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My First Game: #12 - Shamrock Rovers, August 1962

Sunderland fan Chris Smith has shared his earliest memory of attending a Sunderland game with Roker Report - a pre-season game against Shamrock Rovers at Roker Park in 1962.

The first time I went to Roker Park to see the Lads was when Teddy Smith and I got in to see a pre-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers.

It was not very memorable. I would rather have talked about my first league game I went to against Leicester City, where young Derek Forster made his debut in a 3-3 thriller. Or the time I saw Slim Jim Baxter play for the first time. Or when I first saw what Colin Todd could do. Or at Charlie Hurley's testimonial as everyone on the park was trying to help him score - even the opposition. Or, now living in exile, taking my boys to their first (and only) game back in 1988. Or when I first saw the Stadium of Light and got interviewed by the Legion of Light (issue 20, May 2001) and watching Super Kevin Phillips two days later score the winner against Charlton Athletic in our final home game of the season to finish 7th in the Premier League. Or being at the last game of the season seeing us beat Stoke City to collect the Championship Trophy in May 2005. Or flying to Vancouver from Edmonton and meeting Mick McCarthy, Julio Arca, Nyron and the rest of the squad personally, before an embarrassing loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

No, my first game was not very memorable. In fact, I had to look it up to see when it was - August 1962. I had just turned eleven years old. Teddy lived over the road from me, and although he had a reputation of being a bit of a trouble maker, that summer we kind of hung out a bit, even though he was a couple of years older than me.

Neither of us were big football fans at the time, and the more I think about it, the more I feel that I was just a foil to his errant ways. I later found out he went to borstal school and changed his name to Torquill Tripper or something like that.

We went in the boys end and snuck around to the clock stand, and I was more fearful of getting caught than I was catching the game. So much so that I was convinced that we lost that game 1-2, and was quite surprised to find out that we in fact won 3-2 when I looked it up.

However, as remarkable as it was by being unremarkable, it left its mark on me. That being, the thrill of the crowd.

The noise from only 10,040 others in attendance struck a cord deep within me. I had never been anywhere where there was so many people. The passion for our beloved club was etched on everyone's face. That passion took hold of me that day, and it has lasted all my life.

Even from afar, I eat, drink and sleep Sunderland AFC. I get home to see the Lads when I can, and envy those who do so every week.

Yes, it all started on that unmemorable day back in 1962.

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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