The Mackem diaspora (4): home and away

On the train back home

And so the series ambles to a halt with a final collection of stories, this time from those who put down roots away from the North East but – with one exception – not overseas. Sunderland supporters who live or have lived the world over have contributed, via the excellent Blackcats e-mail loop and reproduced here, some fascinating accounts of how they ended up where they are, how they maintain their passion for SAFC and much more besides. I may slot additional potted memoirs into any of the four instalments or even add a fifth if necessary. Thanks to all who have given permission for their thoughts to be shared with Salut! Sunderland readers …

Check out also:

* Part one: from Murton to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll

* Part two: born in Newcastle, supporting Sunderland

* Part three: ladies stockings, REM and other exotica

* The Blackcats Google map

And now for some more individual stories of lives made away from the North East …

Ian Kidger

I was raised in Hebburn until the age of nine. Very fond memories of going to Roker Park and the odd away day with dad and uncles, revolving around very early departures followed by sitting outside a pub with a glass of lemonade and bag of crisps, then a mad dash to the ground.

We moved to Easter Ross in the mid 70s (dad worked in oil industry) and football took a back seat to rugby. Ironically I was at school with Eric Black; his dad and my dad were drinking buddies for several years. I moved south in the mid 80s to Cambridge (obligatory East Anglian connection) and my wife and I have been in Berkshire for the last 20 years except for four years in Trinidad from 2002 to 2006.

I’m a schoolteacher – teaching Economics and Politics to sixth form A Level students. Love teaching but hate everything about education, but that’s not for this forum.

Had a season ticket for a few years before Trinidad but travelling was too much and let it go. Rarely get to games now, but try to make sure visits back coincide with home games.

I think Geoff and Jeremy have captured how Sunderland has changed as a town…sorry, city…and it is true that the SoL is a bit soulless and the players mercenaries. But Sunderland is no different to any city in the UK and SAFC is not really any different to any other PL club. We all have our memories of great games and trips from the past and I’m sure fans of almost any team could make similar points to those being made here. I’ve only been to Anfield once and was bitterly disappointed by the lack of atmosphere at a ground I’d always wanted to visit. To be honest I’m not a fan of what passes for PL football; no contact, diving, cheating…sure is pretty but pretty soulless fare in soulless stadia.

Would I have a season ticket if I moved back up North? Course I would. I couldn’t help myself.

Mark Sugden

What a great thread. Never lived in Sunderland. My dad was from Fulwell but met my mum and lived in Scotland ever since. Took me to Roker Park when i was five and I was utterly hooked. Neither of my brothers are bothered. I now live in Troon. Had never met another Sunderland fan until iI did a postgrad and met a guy on my couse. What a tremendous bloke too and nice to have someone to moan about the lads too. Other than my dad and on here.

Ian Todd

I suspect there’s an inevitability that a list like this attracts those who don’t have easy access to local debate and media coverage and also those who have bettered themselves by sacrificing their home town links. Hence the quality of debate beats RTG and other message boards into a cocked hat.

I left “home” (Easington Village) for uni in Brum then first job in London and been here ever since. Still had season ticket for most of the years I’ve been away, shared with my Dad until he passed away. Worked for a GEC subsidiary, then Scientific Civil Service, then 29 years at BBC (until they) offered me one of those redundancy packages you can’t turn down.

In answer to Neil Chandler “I ….miss being able to get to home games easily …” well for £34 the London Branch offers a return train fare to all home games. Surely once or twice a season Neil?

Though my parents were from Hartlepool we only visited there to see family. It was Sunderland for shopping. My Dad wasn’t that motivated by football but worked for the NCB (at Hardwick Hall (now a hotel), then at Castle Eden’s Castle) with a ST holder at Roker Park. One Monday said colleague reported he had the seat ticket next to him for the next home game (guy on holliers) and would my Dad like to go. “No but would you be preapared to take Ian?” (No Child Protection legislation around in those days!)

So I went, saw us v Brentford in their last away game in the top division (relegated the next week), and come August pleaded with Dad to take me to the match.

The routine was bus to Sunderland, do any shopping which had been commissioned by Mum, tram to Seaburn then fish and chips in Atkinson’s Seaburn cafe. Walk back up the promenade, through the park and be outside the ground for the turnstiles to open at 1.30. Tram back to town then tea in Binns cafe with a window seat from which you could watch for the Echo van to deliver the pink’un on the Town Hall corner. Collect paper then bus back home.

Have to confess Dad also occasionally took me through to Newcastle where part of the ritual was lunch in the cafe under the Odeon cinema and a visit to one of the two news cinemas before walking up to SJP. (No TV at home so Pathe and British Movietone News were a novelty) Also to Ayresome when Clough was in his heyday there.

My parents moved to Durham City (Neville’s Cross) whilst I was at Brum Uni. and so that really became my home town till their passing. When I graduated, I had the offer of jobs in Newcastle (at NCB laboratories) or in London (with GEC as previously reported) and anguished over a whole week-end as to which to take. Have never regretted my eventual choice!


Nic Wiseman

I never visited Sunderland apart from going to me Grandpa’s office when he was based at Sunderland job centre for about six months. Other than that it’s just for the football. Being from Washington, I don’t think I ever set foot across the Wearmouth Bridge more than a handful of times before I was 20.
I also know Newcastle like the back if my hand, went to sixth form there, even boarded there in the second year of my sixth form. Got a lot of abuse mind for getting the X4 to night games. But light hearted abuse, not the kick you in the head 20 times till you’re unconscious type that I was to experience a bit later in life.

George Booth

Well, I’ve been mainly lurking on Blackcats for years, so here we go. I live in Epping, Essex (but I’m not the ‘Epping’ who appears on RTG). I first visited Roker Park in 1950 where my Dad had a couple of season tickets. He took my Grandad with him to the First Team games so I got to see the Reserves. My Dad, Grandad and the 2 generations before had all been in shipbuilding. Dad’s job certainly took him around. He worked as a draughtsman in shipyards in Hartlepool and Haverton Hill before becoming a ship surveyor starting in Belfast then moving to Leith, Newport (S.Wales), Sunderland and finally London. I still have some of his early diaries which show that he was going to Roker Park in the 1920’s. We lived in Seaburn (just round the corner from the Blue Bell) from 1947-50 and then moved to Cleadon where we stayed until 1957. Many epic Newcastle-Sunderland games were played on the old Cleadon Junior School field. A couple of SAFC links from those times. Don Revie moved into the village and we earnestly plotted ways of meeting him-but without success. The team trained at Cleadon in the late 1950’s in a field on the eastern side of the Moor Lane junction.
In 1957 we moved south to the bright lights of Enfield, N.London but we took every opportunity to travel back to the NE or Edinburgh where my mother came from. My Dad and I trekked all over the SE following Sunderland. There were some dreadful games in the 50’s/early 60’s although by the end of the 63/64 season things were certainly looking up and we took great pleasure in seeing a Crossan shot shake the dust out of the net at Leyton Orient (W5-2) in a promotion winning season. In the late 60’s I joined the London Branch and went on trips with them for a couple of seasons.
The other side of our family is Watford and my son’s first visit to a professional football match was………. 25th September 1982 when we lost by a mere 8-0 to Watford. These days I go more regularly to Watford than SOL and it’s a pleasant place to visit. I’ve managed to get up to Sunderland for a game or two most years since I left although the busiest period was when Sunderland and Watford were in the same division. Like a number of Blackcats I’ve spent most of my supporting life as an ‘away’ supporter- you get used to it.

Monsieur Salut, whose exploits in London, France, Abu Dhabi and beyond can be found at the parent Salut! site , the folk/roots site Salut! Live and the currently idle nostalgia site Salut! North.

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

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