For a football club with famed supporters it is hardly surprising that certain fans become deeply ingrained in the Sunderland AFC story. At Sunderland two fans became legendary because of the zeal with which they followed the Black Cats. John Tennick and Billy Simmons were both early and founding members of the Sunderland AFC Supporters Association. Both now deceased, their passing was mourned by hundreds of their peers and to this day many Sunderland fans can vividly remember travelling on the supporters’ buses, stewarded by these two Sunderland stalwarts.
Synonymous with Billy was of course George Forster, still with us and still going strong as his recent surprise 90th birthday party at the Stadium of Light demonstrated. George is perhaps the most loved Sunderland fan alive to those that know him and famous and revered enough to be recently given a life season ticket by Sunderland AFC.
There is perhaps one fan, not so well known, who became a legend in his own time, a young Billy Morris who travelled to London in 1937 too see Sunderland AFC lift the FA Cup, following the 3 v 1 defeat of Preston North End. Carrying a young black cat/kitten in his top pocket the clubs unofficial mascot that day brought us good luck as we lifted what was the club’s holy grail for the first time.
Essentially though Sunderland AFC is a club built around its fans and its traditions. Its early history could be said to weigh heavily on each generation but perhaps our early history merely gives us something to emulate. Recognise your past and you can perhaps clearly see the future you want.
One day it will happen and hopefully those reading this post will be there too see it. You never know but maybe we will remember those that have carried that red and white flag before us. We all have our memories of fans past and present who make us what we are. A club apart….