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Usworth's Jack Stelling


Usworth's Jack Stelling

Sunderland AFC 1950
Sunderland AFC (1950)

BR:  A. Wright,  J.R. Hedley,  R. Davis,  L.F. Shackleton,  W. Walsh,  I.A. Broadis,  J. Mapson,  J.G.S. Stelling.

FR:  T. Wright,  W. Watson,  T. Reynolds.

Sunderland's Right Fullback

Jack Stelling
John Graham S. Stelling (August 1956)

Jack Stelling was born into the Usworth mining community on 23rd May 1924 and worked as a plumber at Usworth Colliery.  He was discovered by Sunderland AFC whilst playing for his local team, Usworth.  Jack was a first team regular but he still worked at the pit during most of his playing career.

He signed professional forms for Sunderland in November 1944, at a wage of £12 10s per week, and went on to make 272 League and Cup appearances, scoring 8 goals.  On match days he travelled to Roker Park on the bus.  Jack retired from playing in 1956.


Jack was Sunderland's first team right-back for almost 10 years.  He made his debut on 5th January 1946 against Grimsby Town in a 3–1, FA Cup 3rd round, win at Blundell Park.  He never shirked a tackle and was a big favourite with the fans because of his fearless, wholehearted play and his consistent performances.  Jack played alongside many high-profile, expensive signings in Sunderland's so-called Bank of England team.


This article is based on a short item by an unknown writer.  After researching Jack Stelling further, some changes and additions have been made.  They come from a variety of sources.

Jack Stelling's Best Season - 1949/50

  FIRST DIVISION Pld   W D L F A   W D L F A   F A GA GD   Pts
1 Portsmouth 42   12 7 2 44 15   10 2 9 30 23   74 38 1.947 36   53
2 Wolverhampton W. 42   11 8 2 47 21   9 5 7 29 28   76 49 1.551 27   53
3 Sunderland 42   14 6 1 50 23   7 4 10 33 39   83 62 1.339 21   52
4 Manchester United 42   11 5 5 42 20   7 9 5 27 24   69 44 1.568 25   50
5 Newcastle United 42   14 4 3 49 23   5 8 8 28 32   77 55 1.400 22   50
6 Arsenal  (FA Cup Winners) 42   12 4 5 48 24   7 7 7 31 31   79 55 1.436 24   49
7 Blackpool 42   10 8 3 29 14   7 7 7 17 21   46 35 1.314 11   49
8 Liverpool 42   10 7 4 37 23   7 7 7 27 31   64 54 1.185 10   48
9 Middlesbrough 42   14 2 5 37 18   6 5 10 22 30   59 48 1.229 11   47
10 Burnley 42   9 7 5 23 17   7 6 8 17 23   40 40 1.000 0   45
11 Derby County 42   11 5 5 46 26   6 5 10 23 35   69 61 1.131 8   44
12 Aston Villa 42   10 7 4 31 19   5 5 11 30 42   61 61 1.000 0   42
13 Chelsea 42   7 7 7 31 30   5 9 7 27 35   58 65 0.892 -7   40
14 West Bromwich Albion 42   9 7 5 28 16   5 5 11 19 37   47 53 0.887 -6   40
15 Huddersfield Town 42   11 4 6 34 22   3 5 13 18 51   52 73 0.712 -21   37
16 Bolton Wanderers 42   10 5 6 34 22   0 9 12 11 37   45 59 0.763 -14   34
17 Fulham 42   8 6 7 24 19   2 8 11 17 35   41 54 0.759 -13   34
18 Everton 42   6 8 7 24 20   4 6 11 18 46   42 66 0.636 -24   34
19 Stoke City 42   10 4 7 27 28   1 8 12 18 47   45 75 0.600 -30   34
20 Charlton Athletic 42   7 5 9 33 35   6 1 14 20 30   53 65 0.815 -12   32
21 Manchester City 42   7 8 6 27 24   1 5 15 9 44   36 68 0.529 -32   29
22 Birmingham City 42   6 8 7 19 24   1 6 14 12 43   31 67 0.463 -36   28

Jack Stelling
Jack Stelling

Jack and Sunderland's fans were eyeing the top spot throughout the season, but it wasn't to be. The damage was done with two 2-1 defeats by relegated Manchester City. Sadly for Jack, he missed a twice taken penalty in the Roker Park fixture. Sunderland won both their games against Wolves but could only manage two draws against Portsmouth. The two derbies with Newcastle Utd both ended in 2-2 draws.


 

Giant-killing Sensation!

YEOVIL TOWN 2 - SUNDERLAND 1
Huish Athletic Ground
29th January 1949

Match Program
Match Programme


  • YEOVIL TOWN
  •   1. Dickie Dyke*
  •   2. Arthur Hickman
  •   3. Ralph Davis
  •   4. Bob Keeton
  •   5. Les Blizzard
  •   6. Nick Collins
  •   7. Bobby Hamilton
  •   8. Alec Stock (Captain)
  •   9. Eric Bryant
  • 10. Ray Wright
  • 11. Jack Hargreaves
  •  
  • Alec Stock (Player/Manager)
  • * Change from programme
  • SUNDERLAND
  •   1. Johnny Mapson
  •   2. Jack Stelling
  •   3. Barney Ramsden*
  •   4. Willie Watson
  •   5. Fred Hall (Captain)
  •   6. Arthur Wright
  •   7. Les Duns
  •   8. Jackie Robinson
  •   9. Ronnie Turnbull
  • 10. Len Shackleton
  • 11. Tommy Reynolds
  •  
  • Bill Murray (Manager)
  • Attendance: 17, 123

The low point of Jack Stelling's career with Sunderland came on 29th January 1949 - they lost 2-1 away to non-league Yeovil Town in the 4th round of the FA Cup.  This was, without doubt, the greatest 'giant-killing' that had ever taken place in the history of English football - lowly Yeovil Town FC had dumped the mighty First Division giants Sunderland out of the cup!

Alec Stock opened the scoring for Yeovil in the 28th minute and Jackie Robinson equalized after 62 minutes.  It was 1-1 after 90 minutes and, because of National fuel shortages, extra time was played to avoid a replay at Roker Park.  One minute into extra time, a pea-souper fog descended on the ground leaving the referee to decide whether the game should be abandoned.  Both teams were eager to keep going, so the game continued.  With one minute remaining in the first period of extra time, Eric Bryant (105 mins) put Yeovil back in front.  Could the referee see both goals from the half-way line?  Yes!  The second period of extra time could begin.  The tiring Yeovil Town team managed to hang on to clinch a famous victory.  The football world was astonished!

This was a defeat that Jack was never allowed to forget.  Newcastle fans took great delight in reminding him about it, especially in the Usworth Gardeners' Club.


 

Newspaper Article

Match Program
(Date: March 1993.   Source: Unknown)

 

Jack's Autograph

Autograph

Jack retired in 1956, at the age of 32, after giving Sunderland ten years of sterling service.  He was a one club man and even married his childhood sweetheart Esther on the morning of a Saturday home game at Roker Park.  Like many others, before and after him, he had learned his trade on the playing fields of Washington - in Jack's case, on the superb Usworth Colliery Welfare Football Ground in Usworth Park.

Jack Stelling passed away in March 1993.  He was a credit to his community and to the game of football.


Jack Stelling
Jack Stelling (1924-1993)