Sunderland AFC to honour club legends Charlie Hurley, Niall Quinn and James Allan in new hall of fame
Sunderland AFC are set to launch their hall of fame later this month - and the first three inductees have been announced.
The Black Cats' hall of fame is set to launch on June 14, with 11 club legends inducted during its inaugural year.
And club historian Rob Mason, who is leading on the creation of the hall of fame, has revealed the first three figures set to be honoured.
They are legendary defender Charlie Hurley, former striker Niall Quinn and club founder James Allan.
The remaining inductees are set to be announced between now and June, with Mason explaining the significance of the first trio to have been selected.
Speaking in the club's match day programme ahead of the visit of Portsmouth, Mason said of Hurley: "He will always remain an iconic figure.
"A ball-playing centre-half, in the days when many centre-halves appeared to be more interested in playing the man than the ball.
"Hurley is famed as the first centre-half to go forward for corners. It was something he did with devastating effect too.
"Charlie is the most charismatic of Sunderland heroes. Now in his 83rd year we hope to lay the red (and white) carpet out perhaps for the final time for 'The King', along with his grandson Matt Tichen.
"As with Charlie, Niall [Quinn] only has to enter the room for you to feel the love. He deserves it.
"A brilliant centre-forward, 'Super-Kevin Phillips' and the rest of the great Peter Reid team of the turn of the century buzzed around Niall in the superb early years of the Stadium of Light.
"As a player Niall was Sunderland's best centre-forward in decades. Famously Sunderland got under Quinny's skin.
"Like any former player who had done his bit, Niall could have walked off into the sunset and come back every now and then to say some nice things and get a round of applause.
"Niall though, took on the club when it was at an awfully low ebb after a record-breaking relegation in 2006.
"Niall has accepted the invitation to be with us on June 14 and if he wants to wear his disco pants then for Niall the dress code will be politely ignored."
And while Quinn and Hurley's impacts were mainly felt on the field, Allan's biggest influence came off it.
But, as Mason explains, his fine playing career was often forgotten.
"He was the Scottish school teacher who first introduced the round ball game to the people of Wearside," explained the club historian.
"He was also the leading figure behind this developing into the formal foundation of the football club that now 14 decades on continues to inspire such devotion.
"Allan was a player too. He played in the first known Sunderland game and scored twice in the first game in which Sunderland scored.
"He once even scored 12 goals in one game - a 23-0 win over Castletown in 1884 - not bad for a left winger!
"As the man responsible for the very existence of the club we have great pleasure in making James Allan one of our first 11 inductees."
Tickets for the unveiling of the hall of fame in June are available from safc.com, with prices from £75+VAT.