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Team of All the Talents

Nickname given to the extraordinarily successful Sunderland side that dominated English football in the early 1890s.  Packed with Scottish footballers, they were famed for their goals – from their powerhouse centre-forward John Campbell and tricky insider-right James Miller.

Sunderland AFC joined the Football League in time for the 1890-91 season.  As the only team from the north-east in the League they often had to pay opposing teams' travel expenses.

A great time was put together by manager Tom Watson, who is considered by many to have been the first great professional football manager.  Watson constructed his side by looking north of the boarder and luring a number of skilled Scottish players to Sunderland.  When the side won their first League championship in 1892 there was only one native Englishman in the squad.  The success Watson had in attracting Scottish players caused considerable resentment north of the border and some of his forays were conducted at the risk of his own personal safety.

Stars of the side included the prolific striker Johnny Campbell, goalkeeper Ted Doig, (instantly recognizable with his bald head covered by a cap retained in place by an elastic strap fastened under his chin) captain Hugh Wilson, and Watson himself.  Under Watson’s leadership (1889-96), the Team of All Talents remained unbeaten in a single League home match from September 1891 to 1894 and then enjoyed another run of 37 home games without defeat.

Ted Doig

Other records included the 100 League goals scored in 1893, making them the first team to reach this figure  On an individual level, Johnny Campbell scored a total of 83 goals in just 81 games in the three season in which the team won the League title (1892, 1893, and 1895).

The side’s success did much to foster the game in the north-east but did not long outlast Watson’s transfer to Liverpool in 1896: that same year they finished second from the bottom.