Roker Park Football Ground
30 May 2023
This is a
Current status is
Designer (if known):
Site now occupied by housing
'Roker Park was the home of Sunderland AFC for 99 years. The site was identified in 1897 and in order to rent it, the club had to pay the ground rents of houses planned for the surrounding streets until all were sold. Roker Park opened in August 1898 with a novelty sports event called the 'Olympic Games'. The first match was on 10th September 1898, against Liverpool.
In 1907 the club bought the site for £10,000. In 1913 Archibald Leitch (who also designed stands at Ibrox Park in Glasgow and Goodison Park In Liverpool) designed a reinforced concrete terrace at the south Roker End. In 1929 Leitch designed a double decker main stand costing £25,000. It featured his trademark criss-cross latticework balcony truss, originally painted green. There were 5875 wooden seats on the upper deck and room for 14,000 standing on the lower terrace. In 1936 he completed the simpler two tier Clock Stand. In 1964 the Fulwell End terrace was roofed over. In 1966 an office and hospitality block was added at the rear of the stand for the World Cup. In 1973 the wooden seats in the main stand were replaced in plastic. A row of executive boxes were added in the rear portion of the lower deck. In the 1980s the roof was reclad and fire escapes added at either end.
The highest number of spectators was 75,118 for a replay against Derby in 1933. But from the 1970s safety regulations and the installation of seats eventually reduced capacity to 22,657. Roker Park was demolished in 1997 and the club moved to the new Stadium of Light. Two sections of Leitch's balcony truss from Roker Park are displayed in the car park of the new stadium. In June 1997 various signs, pieces of turf, seats etc from Roker Park were auctioned off to fans. One of the penalty spots was replanted at the Stadium of Light.
The streets of houses built on the site of Roker Park have football themed names - Roker Park Close, Turnstile Mews, Goalmouth Close, Promotion Close, Clockstand Close, Association Road, Midfield Drive.'
Listing Description (if available)
The two maps above illustrate the site of Roker Park and its surrounding areas between 1898 and 1921. The first map further above is from 1898 (surveyed 1895), and the piece of empty farmland between the North Dock Branch and Roker Baths Road is the intended site of Park Park. Discussions were already in fruition by 1898 for the Sunderland ground to be moved here, and it can be seen further to the left another football ground, Newcastle Road, which was Sunderland's home stadium between 1886 and 1898. Its capacity was vastly limited to the potential of Roker Park. The final game at Newcastle Road was a 4-0 win against Nottingham Forest, and moved to Roker Park in the summer of 1898.
The later map in 1921 shows the areas of Monkwearmouth and Roker fully developed, with terraces lining the areas barren only a couple decades before. As noted, Newcastle Road has since been demolished and Roker Park can be seen in the centre of the image. At this point the area was still very industrial, filled with railway sidings.
The 1946 map shows little change. Various new built projects can be seen above the North Dock branch and to the west of Newcastle Road, the the immediate area around Roker Park is little changed. Monkwearmouth Hospital has been constructed.
Undated photograph of Roker Park before the Roker End was reduced after the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989. A match is underway and the capacity if filled to the brim. The tall floodlights were typical of the era.
Retrieved from krisread on Flickr
Photograph of Roker Park in 1966 exhibiting the full ground. The lattice style terraces can be seen as well as the floodlights.
Retrieved from the Chronicle