In praise of Sir Bob Murray: Sunderland’s helping hand to Wearhead United recalled

From Sir Bob Murray’s own website, reproduced with his consent

The ownership of Sunderland AFC has been the subject of much debate and handwringing in recent times. Owners always attract controversy at some stage during their stewardship of football clubs and Sir Bob Murray was no exception. But as someone writing about him at Wikipedia put it, the second half of his 20-year reign was noticeably more successful than the first (‘never finished below third place in the league’s second tier’) and we’d settle for something like that now. He still chairs the award-winning club charity, the Foundation of Light.

Here, Andrew Curry, an occasional contributor to Salut! Sunderland, recalls a small but admirable gesture from Sir Bob’s era …

A while back I drove west out of Durham into Weardale, whose villages field their teams in the Durham League.

During the foot and mouth outbreak, in 2001, with much of the countryside closed off, even under military supervision, it looked as if Wearhead United would be unable to fulfil their fixture against their local rivals, Stanhope.

So the chairman of Wearhead did what any other chairman of a Durham League football club might have done in the circumstances. He wrote to the then chairman of Sunderland AFC, Bob Murray, to ask if Sunderland would host the game at the Stadium of Light.

And Murray said yes.

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