Bellshill, Lanarkshire born centre half Matthew Ferguson joined junior club Bellshill Hawthorn in 1894 playing for Mossend Brigade in 1895 and became a Scottish junior international before joining First Division Sunderland in the close season of 1896, making his Football League debut against Bury that September at Newcastle Road. He rarely missed a match as Sunderland came runners up in the League Championship in 1898 and 1901, having finished third in 1900, and he was perhaps best remembered for keeping goal in a friendly against Tottenham on 2nd January 1900 – after Sunderland goalkeeper Ted Doig injured his wrist the day before.
Ferguson played 31 times as Sunderland eventually won the 1901-02 League Championship in Ferguson’s sixth season at the club. However tragically Ferguson died in the close season of 1902, aged 26, just weeks after Sunderland clinched the League Championship. It is reported that a large attendance at his funeral proved his popularity.