Sunderland and District Teachers' Association Football Club was founded in 1879 at a meeting of schoolmasters called by James Allan. After a year non-teachers were allowed to join and the name became Sunderland AFC. After three previous grounds the club moved to Roker Park in 1886.
Sunderland were elected to the Football League in 1890, but only after they had agreed to pay their visitors travelling expenses. From that day Sunderland remained in the first division for 68 years, a record only surpassed by Arsenal. The Roker-rites were league champions in 1892, 1893 and 1895, and were the first club to win three championships.
In 1913 Sunderland won the league championship for the fifth time, and in the FA Cup final against Aston Villa they only lost by one goal, scored by Tommy Barber from Newcastle. Villa had finished second in the league, the top two teams in the league, also in the FA Cup final, something that would no be repeated until 1986. Sunderland AFC moved to a new stadium in July 1997, the Stadium of Light, a new 42,000 all-seater stadium, the most exciting new ground in football.
They were relegated from the top flight in 2003, but Mick McCarthy managed to guide them back two years later. After another relegation, former star striker Niall Quinn took over the club and brought in Roy Keane as manager, who guided them to the Championship title in his first season, bringing with it promotion back to the big time.