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Watch Sunderland AFC star Thorben Hoffmann join primary school children to learn about the Stadium of Light’s mining past

Sunderland AFC goalkeeper Thorben Hoffmann joined children from Dame Dorothy Primary School to learn about Wearside’s mining heritage, including the former Wearmouth Colliery site on which the Beacon and Stadium of Light now sit.

By Neil Fatkin
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 4:55 am

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Thorben was joining the children as part of the Foundation of Light’s Coals to Goals initiative to use the football club to help engage children in learning about the city’s rich mining history and heritage.

Wearmouth Colliery closed in 1993, with the then SAFC Chairman, Bob Murray, choosing the former pit site as the ideal location to build the Stadium of Light, which was opened in 1997.

Bob, who is also founded the Foundation of Light, was determined the new stadium would recognise the city’s mining traditions, even down to the naming of the stadium which was in part down to the traditional Davy Lamps the miners used to take with them deep underground.

Sunderland AFC goalkeeper Thorben Hoffmann with children from Dame Dorothy Primary School as part of the Foundation of Light's Coals to Goals initiative. Photograph: Alan Hewson

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Thorben took part in a question and answer session and joined the children in a workshop learning about what life used to be like down the pit.

Children questioned the SAFC star about his time both at Sunderland and Bayern Munich, where he spoke in detail about meeting legends of the game including Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi and being on the bench for the Champions League final.

He said: “It’s really good to get know the children from the schools in the local area. It’s important for them to know the history about where they are living and the information they got today from the Foundation was really good."

Thorben also joined the children on a tour of the outside of stadium and some of the features recognising the site’s history, including the statue of the Davy Lamp on the drive to the ground, the pit wheel outside the entrance, and miner’s sculpture.

Sunderland AFC goalkeeper Thorben Hoffmann at the Beacon of Light where he joined local school children to learn about the city's mining heritage.

Thorben added: “I wasn’t aware the stadium was built on an old mining site. It has been good to learn about the history of the city. There’s obviously a lot of history here which is good for a player to know.

“This is obviously a great club with a big history and it’s a great pleasure to play in front of the fans.”

The workshop was led by former Wearmouth Colliery miner and now General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, Alan Mardghum, who worked at the pit’s coalface from 1977 to its closure in 1993.

Alan, 66, said: “It’s vital children learn about the city’s past as it’s their history and heritage. These children and even some of their parents won’t remember this site was once a pit and will now just know it as the Stadium of Light.

"There’s a whole theme which runs throughout the Stadium and club about the city’s mining past, including the pit wheel which is part of the badge.”

The initiative and visit from Thorben, who was joined by club mascot Samson the cat, certainly seemed to have the desired effect.

Year 4 pupil Charles Halliday, nine, said: “It was pretty cool to meet Thorben and I asked him about his biggest match. We’ve been learning about the city’s heritage and the fact the stadium is built on an old mine.”

Classmate Onyx Ezinwoke, eight, added: “I enjoyed meeting Thorben and I didn’t realise this used to be an an old mine.”

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