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Fans Around The World! An interview with Udo Marin, a Sunderland supporter from Berlin

Udo’s grandmother was from Sunderland, and his family have supported the Black Cats from Germany since the 1930s.

Photo by Thomas Koehler/Photothek via Getty Images

RR: Firstly, thanks for this interview. How long have you followed Sunderland AFC, and how did you first come to support the Lads?

UM: I’ve supported Sunderland for more than 50 years. It’s my dad’s fault, really. He was half-English, his mother hailed from Sunderland and in the 1930s we played total football and were a high profile club.

So he decided that Sunderland was the right team to support, and unfortunately I was stupid enough to follow the route.

RR:Have you ever made the trip over to Wearside to watch Sunderland play?

UM: I’ve been very often - when we were in the Premier League I would come over 2 or 3 times per year for the home games, and quite regularly when we were playing away in London.

FA Cup Journey
Supporting Sunderland has been a tradition in Udo’s family since the club’s glory days of the 1930s.
Photo by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

RR: Who have been your favourite Sunderland players down the years, and do you have a favourite amongst the current squad?

UM: There have been so many! Ian Porterfield was an early hero, and I loved Tony Towers, Gary Rowell, Paul Bracewell, Alex Rae, and Super Kev of course.

Then this century I liked Andy Reid, the dynamic young Lee Cattermole, and John Mensah, who was only on loan for a season at the Stadium of Light.

Of the current squad, I like Aiden McGeady because he is a real footballer, and Luke O’Nien for his attitude.

Kevin Phillips
Alex Rae and Kevin Phillips, two of Udo’s favourite Sunderland players

RR: Do you also support a German club, and what do you think the main differences are between football fan culture in Germany and England?

UM: Not really. It’s Sunderland till I die for me – I sympathize with the Berlin Bundesliga teams and like them to do well. When I am sitting on the terraces watching Hertha two thirds of my heart is focused on the Sunderland score – always expecting the worst. I am past optimism.

In terms of fan culture, I’d say there is not much difference. Old traditional clubs with a working class background like Schalke 04 or Borussia Dortmund have the same sort of die-hard, always giving their all, fiercely loyal sort of support.

And you’ve got the more mundane clubs, fur coats sitting down at 5 to 3 and politely clapping when the team is leading 5-0. Sunderland is very different.

I remember one away game at Chelsea, maybe 10 years ago, we were 5-0 down wth 5 minutes to go (the sort of rout you’d expect at Stamford Bridge) and the away end was singing “away victory”.

Hannover 96 v Sunderland AFC - Friendly Match
Sunderland fans celebrate the win during a Pre-Season friendly match between Hannover 96 and Sunderland AFC at the HDI Arena on August 01, 2015 in Hannover, Germany.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

RR: Finally, looking into your crystal ball, do you see Sunderland going up through the playoffs this year?

UM: I wish I could find some optimism in my heart. We are in the middle of a crisis at the worst possible times; 1 point out of 12 for a promotion-seeking team is a disaster.

I can’t see it happening – promotion I mean – but would be overjoyed if it does!

RR: Vielen Danke, Udo. Keep the Faith!


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