Joe Dixon’s

Football Memories



The History that Never Was

The History That Never Was - 15 May 2011

Around 1980, after I was no longer involved, the club began printing match programmes. Initially there was no mention of when the club was formed but from the mid 1980’s they started to show that the club was established in 1961 which was 2 years earlier than it was. At first I thought they must be under the impression that this was when the Youth Club Centre was first opened but as this would be 1960 I was very puzzled. I didn’t attach much importance to this until 2009 when I came across a book called ’Northern Goalfields’, written by Brian Hunt which tells the 100 year history, 1889 -1989, of the Northern League. There is a chapter called ‘Clubs Call’ which shows the history of various clubs including that of Ryhope CA‘s. Obviously Brian Hunt can not be faulted as he can only print the history that a club gives him. Unfortunately Ryhope's was almost totally wrong. Below is a copy.


1. When I first read ‘Formed in 1961 as Ryhope Youth Club, the side played friendly games in its first season on the Store field’ I had a good laugh because I was there at the beginning and this was a joke to me. But then it quickly dawned on me that people might actually believe this. How can less than a handful of totally unofficial games played between 14-16 year old kids against other Youth Clubs be classed as a season and the official formation of a senior football club. None of the teams were registered in any way, players didn’t have to be signed on, there was no league and at the end of the day we were just kids having fun. Quite simply no senior Ryhope YC team existed in 1961 or even1962. It was formed, and Registered in 1963 and played its first season in the Seaham & District League. It’s like trying to claim you were born when your parents started courting.       

2. It wasn’t players that formed the team it was Bill Bond, the youth club leader, with the help of Arthur Crago, Ernie Carlin, Jack Hedley and a few of us from the youth club committee. Without Bill no team would have been formed. As Bill’s name was never ever mentioned in the clubs history it is obvious that the writer was not there when the club was formed.

3. The Club did not move to the Ryhope CW ground in its 2nd season, it was the 3rd season (1965/1966).

4. The Club did not change its name to Ryhope CA in its 2nd season it was the 9th season (1971/1972).

5. The Club did not ‘win 18 Cups and several League Titles’ . Only 9 Cup wins and 4 League Titles can be accounted for at the moment. However they were runner up 3 times in Cups and League runners-up twice. I have a couple of trophies which were never engraved and these may relate to the ’CA. So at best 11 Cup wins.

6. Billy Anderson and Norman T Taylor both gave great service to the club and contributed greatly to all of the clubs successes. However they were not founder members of Ryhope YC FC. They joined the club from Junior football at the start of its second season, 1964/65, in the Seaham & District League.

7. Norman T Taylor did not play over 680 games for the club. It is that far off the mark I can only presume that it was a misprint and, as a 6 is next to a 3 on some numerical key pads, it was meant to be 380. He played until 1975, but due to work commitments he was not involved much in the 1970/1971 season. So a total of 10 full seasons. Considering there were only 13 teams in the Seaham league, 15 in the Houghton league and there was no success in 5 of these seasons the figure is in fact nearer to 410.

8. It refers to one player having played 15 years for the club. What was the point of saying this without naming the player. I played from 1963-1979 but I missed the 1966/67 season and the club had folded for 3 seasons, 1975/76 to 1977/78. This was 12 seasons and I can’t think of anyone that played more so perhaps the player was me and the club had forgotten my name.

It then crossed my mind that Sunderland RCA might decide to celebrate its 50th birthday in 2011 instead of 2013, as it would just be its 48th. So last year a few of us, with the support of the present Sunderland RCA committee, started to try and put the record straight by writing a new, more comprehensive and accurate version of its formation and early history. The 'RCA's website and match programme have now been changed to show this new history.

This new version has been written with the help of Billy Anderson, Terry Brace, Ernie Carlin, Harry Clarke, Brian Page and Ray Swansbury. Between the seven of us we have given some 120 years of service to the club. In addition Terry, Ray and myself played in the clubs first ever season, 1963/64, and as well as being there from when the Youth Club Centre opened in 1960, we were also members of the Centre’s first ever committee. So all in all we feel very well qualified to document the clubs early history.


Another article, that appeared in the Northern Echo on 8 December 2003, see below, refers to Johnny Wightman scoring 7 goals to set a new club record previously held by Kevin Todd 20 years previous. This seems very strange as I scored 7 in both the 1969/70 and 1972/73 seasons. Perhaps the club forgot about me.

It is very sad that the present committee of Sunderland RCA have been misled over its history. Even the likes of Kevin Todd and Johnny Wightman, who were given to believe that they were record breakers and possibly even been given a memento of their achievement, have been totally misled.


The history is also shown, again incorrectly, on the WIKIPEDIA website. This site also gives the clubs nickname as being the ‘RYES’, which I have never ever heard before, and I’ve no idea when this supposedly came about. As Ryhope YC FC we were just known as the ‘Youth Club‘ but after it changed its name to Ryhope Community Association FC we became known as the ‘CA’, as in ‘See A’. As far as I’m aware, and for that matter some of the CA’s committee that gave service up to 1991, the club has never been referred to as the ‘Ryes’. So we are puzzled as to where this came from. Again Wikipedia can not be faulted as they can only print the history that the club gave them. Below is a copy.

In the 1972/73 season the ‘CA’ had its first club badge designed by Peter Hedley whose father Jack Hedley helped form the club back in 1963. It showed a lion on it and some of the ‘CA’s committee occasionally refered to the club as the ‘Young Lions’. Thankfully this never caught on and it continued to be known as the ‘CA’ and more recently, since the club became Sunderland RCA , some people refer to the club as the ‘RCA’.


When I look at what’s been written about the ‘CA’ in the past I sometimes wonder whether this is the same team that I played for. If it wasn't for the photos and written records that I kept I might have thought it was all a dream. So perhaps all that's been written is someone else’s dream.