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Tales from the Stands I: Awkward Owers & the Flag Snapper

Come one come all and gather round to feast your eyes on our latest feature, Tales from the stands: a collection of fans’ favourite moments watching The Lads over the years.

Tales From The Stands
Roker Report

It’s fair to say that Sunderland have been fairly rubbish for quite a while. I talk about the last twenty years and my Dad just smirks at my youthful innocence because, if truth be told, we’ve seemingly always had a lot to moan about.

So really it’s all the more incredible that despite the tripe that’s gone before, there always seems to be something about going to the match that gets people excited. Whether it’s the atmosphere, the communal spirit, the pure unadulterated joy that comes with being part of the mob, blind love, or simply the chance to get out of the house and have a few drinks, there’s something magical about going to watch The Lads play.

Today’s stories centre around Dads and their ability to always bring a smile to our faces, and indeed the faces of everyone else around them... whether intentionally or not!

If you have a story you would like to share, then send it in via Twitter, Facebook, or email us at:

Photos, videos, poems, memoirs and everything in-between is encouraged as we look to share your favourite moments following Sunderland.

Ha’way the Lads!

Plymouth Argyle v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League Two
Owers is now Bath City manager and Partick Thistle’s Head English Scout!
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Gary Owers

For those fans who have endured more 'Tours of Duty' than is good for them, they may recall the roller-coaster season of 1996/97.

Our first season in the Premier League, Peter Reid at the helm, Quinny and Tony Coton crocked two games in and Chrissy Waddle arriving just as hope was dwindling away.

Leeds Utd arrived at Roker Park in February. A packed Fulwell End surrounded me, my brother and my Dad. My Dad loves the team but is not always up to speed with the personnel.

After kick-off Leeds forced an error in midfield and silent anxiety followed the groans. This is when the heart felt cry roared from my Dad's mouth and rolled down the terracing, 'Haway Owers, man, pull your finger out!'

Thousands of men, women and teenagers howled with laughter as the mood was lightened. I would like to say that it was perfect comic timing but it wasn't. It really wasn't. Gary Owers left the club in 1994 for Bristol City. In 1997 my Dad still thought he was the heartbeat of our Premier League side. Don't get me started on how he pronounced 'Defoe'.

Rich Allison

Michael Gray of Sunderland
Heart break... and flag snapping.

Play-off woe

My Dad is actually one of the nicest, quietest, and kindest men you could hope to meet. However, there’s something about watching Sunderland that brings out the primal side in all of us, isn’t there?

Anyway, my Dad and a few of his mates got their hands on tickets to the play-off final games against Charlton back in 1998 and duly went down in the hopes of seeing Sunderland make it back to the big time.

We all know what happens next as Clive Mendonca breaks his fellow Mackem’s hearts. But it’s after the game that this story occurs.

As my Dad and his friends sat in standstill traffic leaving the old Wembley, surrounded by buses full of fellow dejected fans who had turned to the bottle in an attempt at finding solace, groups of Charlton fans walked by cheering the fact their team had made it to the Prem. Fair enough.

One group of fans though were a little too patronising, and my Dad took exception to their merriment. They were giving it the big’un to the Sunderland fans and one younger fan was waving a Charlton flag violently in front of the bus windows. My Dad, well he just wasn’t in the mood to be mocked.

Quickly and quietly he exited the bus, snatched the offending flag in question and snapped it over his knee before throwing the remnants of the penant at the feet of the rather shocked Charlton fans. Sunderland fans who witnessed the event must have found it hilarious, and my Dad returned to his seat serenaded by the sound of hundreds of fans banging their bus windows in support of his actions before receiving cheers and applause from his fellow bus-mates.

You’d never think he’d be the kind of fella to do something like that, and we love to take the micky out of him about it; deep down though I think he’s a little bit proud of his flag-snapping antics.

Tom Atkinson

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