Sunderland’s Black Cats

Sunderland and District Teachers’ Association Football Club, as it was first called back in 1879, was established at a meeting of school teachers called by James Allan.  After the first year, non-teachers were allowed to join and the name was changed to Sunderland AFC.  Nicknamed The Black Cats, the Wearside club is regarded as England’s sixth-most successful club after claiming bragging rights for winning the English League Championship six times: in 1892, 1893, 1895, 1902, 1913 and, most recently, in 1936.

Since World War II there has not always been much to cheer about, first at Roker Park, and now at the Stadium of Light.  The north-east side has enjoyed success in the FA Cup too although they have not lifted this famous trophy since overcoming Leeds United in 1973’s final 1-0.  The Black Cats did created history on that occasion by becoming the first second division team to win the trophy in 40 years.

In 1997 the club said goodbye to Roker Park after 99 years before moving to a 42 000 all-seater stadium, the Stadium of Light.  Peter Reid and his charges would have to play their first two seasons at the new ground in the then First Division following relegation in 1996/97.  Reid’s lot were back in 1999 and a remarkable seventh-place finish was achieved two years running.  It was the club’s highest finish for 45 years.

After enduring several promotions followed by relegations, the club has found relative stability as it prepares for a ninth consecutive season in the English Premier League.  It has not been easy though as each of the last three campaigns has required a change of manager to ensure safety.  Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and former Netherlands boss Dick Advocaat have all been called upon to rescue the Wearside club.

The 67-year old Dutchman has agreed terms to stay on at the Stadium of Light but will start the season without striker Connor Wickham, whose sale will at least free up money for new players.  Advocaat has to date* brought in Valentin Roberge, Charis Mavrias, Mikael Mandron, Adam Matthews, Jeremain Lens and Younes Kaboul.  If reports from Europe are accurate, then Rubin Kazan midfielder Yann M’Vila is set to move to the north east and there remains hope that Leroy Fer could become a Sunderland player before the trip to Leicester City on Saturday.

The Black Cats have Santiago Vergini and Cabral to join Wickham through the exit door.