A pair of die-hard Black Cats brothers who ran onto the Stadium of Light pitch to celebrate Sunderland confirming their Premier League status today pleaded with magistrates not to ban them from the ground.
Brothers Ben and Alan Appleby were among a number of people alleged to have entered the field of play as the final whistle was blown at SAFC’s 3-0 win over Everton on Wednesday.
The result secured the Wearsiders’ top-flight status for another season and also relegated rivals Newcastle United.
The pair told the Echo that “emotion got the better of us”, but that neither meant any harm to anyone.
Pictures taken show Ben embracing central defender Lamine Kone and Alan with substitute Duncan Watmore.
After running onto the pitch, both lads were later apprehended by stewards, arrested and charged. I think I ran on because I was overwhelmed by the passion of the night,” said Ben, 24, of Scoresby Close, in Southwick.
“We’d stayed up and sunk the Mags, not much will top that. I’ve got photos on my phone showing the selfies I got with the players.
“Some of their tears are on the new home shirt I was wearing.
“I’ll never wash it again.”
Alan, 25, said: “We were just overjoyed at the time, but we didn’t mean any disrespect to the club by it.
“I’ve got a signed shirt from 2006 with signatures from nearly all of the players from back then, as well as Roy Keane’s and I’m willing to donate it to the Foundation of Light to raise money for it.
“We’ll be happy to pay any fine, we just don’t want to be banned from watching our team.”
Ben, dad to boys Harley, seven, and Hugo, seven months, said: “I admit I was on the pitch and I’ll be telling the judge that.
“But you can see from the pictures that not in any way did we show any aggression. We weren’t fighting.
“Emotion just got the better of us.”
Five people, including two boys aged 15 and 17, have been charged with going into the playing area of a designated football match.
Also charged with the same offence is Martin Hoggarth, 27, of Osman Close, in Hendon.
Mark Herron, 49, of Trinity Street, Southwick, was charged with being drunk and disorderly.
The adults are due before Sunderland Magistrates’ Court on May 31 and the juveniles on May 26.