Sunderland RCA


Sunderland RCA FC started its life as Ryhope Youth Club. Its first season was in the Seaham & District League in 1963. The first game was against Seaham UDC at the Seaham CW ground, now home to Seaham Red Star, and it was a 3 – 3 draw. The first seeds had been sown three years earlier, in 1960, when the Ryhope Youth Club Centre opened in the Welfare Hall.

In 1965 the club moved to the Colliery Welfare ground and in 1971 changed its name to Ryhope Community Association. Competing in the Seaham, then Houghton & District Leagues, the club enjoyed success with eight cup wins and four league titles.

Rejected by the Wearside League because a Ryhope team already played in it, the club folded after the 1975-75 season. Re-formed three years later, the club joined the Northern Alliance in 1978 and won the League Challenge Cup at St James Park in Newcastle, in only their third season. Ryhope CA were also league runners up that year, even though they were reduced to playing on a school field.

After some persuasion, the ambitious club convinced the council to lease then some derelict land – Meadow Park was underway. Financial help was obtained from Sunderland and Tyne and Wear Councils and the Sports Council to build a football ground. The club members and community joined together to carry out the building work, resulting in the enclosed ground where football games are played and enjoyed today.

In 1982 the club was a founder member of the Northern League Second Division, achieving promotion as runner up in the 1983-84 season. Despite achieving a league placing of tenth the next season, survival proved difficult and the club was relegated in 1988.

In 1999 a new era commenced with the amalgamation with Kennek Roker of the Wearside League to form Kennek Ryhope Community Association. The seasons from 2003 onwards were tough, but for the season 2006-07, the club joined forces with Springboard Sunderland and a new era as Sunderland RCA FC began.

Progress continues to be made both on and off the pitch and after finishing fourth in the previous two seasons Sunderland RCA FC were promoted as runners-up to Stokesley FC in season 2009-10 – a great achievement. Our first season back in Division 1 started badly, but we picked ourselves up, had a purple patch and finished the season in 13th place.


The club is very grateful to Joe Dixon for providing information about the early years of Sunderland RCA. Joe played for what was then Ryhope Youth Club and subsequently Ryhope Community Association from its first match in 1963 through to the 1978-79 season. Joe has turned from goal scorer to historian and a wealth of detail can be found on his web site – – about Joe’s playing days with RCA and other Sunderland and east Durham clubs.


Up-to-date information on players is on the RCA website.  The profiles below were last updated at the start of the 2011-12 season.

Gavin Barton

Centre forward Gavin joined RCA for the 2011-12 season from Consett and needs no introduction to Northern League fans: he has been a prolific scorer for the last five seasons. Before joining Consett, Gavin played for Bishop Auckland and Crook.

Carl Beasley – Club Captain

A versatile and very experienced Northern League defender, Carl joined from his home town club, Spennymoor, where he was club captain, last season. A spell at Tow Law followed his first seasons at Spennymoor. Carl was winner of the Club Player of the Year Award in his first season with RCA.

John Butler

JB signed from Shildon and is not known as “The Machine” for nothing. He runs forever and can play in a variety of positions. Equally at home at full back, midfield or on the wing he is a great asset to the squad.

Leon Carling

Signed from Norton and Stockton, Leon has a decent pedigree in the Northern League and is a strong centre half who reads the game well.

Brian Close

A top quality central midfielder with speed, skill and steel, Brian joined RCA for the 2011-12 season from Stokesley. His league career involved stops at Middlesbrough, Chesterfield and Darlington.

Andy Cuthbertson

Signed from Consett for the 2011-12 season, Andy is a box-to-box, give-and-go central midfielder who wins his fair share of tackles. His Northern League experience also includes Esh Winning, Brandon, where he was a member of the league winning team, and Chester-le-Street.

Harrison Davies

Re-signed last season after a spell at Guisborough Tow, Harra is a good winger who can deliver telling crosses and is a good passer of the ball. When his confidence is high he is a great player to watch.

Mark Davison

Centre forward Mark returns to RCA, where in his last season, he was top scorer with 27 goals. His travels took him to Ryton and Chester-le-Street. Excellent in the air, Sparky also has a powerful shot.

Kyle Donaldson

Signed from Seaham Red Star for the 2011-12 season, Kyle is a young goal keeper with good hands who controls his box well. Good cover for Gary Hoggeth, Kyle is one for the future.

Liam Dunn

A versatile defender/midfielder who has progressed from Sunderland RCA Under 18 side, ‘Dunny’ has played for the Durham County Youth side and has a real future ahead of him.

Joe Fairish

Signed from Northallerton Town, having previously played for Bishop Auckland, Joe loves to tackle (sometimes not very well); he can also pass a ball and has great vision. Now well on the road to recovery, following major ankle surgery, it is not long before Joe will be pushing for a first team slot.

Wayne Henderson

Wayne moves effortlessly into his 12th season with the club and has proved over the years that he is quality player. He can play in any defensive position and is a good centre forward capable of scoring goals.

Gary Hoggeth

RCA Player of the Year and Players’ Player in 2009-10 and previously with Jarrow Roofing, Gary is highly rated in Northern League circles, a top class keeper who plays with a smile on his face. A good shot stopper with excellent distribution, he has the ability to turn defence into attack.

Andy Jennings

Combining stature and skill, AJ needs no introduction to Northern League followers. Andy rejoined RCA for the 2011-12 season, where he last played in the 2008-09, scoring 23 goals. His travels have seen him leading the line for Horden, Stokesley, Billingham Town and Jarrow Roofing.

Steve Jones

Steve made the right back spot his own in the promotion season and more than proved his worth in the Division One campaign. He is an excellent defender who relishes the challenges of the first division.

Ian Maddison

A defender who can play centre half or full back, Ian joined us for the 2011-12 season from West Auckland where he was captain. He is a solid, quality defender who likes to foray forward.

Adam McGuinness

We thought we had lost him! After signing on at the end of last season, Adam has re-signed. Addsy is a left-sided player with trademark storming, driving runs from left back.

Mark McLeod

Mark is a quality young midfielder who was with Darlington. He is a great passer of the ball. He made valuable contributions to the promotion campaign, establishing himself in the first team squad.

James Oates

One of the best defenders in the first division with South Shields and now for RCA, James has the ability to read the game and makes it look so easy. Always looks comfortable on the ball.

Luke Olabode

A player who is comfortable at the back or up front, Luke spent a couple of years with Darlington FC Academy. A former member of the Sunderland RCA youth side, he has represented both the DFA County U18s and DFA County School sides.

Lee Owens

Lee has returned to his home town and to RCA, where in the 07/08 and 08/09 seasons he made a total of 39 appearances, scoring 13 goals. Able to play on the right or left, Lee combines the three key attributes of a winger: pace, skill and awareness.

Scott Richards

Scott is a very experienced central midfielder who combines skill, drive and determination with a desire to win. He is strong and courageous in the tackle and can pass the ball effectively. Scott was a tremendous player for RCA in their first season back in Division One.

Gary Shields

Gary returned after a short return to Chester-le-Street at the beginning of last season. A Sunderland East End lad who has a wealth of Northern League experience, he scores his fair share of goals and is a great, committed team player. A bit of a joker off the field, he has been known to upset a few opponents with his banter.

Joe Walton

Signed from neighbours Ryhope Colliery Welfare, Joe is a 20 year old with good pace. He is a right-sided midfielder with technical ability and great potential. Joe was Fans’ and Players’ Player of the Year award winner last season.

David Wells

Technically in his second spell at RCA – the first a loan period from Dunston – David joined for the 2011-12 season from Stokesley. A speedy winger with a good cross, he scores his fair share of goals.



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