A TREASURE trove of precious Sunderland AFC memorabilia can be seen by football fans young and old as the summer holidays draw to a close this week.
Black Cats fanatic Michael Ganley has spent much of his life acquiring shirts, programmes and medals related to his club.
And now the businessman from Ashbrooke has put many of the items on show to the public for the first time.
Back on the Map Community Centre, in Villette Road, Hendon, is the venue for the exhibition, which features some of Michael’s prized possessions on display.
From Ian Porterfield’s 1973 FA Cup final tracksuit top and Peter Reid’s December 2000 Manager of the Month award, to Fabio Borini’s Capital One Cup final shirt and boots as well as famous signs from the club’s former home Roker Park, there’s something for fans of all ages to feast their eyes on.
Keith Havelock, a pal of legendary forward Kevin Phillips, has also helped out Michael’s cause by getting some of “Super Kev’s” last jerseys from his time as a Sunderland player, as well as one of his England shirts, to be included.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while and I’m really happy with how it’s turning out,” said Michael, 43, who estimated that he has gathered about 2,000 different SAFC pieces since he first started attending games as a boy, spending tens of thousands of pounds in the process. “I’ve built up the collection over years but until now it’s been for my own friends and family to see.
“But these things should be on show because I know that people want to come and have a look.”
Michael added that his next goal is to find a permanent home for the exhibition, with a location in Sunderland city centre his ideal choice.
“We’ve got a display lined up for October 10 at The Bridges which will hopefully be much bigger than what we’ve got here,
“I’d like to use the Roker Park boardroom table which was first commissioned in 1910 as part of it, but a proper museum is what is needed.
“I pay a fortune to store and insure the pieces and that’s no good if people aren’t able to appreciate it.
“Somewhere in the city centre would be brilliant and I think it’d increase trade there for the businesses.”
The exhibition is on until this Friday, with a number of ex-Sunderland players set to visit the event over the course of the week.
“There’s things here for people of all ages so kids, dads and granddads will enjoy it – even if they only come along for 10 minutes. it’s worth it” said Michael. “There’s something for everyone, because the exhibition is of things from across the decades.”
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