Plaque honours North creator of football history

A SPECIAL plaque has been unveiled in Sunderland to honour the founding father of world football.

Karen Gunnell with her son Johnas

A SPECIAL plaque has been unveiled in Sunderland to honour the founding father of world football.

Charles William Alcock, who was born in the city in 1842, went on to pioneer the first ever international match, England v Scotland in 1870, and established the FA Cup.

Now a lasting tribute to the contribution he made to the beautiful game has been mounted at his birthplace at 10 Norfolk Street.

A special ceremony to unveil the blue plaque took place yesterday and was attended by a host of dignitaries.

The event came just days before the 168th anniversary of Alcock’s birthday on December 2 – the same day when FIFA will decide if England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup has been successful. Sunderland City Council leader, councillor Paul Watson, said: “During his lifetime he played an influential role in developing the game of football and on December 2 FIFA will make the announcement to confirm whether or not England will host the 2018 World Cup.

“I’m sure C W Alcock would be a very proud man if we are able to support his legacy by bringing the World Cup to this country.”

Alcock’s great, great, great niece Karen Gunnell attended the ceremony along with her son Johannes.

She said: “Our family has been overwhelmed by the wonderful welcome we have received in Sunderland and the support of Sunderland City Council, which has done so much to honour our ancestor, Charles William Alcock.

“We are an extremely proud family and it is lovely that the great achievements of C W Alcock are being recognised and commemorated in the city of his birth.”

Alcock laid out his vision for international football on July 20 1871 in his position as FA Secretary.

He said: “It is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association, for which all clubs belonging to the Association should be invited to compete”. The FA Cup, the world’s first national football tournament, was then established.

Alcock was also a top player himself and was England’s first international captain.

Johannes paid tribute to his ancestor and described him as an “incredible person”. He added: “Not only did he play a huge role in the development of football, he also captained Wanderers FC to victory in the inaugural FA Cup final, which puts a bit of pressure on my own performances having turned out for the newly-resurrected Wanderers FC side, which plays for charity.

“It would also be incredibly apt if England were to be awarded the 2018 World Cup on the anniversary of his birth.”

Also supporting the campaign is Sunderland AFC chairman Niall Quinn who said the game owed “so much” to Alcock.

The Black Cats supremo hailed him as “a true servant of football” who played “an integral role in its development and growth as a global game”.

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