Officially Formed in 1890
North Sunderland FC was formed officially in 1890 but a village team played football for many years before this, albeit in an irregular and unorganised way. After several meetings in the spring and summer of this year the club was formed and has been in existence, with the exception of the war years, ever since. Among the founder members were Fred Sanderson, Jimmy Cuthbertson and Rod McKenzie. The McKenzie family involvement continued uninterrupted until the death, in 1976, of Rod McKenzie Jnr. The McKenzie family’s strong links with Newcastle United were in the main due to the club playing in black and white stripes. All games were friendlies until the North Northumberland League was formed in 1896 of which the club was a founding member.
The North Sunderland railway had a great bearing on the high quality of opponents as teams would travel from Tyneside to play. Two of the more notable teams were Gosforth Albion and Tynemouth Ashleigh. A report in the local paper from the match against NER from Forth Station Newcastle on Easter Saturday 1896 stated “Both sides were strong and the character of play was directly the opposite of that seen in the previous fixture. Of pushing, tripping and holding there was none, each team showing a cleverness in combination that fairly delighted the considerable crowd of onlookers”.
In the late 1930’s the club was suspended for several years by the FA for fielding players who had played “illegal football on The Stanks at Berwick”. During this period the club played in the border amateur league. After the war the FA reinstated the club whereby they played in the Bamburghshire League. This league consisted of village teams from Craster to the south and Scremerston to the north. The club was reinstated to the NNL in 1940 and has remained a member ever since.
The club has on several sites over the early years. They initially played on the field behind the original golf club house. On other occasions they played behind King Street and also on land at Annstead farm. A possibly little known fact is that the first turf to be laid for NUFC at St James Park after the amalgamation of the East and West end clubs was cut from land at the little burn between Seahouses and Beadnell.
The players were drawn initially from the fishing fraternity but with the steady decline of the industry the team now consists of players from a wider radius. Over the years more notable performers were Jack Shiel who played for NUFC and Huddersfield Town before the war and more recently Stuart Romaines who played for Berwick Rangers, Falkirk and Raith Rovers.
One of the many stalwarts associated with the club was Wattie Anderson. He served as player, Chairman and committee member for well over 50 years. The other notable servant was Brian Felton. Had it not been for his single handed running of the club for many years it is fair to say that it would most definitely have folded.
There are many amusing anecdotes attributed to the club over the years but possibly the most intriguing was during the final of the Alnwick Infirmary Cup played at Alnwick. In those early days communications were primitive compared to today. Craster scored first and their supporters, in their eagerness to relay the news back to Craster released a homing pigeon specifically brought to the match for such an occasion. News of Craster’s intentions had been leaked to North Sunderland. The unfortunate pigeon never cleared the football ground. It descended onto the pitch in a cloud of feathers after a gunshot was heard. North Sunderland supporters denied any involvement in the issue but suspicions, and animosity, remained between the two clubs for many years. To this day matches against Craster are still “a but tasty”
The club has continued to evolve over the years and after playing on a variety of venues, including the school field, we now play on a new purpose built facility at Seafield Sports Park. There is the main pitch and a floodlit training pitch. The training facilities are used by a number of differing age groups, both male and female. The facility also has dedicated changing rooms and from the start of this season, refreshment facilities. A huge vote of appreciation for this achievement has to go to Ken Britton at The Seafield Caravan Park. Without his dedication this project would never have happened.
“North Sunderland Football Club continues to thrive and with the dedication of the manager, coaches and players will continue to do so for many years to come”