Sunderland and District Teachers Association Football Club was formed in 1879 and, after opening up their membership to anyone in 1881, became known simply as Sunderland AFC. In 1890 Sunderland became the first football club to be elected into the recently founded Football League and stayed in that top flight until 1958.
From 1898 until 1997 Sunderland played their home games at Roker Park, an intimidating stadium which featured the 'Roker Roar'. An old nickname of the club was 'The Rokerites'.
Sunderland FC was a major force in English football and between 1892 and 1936 they were crowned Division One Champions on six occasions and Runners Up five times. They followed up their 1936 Division One Championship with an FA Cup Final victory in 1937.
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It was during a spell in the Second Division that Sunderland experienced their greatest post-war triumph. In 1973 they reached the FA Cup Final against a formidable Leeds United team. Backed by a passionate support, as well as the goodwill of the majority of neutrals, Sunderland took a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal by Ian Porterfield - '1-0' as David Coleman used to say! It was then a backs-to-the-wall effort and some, at times, unbelievable goalkeeping by Jim Montgomery. Sunderland hung on and at the final whistle Bob Stokoe famously ran onto the pitch to embrace his players.
Sunderland then experienced turbulent times fluctuating between the two top Divisions (as well as one season in the third flight). In 1997 Sunderland left Roker Park for the impressive Stadium of Light. This prompted the need for a new nickname and Sunderland FC is now commonly referred to as the Black Cats or the Mackems.