Sunderland AFC & Aston Villa line up before their 1893/94 encounter on Wearside
A trip to the National Football Museum, now in Manchester, informs the interested observer that in their opinion Sunderland AFC and Aston Villa gave world football its first great club rivalry. It should of course be appreciated that in the 1890’s and outside of England; Planet Earth was only just waking up to association football.
It is a little known fact that Sunderland AFC has played Villa more times for league points than any other club and that a pathway for the red and whites entry into the Football League in time for the 1890/91 season was in part due to the then non league clubs’ 7 v 2 thrashing of Villa in a friendly match. Subsequent clashes between the two sides were widely relished and became talked about, none more so than their epic and iconic battle at The Crystal Palace in the 1913 FA Cup Final.
The Oldest Club Rivalry image features the two teams, their respective managers and directors and was taken prior to The Black Cats first home game of the season at Newcastle Road, Sunderland on 9 September 1893. The match was drawn 1 v 1, the first time the red and whites had failed to win on Wearside in 16 home games.