Grandson of Black Cats legend Charlie backs call to reopen centre

The grandson of Black Cats legend Charlie Hurley is backing the campaign to reopen the former SAFC training ground which bears his name.

Wednesday, 6th April 2016, 2:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2016, 3:16 pm
Matt Titchen (left) and Peter Curtis at the gates of the Charlie Hurley Centre.
Matt Titchen (left) and Peter Curtis at the gates of the Charlie Hurley Centre.

The Charlie Hurley Centre in Cleadon Lane has been disused since the club moved to the nearby Academy of Light more than a decade ago.

Peter Curtis, of Sunderland-based NE Sport, which delivers after-school sports clubs across the city, wants to see the site reopened and used to provide coaching for local youngsters.

Charlie Hurley leads out Sunderland at Roker Park.

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Peter voiced his frustration with the siltation on social media, where it was spotted by Charlie's grandson Matt Tichen.

"I was scrolling through Facebook as I do on a regular basis and I came across a picture of the Charlie Hurley Centre," said Matt, 21.

'‹"It was a picture of Peter at the gates and a story about how he had approached the club five years ago to see if he could use the facilities for the benefit of the local community."

'‹Matt, a sports science student at Huddersfield University, believes breathing new life into the centre would make his grandfather - voted by Sunderland fans as their 'Player of the Century' - very happy.

Charlie Hurley leads out Sunderland at Roker Park.

"I think it would mean a lot to him," he said.

"He's of an age now where he can't really get up to see everyone as much as he would like but he still loves Sunderland. He still watches them every weekend."

Matt was saddened to see the state of the centre's pitches and its gates, which still bear his grandfather's name.

"It would be nice to see them properly maintained they are a little bit sad at the moment," he said. "I think that is the least he deserves.

"It seems as though they are so bothered about the future at the football club that they are forgetting about how it became what it is now.

"I think my grandfather was quite a big part of that. They need to remember the people who make the club what it is today."

Peter Curtis believes the site will be the perfect venue for training the next generation of players.

"There is a real lack of facilities in the area, especially for the new nine versus none format," he said.

"But this site has been standing empty or more than 13 years. I can't believe the state of the pitches and what really hurts me is the state of the gates."