INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL past and present has been celebrated in Sunderland.
Tens of thousands of spectators flocking to the Stadium of Light for the England v Australia game, had the chance to relive memories of the city hosting matches during the 1966 World Cup.
Sunderland football club’s former home Roker Park played host to group stage matches in what was England’s greatest ever football tournament.
Fifty years on and supporters going to the latest international at Sunderland’s new home the Stadium of Light, visited the ‘1966 & the Roker Roar’ event at the City Library and Arts Centre perhaps hoping some of that magic can be taken into Euro 2016.
Hosted by Sunderland City Council library services and staged by the SAFC Museum and national charity the Sporting Memories Network, the free family event asked people to share their memories and personal memorabilia of 1966 and Sunderland hosting games in the world’s greatest football competition.
Interviews with personal recollections and mementoes including programmes, pennants, tickets and reports of the World Cup in 1966, will be added to www.memoriesof66.com which is the official digital archive of the #memorioesof66 project which is a partnership between the National Football Museum, the English Football Association and the Sporting Memories Network.
Joining visitors at the ‘1966 & the Roker Roar’ event at City Library and Arts Centre in Fawcett Street, Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture Councillor John Kelly said: “What better way of looking forward to the game at the Stadium of Light watching England warm up for Euro 2016, than looking back to the games at Roker Park in the 1966 World Cup which saw the national team’s greatest ever success.
“It was great to hear people’s memories of the games hosted in the city, and see some of their treasured reminders which they brought along to show everyone such as match programmes, photographs and even England caps which will all become part of the national digital archive.
“Fifty years and the same sense of excitement from 1966 still comes across, excitement which visitors took on to the Stadium of Light for the international football friendly between England and Australia as our national team prepares for its next footballing challenge in France.”
Councillor Kelly added: “What this event and the match also reminded us of, is the fact that Sunderland and Sunderland Football Club are perfect hosts for international sporting, music and cultural events.”
Among visitors to ‘1966 & the Roker Roar’ were George Forster, Chair of the Sunderland Supporters Association who recalled wonderful tales of painting wooden rattles in the colours of the Italian national team to sell to supporters visiting the city.
Another visitor to the event was Brian Henderson, father of Jordan, who shared memories of watching the final with his father and brothers.
Living in South Shields in 1966, he recalled the buzz in Sunderland at hosting matches at Roker Park and of all the kids out on the streets playing football straight after the final.
Sunderland City Council also supports the Sporting Memories Network to host free, fortnightly ‘Sporting Memories’ sessions at Sandhill Centre Library.
The group activity is funded by Sunderland West Area Committee and aims to help combat loneliness and isolation especially in older residents, by encouraging like-minded people to get together to discuss their love of sport and to share memories.
Tony Jameson-Allen who is co-founder and director at Sporting Memories said: ”The event on the day international football returned to Sunderland was a great success.
“Sharing personal sporting memories is great way to bring people together. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about the first football or rugby match they went to, what sport was like at school, what games they played with friends in the street or even if they played Spot the Ball, everyone is welcome to come along to Sporting Memories and share their thoughts over a cuppa.”
The group is open to all sports fans and is a great way to stay connected, enjoy some great conversations and to make some new friends too over a cup of tea, coffee even the traditional half-time refreshment Bovril !!
For more information or to book places contact Sunderland Library Services on 0191 5618474