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Sunderland Echo Quiz League.
York Challenge.


The Inter-city challenge match between the York CIU Quiz League and the Sunderland Echo Quiz League originated with a conversation between Ken Needham, the organiser of the York League, and journalist Chris Brewis from the Sunderland League.

In 1996 Chris, a sub-editor on the CIU magazine Club Journal, interviewed Ken about the 50th anniversary of the York League which is recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as Britain's oldest league  -- and is probably the world's oldest. For the anniversary the league staged a match using the original questions from 1946 with among those playing, Gordon Falconer, who played in the first match and the Lord Mayor, Coun. John Boardman a league regular.

Ken also mentioned that the League played a couple of regular challenge matches, against the professors of York University, the Radio Rascals, a regular team on Radio Hull and the Goole League, and had never been beaten. The gauntlet had been thrown down...

At the next meeting of the Sunderland League ideas were being canvassed to stop the rot in Sunderland, where the league was down to seven teams. Chris suggested that as York had around 40 teams, there must be something that could be learned from playing them. The idea was enthusiastically taken up by League Secretary Dave Taylor and by the late Gowan Scott, then Mayor of Sunderland,

The first match was played at Promenade WMC, York and ended in a narrow victory for York.

The format adopted was the one York used in their matches against Goole. Four teams of four from each league are chosen and drawn against each other. The highest scoring York team then plays the highest scoring Sunderland team in the final. In later years an extra piece of theatre has been created with the members of the four teams being picked out at random using Ken Needham's bag of beads. This has had an extra benefit from a social point of view with players teaming up with those they would not normally meet. The teams are well matched: Sunderland narrowly lead the series 11-9 but the last two matches in York have both gone to extra time and tiebreakers.

As Education Secretary and later Branch President, Ken set all the questions in the league for many years and until his retirement in 2014  he set the questions for York's home matches, which have also been played at Tang Hall WMC, Huntington WMC,  Holgate WMC and Tramways Club. Sunderland's questions have mostly been set by Tony Gold but have also been set by Keith Marshall and jointly by Chris Brewis, Barry Lane.  Their home matches have been played at Penshaw Catholic Club, Newbottle WMC , Ashbrooke Sports Club and The Isis pub, now the Ship Isis.
York have been helped with sponsorship by brewers Carlsberg-Tetley, John Smith's and Coor's, while Sunderland have received support from the Sunderland Echo, Federation Brewery and FreeClaim IDC.