Sunderland AFC's First Game
Painted by Marvel Comics and Dr Who Artist Russ Leach the painting shows the Sunderland AFC Founder, Scotsman, James Allan, in a striking pose as he runs at the heart of the Ferryhill defence.
Ferryhill were Sunderland AFC's very first recorded opponents in a march described by the local Sunderland Daily Echo & Shipping Gazette and edited by The Dribbling Game thus:
Sunderland AFC 0 v 1 Ferryhill FC, Friendly Match
Blue House Field, Hendon; Saturday 13 November 1880
Without a fixture for Saturday 13 November 1880, Ferryhill hastily arranged a game against Sunderland AFC for that day. This was Sunderland’s very first ‘competitive’ football match and the venue was their home ground at Blue House Field, Hendon.
Sunderland lost the toss and had to face a strong wind. Very soon they ‘scored’ but the “point” was disallowed. Play was of 40 minutes each way and before the first half was over Ferryhill ‘cleverly kicked’ a goal, the only one of the match. The scorer is not recorded. Perhaps it was J McCutcheon, one of Ferryhill’s six man attack, and a man who two seasons later became a Sunderland regular. The teachers tried hard in the second half, but to no avail. The first match against another club had ended in defeat.
Ferryhill, the village side from South Durham were a club which was to fold after only a season or two because of lack of interest. However on that day they proved too good for the Sunderland men. The Monday press report, doubtless written by a Sunderland official seeking an excuse for the 0 v 1 defeat, alleged that Sunderland was “unfortunately represented by a very poor side, no less than five of their best men being absent.”
The club, in that historic match, had captain Bob Singleton in goal, T Taylor and Shirlaw as backs, J Gibbons and W Andersen as the two half backs, and a six man forward line of EG Watson, J Barron, P Dove, F Woodward, Walter Chappell and Jimmy Allan.
Ferryhill were represented by; WJ Kitching (goal), E Letheron, J Hodgson (captain); (backs), J Soulsby, J Barry (half backs), T Field, J Mann, F Devine, J Oliver, J McCutcheon, M Carney (forwards).