Sixer on names: Sunderland nicknames, Hull City Tigers and Chairman Bob’s stadium

Jake sets the scene
Jake sets the scene

There was a price to pay for getting Ian Waterson, a prominent Hull City AFC fan, to do the honours with this week’s ‘Who are You?’ – see

Ian, a staunch opponent of the Hull owner’s decision to destroy tradition and impose the hideous Hull City Tigers on his club, dropping AFC altogether, asked if we would answer questions about their campaign, and how Sunderland supporters would feel in a similar situation.

Pete Sixsmith readily agreed to occupy the hot seat.

As those campaigners from City Till We Die prepared to meet the owner, Assem Allam, to discuss their grievances, the resulting interview – plus the thoughts of Sam Lightle from ALS – was published ….

City Till We Die What do you think of a football club changing its name?

Pete: It doesn’t seem to happen very often, apart from Swansea going from Town to City, I can’t think of one in the League in the 50 odd years I have been watching football. A football club is rooted in its community and will always be known by its original name. Hull Sharks soon reverted to Hull FC didn’t they?

Having said that, there are plenty of sheep who will follow you. The guy at Fulham looks a prime candidate for that (Fulham Jaguars anybody?) and the lower leagues will be up for it. For me, it would be another nail in the coffin of Premier League football.

CTWD What would you Sunderland fans think if it was your club?

This one wouldn’t be very pleased, irrespective of which moniker was stuck on the end. Can’t see it happening to be honest, but if it did, I will be leading the boys out of the trenches.

Jake refines the Sixer scowl (that's his on the right beside one from Sobs at a long-ago awayday nightmare)
Jake refines the Sixer scowl (that’s his on the right beside one from Sobs at a long-ago awayday nightmare)

CTWD Is the AFC part of your name important?

Probably not as much as yours, where it is used to distinguish City from FC. It is part of an old terrace chant and it does define us and make us different from parvenus like Southampton. It looks good on a badge as well.

CTWD How did the fans take to the nickname change from the Rokerites to the Black Cats and what consultation was undertaken by the club with the fans?

No real Sunderland fan has EVER used those two nicknames. It has never been a part of the fans’ perception of the club. For some clubs it defines who they are – you are always known as the Tigers, Rotherham are The Millers, Newcastle are the Riff-Raff, but Sunderland have always been Sunderland.

CTWD How was the Stadium of Light name chosen and what consultation was undertaken by the club with the fans?

This one is a tad more contentious. Former owner Bob Murray was the man behind the move from dear, dilapidated Roker to the new site, built on the site of the closed (thanks to Thatcher) Wearmouth Colliery. We all thought that the name of the pit, a huge undersea operation which had employed people from Sunderland and County Durham for over 100 years, would be the name chosen.

So, the Stadium of Light was a bit of a surprise. It gave our local rivals (who simply cannot beat us in derby matches) a cheap rhyming joke – some could even work it out themselves, but the majority had to be told- and it wasn’t very original, seeing as Benfica had beaten us to it by a number of years.

The name is a tribute to all those miners who toiled underground, day after day, in the Durham coalfield and who, on their day off, flocked to Roker Park by bus and train. There is a huge Davy Lamp at the entrance and the mining message is interwoven into the club crest and the club ethos. The marketing possibilities are great as well – there was a story that Phillips were going to sponsor it but naught came of it as they closed their factories in the region.

No consultation, but it was Bob Murray’s baby and he put together the finance so he could call it what he wanted I suppose. It’s better than St James’ Park, that’s for sure (does SB still say that in his interviews?)

Jake's impersonation of the SAFC chaplain
Jake’s impersonation of the SAFC chaplain
Hull fans can join the Guess the Score fun at

6 thoughts on “Sixer on names: Sunderland nicknames, Hull City Tigers and Chairman Bob’s stadium”

  1. While I like the sentiment of honoring the miners at the former Wearmouth Colliery I don’t like the name either. I felt the same a you did Jake, on hearing the announcement.

    I remember seeing the crowd outside the stadium when it was announced and an older woman shouting towards Messrs Fickling and Murray “I just don’t like it John, I just don’t like it.” This was probably not the response they expected. I’m not sure what was going through their minds when they came up with it. It’s not really suitable and it’s stolen.

  2. I was listening to local radio on the night we were naming the new stadium, I seem to remember it happened at midnight, and a phone-in was interrupted to go over to hear Bob Murray’s announcement. As soon as I heard the name I shuddered, and my fears were immedietely confirmed when they went back to the phone-in and the bloke who was calling in said “Stadium Of Light? More like Stadium Of Sh…”, he was cut off before he could get the “ite” out.
    I was working on the dark side at the time and the next day at work I was predictably taunted with the “shite” jibe for the whole shift. I’ve hated the name ever since, not just because of the taunts but because it’s not original, we nicked it from somebody else.
    Wearmouth Park would have been perfect.

  3. The reason quoted is that “the brand” Hull Tigers represents increased world wide marketing opportunities. Nothing to do with tradition, fans or local identity. On the face of it just an opportunity to make a rich man even richer.

    Someone please tell me (truthfully) that he plans to plough any increased revenue into projects that will benefit the local Humberside community.

  4. This particular owner is not some Johnny come lately who has just arrived from God knows where with the idea that a football club is a canny hobby. The Hull owner has been on Humberside for decades. You would have thought that someone with that level of cultural experience would know better. Clear;ly not in this case.

  5. Probably. We all know that they live in a different world. Autocrats take no notice of anyone other than the toadis who suround them. Anyone ever see any of Di Canio’s acolytes say aything to him?
    Thought not.

  6. Can I just ask, what is the point?

    I can’t understand why an owner would want to do this. Does he think that lifelong supporters and going to be happy or even quietly go along with such stupidity?

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