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My First Game: #2 - Aston Villa, February 1997

Roker Report reader Ian Carse is the latest Sunderland fan to send us his memories of his first Sunderland game, and away fixture at Aston Villa in 1997.

I started off my football-supporting life as a traitor.

As a mackem living in exile in Bournemouth for all of my childhood, I had no idea what Roker Park was or who Sunderland AFC truly were. At the tender age of eight, after watching the 1996 League Cup Final where Aston Villa's Mark Bosnich made save after save, I declared to a distraught father that I wanted to support Aston Villa.

After Sunderland's promotion to the top flight in the summer of 1996, my dad kindly promised to take me to Villa Park to watch Aston Villa take on Sunderland.

I was only nine and vividly remember the cold February air and the smell of burned burgers and stale fags as the teams came out onto the pitch. My Dad covered up his ALS t-shirt and we took a seat in the Villa family stand.

Sunderland were shite, and were beaten 1-0 by a strike from Savo Milosevic if I remember correctly.

The Villa fans barely even stirred and grumbled as their team played quite well against a lacklustre Sunderland side. What really, really got to me as a nine year old were the Sunderland away fans going absolutely bonkers - singing, dancing, shouting, screaming, jumping around - and all of this when there team were losing.

I left the ground that day with my Dad wanting to join the party.

From that moment on, I knew that I had no affinity with the dour Villa fans, I wanted to follow the red and white army - I had seen the proverbial light.

Even in defeat, Sunderland fans will always be guaranteed to scream their hearts out for the lads, and this was something I wanted to be a part of forever.

If you're reading this article, then this feature is open to you. We want to hear YOUR tales of your first ever Sunderland game.

If you're interested in telling us your story, please send us an email - - and provide us with no less than 500 words. We'll be more than happy to publish your piece and give full credit.

It can be about anything - the smell of the burger vans, buying your first matchday programme, the roar of the crowd or even holding your dad's hand as you climbed up the steps for the very first time - we want to hear your first ever memories of going to a Sunderland game.

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