Connor Brown murder: Sunderland pauses to remember 18-year-old a week on from stabbing tragedy
It’s Saturday night after the match and the pubs of Sunderland city centre are packed.
As a group of lads buoyed after a 2-0 win over Plymouth Argyle join in a chorus of “We love you Sunderland, we do...” on Holmeside while in Low Row, lasses belt out the words to Erasure’s Little Respect being played on outside speakers.
But a short distance away, people passing through Park Lane take time to pause at the huge shrine left in memory of amateur boxer and Sunderland follower Connor Brown.
Connor Brown murder: Trial date set for pair accused of Sunderland teenager’s deathA week ago, the 18-year-old GP practice receptionist, who is remembered by Farringdon Academy for his talent for “a smile that could light up a room,” suffered fatal stab wounds in a nearby back lane.
As news of his passing in hospital spread, a spot close by has become the focal point for those who knew Connor and strangers who felt moved to show their sorrow.
All who walk by take a moment to look at the flowers, photos, notes, balloons and toys laid alongside Sunderland strips and scarves.
“It’s unusual to see something like this happen in Sunderland” said one dad, who was walking by with his two young sons.
“We stopped because my little lad asked why there was a boxing glove and he boxes.
“It’s touching to see all this. It’s tragic what happened.”
For Ron Lamb, the sudden death of Connor hit especially close to home.
“The reason I stopped is I’m on my way home from the match. I knew Connor and I’ll tell you the story how,” said the retired fork lift truck driver.
“My mam passed away in 2017 and he worked at the Happy House Surgery on the reception.
“I went down to tell them and he could see how upset I was, he came out from where he was sat and we went into the office and we had a chat.
“I want to keep what we said private, but I can say he put me so much at ease.
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“I’m cracking on for 60 now, so I was 58 at the time, and the way he made me feel, as a boy or a man, it goes to show you what kind of person he was.
“He was such a lovely lad. He was a beautiful human being.
“He must have only been about 17 at the time.
“I hope my mam is now up there having the same conversation with him.”
Sunderland murder probe: Workmates of Connor Brown say they will ‘never come to terms’ with losing compassionate and funny colleagueHe added the applause held on the 18th minute of that day’s game was a fitting tribute.
“It was absolutely brilliant, everybody stood up and there was a brilliant atmosphere, it was electric.
“He was there with us at the match.”
Connor Brown murder: Sunderland fans donate to Stadium of Light collection in support of familyPubs including The Borough and takeaways have also remembered Connor with a poster in their window for next Sunday’s charity match in Silksworth.
Northumbria Police have said its officers will continue to work with those businesses, taxi drivers and door staff to keep people safe in Sunderland.
For one 27-year-old man having a cigarette outside a nearby bar, Connor’s death has made him worry about visiting the city centre.
He said: “It does make you think, doesn’t it?
“But it’s just not something that happens here, it’s unusual.
“What happened was awful. It should never happen.”
“I did think about whether to come out or not, but we had plans.
“We’ll have a good time, but not too many, and look after each other, that’s what matters.”