Was this the greatest schoolboy team ever in Sunderland - with players later joining SAFC, Manchester United, Leicester City, Bolton Wanderers and Charlton

They came from Whitburn, Castletown, Ford, Redby and Ryhope and they were formidable.

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 4:55 am

We’re talking about the 1933 Sunderland schoolboy football team which was packed with talent – but was it the best ever?

It once played 11 games in 18 days and only lost one of them.

Philip Curtis, from Sunderland Antiquarian Society, takes up the story.

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The Sunderland schoolboys who were national champions in 1933.
The Sunderland schoolboys who were national champions in 1933.

Back in the 1930s, schools football was far more to the fore than today with every school represented in a league in the town.

Trials were always held at the start of each autumn term to choose boys to represent Sunderland Schools at Under-15 level.

The premier trophy was the English Schools Shield which was played for by teams throughout the country.

In 1933, Sunderland became national champions and there can be little doubt that this was the finest team of schoolboy footballers ever to pull on the famous red and white shirts.

Sunderland Boys in 1933.

During that season Sunderland played 32 games, won 25, drew 6 and lost only 1, scoring 98 goals with 28 against. Their sole defeat was in the replayed final of the Newcastle Infirmary Cup at Walker. Sunderland had led by two goals but Newcastle scored three in the last seven minutes.

The boys were playing their eleventh match in 18 days and some of them had also figured in individual school games.

They also won the Sunderland Children’s Hospital Cup and Ingham Infirmary Cup.

Boys who represented Sunderland Schools that year went on to sign for well known clubs across the country.

The Sunderland team which went a whole season with only one defeat.

They included;

l Ray Middleton (Boldon Colliery - Chesterfield),

l Allenby Chilton (Ford – Manchester United),

l A. Storey (Ryhope - Hartlepools),

Allenby Chilton who was one of the stars of the Sunderland schoolboy team, and later played for Manchester United.

l W. Connor (Redby – St. Mirren),

l A. Minchella (St. Patricks – Leicester City)

l A. Lowes (Castletown – Sheffield Wednesday),

l W.Robinson (Whitburn - Sunderland),

l E. Forrest (Hudson Road – Bolton Wanderers),

l and J. Dryden (West Park Central – Charlton Athletic).

In those days the English Schools Shield was extremely difficult to win and it took the boys no less than eleven games to clinch it.

They beat Burnopfield at home 8-1, East Durham away 4-1, Eston at home 8-1, West Stanley away 4-1, and Rotherham at home 7-0.

In round 6, they beat Grimsby 3-1 at home and then beat Southampton 2-1 after a replay.

The semi-final against Salford also went to a reply which Sunderland won 2-1 and the final was a 1-0 win over Edmonton.

Phil added: “After the final EVERY boy was approached by league clubs to sign on.”

Nine of them took up the offer.

“The most successful was Ford schoolboy, Allenby Chilton, who signed for Manchester United under Matt Busby and won the FA Cup in 1948, the League Championship in 1952 and captained the club in the 1953-4 season. He also played twice for the full England side. He later returned to his home town to live.

“Goalkeeper Ray Middleton made over 600 appearances for Chesterfield and Derby County and represented England at ‘B’ level.”

Phil added: “The boys rightly attracted very large crowds for their games and their success was celebrated throughout the town.”

To find out more about the history of Sunderland, visit the Antiquarian Society’s Facebook page or its website at http://www.sunderland-antiquarians.org

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