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Star-crossed lovers: How Sunderland and Newcastle love birds’ secret was uncovered by a crowd shot

Marilyn Miller with the surprise 60th birthday card given to her by her husband Steve featuring a photograph taken by a Sunderland Echo photographer in 1976 of them at Roker Park to watch Sunderland play Arsenal which won Marilyn �5 for being the Face in the Crowd.

Marilyn Miller with the surprise 60th birthday card given to her by her husband Steve featuring a photograph taken by a Sunderland Echo photographer in 1976 of them at Roker Park to watch Sunderland play Arsenal which won Marilyn �5 for being the Face in the Crowd.

A HUSBAND proved he was on the ball for his wife’s birthday celebrations after delving into the archives to uncover an image of their courting days.

Steve Miller and then-girlfriend Marilyn Watson were snapped in the crowd at Sunderland’s game against Arsenal in August 1976, winning Marilyn a cash prize after she was circled in a Football Echo competition.

But the match landed Newcastle fan Steve in hot water with friends when they found out he had been at Roker Park, and Marilyn too as her family found out her sweetheart was a Magpie.

Now, the image has brought home happy memories of the early days of their relationship after Steve used the photograph on his wife’s 60th birthday card.

Steve, 58, a security officer, said: “She didn’t want a party and I was looking for something different to do.

“I remembered about being photographed at the Sunderland game and thought I’d get that on a card.

“I’m a Newcastle supporter and Marilyn loved her football and she persuaded me to go because Malcolm Macdonald had just signed for Arsenal from Newcastle and she said it would be the last time to go and see him play up here.

“The look on her face when she opened the card, she couldn’t believe it.

“She was really shocked. She remembers going and being in the paper.

“I think she’s going to frame it.”

The Peterlee couple met when they both worked at the May Trading factory in Horden, where Steve was a driver and Marilyn, who now works at BB’s Coffee and Muffins in Dalton Park, was a secretary.

Marilyn was also treated to a trip to London later in the year by their children Steven, 33, and Andrea, 
30, as part of her birthday celebrations.

She said: “I was in shock and then I started to remember about those days, they were really nice.

“I was aghast he’d gone to all that length and trouble.

“It brought back a lot of memories and it was so funny, my husband’s was a huge Super Mac fan and I pestered him to go.

“He was a bit wary about it and I said nobody we know will know and we’ll go in late.

“Well, then I was ringed in the paper and won a fiver.”

The first match Marilyn went to was at Roker Park when she supported West Bromwich Albion, as South Hetton lad Ian Collard was playing for the side.

 

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