Sunderland and District Teachers’ Association Football Club (later to become Sunderland A.F.C.) were formed / founded in October 1879, following a meeting at the British School, Norfolk Street. This fact has been published hundreds of times over a period well in excess of 100 years.

The fact is embedded in the club’s folklore and has been endorsed by both professional and amateur historians over and over again. Historians, of course, tend to weave their research into their own story or narrative, so what has been published is always a personal interpretation of the information they have unearthed; few of the readers of such publications will have ever seen the original sources the historians have used to arrive at their conclusions.

For a change, we thought it would be useful to collect the source information that has been used by historians. Anyone who is interested can then examine it and come to their own conclusions.

What follows are links to PDF files that contain details of all the relevant source information regarding the formation of Sunderland A.F.C. that we at TheStatCat have gathered over the years. The PDFs are merely a collection and ordering of information that is already available in the public domain. We are happy for anyone to download / print these PDFs for their own perusal; all we ask is that if you find some information you haven’t seen before, and use it elsewhere, you give a mention to

The first PDF covers the evidence for the October 1879 date. This evidence is all anecdotal.

The above file refers out to two other PDFs which contain full transcripts of newspaper articles that are significant primary sources: an 1887 series from the Sunderland Echo entitled “Football in Sunderland”; and the memoirs of one of the founders of the club, John Grayston, which were published in the Sunderland Weekly News in 1931.

The final PDF is a collection of “factual” information that was actually reported in newspapers in the 1870s through to the club’s first known match in November 1880. A lot of this information has only recently come to light; we first discovered most of it in the summer of 2014 and have been gradually adding to it since.

If anyone discovers any further information, we are happy to incorporate it and give appropriate credit. This corner of the website could then become a freely available collection of everything that is known about the formation of Sunderland A.F.C. To let us know, email with details of information and its source.

Of course, we can’t resist publishing our own interpretation of the anecdotes and facts, and that’s on the next tab of this webpage.