Over the last year or so, Roker Report and the Roker Rapport Podcast have recruited a group of fans from around the UK and beyond - the Exiles - as writers and podcasters, reflecting the fact that Sunderland AFC has many supporters who live outside of the heartlands of north east England.
We’ve recently been delighted to add a few more people into to our little fan media collective, and you might have read some of their work and heard their voices on the podcast recently.
So, we thought it would be nice for the new additions to the Exiles to introduce themselves in their own words....
Meet... Will Jones!
I’m Will, I’m 23 and from Nottingham. Whilst I have never lived up north, my Dad grew up in Seaham Harbour and as a result I was fell into supporting the lads from a young age, whilst here in the East Midlands there doesn’t seem to be a Mackem in sight.
I go to as many games as I can, which are mostly away days close to me but seeing home games come few and far between ever since my first experience when Keano was in charge.
Since I have been going, my favourite game has been Chelsea away when we watched Wickham and Borini break Mourinho’s home record and gave him his first L, and it was all because of big Jozy Altidore falling and winning a great penalty.
Despite all the jibes and laughs you get for where we are and what has happened, I couldn’t be more proud to be a fan of this amazing club with the best fans.
A person can only take a certain amount of Wembley heartbreaks and more false dawns than hot dinners, can’t they? Nahhhh, nothing will change. Count me in for a lifetime supply.
Meet... Gary Morris!
Hello everyone. My name is Gary, a 32 year old from Dublin.
Admittedly I was a neutral football fan until the Drumaville takeover in 2006, but ever since then I’ve been a lads fan, with or without the Irish crowd still there. The first goal I saw at the SOL was a Stan Petrov screamer in 2011 in a 2-2 game, in which Sess scored a late equaliser.
I am a proud member of the Irish Black Cats branch. I have settled into the corporate life and currently work for eBay, but have come from a long time competing in professional MMA, stemming back to 2007.
As with all of us, there have been ups and downs (and most recently mainly downs), but here we are still flying the flag and hoping for better days ahead, and I’m delighted to be involved with Roker Report!
Meet... Mark Wood!
I have been a lads supporter since the late ‘70s. I do have memories of the cup win in ‘73, watching it on TV, going to watch the victory parade at the Barnes roundabout, but I was very young at the time and my old fella just thought football was ‘22 men kicking a bag of wind around a field’. Therefore, I never went to my first game until later on and then started going under my own steam in the early ‘80s standing in the Fulwell end, but when I did I well and truly got the bug which I haven’t been able to shake since.
I moved away from Sunderland at the end of the decade, settling in the North West of England amongst fans of Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United, working for one of the High Street banks and following the lads from afar through odd snippets in national newspapers in the days before social media.
As that has developed over the last ten years, it has become easier to keep in touch with what is happening at the club, even when I have moved to a quiet spot in North Wales in the last few years.
I still go to games when I can, usually when the team is playing in the North West and last season I made it to eight matches including both Wembley finals. Following RR for the past couple of years I have become more involved, not content just to read the articles - I like to have my say in comments too.
In the end when the call for more writers went out, I thought ‘why not?’. I’m delighted to have been taken on board, I just hope they don’t make me walk the plank too quickly!
Meet... Malc Dugdale
I’m Malc Dugdale, I’m 49 and I was born and raised in Sunderland. I left the NE at 18 to become an electronics engineer in the RAF, but Sunderland was and always will be a special town to me and my wife Kim (a fellow Mackem-born exile), and to all our family. We love the sight of the coastline at Seaham whenever we can get up the A1/A19 for a weekend, or more.
I’ve been a Sunderland fan all my life, however it was in my late teens and early 20s when I attended most frequently, with fellow SAFC-mad mates from the RAF, which I served in from 1988 to 1999. After the RAF I lived in Notts for 9 years, then in Wellington, New Zealand, for almost 6 years. On our return from NZ in 2013 we settled as a family in a small village a few miles from Peterborough. I have 2 grown up daughters and one son, and one wonderful granddaughter of almost 9 months (who hasn’t quite made it to a game yet!). I now work as an independent IT consultant, running large IT programmes for clients wherever they need me.
I have seen many highs and lows of the lads’ journey across the years home and away, though due to work and distance to the stadium I now only get to about ten or so games a season. I generally attend matches with my 18 year old son Dean, who was born in Nottingham but is as mad about the lads as I am, through standard parental brainwashing techniques, of course.
My fondest memories are (like many) of the days of SuperKev, Niall, and the original Roker Roar from the Fulwell End. More recently, to have my son at the SOL with me for the Khazri, Defoe and Borini 3-2 win against Chelsea, pre the plummet of the past two or three years, was fantastic. He really got what the stadium and our fans can be like from that game, and we are both very much looking forward to those fixtures being part of our football lives again, as soon as the club and fans can get back where we all belong.