North East Connected

Book launch celebrates Sunderland 73: The People’s Visual History


Lifelong Black Cats fans can see their 1973 FA Cup memorabilia officially brought to life in a new book marking 50 years since Sunderland won the cup at Wembley.

The University of Sunderland has teamed up with internationally renowned photographer and football artist Julian Germain, and the likes of A Love Supreme, Foundation of Light, Back on the Map and The Cultural Spring for Sunderland 73: The People’s Visual History.

The project, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, celebrates one of the most significant events in the history of Sunderland – the 1973 FA Cup – reflecting upon the experiences of supporters during the Bob Stokoe era.

Sunderland fans’ photos, memorabilia, scrapbooks and memories are at the heart of this project, and, over the last year, supporters have been invited to bring along such material to a series of events in the city, which saw their items rephotographed and added to an evolving exhibition and book.

Lead artist Julian has also made a series of new photographic portraits of some of the participants with their treasured possessions.

On Tuesday 13 February, as production company Fulwell 73’s Sunderland Till I Die Season 3 hit our screens, fans gathered at The Fire Station in Sunderland for the official book launch and Sunderland 73: The People’s Visual History project celebration, which featured a pop-up exhibition and interactive presentation by Julian and participants.

Some of those attending also brought along their precious items which have been included in the book, such as Paul Doxford with his replica FA Cup, and sisters Wendy McDonald and Judith Bartlam who had recreated a pair of bloomers worn by their mother in the Cup run.

Julian, who is also a Visiting Professor at the University, said: “This book is a collaborative artwork, totally dependent on the active participation of many people who were the makers or collectors and then the keepers (for many years!) of memorabilia and visual material from the 1973 Cup run, the victory at Wembley and then the subsequent euphoria and celebration.

“Some people had piles of newspapers and cuttings, others had their tickets and programmes, scarves, rosettes and so on, many of them home-made in some way, shape or form. A few had made scrapbooks, designing and editing their own more personal albums, and these were incredibly important for building a coherent narrative in our book.

“Other contributors were more on the periphery, perhaps not even huge football fans, who remembered, for example, a single snapshot photo of themselves dressed up for the victory parade and brought it along to one of our collection events.”

Julian added: “Being part of the accumulation and bringing together of all this material, donated by so many people, has been fascinating, a huge pleasure and a privilege.”

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland, was asked to make the opening remarks at the event, where he said: “After nearly six years working and living in the city – I like to think of myself as an adopted Mackem and supporter of Sunderland AFC. So, even though I have a rather busy diary as the University’s Vice-Chancellor, there was no way this event was going ahead tonight without me being present.”

About the book, Sir David added: “I had the most enormous fun – and a few lumps in the throat as a ‘70s teenager – when I first flicked through the pages of Sunderland 73: The People’s Visual History – because that is what it is – the people’s. And for me, that is at the heart of what I have come to learn and love about this city and its football team. Players and managers come and go – sometimes all too frequently here – but it’s the people and their memories that endure – and will always endure.”

Paul Dobson, Co-editor of A Love Supreme, said, “I was delighted to be asked to contribute to the project, as it gave me the excuse to open my box of ’73 memorabilia. Meeting so many others who had such a variety of items and stories was an absolute joy, and the book is a great way of sharing all of them with the Sunderland world and beyond.”

Co-ordinator of the Coals to Goals heritage project at the Foundation of Light, Alyson Dixon, said: “It was great to be involved in the project. Living memories of the cup final and the cup run are fading and will soon be lost forever so it’s really important that this project took place and captured these treasured memories and memorabilia before it is too late. The participants who were involved really loved sharing their memories and seeing them immortalised in the book for future generations to enjoy.”

Amanda Ritson, Programme Manager at the NEPN (North East Photography Network) based at the University’s Northern Centre of Photography, St Peter’s Campus, added: “This project has been a real joy to develop with our Visiting Professor Julian and has brought together so many different contributors – fans, artists, students as well as partners from community, football and cultural sectors.”

The book is available to buy from the University of Sunderland, A Love Supreme, National Glass Centre and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens at £20.   

Exit mobile version