We caught up with James Ó Raifeartaigh of the Danish and Irish Supporters Branch to discuss their origins, their hopes for the future, and what it’s like to be a supporters group in the midst of new ownership at the club this season.
RR: I have to say, your branch is one of the more intriguing ones - The Danish and Irish Supporters Branch! Can you explain how you guys came to form...
JO’R: We originally met for the first time in the New Derby in Roker the night before the 3-0 win over the mags in 2015, chatted and bonded over all things SAFC.
After this we kept in touch weekly on Facebook and organised a meet up for the Leicester game in 2016 and since then the friendship has only grown, helped by the fact Ireland seem to be forever playing Denmark at the moment!
We were in constant contact with each other and had arranged to go to the game against Rochdale in September this season, but before we did we contacted the club about setting up our own branch, which officially launched in August 2018.
RR: How many members do you have?
JO’R: As it stands we are small branch with only about 10 members, but hope to grow having now officially launched. We have quite a decent following in Ireland but not so many in Denmark, so we hope to change that and help the support grow!
RR: How regularly do you get to games?
JO’R: We all try and aim for at least two games per season, with at least one of those being as a whole branch meet up and get together.
RR: It’s never been more exciting to be a Sunderland supporter. With the club becoming far more inclusive, how important is it to you to feel a part of what is going on?
JO’R: It’s an excellent time to be a Sunderland fan with the new owners and optimism around, but this is probably the best time to be a fan from outside the area or overseas as it’s never felt more inclusive than it currently does.
The club have really upped it on all levels with fan interaction and then also the likes of yourselves and Wise Men Say with the regular podcasts have brought a whole new level to the fans from outside of Sunderland.
As fans outside of the area we would give our right arm to be there on a regular basis, but as it’s not possible the increased fan interaction helps massively.
RR: What are your hopes for your branch in the future?
JO’R: To become the largest ever Danish and Irish Supporters Branch... though we might have accomplished that already! Seriously though, to continue to grow as a branch and meet more like-minded people as ourselves who have an unwavering passion for SAFC.
RR: How can fans in your area get involved with your branch?