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Sunderland AFC fan travelling more than 11,000 miles from New Zealand to London to cheer on Black Cats at Wembley

A lifelong Sunderland fan is travelling more than 11,000 miles from New Zealand to London to cheer on the team as they prepare to play in the League One play-off final at Wembley.

Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 1:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 5:47 pm

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Graham Ellwood, 43, from Boldon, left the North East 10 years ago to move to Wellington, New Zealand, with his wife Shonali after travelling around the country and deciding to settle there.

Graham, who works in IT, flew from Wellington to Auckland and is currently en-route to Heathrow to cheer on the Black Cats as they take on Wycombe Wanderers.

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Graham Ellwood, 43

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The Dad of two is travelling over 11,000 miles and over 24 hours in order to get to London and will be meeting with friends from the North East when he arrives.

Graham also attended Sunderland’s last playoff final game at Wembley in 2019 with his son Charlie, when the club fell short of promotion after defeat to Charlton, but is hoping for better luck this time out.

Graham’s sister, Donna Graham, said: “It really is bonkers travelling all that way for a football match but he’s a lifelong Sunderland supporter and he loves the club. He used to be a season ticket holder and would travel to all the away games as well. My Grandad and Dad have always been big Sunderland fans and season ticket holders back to the Roker Park days, so they got him into it.”

“I hope it’s worth the trip for him and he won’t be leaving disappointed! A lot of people have been saying they hope he’s a lucky charm so fingers crossed!”

Sunderland boss Alex Neil

Graham’s visit to the UK will be a quick one, as he flies back to New Zealand on Monday, hopefully with Sunderland as a Championship side.

Sunderland made it to the playoff final after securing a 5th place finish in League 1 and overcoming Sheffield Wednesday over two legs.

Sunderland AFC take on Wycombe Wanderers in the League 1 playoff final on Sunday, May 21, with kick off at 3pm.

Graham and his son Charlie at Wembley for the 2019 League 1 playoff final