Sunderland A.F.C. and Other Sports
Home to Sunderland AFC, based at the 48,300 Stadium of Light to the north of the River Wear. Six times League champions and twice FA Cup winners (1937 and 1973).
To reach the ground from the city centre, either get on the metro at Sunderland Central or Sunderland Interchange and go to St. Peter's. From Newcastle, alight at Stadium of Light. The stadium is visible to the west / southwest.
Silksworth Sports Complex has a reasonable set of sports facilities, including athletic track, dry ski slope and al weather sports pitches. Not accesible from the metro, get a bus to Silksworth to reach. Crowtree Leisure Centre in the city centre has squash and babminton courts, an ice rink and a leisure pool. There is a proper swimmning pool for people who don't want to mess about on Newcastle Road, nearest metro station Stadium of Light and walk north for 250 metres.
Sunderland - kicked back and easy going
If you want to go someplace where you don’t want to have to put up with a million other tourists, Sunderland is the place to go. You might say its England’s ‘off the beaten path’.
Here you will find and older town, with friendly people, things to do and close to other great locations. What you won’t find is long lines, heavy traffic, and every other person you speak to being another tourist.
First the beach is one of the nicest I’ve seen. You may wish to check out Sunderland’s or any of the other near by towns. For people who enjoy lighthouses there is no shortage!
If the beach isn’t your cup of tea, and you don’t have time to travel to the Netherlands, they do have a real windmill.
If your weakness is crafts or blown glass the National Glass Centre, is a must see. Not only can you take a tour, but buy some wonderful pieces of glass artwork. The young or young at heart might enjoy their local made glass marbles. After you tour and shopping, they also have a great restaurant over looking the river.
Of course you can’t say ‘England’ with out thinking about castles. No problem with in with in a few minutes drive…you will have several to pick from.
Part of traveling is enjoying local food and culture. Here you can enjoy some great fish and chips and more beer than you can handle for very little money.
If you like shopping for antiques and vintage items, you can enjoy the local ‘charity’ shops and second hand stores. I did find a great little vintage mantel clock, the only problem was, lack of room in suitcase. What you won’t find is the few pieces of vintage glass pieces I found first, like a 20’s bowl for .25 and press glass candy dish for .10. For less than a ‘pound’ my suitcase gained several pounds.
While locals take it for granted, as part of everyday life. I must say the county side is beautiful. Once you’ve visited the big cities, and ready to relax a bit, Sunderland and the surrounding area is the place to go.
Sunderland - Land of the Mackems
"The Mackem Homeland"
(Taken from http://www.virtualsunderland.com)
Proof exists that a ‘civilisation’ existed in Sunderland as long ago as prehistoric times. But the earliest recorded history dates from the year 674 AD, when Benedict Biscop, who was a Northumbrian nobleman devoted to the church, was allowed to use land by the River Wear to construct a monastery.
The stone and glass construction of the church associated with this monastery quickly developed a reputation for scholarship; it’s most famous academic being the Venerable Bede who went on to become the first important historian.
Around a decade after the establishment of the monastery, Benedict Biscop was given more land, this time on the rivers southern bank. It is interesting to note that this probably lead to origin of the name of the city. The area was now established on both sides of the River Wear, it was therefore split ‘a sunder’ by the water. Sundered-Land eventually became the shorter and easier to enunciate - Sunderland.
The Vikings attacked the area in both the 8th and 9th centuries and left the monastery in ruins. It was rebuilt in around the year 900, but the efforts were in vain as the Scots destroyed it again in 1070. A new area was then established at Wearmouth and the area became known as Monkwearmouth, it still carries that name today.
Two more settlements appeared on the south of the river as the years ticked by. They were the port of Wearmouth and the Bishopwearmouth farming community, both established on land owned by the Bishop of Durham.
By the 14th century, coal was being sailed down the River Wear and a 1380 survey tells how ships were being built; yet in 1565, an Elizabethan Commission described Sunderland as a ‘fishing town of thirty households’.
When the Civil War dawned, Sunderland sided with the Parlimentarians and was used as a naval base until the capture of Newcastle upon Tyne from the Royalists in 1644. As a direct result of the war, Newcastle lost its monopoly of the regions coal export and Sunderland gained the upper hand. Many believe this to be the beginnings of the fierce Sunderland-Newcastle rivalry, which continues today.
An increase in river traffic lead to improvements being made to the harbour area throughout the 18th century, associated industries such as ropery and sail manufacture also flourished. In 1796, as the town of Sunderland grew in size, the numerous necessary ferries were replaced by an iron bridge.
The many various Sunderland communities were brought together as one in 1832 when Sunderland became a parliamentary borough. By the 1830’s Sunderland’s shipbuilding output almost equaled that of all other ports in the country put together and during the 19th century became the world’s largest shipbuilding town.
The introduction of a rail network linking Sunderland to the coal mining industry further increased the towns importance as a port. At this point, Sunderland had also developed its very own Wearmouth Colliery and was gaining a reputation for the production of glass and pottery.
During The First World War, Zeppelins bombed the town but as a result of the war the many shipyards were running at full capacity. Sunderland was then hit hard by the depression and by 1930 shipbuilding had reduced to almost nothing, however the coalmines and the docks did not suffer quite so much. As many as a third of the towns population found themselves unemployed and in the mid-thirties the government attempted to help the worst hit areas by encouraging new industries. Sunderland’s very first industrial estate appeared in the Pallion district of the town in 1938.
Sunderland was one of the most bombed towns in Britain during the Second World War. It was such an important target because of its status as a prolific shipbuilding town, however, rather than reducing the output, it was increased to meet the demands of the supply link from North America to Great Britain which was so important for maintaining the fight against Nazi Germany.
Following World War Two, increased international competition saw shipbuilding in Sunderland enter terminal decline, by the 1980’s it had ceased completely with the aid of what many believed to be an unsympathetic Conservative government. Coal mining also suffered in the face of external competition and followed shipbuilding into the local history books in the 1990’s.
Today, Sunderland is becoming a thriving City once more with the resurgence of the city’s football team who have become a major force in the English Premiership, many high tech companies coming to the area especially to populate the impressive Doxford International Business Park, Nissan still thrives over 15 years since coming to Wearside, the City Centre is being totally revamped with the indoor shopping centre getting a massive extension and the City Centre Mowbray Park now restored to its early 1900's glory.
The Tyne and Wear Metro Extension to Sunderland was completed in 2002 - a mere 33 years late.
All in all Sunderland is a thriving City and well worth a visit.
"What is a Mackem?"
What is a "Mackem"? It is a resident of the City of Sunderland, a term which is steeped somewhat in mystery as to its origins.
Many will say it's a football thing as most supporters Sunderland AFC call themselves "Mackem's" though the official nickname of the Club is The Black Cats.
Others, especiallay those from outside the region say its a term used to insult Wearside residents.
The word "Mackem" comes from the term "Mak'em and Tak'em".
One story states that during World War 2 shipyard workers from Wearside were asked to help out building ships on the Tyne (Newcastle), probably due to their vast experience in the shipbuilding trade. This was not well met by the local Geordies who viewed it as taking work away from local people, thus the Wearside workers were making the ships and taking away jobs from Tyneside folk - "Mak'em and Tak'em". Thus the term "Mackem" was born and used to insult Wearside shipyard workers.
Another story simply states that it's because local dialect often shortens words and thus once again the term "Mak'em and Tak'em" meaning we make up words and take letters away from other words.
Either way the term "Mackem" is certainly not insulting. Those on Tyneside may differ in their view but their reference to it being an insult is down to pure jealousy.
One last point though, never call us Geordies!
Sunderland AFC was founded in 1879 and became the 13th member of the football league/association in 1891. Sunderland has enjoyed many successful seasons throughout its history (including six league titles and FA Cup winners, first time in 1937). Most however came prior to the Second World War, where League Championships were commonplace. Since the end of the last War Sunderland AFC has bounced up and down between the top two divisions However in 1973 one of the clubs greatest triumphs was achieved when they lifted the FA Cup as a struggling second division side over a very mighty first division Leeds United.
The club then went from bad to worse with relegation into the old third divison for the first ime in the clubs history in 1987 being the lowest point. Since then the club has bounced back but once again found themselves up and down between the old division one and two (or the premiership and division one).
Finally, the other year the club said farewell to Roker Park, its home ground for over 99 years. The size of the ground and safety/expansion factors meant it was time for change and the Stadium of Light, a 42,000 seater arena was opened for the start of the 1997/1998 season. This also meant a change of club badge which at the time disappointed many but the new crest has grown to be liked (not many people realise that we've actually gone through 7 badge styles in our history).
The 1997/1998 season was a tremendous one, full of excitement and passion. It ended in disaster with a play-off final defeat at Wembley against Charlton Athletic. The prize at stake was a place in the Premiership. It never happened, yet those who were there took part in one of the greatest games ever witnessed on British soil (the match ranks alongside the 1966 World Cup Final and the Euro '96 Semi-Final).
In the 1998/1999 season we astonished everyone by taking the first division by the scruff of its neck and ran away with the Championship beating every team in the division at least once and losing only 3 matches. We scored more goals than anyone, achieved the highest number of points ever in the history of English football. We played to packed 41,000+ games and it is rumoured 50,000 people was inside the magnificent stadium of Light at the last game of the season to see the Lads lift the Championship trophy (when at the time the capacity was approx 42,000). We're now back in the Premiership with a ground capacity of 48,300 - hopefully more to come - Ha'way The Lads.
Prior to the Thatcher/Major years, Sunderland was long a thriving center of coal mining and export, but the city was better known in recent years for its shipbuilding industry.
Thomas Menville is recorded to have built ships in Sunderland as early as 1346, but shipbuilding is believed to have taken place much earlier than this.
Back in 1885, a primitive ‘dug-out’ canoe was found in the River Wear near Hylton in the north west of the city. The canoe is believed to date from around 2,000 years ago and is claimed to be the earliest example of Sunderland shipbuilding.
By 1814, Sunderland had 24 shipyards on the banks of its river; this figure had risen to 65 in 1840. By the middle of the 20th century, Sunderland was producing over a quarter of the nation’s total shipbuilding output for the national effort in World War Two and was the largest shipbuilding town in the world.
As part of Margaret Thatcher’s determined effort to bring British industry to its knees in the 1980’s, the shipyards suffered and gradually disappeared from the Sunderland stretch of the River Wear. Despite a massive, widely supported campaign, Thatcher eventually got her way in 1988 when the final shipyard in the once ‘largest shipbuilding town in the world’ closed its doors and thousands more joined the lengthy Sunderland dole queue.
Until the 18th century, the two halves of Sunderland were only linked by ferries. Today, the river is crossed by three bridges, the A19 bridge, the large arched Wearmouth Bridge which was constructed in 1929 and the Queen Alexandra Bridge of 1909.
Hylton Castle, which is one of Sunderland’s oldest buildings, stood guard over one important Wear ferry crossing. The man responsible for its construction was William Hylton who erected the castle in around the year 1400. It is most famous for a ghost who goes by the name of the ‘Cauld Lad of Hylton’. The Cauld Lad is said to be the spirit of a stable hand who was murdered by a Hylton Baron in the 16th century. The stable boy was apparently caught sleeping on the job by the baron, who in a fit of temper, struck him with a pitchfork and killed him instantly.
The Cauld Lad, who it is rumoured, carried his head under his arm, was often seen or heard by the staff at Hylton Castle. Apparently, his favourite trick was throwing crockery, but curiously, this would only happen if the kitchens had been left in a tidy condition. Even more curiously, if the kitchens were left in a messy condition, he would tidy up! Perhaps not surprisingly, the kitchen staff would endeavor to leave the area in a mess. Occasionally, the ghost would take his activities further afield and sail the Hylton ferry himself, by impersonating the boatman, he would accept payment then leave his passengers stranded in the middle of the river.
The actions of the Cauld Lad were finally put to an end when he was given a green cloak and hood by the Hylton servants. They lay the garments in front of the Kitchen fire and waited until midnight at which time, the ghost appeared, took the items and disappeared after uttering his last words: "Here's a cloak and here's a hood, the Cauld Lad o' Hylton will do no more good".
Castle was occupied until early in the 20th century and all that remains today is a ruined shell that can be found, sensibly enough, in the Hylton Castle district of Sunderland. Some notable features, which remain of the ruins, are the coats of arms carved in stone on the walls. Included are the shields of the Eures, Greys, Percys, Lumleys, Hyltons and the Washingtons. The stars and bars of the Washington family coat of arms are believed to have been taken up by one member of the family in particular, a certain George Washington who adpated the design for the flag of the United States!
Apologies to http://www.virtualsunderland.com for using their stuff, but Sunderland had to have a decent mention here - full version of the above on their website.
Beefy at http://www.wkyo.freeserve.co.uk