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It is a great honour for Ashbrooke to host a county rugby match but an appropriate one too because Sunderland (Rugby) Football Club – for years known simply as Sunderland F.C. - can date its county links back to the very first season in which both existed in any shape or form. That was 1873-4. Our club was formed around Christmas 1873 and four of our players took part in what is recognised at the county’s second game later on during the same season. All this before the county, as it now stands, was officially constituted in 1876!

Sunderland’s geographical links with Durham County rugby are almost as lengthy and pre-date the club’s move to Ashbrooke. In February 1887 Middlesex brought a star –studded side to Sunderland to play Durham County at our old Chester Road Ground (near to the Infirmary). Five Sunderland players were in the Durham side including England international Charles Elliot. A photograph of this side has survived and been digitized and a match report in the local newspaper can also be viewed online. Three months after this game Sunderland (R) F C and Sunderland CC had moved to their new Ashbrooke home – and here we still are 132 years later.

Lancashire sides have played at Ashbrooke on numerous occasions and have always provided tough opposition. In order to celebrate the 2019 visit a power-point history of Ashbrooke’s relations with the county has been prepared and will be on show in the club on match day.

Greenwell (Hon Sec), Elliot, Barwick, Eyre and Wilford all had connections with Sunderland RFC as did V T Thompson who is seated front right but not named on this list

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