SAFC legend's historic championship medal to go under the hammer

A winner’s medal belonging to a Sunderland AFC all-time great is to sold at auction.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 4:38 pm

Jimmy Watson was at his peak in the early 20th century. The passage of time means that few Sunderland fans today are familiar with his career. But he was considered by many as the finest full-back in Britain at the time.

In the 1901-02 Football League Division One season he helped Sunderland become champions of England; the fourth of the six occasions they did so.

Born in Motherwell on October 4, 1877, the Scottish international played 225 times for Sunderland, including all but one match at left-back in the famous 1901-02 season.

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Both sides of Jimmy Watson's 1901-02 championship medal. Image from Graham Budd.

His championship medal is currently owned by Bryan Horsnell, a collector from Reading. It is to be sold by auctioneers Graham Budd, who specialise in sports memorabilia.

The sale is on Wednesday, September 8. Bids are now being taken online and the estimate is for a £5,000 to £6,000 sale. The auction will be held in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire.

Over 200 lots of football memorabilia from Mr Horsnell’s collection will be under the hammer, including shirts owned by Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore, England caps won by Cliff Bastin and FA Cup winners’ medals.

Graham Budd said: “Jimmy Watson is a name from the golden age of Sunderland’s history when they won five Championship titles between 1892 and 1913. He was a stalwart of the team in the early years of the 20th century playing at left-back. He also represented Scotland on six occasions.

Sunderland AFC's championship winning squad of 1901-02.

“His nickname was ‘Daddy Long Legs’ due to his style of running, which saw arms as well as legs in exaggerated motion.”

Jimmy joined SAFC from Clyde FC in 1900 when Roker Park was just three years-old. He never scored a goal in a decade of playing in England, in the days when full-backs rarely entered the opposition half.

He left Sunderland to join Middlesbrough FC in 1907, where he made another 103 league appearances. He later managed a hotel in Middlesbrough.

Jimmy emigrated to Canada in 1923 to manage a football club. He died in British Columbia on June 12, 1942 aged 64.

For more details on the auction, go to www.grahambuddauctions.co.uk.

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