Black Cats' superfan Vi passes away

Vi Buddle with former Black Cats boss Bob Stokoe.
Vi Buddle with former Black Cats boss Bob Stokoe.
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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 star Michael Gray.

Vi Buddle with former SAFC star 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.

"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 80's 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 he well-known Vi was around Sunderland since her death.

"My brother e-mailed some photos to the Ready To Go fans website," he said.

"They put them on Facebook and within a couple of days they had had 60,000 hits. So many people left messages who remembered her."