A SUNDERLAND supporter is set for one of the ‘highlights of her life’ when she steps out in front of 90,000 football fans at Wembley next month.
Muriel Greenwood, 63, won a competition to be part of the choir which will sing iconic hymn Abide With Me at the FA Cup final on May 30.
Mrs Greenwood, who is originally from Sunderland but now lives in Hunsdon, Hertfordshire, will be one of 64 people in the choir, with each of the teams who reached the third round of this year’s FA Cup represented.
BBC programme Songs of Praise asked viewers to submit stories reflecting their memories of the famous cup competition, and Mrs Greenwood’s emotional recollection of Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup win saw her get the nod.
She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bits to have been chosen, and really surprised about it.
“I’ve never been to the new Wembley, and the thought of walking out in front of 90,000 people is very exciting. I keep imagining walking out there.
“It’s going to be one of the highlights of my life, and I can’t wait.”
Abide With Me was first sung at an FA Cup final in 1927, and has been a constant feature of cup final days since.
It is sung on the pitch prior to the game, usually by a celebrity solo singer, but this year, Mrs Greenwood, who sings in the Harlow Chorus Academy, and the choir will join them at Wembley.
It promises to be an emotional occasion for her, with Abide By Me a song with special significance in her family.
She added: “I just applied on the spur of the moment after watching Match of the Day. You had to write about your memories of the FA Cup, so I wrote about the 1973 cup win, which was a huge thing in our house.
“My grandfather, George Muirhead, was steeped in Sunderland, and we were brought up with football.
“The 1973 cup run was a magic time, and I just wrote about all my memories from it and how it was so special.
“It was so easy to write about for me.
“It was sung at both of grandfathers’ funeral, as well as my mum’s.
“To complete the circle by representing Sunderland, the North East and my family by joining the choir to sing this great hymn will be a dream.”
Mrs Greenwood now lives with her husband John, and first left Sunderland in 1975.