The lure of employment opportunities in the London area has always guaranteed a sizeable contingent there of exiled Sunderland followers (and their properly “educated” children!) It was natural therefore that, after the formation of the Supporters’ Association in 1965, the first of its Associate Branches to be formed away from the North-East was the London Branch.
One of its founder Life-Members, Ian Todd raided the Association membership list during the summer of 1966 and wrote to all with addresses in London and the Home Counties. The result was a meeting before the game at West Ham in February 1967, attended by about 50 potential members, a Club director and the parent body’s Chairman, at which the London Branch was inaugurated. A volunteer Steering Committee was formed and two weeks later the Branch ran its first coach trip to The Hawthorns.
Suffering only occasional dips linked to the fortunes of the team, the Branch has grown steadily over the years and, with over 700 members, is now the largest of the Associate Branches of the parent body and one of the largest such supporter groups in the capital supporting a provincial team. In 1974, the wide area from which it had attracted members was reflected in a change of name to the “London and Southern England Branch”. Since then former Branch members have been involved in the formation of the Peterborough, North Herts. and Sussex & Surrey supporter groups and close friendships and working relationships are maintained with them.
For a number of years the Branch was honoured to have Charlie Hurley (below right), who now lives in Hertfordshire, as its President. Upon his request to withdraw, we were delighted to receive an acceptance from Steve Cram (below left) who remains in that role to this day and has attended several of the Branch’s functions when his various activities have found him in London.
The wide area from which Branch members are drawn make regular Steve Cram in 2008.meetings impractical and from the outset communication has been principally by means of a newsletter – in the early days a single stencil duplicated sheet, now a 40-page word processed and professionally printed magazine.
As well as running group travel to all games whose timing hasn’t been made impractical by Sky television, the Branch has a number of sports teams which take part in both friendly and competitive games against other supporters’ clubs in the London area. Details of these, and how to join, can be found on their dedicated pages on the website.
For details of how to join the London Branch click here.