Devoted Sunderland AFC fan Vi dies at age of 96

Vi Buddle and friends tour the Stadium of Light before its official opening.
Vi Buddle and friends tour the Stadium of Light before its official opening.
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One of the Black Cats’ most devoted fans has passed away.

Vi Buddle, who died on Christmas Day aged 96, had followed Sunderland home and away all her life and was still a season ticket holder at the Stadium of Light as recently as 2011.

Vi Buddle with former SAFC favourite Michael Gray.

Vi Buddle with former SAFC favourite Michael Gray.

She was at Wembley to see Raich Carter lift the FA Cup after Sunderland beat Preston North End in 1937 and was part of the club’s biggest ever crowd at Roker Park in 1933.

Nephew David Heron said the family had been overwhelmed by the number of people who remembered Vi, both from her love of Sunderland and her time working as a ‘clippy’ on buses across Wearside.

“She took me to my first away game in 1981, when I was 10,” he said. “We went to Villa Park, where we won 3-1. I stayed at her house in Grangetown the night before and when it came to time to set off, I could not believe how many bags she had.

“Auntie Vi was a great baker, and the bags were just full of food – she fed everybody on the coach.

Vi with 1973 FA Cup-winning manager Bob Stokoe.

Vi with 1973 FA Cup-winning manager Bob Stokoe.

“That is something that has come out from everyone who remembers her, from the match but also from the buses – she was always giving out sweets.”

“Football was just her life,” said David. “Until she was 91, she still had a season ticket and she was still going to some away games in her mid to late 80s.

“After retiring she continued working well into her 80s as a cleaner at various places.”  

Vi survived both husband Cyril and son Alan and in recent years had suffered from dementia. She had spent the last three years close to David’s family in York.

“We had to bring her down to York and she lived with my parents, but then had to go into a care home,” said David.

The family has discovered how well-known Vi was around Sunderland since her death, with a host of online tributes.

“So many people have left messages who remembered her,” David added.

George Forster, from the SAFC Supporters’ Association, said: “She was a great lass.

“She used to come to the senior citizens’ meetings when we started having them at Roker Park and talk about the war and her time on the trams.”

A SAFC spokesman said: “Everyone at the club was deeply saddened by the news that Vi had passed away. She was red and white through and through and will be a huge loss to our Sunderland family.

“Our thoughts are with Vi’s family and friends at this sad time.”