A Lurgan man achieved a lifelong dream when he took his sons to Wembley to cheer on his beloved Sunderland AFC against Manchester City.
Pete Savage walked down Wembley Way on Sunday with his sons Mark (36), Greig (35) and Steven (31) and although the result didn’t go their way, it was a day that will forever be treasured by the football-mad family.
Before any of his children were born, Pete, now 62, was at the 1973 FA Cup Final when Sunderland, then a second division team, beat cup holders Leeds United 1-0 thanks to an Ian Porterfield goal.
His son Greig, principal of Lisnadill Primary School and manager of Lurgan Institute, said: “His dream was always to bring his sons to a Wembley final. We were in the FA Cup Final in 1992 but the tickets were like gold dust.
“This time round we were lucky enough to get tickets for all of us to go.”
Steven is a Sunderland scout and was able to get two tickets through the club, while Waringstown man Eddie Bushe came up trumps with another two tickets for the family.
Greig said: “Because we got the tickets separately we weren’t sitting together. I was with Mark and Stevie was with my dad. We were beside the City fans which added to the atmosphere.”
He told of the sea of red and white in London at the weekend. He said: “We flew in on Saturday night and went down to Leicester Square and Covent Garden. There were Sunderland fans everywhere. We’d taken over the place.”
He continued: “I’ve never seen Sunderland win a major trophy. I was getting really emotional before the match. I thought our name was on the cup.
“Walking up Wembley Way is something we’ll never forget.
“When Sunderland scored the first goal the place went wild. I’ve never experienced an atmosphere like it.
“After the goal it was surreal. The Man City supporters were in shock. I really believed we were going to do it.”
Sunderland went 1-0 up through Fabio Borini before Yaya Toure hit a spectucular equaliser for Man City who went on to win 3-1 with goals from Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas.
“We had a game plan which was working until they scored two world class goals,” said Greig.
Reflecting on the remainder of the season he said: “The priority is to stay up. We’re still in the FA Cup so there’s the chance of another trip to Wembley.”