Why you think England v Australia is great for our city

Tom Berry and Natalie Sammut in the Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.
Tom Berry and Natalie Sammut in the Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.
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Football fans are getting in the spirit as England prepare to take on Australia in Sunderland tonight.

The Three Lions are in Wearside to take on the Socceroos in a sold-out friendly game at the Stadium of Light.

The Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.

The Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.

Tens of thousands of football fans will be heading to the home of Sunderland AFC for the game, which is the second of England’s three warm up matches ahead of the Euro 2016 tournament next month.

Footie fanatics are already gathering in the stadium’s Fan Zone for a pre-match drink, to enjoy live music from Wearside band Frankie and the Heartstrings, and play games, including a penalty shootout.

Friends Tom Berry and Natalie Sammut, who work together at Sunderland’s new Hilton Hotel, were excited about seeing the match.

It will be the first ever one for Sunderland supporter Tom, 22, and has left 30-year-old Natalie, who was born in Australia, torn about who she should be supporting.

Dave Moorhouse and son Joe in the Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.

Dave Moorhouse and son Joe in the Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.

Tom, who lives in Newcastle, said: “This is my first football match ever. We got the opportunity to buy tickets and thought we should go for it.

“It’s amazing to see this in Sunderland. It’s really coming up as a city with big events like this, the Tall Ships and Beyonce.”

Natalie added: “It’s my two favourite countries playing against each other so I’m not sure who I should be cheering for.

“This is a great stadium and a growing city and I think it’s going to kick Newcastle off the top spot very soon.”

The Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.

The Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.

Dave Moorhouse travelled from York with his son Joe, seven, for the match.

The 35-year-old said: “This was a present for Joe’s seventh birthday. He’s really excited because he’s football mad and a big England fan. I think they’ll do really well in the game and we’re so excited for the Euros.”

Mike Stapley came from Whitby with his son Rhys, 14.

He said: “We had to take the chance to see England without having to travel hundreds of miles.

Mike Stapley and son Rhys in the Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.

Mike Stapley and son Rhys in the Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.

“You don’t get many chances to see England without having to spend hundreds of pounds so when it’s on your doorstep and before the tournament it’s definitely worthwhile going along.

“I think they’re going to win 3-0, but Rhys thinks it’ll be 3-1 and he usually gets the scores right, I never do.”

Jo Duffy headed to the match with her partner David Gardner and her son Cass Burdis, seven.

The couple, from Murton, are big Sunderland fans, but not as much as Cass who is a season ticket holder.

David said: “We’ve never been to see England play so be took the opportunity when it was happening here in the North East. I think England will win 3-1 but Cass says it’ll be 3-0.

“It’s fantastic for Sunderland to get something like this.”

Jo Duffy with partner David Gardner and her son Cass Burdis in the Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.

Jo Duffy with partner David Gardner and her son Cass Burdis in the Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.

Melissa Young, from Easington Lane, surprised her mum Marjorie with tickets for her birthday.

Marjorie, from Washington, said: “Most of our family are from Australia so we’ve got both flags and they sent us the words to the national anthem so we can sing along.”

Melissa added: “It’s brilliant to see something like this in Sunderland. I saw England at St James’s Park nearly 15 years ago so it’s brilliant to see them again on my doorstep.”

Phil Leadbitter came to the match with his daughter Emily, 11.

Phil, 50, said: “Emily is football mad. She’s seen England before but just the under-21s so she’s really excited.

“It’s a massive thing for the North East and it’s fantastic to see it happening here.”

The Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.

The Stadium of Light's Fan Zone ahead of the England v Australia friendly.