30 Jun 2022
Sunderland AFC (1898 - 1997)
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.
Ordnance Survey, 1946
Roker Park, undated but from before the Roker End's capacity was reduced. Source: Krisread, Flickr
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Roker Park, 1966. Unknown Source.
Historic Environment Records
Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past
Tyne and Wear: Sitelines
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