The day Rod Stewart stopped off for a pint at the Golden Lion in South Hylton
Rod Stewart visited the Golden Lion in South Hylton and posed with owner Matty Roseberry back in 1973, a former regular at the pub has re-called.
The superstar had been in town for the 1973 Cup Final when he was invited to the popular boozer for a drink by Sunderland players on the pub’s opening night.
The pub was opened by Sunderland’s FA cup-winning goalscorer Ian Porterfield – who brought the trophy with him for the occasion - and it was another member of the squad, Billy Hughes, who invited Rod to enjoy a pint at the riverside venue.
The pub was owned by Matty Roseberry at the time and his brother Ernie was overseeing the extension to the venue.
“We built Billy Hughes’, Tony Towers’ and Ian Porterfield’s houses, that’s how we knew Ian and the other footballers,” said Ernie.
“Rod was present at the ‘73 Cup Final and met Billy Hughes, who invited him back to Sunderland. He went training with the Sunderland squad at Cleadon and after they had finished training, they came to the Lion for a drink.
“I was building the function room at the back at the time and and he came in and had a chat .”
Ernie and wife Margaret had their wedding reception at the pub – Ernie actually sneaked out to go to the match – and still live close by.
They shared their memories of a venue which has meant so much to them after it was devastated by fire at the weekend.
“I worked there for 17 years,” said Margaret. “We had fabulous customers – we used to call them by what they drank. There’s Pint-and-a-half coming in...’.
“It was like a big happy family.”
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Ernie and Margaret’s daughter Danielle was also a regular at the Golden Lion, though in a somewhat different role.
When new managers Keith and Linda Wilcox took over, the schoolgirl would dress up as a chimney sweep and pose for pictures with newly-weds when the pub held wedding receptions.
Ernie remembers the days when the South Hylton riverside was lined with caravans housing workers from the site of the A19 Hylton Bridge.
“They used to get their lunch here regularly,” he said. “We had a massive barbecue down here when the bridge opened.”
Regulars also enjoyed a friendly rivalry with the Shipwrights Hotel across the river at North Hylton.
“We used to hold regatta outside between the Lion and the Shipwrights, with a tug-of-war across the Wear,” recalled Ernie.
“I always thought it was us that made the decision to tie the rope to an ice cream van. It could have been them, but I think it was us.”
Margaret is devastated by what has happened to the pub.
“We have a lot of happy memories, which is good, but I am so upset it has ended like this,” she said.
“I can’t stop crying.”