The Sunderland lad who won an FA Cup winners medal against his hometown club

The greatest season in Sunderland AFC's long history was undoubtedly 1912-13. The club were League Champions and FA Cup runners-up.

Monday, 12th September 2016, 10:00 am
Updated Thursday, 15th September 2016, 4:02 pm
Sunderland led out at the Final by captain Charlie Thomson followed by Butler and Buchan

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.

Charlie in his England strip

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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 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.

Charlie as a young man with his family

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.

Aston Villa with the Cup. Charlie is second from left front row on ground.

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.

The 1913 Sunderland squad

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.

The programme for the final.
The record crowd at the Final
The Brochure for the 1913 F.A. Cup Final Sunderland V Aston Villa
Barber heads the winning goal
Charlie in his England strip
Charlie as a young man with his family
Aston Villa with the Cup. Charlie is second from left front row on ground.
The 1913 Sunderland squad
The programme for the final.
The record crowd at the Final
The Brochure for the 1913 F.A. Cup Final Sunderland V Aston Villa
Barber heads the winning goal