FAMILY loyalties will be put to one side when the teams of two football-mad dads go to battle in the Capital One Cup final – just a month before their children get married.
When Sunderland take on Manchester City in the final on Sunday, March 2, John Mennear, from Hetton, and Ian Smith, from Manchester, will be sitting at opposite ends of Wembley Stadium.
Mackem John, 61, and Mancunian Ian, 52, never imagined their teams would be battling it out for a major honour, just weeks before their offspring celebrate their big day.
But just over a month after the Wembley showpiece, the pair will be standing side by side in church as their respective children, Richard Mennear, 28, and Kelly Smith, 26, get married. As soon as Sunderland’s dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United sealed their place in the final, the football banter started between the two dads – and both will be hoping for the bragging rights come the wedding day, on April 5.
John, an assistant director at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “It is funny how it has worked out, what with the wedding falling just a month after the final.
“Both families get on really well, but I’m sure we will be putting that to one side for the match.
“To reach the final is a great achievement for Sunderland in itself, but we are going there to win the cup and the way we are playing at the moment, there is every chance.
City fan Ian, a season ticket holder at the Etihad Stadium, attends the matches with wife Frances and daughter Dayna, 24.
Police officer Ian said: “I’ll be keeping an eye out for John at Wembley, I need to make sure I know exactly where he is sitting so I can wave at him when we are celebrating at the final whistle.
“Man City have tasted success in recent years so we go into the final feeling pretty confident, but Sunderland have had a good run and anything could happen on the day – I’m just hoping it is a City win.”
Richard, the Hartlepool United reporter for the Echo’s sister paper the Hartlepool Mail, said: “It will at least give them something to put in their speeches.”