FORMER Black Cats chairman Sir Bob Murray today hailed a lasting tribute to a Wearside-born founding father of football as the “recognition he richly deserves”.
The businessman, who was head of Sunderland AFC for 20 years, has been championing the cause of Charles William Alcock, a pioneer of the beautiful game who is widely considered to be the “founding spirit” of the FA Cup and international football.
Earlier this year, after approaching FA bosses, Sir Bob was told the Sunderland-born shipbuilder’s son would be honoured with a permanent tribute at Wembley Stadium.
Speaking after the unveiling of the blue plaque to the eight men who drafted the original 13 laws of association football 150 years ago, he said: “I’m delighted that the FA has decided to honour Charles Alcock and give him the recognition he richly deserves given his dedication to sport throughout his life.
“I wrote a letter to the former chairman of the FA, David Bernstein, and asked him to honour Alcock because of his considerable contribution to football.” Born in Norfolk Street, Sunniside, in 1842, Charles moved to London during the 1850s, joining the FA committee in 1866 and serving as honorary secretary from 1870 to 1895.
Establishing the FA Cup, he captained Wanderer’s, the first ever winning side, at The Oval in 1872, and later refereed the 1875 and 1879 finals.
He also captained England in the first ever international football match against Scotland in 1870.
Although the game is considered “unofficial” by football historians and does not appear in any record books, the match paved the way for the first officially recognised international match between Scotland and England in 1872.
Alcock was selected to captain the England side, but missed out due to injury.
In 1895, he became FA vice president and 26 years later, toured with England when the side visited Berlin and Prague for the first time.
Sir Bob said: “Alcock was also honoured at the FA’s 150th birthday gala dinner, and it was fantastic to see his considerable contribution recognised by leading figures from the FA and the football family.”