Plymouth Argyle-supporting sons of Sunderland fan visit Wearside 60 years after his death
A trio of brothers made a pilgrimage to Wearside in memory of their late Black Cats-supporting dad.
The three sons of Sunderland-raised Bill Kirton, Bill Jnr, Ron and Bob, are all Plymouth Argyle fans and in recognition of Bob’s recent 60th birthday they attended the club’s game at the Stadium of Light at the weekend.
Bill Snr, who lived in Plymouth after marrying wife Gwen, died in 1958 aged just 44 after suffering from pneumonia and heart problems.
Bob sadly never got to meet his dad as he was born shortly after his death.
The brothers’ three sisters Gill, Christine and Lesley organised the trip for them, and spoke of the warm welcome they had from Wearsiders.
Although the home side won the game 2-0, the family say they were blown away at the hospitality they were afforded.
“We’ve had a magnificent time in Sunderland throughout the weekend,” said Bill Jnr, 79, who lives in Aberdeen in Scotland.
“The welcoming people at the Stadium of Light are so good at their job and they made everything fantastic.
“Sunderland could’ve been 3-0 up at half time but that didn’t happen and it was a bit more of a game in the second half.
“People were coming up to us all day and asking how we were and how long we were up for.”
Bill Snr married Gwen in 1938 but had to leave to fight in the Second World War in the navy.
Then, on leaving the navy, he started working as a labourer.
He was a concrete ganger and had worked on many of the major construction and reconstruction projects in the South West.
Bill Jnr, who added that he remembers being taken to a Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sunderland game by his dad in 1954, described him as a “great man, universally liked and respected”.
Gwen passed away in 1987.
The brothers even visited Bright Street, in Roker, where their dad lived as a youngster.
“We even knocked on the door to talk to the people who lived there now and they were happy for us to take some pictures,” added Bill Jnr.
“Coming up to Sunderland has brought back a lot of memories and we have certainly been close to tears a few times.”