Robert Kyle: 1 August 1905 - 5 May 1928
Born in Belfast, Bob Kyle started off as a goalkeeper in his hometown before becoming the secretary of Belfast Distillery.
However, Alex Mackie's departure prompted Kyle to apply for the vacant position, and he edged out competition from temporary boss Fred Dale to begin his reign in August 1905.
It wasn’t an easy start for Kyle who struggled to initially find a solution to Sunderland’s shaky defence, but he eventually dealt with the problem by signing goalkeeper Leigh Richmond Roose and Scottish international Charlie Thomson.
The pair were joined by Jackie Mordue who came in to strengthen the attacking line, but Kyle wasn’t done in the transfer market and he soon signed Arthur Brown for a world record fee of £1,600.
Kyle’s signings saw Sunderland notch a third-place finish for two successive seasons in 1908-09 and 1910-11, with the former including a 9-1 victory at Newcastle United which remains the club’s record away result.
Silverware continued to elude the Lads however, and in an attempt to rectify that Kyle signed Charlie Buchan from Leyton in 1911.
The highly-rated 19-year-old initially became unsettled but Kyle worked his magic and Buchan went on to become one of Sunderland’s all-time greats.
The 1912-13 season saw the Lads make a slow start but they turned things around and romped to the title, with Kyle’s side notching an astonishing 25 wins in 31 games as Buchan starred scoring 32 goals.
With one trophy under their belts Kyle’s men eyed the double to cap off a sensational season, but they were denied the FA Cup, which continued to elude them, as Aston Villa sealed a 1-0 win.
Following the war, Kyle set about rebuilding his Sunderland side and broke the world record fee twice as Michael Gilhooley signed from Hull City for £5,250,before Warney Cresswell joined for £5,500.
Jock Paterson was also signed for big money but Sunderland’s title challenge ended in disappointment as Liverpool claimed top spot.
The following four seasons saw Kyle guide the Lads to a top-three finish on three occasions, but Sunderland’s relegation in March 1928 spelled the end of a defining era as Kyle opted to retire.