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2013

October 2013

  1. Sir Bob's invitation to the FA's 150th anniversary gala dinner

    The FA celebrates 150th Anniversary

      The FA celebrated its 150th anniversary in October and Sir Bob attended a prestigious gala dinner in London to mark the special occasion. The celebration took place at The Grand Connaught Rooms on 26th…

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    Sir Bob’s invitation to the FA’s 150th anniversary gala dinner

    The FA celebrated its 150th anniversary in October and Sir Bob attended a prestigious gala dinner in London to mark the special occasion.

    The celebration took place at The Grand Connaught Rooms on 26th October, on the site where the FA was founded 150 years ago, and guests included leading FA officials and figures from football past and present.

    Bob, who served on the Wembley Board and was appointed Project Director of St George’s Park by The FA in 2008, said; “The FA is the oldest football association in the world and I was delighted to be invited to celebrate 150 years.

    “In recent years The FA has made a very significant investment in football infrastructure in this country to create facilities the nation can be proud of.

    “The new Wembley Stadium opened in 2007 and I personally think it is the best stadium in the world.  Just as importantly, it has invested in flagship facilities to develop players and coaches from grassroots level to elite football with the opening of St George’s Park at Burton.  I hope this will be a good omen for the next 150 years.”

     

     

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2012

July 2012

  1. Academy of Light hydrotherapy suite

    Academy of Light awarded top status

    Sir Bob Murray was delighted when the Academy of Light, SAFC’s world class training facility, was awarded category one status, the highest possible rating under the new EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) system. The EPPP…

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    Sir Bob Murray was delighted when the Academy of Light, SAFC’s world class training facility, was awarded category one status, the highest possible rating under the new EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) system. The EPPP is a long-term strategy designed to take Premier League Youth Development to the next level and the rankings were introduced for the first time in 2012. Only a handful of Premier League sides have achieved the top ranking status to date.

     

    Academy of Light hydrotherapy suite

    “I’m thrilled that the Academy of Light has been recognised in this way and awarded the highest possible performance ranking”, he said.

    “The Academy plans were ambitious from the outset, originally including a full size indoor and hostel, because we knew how important the Academy would be in the long-term.  I know at times some supporters couldn’t understand why getting the stadium right initially, and then the academy was so important. But they were and are crucial if Sunderland is to compete successfully at the highest level for many decades to come. The stadium is the theatre, and the training ground is where we train and develop the stars.

    “The Academy is a world apart from the club’s former training grounds, the Charlie Hurley Centre that I had to personally fund for the club from my own resources  and which just consisted of 2 pitches and temporary buildings including a dilapidated pavilion; or the training facility I inherited in 1986, which was just a single field at Cleadon. In those days the players had to use the dressing room at Roker Park, drive to Cleadon to train and back again to shower afterwards. I can’t imagine any top players contemplating that these days!

    “Sunderland’s story is very similar to that of the national team. England faced the same challenges and they are the reason why I was asked to join the Wembley Board to help secure the funding and award the contract for Wembley, and later why I was asked to be Project Director for St George’s Park.

    “I feel great pride about the local players that have graduated from the Academy such as Jordan Henderson and know we’d never sold a player for £19m before it was built!”

    Commenting on the award of EPPP category one status Sunderland AFC chief executive Margaret Byrne added, “The Academy that you (Sir Bob) built has enabled our staff to work in a world class facility and strive for excellence. This is a massive achievement as we are recognised as one of the best academies in the country to develop footballers. It will also be worldwide recognition for our Academy.”

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2009

June 2009

  1. Take That spectacular lights up the Stadium

    Take That launch Circus Tour at Stadium of Light

      Take That launched their sell-out £10m Circus Tour in Sunderland and Bob didn’t want to miss the occasion; “It was fantastic to be part of another little piece of history and be at the…

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    Take That spectacular lights up the Stadium

    Take That launched their sell-out £10m Circus Tour in Sunderland and Bob didn’t want to miss the occasion; “It was fantastic to be part of another little piece of history and be at the first concert at the Stadium. The stadium looked amazing and the show was spectacular as billed.

    “It was an incredible  atmosphere and brilliant to see the stadium alive with people dancing and enjoying live music.  The stadium was designed to be a world class venue, to be distinctive and to put Sunderland on the map. It was built first and foremost to be a football stadium and an entertainment venue secondly but our plan from the outset was always to stage concerts and other major events at the stadium.

    “We visited the Ajax Arena when we were designing the stadium and ultimately chose the same contractors. After seeing Ajax we knew it was important to have the infrastructure in place for the future but it was also about establishing the right relationships from the beginning.  A number of people at the club worked really hard to make the case to bring concerts to Sunderland and convince the promoters to come here over many years. It didn’t happen overnight but it’s fantastic to see now and I congratulate everyone.”

     

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2002
  1. Sir Bob at Wembley

    Bob joins Wembley Board/Awarded CBE

      In early 2002 during his time as Chairman of Sunderland AFC, Bob was asked by the Government to join the Board of Wembley, the body governing the build of the new Wembley Stadium. At…

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    Sir Bob at Wembley

    In early 2002 during his time as Chairman of Sunderland AFC, Bob was asked by the Government to join the Board of Wembley, the body governing the build of the new Wembley Stadium. At the time the project had stalled and had no contractor or finance in place.

    Bob was invited to join the Board because of his extensive experience in property development and building world class stadia in addition to his football background. Wembley is now regarded as one of the best sporting stadiums in the world.

    Bob was also awarded the CBE for his extensive work in the North East community in 2002.

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2001
  1. Foundation of Light mission

    SAFC Foundation founded

    There is a constant theme that runs through Bob’s life and that is his desire to create a legacy that enables the less fortunate in society to fulfil their potential and lead happy and constructive…

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    Foundation of Light mission

    There is a constant theme that runs through Bob’s life and that is his desire to create a legacy that enables the less fortunate in society to fulfil their potential and lead happy and constructive lives. The Foundation of Light, a registered charity, is an acclaimed example of this.

    When Bob became Chairman of Sunderland in 1986 one of his ambitions was to develop his vision for a true community based football club. His strong views on over-coming social exclusion led to the establishment of the nationally renowned Foundation of Light, which is now the biggest and best football charity in the UK.

    The Foundation’s mission is simple; to use the power of football to involve, educate and inspire more than 42,000 young people and their families across the North East each year through a broad range of innovative and award-winning programmes that can help change lives. It is the kind of scheme which might have helped an unemployed school leaver such as Bob, had it been around in the early 1960’s.

    The Foundation began in 1988 when the club took part in the successful pilot scheme ‘Community Programme in Professional Football’. The results of this pilot were instrumental in the Football Trust’s decision in the early 1990’s to invest nationally in Football in the Community schemes, with which Sunderland were involved from the outset.

    By the time the Club moved from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light, a far-reaching community programme had already been developed, but the new stadium proved to be the real catalyst for the Foundation, which has gone from strength to strength during the past ten years.

    The completion of the inspirational Centre of Light in 2004 provided a brand-new educational facility within the Stadium of Light, comprising five state-of-the-art classrooms and a football development area.

    Under Bob’s guidance, 100 full time staff, part timers and volunteers, now go daily into the community, teaching youngsters good habits about sporting behaviour, fitness and health awareness, whilst having fun and playing football. Tens of thousands of children and their teachers are also welcomed to the Foundation’s own education department for specially designed activities, which enable children to learn through football in line with National Curriculum requirements.

    Bob still has a strong vision for the future of the Foundation: “I fervently believe the Foundation of Light is best of its kind in the country and is run by the best people. It has to be good because the region both needs and deserves the best.

    “The Foundation’s 10th Anniversary was a significant milestone but is just the beginning. I’m focussed on exploring what we can achieve in the next decade and the difference the Foundation can make to the lives of young people in the region and beyond.”

    The Foundation is proud to have an active Royal Patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, and the trustees who all have strong Sunderland connections are Kate Adie OBE, Steve Cram MBE, Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, Baroness Estelle Morris, Ellis Short, Sir Tim Rice, the Rt. Hon. James Ramsbotham DL, Paul Collingwood MBE, Sir Peter Vardy and Sir Bob Murray CBE himself who remains Chair of Trustees.

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1999

May 1999

  1. Crowd at the Stadium of Light

    Club enjoys promotion party and record crowds

    After the agonizing play off final defeat in 1998, Sunderland were crowned Division One Champions in 1999 with a record haul of 105 points after losing just 3 times all season. “It was a terrific…

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    Crowd at the Stadium of Light

    After the agonizing play off final defeat in 1998, Sunderland were crowned Division One Champions in 1999 with a record haul of 105 points after losing just 3 times all season.

    “It was a terrific season, which saw us promoted to the Premiership and crowned as   Champions, said Bob.

    “We made a great start to the season with a 24-match unbeaten run and finished an incredible season with a record number of points. Being crowned Champions was the icing on the cake.”

    It was also a season when Sunderland set records off the pitch as well as on. “When I inherited Lawrie McMenemy, on his last game against Sheffield United the attendance for the game was down to just 8000” said Bob.

    “By the 1999/2000 season, we boasted an average attendance of over 40,000 which was more than double the average at Roker Park for the previous decade.”

    “All our marketing and community efforts were focused on growing the supporter base, extending the brand footprint and enhancing the image and reputation of Sunderland AFC as a family and community focussed club. The Foundation of Light was an integral part of the strategy.

    “We promoted a strong ethos of social inclusion and championed affordable and accessible football. The Foundation took this philosophy and spirit out into the community through its wide-ranging community programmes.

    “After just 2 years the Stadium of Light had more than 30,000 season ticket holders as compared to less than 5,000 at Roker Park. A fifth of the season ticket holders were female, the highest proportion in the top flight.

    “We also boasted the youngest average age in the Premier League and out attendances were the 3rd highest in the country.”

    Support for reserve team matches at the Stadium of Light broke records and raised eyebrows across Europe. The visits of the second strings of Manchester United and Liverpool attracted crowds of 20,583 and 33,517, who roared on the home side to 2-0 and 1-0 victories and ultimately another championship trophy.

    “We were the envy of many clubs because we built the club back up to have record crowds’ week in, week out for both the first and reserve team. Nobody else in football had taken crowds from that low level and increased them by 40,000.

    “I can remember the team had to arrive three hours before kick-off to get through the huge crowds that were waiting for them, the buzz at that time was electric.

    It was a massive achievement for the club, however, I don’t think we ever really got credit for how hard we worked to grow the club and make it stronger.”

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1998
  1. Disappointment for SAFC at Wembley

    Play off final thriller

      The first season at the Stadium of Light was a roller coast ride of emotions. The team just missed out on automatic promotion when they were pipped to the post by local rivals Middlesbrough….

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    Disappointment for SAFC at Wembley

    The first season at the Stadium of Light was a roller coast ride of emotions. The team just missed out on automatic promotion when they were pipped to the post by local rivals Middlesbrough. The team finished the season in third place and were faced with the lottery of the play offs.

     

    “It had been a fantastic season with Quinn and Phillips netting 52 goals between them in front of full houses at the stadium. Super Kev beat Brian Clough’s post war club record by scoring 35 goals (in all competitions) and became the first Sunderland player to ever win the European Golden Boot. It had been an exciting and memorable first season.” said Bob.

     

    “Just missing out on automatic promotion was another blow though. We were very nervy in the first leg of the semi-finals and lost 2-1 at Bramall Lane but I still felt confident because I knew we had to bring them back to Sunderland. On the team coach after the game I asked Captain Kevin Ball to get the suits for Wembley ordered immediately. The semi-final home leg remains one of my all-time best memories as a Sunderland fan. The noise and atmosphere created by the home fans that night was something to behold and absolutely electric. We won 2-0 and Wembley beckoned.

     

    “We were all full of confidence and optimism heading south to London for the Final but nothing could have prepared us for the up and down emotions of the 4-4 thriller and the 13 penalties that followed! It must have been an amazing match to watch as a neutral but to lose 7-6 on penalties was a cruel end.

     

    “That said, I can also remember something else quite exceptional that happened that day. I remember seeing the awesome power of sport in action and witnessing the birth of an invincible spirit that would see us win automatic promotion the following season.

     

    “We travelled from London in convoy. There were 3 coaches of players, back room staff, club staff and guests and we all left Wembley together. On the way home we stopped at a pub together. At first the atmosphere was very quiet and subdued as you’d expect. I don’t know what changed the mood but by the time we left we felt different.  I can remember Bally (Kevin Ball) was in fighting talk and we felt very strong, resolute and determined that we could go and win automatic promotion the following season.

     

    “That mood and spirit never wavered and we all started the new season absolutely determined to succeed. There was an unbelievable team spirit across the club from the playing staff to the cleaners and what followed was 105 point record breaking season. It was quite something to behold.”

     

     

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1997

July 1997

  1. SAFC Crest

    New club crest revealed

    Over the years Sunderland AFC has sported at least 7 different badges or crests and the move to the new stadium in July 1997 coincided with the latest version being revealed. cheap nfl jerseys,cheap jerseys,wholesale…

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    Over the years Sunderland AFC has sported at least 7 different badges or crests and the move to the new stadium in July 1997 coincided with the latest version being revealed.

    Bob was keen that a distinctive new crest be launched to coincide with the start life of life in the stadium and hoped that a fresh, modern image would help the club open an exciting new chapter in its history.

    Bob said: “The previous badge had been is use for about 30 years but was regarded as outdated by some and the depiction of a sinking ship which had become the norm to mock the club was disliked by many. I thought the time was right to make a change and update the image of the club. It was never going to be popular with everyone but I think it was the right thing to do.”

    The brief for the design was to draw its visual inspiration from across the region and the heartlands of Sunderland support.

    The crest includes a central shield divided into quarters and featuring unmistakable regional landmarks. The Wearmouth Bridge, is featured in the bottom right of the shield while Penshaw Monument in the top left, is included to acknowledge the depth of support for the team outside the City boundaries. The remaining quarters proudly boast the internationally recognised red and white stripes of Sunderland AFC.

    Supporting either side of the crest are a pair of lions which also feature on the City of Sunderland’s coat of arms – a reference to the long tradition of mutual support between two great institutions.

    A colliery wheel crowns the crest to honour the strong mining traditions of the region and acts as a reminder that the Stadium of Light lies on land which was once the largest mine in Sunderland and one of the most important in County Durham, Monkwearmouth Colliery.

    Entwined with the colliery wheel is the club motto, “Consectatio Excellentiae” – “In pursuit of excellence”, a fitting inspiration to the team and its supporters.

     

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  1. Stadium of Light main stand

    Stadium of Light opens

      The Stadium of Light opened to wide-acclaim on 31st July with a sell-out friendly match against Ajax of Amsterdam and a show-stopping party. Hundreds of local school children and budding pop stars took part…

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    The Stadium of Light opened to wide-acclaim on 31st July with a sell-out friendly match against Ajax of Amsterdam and a show-stopping party. Hundreds of local school children and budding pop stars took part in the celebrations as well as legendary rockers Status Quo who landed on the pitch by helicopter to kick off the party

    Stadium of Light main stand

    The match was a typical pre-season friendly affair and finished Sunderland 0-0 Ajax.

    The stadium initially opened with a capacity of 42,000 (the North Stand was later extended to increase the capacity to 49,000 in 2000) although as Bob ruefully remembers due to a re-numbering blunder by a contractor 24 hours before the stadium opened there were unexpected ticket issues on the night, “It was a big day at the end of a journey

    that had started in 1990 and there was always going to be lots to do at the last minute and teething problems to deal with. It was a frantic day and we were rushing around until we finally got the safety certificate with just hours to go and when I finally went to take my seat there was already someone in it! He was very good humoured though and we both had a laugh about it!”

    Kevin Phillips

    The first league match at the stadium was against Manchester City in The Championship. “That fact always makes me smile too. We spoke to a well-respected sports psychologist during the design and build of the stadium and she strongly advised us against using the colour red in any of the dressing rooms. Unsurprisingly, we ignored her advice for the home dressing room. Her recommendation for the away dressing room was to use blue and yellow as they are more subdued colours. I think Manchester City felt quite at home although they didn’t get a win that day!”

    The first season at the Stadium of Light was a roller coaster one that ended with Kevin Philips winning the European Golden Boot after scoring 33 goals and Sunderland finishing in 3rd place, just being pipped to automatic promotion by Middlesbrough. Sunderland beat Sheffield United over two legs to proceed to the 1998 Play Off final against Charlton at Wembley which they ultimately lost on penalties after a thrilling 4-4 draw after extra time.

    Extended Stadium of Light

    “The Sheffield United play off tie at the Stadium of Light is still one of my top memories at the Stadium of Light. It sticks in my mind because the noise and the atmosphere generated that night was absolutely electric.”

     

     

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  1. Stadium of Light

    Stadium name unveiled

      The Stadium of Light name was finally announced at a dramatic midnight press conference on the eve of the ceremonial first match against AFC Ajax. Bob wanted a name that would be instantly recognisable,…

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    Stadium of Light

    The Stadium of Light name was finally announced at a dramatic midnight press conference on the eve of the ceremonial first match against AFC Ajax. Bob wanted a name that would be instantly recognisable, distinctive and inspirational and one that paid tribute to the industrial heritage of the club’s supporters and the location of the stadium.

    The stadium is positioned on the site of the former Monkwearmouth Colliery (Wearmouth Colliery), which was a major North Sea coal mine on the banks of the River Wear. It was also the largest mine in Sunderland and one of the most important in County Durham. When it closed in 1993 it ended a mining tradition in the region that had spanned over 800 years.

    Stadium replaces Monkwearmouth Colliery

    The connection to light was chosen for 2 main reasons; namely as an ever-lasting tribute to the region’s mine-workers and proud industrial heritage and in the expectation that the stadium would be a guiding light in the future

    The name is very much a symbolic link to the thousands of miners and Sunderland supporters that emerged from the darkness and into the light every day when they returned to the surface after working in the mine.

    A 10m Davey Lamp, which saved the lives of thousands of miners and was invented in Sunderland is located on the approach to the stadium and the words ‘Into the Light’ also appear on the Murray Gates in front of the main reception.

    The name was also chosen in the anticipation that the stadium would be a symbol of hope for the club. It reflects the desire of the club and its supporters to be in the limelight and to achieve sporting success.

    In an age when so many stadiums’ are not distinctive or where naming rights have been sold for commercial reasons, the name Stadium of Light remains unique and inspirational and sets Sunderland apart.

     

     

     

     

     

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