SAFC fan Jack is aiming for top spot with his memories of Sunderland at the summit of football in 1949

Stalwart Sunderland fan Jack Taylor can boast some very special footballing memories.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 4:45 pm

Jack, 82, first started going to Sunderland games when he was 9 years old in 1948, the year the Black Cats signed Len Shackleton.

And a year later, he watched The Lads as they headed into the last four games of the season at the top of English football.

All seemed to be going smoothly for the team until the fourth match before the end of the season. They came up against Manchester City who had already been relegated – and lost.

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Jack Taylor who shared his wonderful memories of supporting Sunderland.

Sunderland then won their last three games but the damage had already been done.

“They eventually finished third. Pompey won the league with 53 points with Wolves second with 53 points,” said Jack.

"We were third with 52 points after losing. The only loss was at home to Manchester City who were already relegated. It cost us the title.'

Jack spoke to the Echo after our report on Sandy Phillips.

Jack, centre, with his sons Adam, left, and John right.

Sandy, at 76, thought he may be the ‘oldest person who is still alive and who saw Sunderland when they were at the top of the English football league.

But Jack at 82 takes top spot and saw Sunderland when they were first in the league against sides such as the two Sheffield giants, Huddersfield Town and the big Manchester clubs.

He had lots of other football memories to share as well. He recalled watching Sunderland from the Fulwell End in the days before it had a roof on it.

What a superhero. Jack with his grandson Isaac.

“There were railings right around the back of the Fulwell End. We used to go in when the gates opened at 1pm and we would stand right at the back.”

As well as Len Shackleton, other star players included Jonny Mapson and Willie Watson.

But his earliest memory of Roker Park isn’t even of watching Sunderland. He saw the Durham Junior Final with Hylton taking on Southwick Juniors and Southwick emerging as victors.

He’s been a Castletown lad since he was two. Before that, he lived in Southwick but his dad got a colliery house in Castletown. “I was two but I can still remember we moved house on a horse and cart,” said Jack.

Jack and his sons Adam and John at a Sunderland away match at Crystal Palace.

He was a keen footballer himself and played every position on the pitch. He played in the Wearside League for Hylton Colliery and once scored 100 goals in a season for one of his sides.

In another season, he was player of the year when he played in goal.

He also played for his depot when he was in the Army. He only quit the playing side of the game when he was 51 and doctors told him not to play contact sports any more.

Our thanks go to Jack for some wonderful memories.

Is Jack the oldest person still alive to see Sunderland play when they were at the top of the English football league? If you know different, tell us more by emailing [email protected]

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A special family moment with grandson Isaac.

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Jack and his grandson Reuben.
Jack in his school boy days.
Jack as a young boy.