The greatest season in Sunderland AFC’s long history was undoubtedly 1912-13. The club were League Champions and FA Cup runners-up.
They just missed ‘the Double’ when they lost 1-0 against Aston Villa in the cup final at Crystal Palace.
It was heart-breaking - especially as the Villa team contained more North-Eastern lads than Sunderland.
Philip Curtis, from the Sunderland Antiquarian Society, reports.
Aston Villa fielded four lads from the North East in the FA Cup Final that year.
There was Clem Stephenson from Seaton Delaval, Tommy Barber from West Stanley, Jimmy Leach from Spennymoor and Charlie Wallace from Sunderland.
Charlie Wallace had a Cup Winner’s medal to add to his League Championship medal and it had been achieved against his home-town club.Philip Curtis
Charlie spent his early years living in Picton Street, close to Trimdon Street and played for Rectory Park. He later moved to nearby North Hedley Street in Millfield and started work as an apprentice joiner.
He was a fast right winger and, in 1903, began playing football for Southwick who were one of the leading local non-league teams. They finished joint top of the Wearside League in 1903 before losing against Royal Rovers in the play-off at Roker Park.
Charlie helped Southwick win the Monkwearmouth Charity Cup in 1904, retained it in 1905 and win the prestigious Sunderland Shipowners’ Cup.
He attracted the attention of league clubs and signed for Crystal Palace, playing 70 games for them before signing for Aston Villa in 1907. By 1910, he was an ever-present as Villa stormed to the First Division title.
In the 1913 FA Cup Final, he was outside right at a match watched by a then world record crowd for any football game – 120,081 according to some sources.
Villa and Sunderland were first and second in the league. What a game it turned out to be for Charlie.
After 15 minutes, he missed a penalty - the very first ever penalty miss in an FA Cup Final.
But then, Tom Barber scored from a corner kick taken by none other than Charlie Wallace.
Despite constant pressure, Sunderland failed to equalize despite Buchan hitting the bar and Harry Martin twice shooting against the foot of the post. Charlie was a cup winner.
Charlie played three times for England but his international career was interrupted by the First World War. He played twice before the war – against Wales in 1913 and Ireland in 1914. His third cap was not until April 1920 when
England beat Scotland 5-4 but by then Charlie was 35.
The 1919-20 season was memorable as he won his second FA Cup winners medal when Villa beat Huddersfield 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in the Final. At the end of that season he signed for Oldham Athletic where he was to play a further 50 games before retiring in 1923.
But that was not the end of Charlie’s football days. He returned to Aston Villa and ran the club’s junior side before spending his later years as the dressing room steward.
Charlie eventually died on July 1, 1970, aged 85.