After two seasons of consecutive fourth place finishes, Sunderland RCA are ready this season for an all out effort to gain promotion from the Second Division of the skilltrainingNorthern League.
Nearly all of the squad that finished the last campaign in such good form have re signed, and manager Neil Hixon has made a number of astute signings to strengthen the team even further. Off the field Rob Jones, long time experienced non league secretary rejoins to take over first team duties, a notable addition to the strength of the RCA team, and hopefully with more new off field signings to follow. The evergreen George Herd will still be barking instructions from the sidelines as first team coach, with Glen McCartney back again as Assistant Manager.
On the pitch, Liam McBride, a local lad who was top scorer for Ryton in the first division last season, has joined along with young Daryl Scaife, a 19 year old centre forward just released by Hartlepool. These two along with the experienced Paul Taylor, who returns after a spell with South Shields, will compete with Mark Davison to form this season’s strike force.
In midfield Micky Coghlan looks fit and keen to play a big part this year, while Harrison Davies, an exciting left winger signed from Norton, will seek to provide good quality into the box. David Turner, a strong defensive midfielder joins from Morpeth, while Andy Lumsden, who has worked extensively with Hixon before, joins as player coach from Washington, where he was Assistant Manager. With Scott Richards, Buddy Halliday and Steven Stewart all still with us, the midfield looks in good shape for the off. At the back Dave Anderson returns to give more options, with all last season’s defensive stalwarts, including Wayne Henderson, Paul Wardle, Andy Reay, Steve Jones and Adam McGuiness also back for more. And experienced stopper Rob McLean joins from Whitley Bay to provide back up for Gary Hoggeth in goal. The ever green Gary Shields will still be contending for a place, and this season is club captain.
Several youngsters from last year's County Cup winning under 18 squad will fancy their chances of forcing their way into contention, although luckily most are still eligible for the junior team to ensure they still get regular football. The under 18s managed by Owen Haley and Joe Olabode will be looking to repeat their success of last season, and also challenge for the County Under 18 title, while our Sunday squad seek to improve their solid mid table position in the Sunderland Sunday League.
Once again Sunderland RCA will compete in four national FA competitions, more than any other club in the country. In the FA Cup RCA face Ryton from the Northern League First Division at home, and the FA Vase also sees a home draw, against Armthorpe Welfare from Yorkshire. In the FA Youth Cup Haley’s kids will face a tough game against Gateshead, with the Sunday draw yet to be made.