‘All my fault’: the man behind a golden milestone for Sunderland supporters

From Feb 6 1967: Ian’s letter to fellow SAFC fans announcing plans to establish a formal branch of the Supporters’ Association

Monsieur Salut writes: the London and SE branch of the SAFC Supporters’ Association has just reached 50 years of age. In common with many who leave Sunderland-supporting parts of the North East to ply their trades in and around the Smoke, I eventually got round to joining the branch after seeing numerous mentions in the matchday programmes of various London clubs where I had attended away games. I’d put my membership at around 30 years, but I could and should have joined sooner, since I moved south a few months before the 1973 FA Cup Final. Plenty have done much longer stretches. Step forward Ian Todd, who was largely instrumental in creating the branch 50 years ago and has been a tireless mainstay of its activities.

Special events are planned, with a get-together and buffet at the Stadium of Light on the evening we play West Ham on April 15 – open to members, past members and their guests – and, on the eve of the final game at Chelsea, at the Knights Templar near Chancery Lane, London (all-comers welcome; many will recall the splendid pre-League Cup final gathering there in 2014). Check out details at weardownsouth.com and now read what Ian had to say in a piece headlined ‘It’s all my fault’ in the new edition of the excellent branch newsletter, Wear Down South

Ian Todd: a sort of golden wedding, married to the London branch for 50 years

In the summer of 1966 I visited the HQ office at Roker Park of the Supporters’ Association which had been formed a year earlier and was granted access (no Data Protection legislation then!) to their membership register from which I extracted the names and addresses of those who lived in London and the Home Counties.

The letter you see above was the result and about 50 members gathered before the game at Upton Park on 11th February the following year [we drew 2-2].

The chairman, Stanley Lambert, his vice chairman and two other members of the association’s committee in Sunderland attended and explained how they felt a group of fans in the South East could democratically be incorporated into the parent body. I was asked to form a steering committee and was grateful that John Coaster, Jack Petty, Len Spensley, (now sadly all deceased) and Michael Gatward stepped forward to volunteer. Len even recruited travellers for the embryo Branch’s first coach trip which took place to West Bromwich Albion a fortnight late [drew 2-2 again]!

Throughout the next few months other trips were run as well as developing the administrative arrangements necessary to become a fully fledged associate branch of the parent association. That was achieved at the inaugural annual general meeting on 30th September at which a full committee was elected with Jack Bone, Ian Earle, Joe Wetherall and Albert Younghusband adding their talents to those of the original helmsmen (minus Michael Gatward, who stepped down).

Wear Down South for the 2014 Leage Cup final. Image: Rob Hutchison

Whilst I was always hopeful that a branch with solid foundations could be established, the progress, indeed the durability, achieved over 50 years is principally due to the many who have been involved over that period not only as committee members but supporters in so many other ways and without whose efforts we would not be celebrating this summer’s events.

It is to them you, the current members, should be grateful. Collectively they have made my 1966 visit to Roker Park so worthwhile.

Jake: shows you the way to go home

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9 thoughts on “‘All my fault’: the man behind a golden milestone for Sunderland supporters”

  1. Have bumped into Ian in loads of places including the Oval when Surrey played Durham and Le Touquet for a pre-season friendly. Not only a stalwart of SAFCSA London Branch – let’s not forget his work with the FSF. Top bloke and fully deserving of his MBE.

    • Not to mention his glittering career in the Metropolitan Police Special Constabulary, rising – if I remember correctly – to the highest rank or grade. Ian told me years ago he’d joined up to keep him out of trouble after he moved down to London!

      • I’m sure that Ian was in no way involved and his duties were confined to the capital, but the Met Police are still not the most popular organisation in the North East by those of us who were alive in the 80s. So you are right. It’s probably best not to mention it!

  2. Mr Todd should receive a medal for his devotion and commitment to the club and London supporters branch!

  3. I will be forever grateful to the Branch for allowing me to travel to away games in the late 60s whilst a student in London. Especially memorable was the 2-1 win at Old Trafford followed by the coach journey home and then to Ian Todd’s to watch SAFC on ‘Match of the Day’ to hear Kenneth Wolstenholme’s immortal intro, ‘and Sunderland just here to make up the numbers’

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