Although he was born 107 years ago, Horatio Stratton Carter is a name that will forever be synonymous with Sunderland Association Football Club.
More widely known as simply Raich Carter, he was born in Hendon, Sunderland in December 1913 after his father, Robert Carter, had relocated back home to Wearside after retiring from professional football due to injury in 1910. Robert Carter’s career was spent exclusively in the Second Division with Burslem Port Vale, Stockport County, Fulham and Southampton before a knee injury combined with a head injury and forced his retirement at the age of thirty.
Three years after returning to Sunderland, Raich was born, and it was clear during his formative years that he was a superb athlete and, as a schoolboy, he achieved recognition with England as both a footballer and cricketer. For these achievements at schoolboy level, Carter was presented with a gold watch inscribed with the details as he left the education system in 1928.
In the same year, however, at only 14-years-old, Raich Carter lost his father. He passed away in March 1928, leaving behind Raich and his two young sisters.
Although this only added to his determination to become a professional footballer, he also describes in his autobiography the realisation that he was now the main wage earner for the family, and this led to accepting a job as an electrician’s apprentice.
In 1930 he would sign on for Sunderland as an amateur, but there was still a question mark over whether he would make it as a professional as he was considered to be too small. After impressing in a number of games for Esh Winning, Carter was handed an opportunity to play for Sunderland reserves against Walker Celtic, and a month before his eighteenth birthday, finally signed a professional contract with Sunderland.
It would take another eleven months until, on this day 88 years ago, two months short of his nineteenth birthday, Raich Carter made his full debut at Hillsborough in front of 11,385 against Sheffield Wednesday in a 3-1 defeat for Sunderland.
After taking charge in the summer of 1928 from Robert Kyle, Johnny Cochrane had consistently steered Sunderland into mid-table positions, other than his first season when we hit the heights of 4th in Division One. The introduction of Raich Carter to the fold, however, would play a major contribution in the club’s trajectory to success over the next five years.
By the time the intelligent, goalscoring inside-forward was 24-years-old, he had won and achieved everything that was possible for a footballer at the time - capped for England in 1934, won a League title in 1936 and added a FA Cup winners medal in 1937.
In winning the League with Sunderland in 1936, Carter was not only joint top scorer with 31 League goals alongside Bobby Gurney, but he was the youngest man to have ever captained a First Division title-winning side. A year later he would skipper the side once again - a side in which only two players were younger than Carter - to win Sunderland’s first FA Cup.
At Wembley that day it wasn’t just an inspired performance that led Sunderland to victory, but the local boy would also score Sunderland’s second goal as we came from behind to eventually beat Preston North End 3-1 in front of an official attendance of 93,495 in the capital.
Then, at the age of just 25-years-old, Raich Carter’s burgeoning career was abruptly interrupted by the outbreak of war. Once the 1939-40 season was abandoned after three games, the England international joined the RAF where he served at Loughborough to help rehabilitate injured servicemen.
As post-war football began in the summer of 1946, a 32-year-old Raich Carter joined Derby County, who he had appeared for as a guest during the war years, for a fee of £6,000 and in his first year there became the only man to have won the FA Cup before and after World War II.
He would continue to maintain his record of almost a goal every other game, as he sits joint seventh in a list of Sunderland’s all-time goalscorers, at Derby County and Hull City before eventually retiring in 1953.
The next thirteen years were spent managing the likes of Hull City, Leeds United, Mansfield Town and Middlesbrough before settling down in a village near Hull in later life, carrying out roles such as being a member of the Pools Panel and reporting for the Sunday Mirror.
Raich Carter died at home in Willerby in October 1994 at the age of 80, but his legend lives on in his medal collection that is on display in the city, the sports centre in Hendon that is named after him and his mural on the side of the Blue House Pub in Hendon.
He was one of us and that makes him so much more special, and for arguably the greatest player to have played in the red and white stripes, it all started on this day in 1932.