Everyone at SAFC was saddened to learn of the death of former player Geoff Toseland who passed away on Thursday 16 May at the age of 87.
He played six games for Sunderland, all in the 1952-53 season, scoring on his debut in a 2-1 win over Derby and playing in a 2-2 derby draw at Newcastle in his first away match.
Toseland was a team-mate to top stars such as Len Shackleton, Trevor Ford and Willie Watson and even served alongside Bob Stokoe in the army. “Bob was four months older than me and we were in the same depot” Geoff told me when I interviewed him in 2007.
Remembering his debut goal Toseland recalled, “I cut in from the left, hit a shot with my right foot from just inside the box and thankfully it beat the goalkeeper. I’d been nervous up until then. When you come out of the tunnel for the first time everything freezes, it was like walking on air.”
A left winger, Kettering-born Geoff had been spotted playing for Kettering Town and joined Sunderland as a 17-year-old.
Two of his six and a half years at Sunderland were spent in the army on National Service before he was eventually released and re-joined Kettering Town.
Back on home turf he combined with the legendary ex England international centre-forward Tommy Lawton who was player-manager. As well as creating many goals for Lawton, Geoff scored 93 goals in 144 games for the club with which he won the Southern League in 1957.
After winding down his career with Geddington and Rothwell Town, Geoff became a window cleaner and market trader but he never forgot his time in the north east, saying: “People always love their football especially in Sunderland and I am proud to have played for the club.”