The 1930's were probably the best seasons ever for the club, in
terms of both success and excitement. Manager Cochrane embarked on
a rebuilding programme that, with similar overtones to the start of
the 21st Century, was built on youth. It paid handsome dividends.
In 1933 Horatio ("Raich") Carter played his first match
for the club at the age of eighteen. Before the end of the
season he was an England international. Like the club itself
he was born in Hendon and attended the Board School in his
An FA Cup replay with Derby County in 1933 drew 75,118
spectators, (on a Wednesday afternoon - no floodlights in those
days!) another record which will never be challenged. It is
doubtful how many of them really got a good view. In a decade of
contrasts it also, however, produced the lowest ever attendance, a
Sunderland were league champions again in 1936, scoring 109 goals
(Carter and Gurney scored 31 each), but this time the celebrations
were less whole-hearted: goalkeeper Jimmy Thorpe, a diabetic, had
died a few days earlier, having being kicked during a game.
He was twenty-two.
This year the present Clock Stand was built. Like the Main
Stand it was designed by Archibald Leitch, the most famous
architect of sports grounds of those days. There were no
seats in the Clock Stand at first.
Sunderland's second FA Cup Final brought their first victory
. A 3-1 win over Preston at Wembley brought the famous trophy
to Roker for the first time. Raich Carter was made captain
because he was the only Sunderland-born player in the team (the
usual captain, Alex Hastings, was injured). Among the many
stars of that team was Bobby Gurney whose 338 goals in league and
cup are still a club record. He retired in 1939 when league
football was again suspended by war.
The club didn't know it then, but apart from a brief spell
in the 1950's, Sunderland AFC's position as the nations top
club, or certainly one of them, would evaporate and in time joy
would turn to despair...abject despair!