Sunderland football legends Jimmy Montgomery, Micky Horswill and Dick Malone were on hand to wish one of the city’s oldest Black Cats fans a happy birthday.
Lifelong SAFC fan Ernest Jones celebrated his 100th birthday with his hero at a family party at High Grindon House sheltered housing unit.
Mr Jones said: “I remember we would walk from Bishopwearmouth to Roker Park to see the last ten minutes of the games because it was free, but it was worth it.
“It was in 1928 when I saw my first goal at Roker Park. I was 12-years-old and I still listen to all the matches on the radio, but they’re very disappointing at the moment.”
Mr Jones, son of shipyard plater Ernest and his wife Alice, was born in Trimdon Street in 1916 and went on to serve his country in World War Two with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
During his time at war, he was shot in the head during the Normandy Invasion and, last year, received France’s highest honour for his role in helping to liberate the country.
He received the Legion d’honneur during a service at Durham Cathedral.
He celebrated his milestone birthday yesterday with family who travelled from as far afield as Cornwall, including his five children, ten grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.
Ernie, who was happily married to Florence for 60 years before she passed away in 1999, said: “I think the secret to a long life is good genes. My mother lived to 99.”
Daughter Pauline Peel, 71, said: “It’s been lovely to have the family come together for this. He’s very active and still likes to do his shopping.”