It was inevitable that the Blue House Field Ground would be our first home as it was close to Hendon Board School where the club’s founder James Allen taught. Raich Carter, perhaps the finest Sunderland player ever to wear the red and white stripes also attended the School as a child. Hendon Board School however is no more, replaced by The Valley Road Infant School on the now Commercial Road. The present Blue House pub that replaced the original is now some 200 yards down the road.
The rent charged was £10 per annum, which at the time was a fairly steep sum for the Sunderland & District Teachers Association.
In 1888 when Sunderland’s founder broke from his beloved club to form the rival Sunderland Albion he took his new favourites back to the Blue House Field and the club set up home there, playing football league sides at Hendon until their demise in 1892. The HQ for Albion was in nearby Norman Street.
The field incidentally was boarded in, a cycling track was laid and a grandstand surrounded both the East Side and the “footpath side”. The field was nearly as long as Roker Park, although narrower, measuring 110 x 60 yards.
Sunderland's first game at Blue House Field that we have any records of was the football club’s second ever game against Ferryhill on 13 November 1880, we lost, 0 v 1.
Although it is commonly thought that Sunderland’s occupation of Blue House Field ended in 1881 the football club continued to play odd games at the ground well into the 20th Century. Our last recorded game there was Sunderland Reserves 4 v 1 Durham Challenge Cup Semi Final victory against Sunderland Royal Rovers on 7 March 1903.
Sadly there are no known surviving photographs of Sunderland playing at Blue House Field.
Arthur Appleton records, in The Story Of Sunderland, that in between our move from Blue House Field to The Grove (Groves Field) at Ashbrooke, Sunderland played at a field in between Percy Terrace and The Cedars. No details are known about the exact location of this venue or what matches were played there. What we do know is that Sunderland did use Whitburn Cricket Club as a home venue for a match against North Eastern on 11 February 1882, which could perhaps account for the confusion although it’s not exactly next door to The Cedars.