Richard Mennear's tour diary: Swiss branch of supporters' club relishing Sunderland's tour

(LtoR) Sunderland fans Louis Osborne, Anthony Harrison and John Osborne
(LtoR) Sunderland fans Louis Osborne, Anthony Harrison and John Osborne
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"Are you Richard from the Sunderland Echo?"

Oh, no, what have I done or written now I thought, as I was approached half an hour before the 3-2 friendly win over Dijon.

Thankfully, it was a Sunderland fan by the name of John Osborne, who runs the Swiss branch of the Sunderland AFC Overseas Supporters' Club.

The 49-year-old has lived close to Geneva for the best part of 20 years and he was delighted to see the club he loves head to this part of the world for pre-season training.

Senior civil engineer John, who works for Cern, told me: "I was absolutely delighted when I heard Sunderland were coming here to train and play three matches.

"Other teams from England have been here but it was great to hear the club you support was heading out.

"I have really enjoyed the games and the experience as it isn't very often you get the chance to get so close to the players and manager, to speak to them and have a photograph or get an autograph.

"They have all been really welcoming and we have all loved having them here," added John, who is originally from Low Fell.

The branch has around 20 members.

John was at the game with his son Louis Osborne, 18 and friend and work colleague Anthony Harrison, 37, who is originally from Easington Colliery.

They are all members of the supporters club in neighbouring Switzerland, with Geneva around an hour's drive from Evian-les-Bains, Sunderland's base in France for the week.

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This won't come as a shock to many of you but south-eastern France at the end of July is very warm indeed.

So a quick shout out to the Sunderland backroom staff who have been looking after us journos at the games with some much-needed fluids.

You need to keep your energy levels high in pre-season and take plenty of fluids on board, or so I keep getting told.

We have managed this quite successfully on an evening in the local bars but at games we have been relying on the odd bottle of water or energy drink here and there.

They are a great bunch and it has been very much appreciated!