Founding fathers of Sunderland AFC brought to life in new book

Paul Days with his book.
Paul Days with his book.
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Author Paul Days has delved into the past and uncovered the fine details of the formation of Sunderland AFC in his latest book - and says he has made a startling discovery.

The writer has been researching the history of the Black Cats for the past 35 years and has now produced Volume One of Founding Fathers: The Men who Formed Sunderland AFC.

“It’s probably the most comprehensive chronicling of the early years of a club in British football history.”

Paul Days

And although the club is widely believed to have been formed in October 1879, Paul, 55, says that his digging has found that the first mention of the formation of the club was seen in the Echo on this day in 1880, 136 years ago.

“I decided because the British Newspaper Archive has gone online I would be able to look up the first few years of the club,” said Paul, of Chester-le-Street.

“The Echo is of course included on the site and within about 15 minutes I found that the club wasn’t formed in October 1879 but in fact September 1880.”

Paul, who was the first editor of the official Sunderland AFC website, added that the book is entirely his own work, with nothing else taken from other pieces on the history of the Wearsiders.

“Other books have had details in that have been copied in parrot fashion from others but this isn’t.

“I’ve looked at things like the Edinburgh Chronicle from back then because Sunderland had a lot of Scottish players and they were featured in it.

“It’s probably the most comprehensive chronicling of the early years of a club in British football history.”

The book covers the initial formation of the club, originally named Sunderland and District Teachers’ Football Club up until 1886/87 season.

The team was elected to the Football League in 1890.

It also details the turmoil after founder James Allan, who in Paul’s words “almost crippled Sunderland football club” after he left to former rival club Sunderland Albion.

Sunderland would go on to win three league titles before the turn of the 20th Century and another three before the Second World War, as well as their first FA Cup in 1937.

“Right from the outset, it was a powerhouse of English football,” said Paul,

“There were two real main clubs in England in Sunderland and Aston Villa, before Arsenal came along.

“The likes of Manchester United and Liverpool were nowhere to be seen pre-war.”

The book, which is also available on Amazon, can be bought at ryehillfootball.co.uk/foundingfathersi.

Paul is currently busy at work on Volume Two of the series.