Sunderland AFC followers from around the world arrive on Wearside for club's International Fans' Day

Black Cats supporters from across the globe will head for the Stadium of Light today.

Saturday, 8th February 2020, 2:16 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th February 2020, 11:07 pm
Erik Broesder and Nancy Underwood with their Netherlands banner

Sunderland AFC is staging an International Fans’ Day to celebrate its global supporter base.

The club have joined forces with the Branch Liaison Council, which represents every branch in the UK and worldwide, to host the event as the Black Cats take on Ipswich town in a promotion six-pointer.

The Fans Museum in North Bridge Street hosted a special reception for international supporters last night.

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Ruth Vernon

Deputy Mayor of Sunderland Coun Harry Trueman was on hand to welcome the guests, while Stirks Butchers provided a taste of real Mackem food in the form of saveloy dips and roast beef baps.

FA Cup legends Bobby Kerr and Micky Horswill were also on hand to roll out the red carpet and Sunderland artist Frank Styles too photos of guests for a forthcoming project.

Museum founder Michael Ganley was delighted with the turn-out, adding: “It is amazing to be able to come here and meet people from all over the world,” he said

“We have created something unique there that has come out of Sunderland and it is wonderful to see so many people coming together to enjoy it.”

Steve Briggs, from Stirks, with a saveloy sandwich

Among those at the event were Nancy Underwood and Erik Broesder.

Although Nancy is originally from Canada, she now lives in The Netherlands and the couple had made the trip complete with their Black Cats banner.

Erik has been a Sunderland fan since he was a boy, but his devotion came about by accident

He said: “I was 12 years old and I went to the local sport shop and bought a shirt – it was a really nice one,” he said.

Frank Styles

It turned out to be a Sunderland strip and Erik has been making regular pilgrimages to Wearside – first to Roker Park and now to the Stadium of Light – for a quarter of a century.

Of course, the museum is not just for Sunderland fans, and Ipswich supporter Ruth Vernon was paying her first visit last night.

“We’ve had a guided tour and it’s just fantastic,” she said.