Welcome to our newest feature – Away Day Diaries! We get some Sunderland fans from anywhere and everywhere to tell us all about their experiences following the lads on their travels. This week Ben Fanciulli (who lives in Portsmouth – not such a long journey!) and Claire Bell share their day with us.
Me and my mate Peddles have been looking forward to this match ever since the fixture list came out. Like a kid on Christmas Eve - the night before I couldn't sleep due to the excitement of watching the lads play.
So I got up about 8:30 and made sure I had a decent breakfast. Lucky charms and a pint of Fosters – what every 27 year old (should) eat! I picked up Peddles and, tins in hand; we walked down to the station for our train at 10.30. We got a good few dirty looks from the locals out getting their newspapers that morning.
On the train then and we had a few more beers - that's when we starting chanting ‘wise men say’, of course this got us even more dirty looks and a load of people shushing us. Yep we were sat in the 'quiet zone' – sorry but not anymore it isn’t! We polished off our beers just in time before we stopped in Southampton (Scum, as us Pompey lot call it) central. I had to admit I was feeling a little nervous about the game; I was going for a 1-0 win for the lads but knew Southampton had a very good team nowadays and it would be a hard fought tight game. Also knowing the amount of knew signings we have made, they still need to gel so it’s always going to be hard with a virtually new squad.
We went into Yates and saw about a handful of Sunderland fans so we decided to stay. £3.75 for a pint of fosters in there - even in me local its only £2.50 and that is still a southern pub! We had a walk up stairs and decided we needed some scoff. Two all day breakfasts for £8.75 done the job perfectly! We were sat at the only wonky table there so every time we moved our beers would spill (the barmaid ended up hating us) but, after a few more beers and breaking the seal, we walked down stairs to find the bar rammed with Sunderland fans. All of a sudden a chant of "Paolo Di Canio" roared through the pub - so amazing to hear a pub full of Sunderland chanting away. We easily drowned out any home support that was there! 2:30 and off we staggered to St Mary’s.
We got to our seats in row F at the ground after having a lovely over-priced warm Carling out of a plastic bottle in the concourse - with only minutes to spare. By now my voice was already going after all the singing on the train and in the pub but bollocks to it "We are the Sunderland, the Sunderland boot boys!" When our goal went in from the corner we went mental! Drinks went flying, bouncing on the seats then getting told off by the anti-standing brigade in their orange coats – didn’t care we were winning! Then that was it, I think we just sat back, Southampton played really well. We lacked a midfield and in all honestly I didn't even know Stephane Sessegnon was on the pitch until his name was called at half time as he was subbed. I do believe he is on his way out though. When Ji Dong-Won came on he looked like a school boy playing against bigger boys, he put the effort in but got nowhere.
Second half was rubbish in my opinion, was a shame to see Jack Colback come off for David Vaughan but I think that was because he suffered a knock. Southampton were playing well – you still couldn't hear the home fans sing though. Then 88 minutes they go and score…all the home fans suddenly start chirping away winding us up. It got very heated down at the segregated bit towards the end - but I swear Southampton only have one or two songs.
After the game we headed back to Yates for a few more before heading back to Portsmouth on the train. Even though it’s only a 30 minute journey we were falling asleep - I could never get a train journey up to Sunderland I would go mad. Love away days me!
It was not the ideal start to my away day, having to work until 8pm on the Friday night and get up at 3am (!). I went with my dad and we took the minibus which took us too Southampton was at 4:50. I was the only girl – it was full of men all 45 and over, did not stop me cracking open the first tin at 7am! We only stopped once before arriving in Southampton, eagerly seeking the nearest pub which a helpful local directed us to. A Weatherspoons, sorted. It was good crack in pub with some home fans but we were a bit late travelling to the stadium so had to grab a taxi.
Parked my bum just in time for kick off and straight away the noise from our fans was unreal, like we completely drowned out the rest of the season, it was a great feeling – then the goal went in. The place was in uproar, the game had only been going three minutes! Everyone was jumping around going absolutely mental and the whole ninety minutes was non-stop singing, we never let the team down. As a woman, we had some right gents amongst us letting me get served really quickly at half time; idly chatting to people I had never met before about the game so far. I have been enjoying our attacking play under Paolo but we were not at the same level during this game. We defended for most of the second half but the referee and linesman were terrible – Osvaldo should have been sent off no doubt about it! At the end of the day, I was very happy with the draw as St Mary’s is a tough ground to go to despite what some people believe.
After the match we headed to the minibus straight away to set off, but took a ‘slight’ detour to Banbury for a ‘few’ drinks – we must have been there 5 hours! We were absolutely minging at this point, getting all sorts of strange looks from every corner because no-one could understand us…and they were up their own backsides too. Half 11 ticked over and we finally finished our journey to the minibus to make the even longer trip home. We must have sung nonstop for 2 hours until many of us fell asleep! I got home at 3am, finally, an absolute mess after 24 hours being awake and 20 hours on the drink. As always after an away day, I woke up still drunk and with loads of bruises on my legs! No better feeling than a Sunderland away day with the lads!
Thanks to Ben and Claire who clearly had tremendous days – fancy sharing your next away day with us? You don’t need to be a good writer; or anything other than a Sunderland fan for that matter – so drop us an email [email protected] or use the contact page! Thanks!