Football legend’s tribute

Descendants of the founding father of international football, C.W. Alcock, Johannes and Karen Gunnell, with a blue plaque outside 10 Norfolk Street, Sunderland, where he was born.

Descendants of the founding father of international football, C.W. Alcock, Johannes and Karen Gunnell, with a blue plaque outside 10 Norfolk Street, Sunderland, where he was born.

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AS Sunderland waits to learn the fate of its bid for World Cup glory, the city has paid tribute to the man who started it all.

A ceremony has marked the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Charles William Alcock, the father of international football, on the house in Norfolk Street where he was born – now the constituency office of Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott.

After joining the FA committee in 1866, Alcock was secretary from 1870 to 1895, before serving as honorary treasurer and vice-president.

Among his many achievements, he pioneered the first international match – between England and Scotland – in 1870 and organised the first FA Cup final in 1872, even captaining the winning side, and refereed the 1875 and 1879 finals.

Fifa will announce whether England has succeeded in its application to host the 2018 World Cup finals on December 2 – appropriately, the 168th anniversary of Charles Alcock’s birth.

City council leader Coun Paul Watson said: “CW Alcock was a great man and son of Sunderland whose legacy has left an enduring mark on our sporting and indeed social history.

“It is right and fitting that he is remembered and commemorated for his pioneering contribution to sport domestically and internationally.

“His instigation of international football and the world’s first club knockout competition in the FA Cup are particularly relevant at this time, with just days to go before FIFA announces the destination of the 2018 World Cup and whether or not the tournament will come to England, Sunderland and the Stadium of Light.”

Durham County FA president Frank Pattison said: “Charles Alcock laid the foundations for football, not just in England, but around the world.

“It would be a most fitting tribute to his memory if England are successful in their bid.”

On hand to see the plaque unveiled were Charles Alcock’s great-great-great-niece Karen Gunnell and her son Johannes, who travelled from London for the ceremony.

“It is all a bit overwhelming, because they said it would be a small ceremony,” said Mrs Gunnell.

“I am just so amazed and very proud that he is recognised like this and grateful to the city council for putting up the plaque.”

- A blue plaque project to recognise the former homes of SAFC players is underway – Page 6.