Football mad couple first to tie the knot on Sunderland pitch

A football mad couple had a '˜match' to remember when they stepped out onto the pitch at the Stadium of Light.

Monday, 9th July 2018, 10:26 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 3:54 pm
Sunderland fans Marita Phenix and Paul Leadbeater first couple to married on the pitch at the Stadium of Light, at a ceremony on Saturday.

Marita Phenix and Paul Leadbeater were thrilled to become the first couple to actually tie the knot on the SAFC pitch.

Both huge Black Cats fans, their dreams of marrying on the hallowed turf seemed to be in vain.

Sunderland fans Marita Phenix and Paul Leadbeater first couple to married on the pitch at the Stadium of Light, at a ceremony on Saturday.

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But, because the date they wanted to wed coincided with the University of Sunderland’s graduation ceremonies - their dream became a reality.

Marita, 33, said: “We are huge Sunderland fans and there was nowhere else but at the Stadium of Light we would want to get married.

“It’s always been my dream to have the wedding on the pitch.

“But, when we asked they said they couldn’t do the actual ceremony on the pitch because of the regulations surrounding the licence, it had to be in the actual building.”

Sunderland fans Marita Phenix and Paul Leadbeater first couple to married on the pitch at the Stadium of Light, at a ceremony on Saturday.

The marketing executive said it was a disappointing blow for the County Durham couple, who have been together for four years, after meeting on holiday.

But she explained: “Someone from the Stadium of Light rang and said because our date was in between the university’s graduation ceremonies there would already be a stage set up on the pitch and because it is linked to the building by a walkway then it would be covered by the licence.

“She said we would be the first and probably the last people to be able to get married on the actual pitch.

“I couldn’t believe it, we were so excited to be able to have our ceremony there.”

Marita and Paul, who works for a bathroom company, decided to have a late afternoon ceremony and as luck would have it, this meant their 80 guests could enjoy watching England’s World Cup quarter-final victory over Sweden in the bar at the Stadium of Light before heading out onto the pitch for the kick-off of the wedding.

After the ceremony the guests all partied at the reception in the home of the Black Cats.

Marita, who was born in Malaysia, but spent most of her life in Kent, said it was her husband who turned her into a SAFC fan.

She said: “When I moved up here it was Paul who convinced me to become a Sunderland fan because he was. Now, we go to all the home games and a lot of the away games and I just really love it now.”

The blushing bride said she wasn’t going to let anything spoil their perfect wedding day.