SLIDESHOW: Sporting snaps of Sunderland’s past

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Our new football series has certainly scored a hit with Wearside Echoes readers.  

 Today Sarah Stoner features another selection of your photographs.

THE shooting stars of bygone Sunderland are spotlighted today. More than a dozen pictures of football teams, netball players, cricketers and swimmers have been sent in by Wearside Echoes readers this week – and here we tackle the best of the bunch.



“This topic has obviously sparked a great deal of interest,” said Susan Swinney, Echo photographic archivist. “It is wonderful to see so many old photos coming in. They are absolutely fascinating.”

Among the photos featured here is Ryhope Junior School’s football team in 1963, which included several players who went on to turn professional – including Sunderland 1973 FA Cup hero Richie Pitt.

The photo was provided by former Herrington and Wearmouth miner Robert Nesbitt, who played right mid-field for the team in his final year at Ryhope before heading off to grammar school.

“It was quite a good team at the time,” he recalls. “Several of the lads got signed up by big clubs, like Brian Smiles for Everton, but Richie was the one who really made a name for himself in football.

“Acre Rigg Juniors in Peterlee were our bogey team. They used to beat us in almost every final. But we did win at least one trophy when I was on the team, although I can’t remember what it was for.”

Archive photos of St Paul’s at Ryhope, St Patrick’s in Hendon, James William Street, Moor Board, South Hylton and a First World War ladies football team have all been sent in by John Brantingham.

The photographer and local historian, a former Thorney Close Secondary pupil, has built up a vast collection of Wearside memorabilia over the decades, including photos of bygone people and buildings.

“It is important to preserve the past for the future,” he said. “These photos of sports teams are part of Sunderland’s history. It is just a shame the names of players have been forgotten over the years.” Other images featured include three of St Benet’s RC Primary in Monkwearmouth, dating from the 1950s and provided by former pupil Peter Davidson – who went on to work at Cole’s Cranes.

“One shows the 1953-54 team,” he said “They were obviously good players, as they won the Teachers’ Trophy, as well as being League Champions and finalists in the Town Championships.”

Peter, who started St Benet’s just months after the Second World War finally came to an end, still has vivid recollections about the school – including the huge coal fires in every classroom.

“We used to pile up our bottles of milk in front of the fires during the winter, to defrost them,” he said. “We also walked to Seaburn in all weathers to play football, as we didn’t have our own field.”

l Do you have any school photos, either classroom scenes or sports teams, you would like to share with Echo readers? Email Sarah Stoner at Look out for more next Monday.