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Coming Together

Rugby and Cricket have always been close. Before the demands of both the sports today it was common for sporting folk to play cricket in the summer and rugby during the winter. However it is another tale that brings the sports together in our club. Many will already be familiar with the remarkable discovery of a set of our rugby kit which dates back to the 1870s and 1880s and has been described as 'the oldest known complete' set of club rugby kit known to the World Rugby Museum. During this period the kit was worn by Alfred Milbanke Hudson and a similar set was worn by his brother Ralph Milbanke Hudson. They in turn were the sons of the interesting and long living Ralph Milbanke Hudson ( the elder) who lived from 1813 to 1908 and occupied homes in the Cedars and later at Oaklea - currently a residence linked to the convent in Tunstall Road. Whereas Alfred and Ralph junior were founding members of the Sunderland Rugby Club in the 1870s, their father was a founding member and first secretary of the cricket club - first known as Bishopwearmouth C C but morphing to our current Sunderland C C through a simple name change. All the early records of our cricket club are in the hands of Ralph senior and it is believed that he continued as secretary for at least 15 years and played cricket well into his 40s. Why a couple of Ralph Milbankes in the family? Well, the plot thickens here as a Ralph Milbanke (the Milbanke here a surname) lived at Seaham Hall and was the uncle of Queen Victoria's first prime minister Lord Melbourne and father of a daughter who was married briefly to Lord Byron. Were our Sunderland cricketers and rugby players blood relatives of these well known historical figures ? The search for an answer continues. Attached is a picture of Alfred's shirt c1880 and the link to the tale behind it and other parts of the kit is at "Keith Gregson" "A Remarkable Sporting Discovery" on YouTube if

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