip. They assumed the current strip of red and white stripes in the 1887–88 season. Their badge included a ship, the upper part of the Sunderland coat of arms, a black cat, and a football in front of Sunderland's red and white stripes. In 1977 the badge was changed, but still included the ship, football and the background of red and white stripes. This badge was used until the relocation from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light. To coincide with the move, Sunderland released a new crest divided into four quarters; the upper right and lower left featured their traditional red and white colours, but the ship was omitted. The upper left section features the Penshaw Monument and the lower right section shows the Wearmouth Bridge. A colliery wheel at the top of the crest commemorates County Durham's mining history, and the land the Stadium of Light was built on, formerly the Monkwearmouth Colliery. The crest also contains two lions, the black cats of Sunderland, and a banner displaying the club's motto, Consectatio Excellentiae, which means "In pursuit of excellence".
Sunderland have had seven stadiums throughout their history; the first was at Blue House Field in Hendon in 1879. The ground was close to the place where Sunderland formed, at Hendon Board School; at that time the rent for use of the ground was £10. The club relocated briefly to Groves Field in Ashbrooke in 1882, before moving again the following season. The club's third stadium was Horatio Street in Roker, the first Sunderland stadium north of the River Wear; the club played a single season there before another move, this time to Abbs Field in Fulwell for two seasons. Abbs Field was notable for being the first Sunderland ground to which they charged admission. Sunderland moved to Newcastle Road in 1886. By 1898, the ground reached a capacity of 15,000 after renovations, and its rent had risen to £100 a year. Near the turn of the 20th century, Sunderland needed a bigger stadium. They returned to Roker and set up home in Roker Park. It was opened on 10 September 1898, and the home team played a match the same day against Liverpool, which they won. In 1997, Sunderland moved to their present ground, Stadium of Light in Monkwearmouth, which was opened by Prince Andrew, Duke of York. Built with an original capacity of 42,000, it hosted its first game against Dutch team Ajax. The stadium bears a similar name to the Portuguese club Benfica's ground Estádio da Luz, albeit in a different language. Stadium expansion in 2000 saw the capacity increase to 49,000.
The Stadium of Light has 196 home spaces available for wheelchair users; 70 spaces in the West Stand; 16 spaces in the Carling Stand (North); 26 spaces in the East Stand; 80 spaces in the South Stand; 4 spaces in the South West Corner; These can be accessed via one of the four accessible entrances. These are located at entrances 62A, 32A, 46A and 54A. The Black Cats Bar, and all corporate areas in the West Stand, are fully accessible via lift. There are six wheelchair bays in the Carling Stand (Upper) for visiting supporters. They are delighted to assist and accommodate those supporters with assistance dogs. They can, however, only accommodate supporters with assistance dogs in the lower tier. Any supporter wishing to bring an assistance dog to a fixture must contact the Disability Liaison Officer in advance of the game, to ensure that appropriate match tickets are allocated and suitable arrangements can be made. VISUALLY IMPAIRED HEADSETS: Supporters with visual impairments can enjoy match commentary at all home games via special headsets, these can be booked through the Disability Liaison Officer. Accessible toilets are available in all areas of the stadium; these are fitted with radar locks and keys are available from nearby stewards.
The SAFC Disabled Supporters’ Association is an independent organisation representing the interests of Sunderland fans with disabilities. The group has regular meetings and runs dedicated, accessible travel to away games. To contact the group, please call Freda Oyston on 0191 3847835. Running regularly and headed by knowledgeable guides, our tours last more than an hour and are a hit with supporters young and old alike. Tours are available on most days, excluding matchdays, and the ticket price includes an official Stadium of Light tour certificate. To book, contact the Tours Hotline on 0871 911 1224.
Location : The Sunderland Stadium of Light, Sunderland SR5 1SU
Transport: Sunderland (National) 15 minute walk. Metro : St Peters or Stadium of Light. Bus Routes: 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, 15 and 16 stop at the stadium.
Capacity : 49,000.
Stadium Tours: 11.30 (subject to change), 12.30 and 14.30. Matchdays 10:30
Tickets Stadium Tour: £10.00 adult, £5.00 children/seniors
Tel: 0871 911 1200