The first Durham County Challenge Cup winners in 1881

AMAZING what the Internet and some good old-fashioned elbow grease can do.

Last autumn Rugby World ran a competition for a rugby club to win a published history – and now One Among Many, the story of Sunderland RFC, is just a few months from hitting the shelves.

Author and club archivist Keith Gregson is the driving force behind the 60,000-word project and says computer search engines have been invaluable in his research. “I had a team photo from 1881 and a club committee list for 1901 where I’ve been able to discover just about everybody mentioned – age, job, home, social background.

“The club’s minute books are full of material relating to change and relations with the RFU, professionalism and potential leagues – and there are some very interesting characters turning up. It’s remarkable how many vicars played rugby!”

Gregson has drawn on a bulging picture archive and has established a host of achievements by club members: for instance, Sunderland players scored a losing hat-trick against Wales, set up the first coaching course for English schoolboys, wrote up the laws of rugby union, and captained an England age-group side containing Jonny Wilkinson from fly-half.

“I’m trying to produce a book that will act as a template and encourage people to look at the broader picture,” says Gregson. “Hopefully it won’t just be a local history but will make people think of looking at their own club in this way.”

Gregson is about to embark on Sunderland RFC’s post-war history so if you have any info that may be of interest, contact him at keith.gregsont21@btinternet.com or on 0191 510 9206.

The book, published by MX Publishing, is due out in October but is available now for pre-order. Just click on http://www.mxpublishing.co.uk/engine/shop/product/9781907685996

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