Branch Lines: keeping the Sunderland faith down the A19

Jack Ross collage by the Nyssan branch chairman Barry Robson

Salut! Sunderland continues its series on branches of the SAFC Supporters’ Association with a look at Nyssan, writes Monsieur Salut. No, I am not referring to that valued provider of mass employment (come back after March 31 for an update on that description) but to the North Yorkshire Sunderland Supporters’ Association, a branch with not just Nyssa but Nyssan on its registration plate. And its bit of the A19 comes after Teesside, off course when travelling south.

Ken Gambles, also a valued provider (in his case of thought-provoking and sometimes rather witty articles for this site, takes up the story of the branch oƒ which he is secretary (You can e-mail Ken by clicking here

Click this marvellous old shot to take you to all items in the Branch Lines series. Image: HomesOfFootball via Wikimedia Commons

Roughly midway between Sunderland AFC’s last major trophy and now, the North Yorkshire branch was officially formed by Zac Wright, although some informal travel arrangements had been in existence before then.

It was 1995, the start of the Reid era, optimism was rife and some 80+ people joined.
Within a couple of years, however, membership declined so Zac decided to wind up the branch. But a few of us determined to continue and NYSSAN (geddit?), as we titled ourselves was born, and has continued ever since.

We number only about 35 members today, but are no less keen and committed for all that.

Unfortunately travel arrangements have proved tricky because of the geographically widespread membership and that many had their own routines which they wanted to stick to.

In the past we have run coach or mini-bus to home games but it’s now no longer practical. Other branches such as Greater Manchester and last year West Yorkshire, pick up in the area and I can merely refer people seeking travel to them.

The majority of members live in the Harrogate/Knaresborough area but we have long-standing members in York, Northallerton, Ilkley, Ripon, Boroughbridge and Leeds. Our oldest Sunderland attendee, Pete Sanderson saw his first game at Roker in 1950 – not 1953 as inadvertently stated in the article as initially published – and still goes to every home game as he has done for decades.( A proper bandwagoner eh?)

Pete Sanderson: exemplary service to the support of SAFC, receives his award from Ken Gambles’s daughter Claire, formerly branch secretary

The photo above shows Peter receiving a special certificate we had made to recognise his 50 years of support in 2000.

In later life Peter took up bowling and is a popular member in the Harrogate area. He would always bet on Newcastle to win the FA Cup hoping they’d lose of course and I’m told his wife was completely baffled by his joy at their defeat in the final when she knew he could have won over £100.

The branch flag in the background was specially made by Sean Jukes although its current whereabouts are unknown.

When the supporters’ branch flags were being put up at the SoL, members rallied round to meet the price tag and our NYSSAN flag now sits proudly second from left as you face the North Stand.

Meetings now are few and far between but we have had evenings with Dickie Ord, Bobby Moncur, Andy Gray and interestingly Keith Douglas who was commercial officer in the McMenemy era.

Last year Simon Grayson had agreed to do a question-and-answer session ( I knew his dad from local football) “when things settle down a bit” but of course they never did and that was that.

As Jon McLaughlin is a former pupil of where I taught in Harrogate I am hopeful that, being a local lad, he’ll pay us a visit. I’ve contacted him anyway.

In the past we’ve supported SAFCSSA and are very fond of George Forster. We also entered a team in the six-a-side tournament in Blyth, organised by SENSSA where one of our opponents thought we were from New York!

As NYSSAN is our name we publish a sort of newsletter with cuttings and articles of Sunderland relevance with the title NYSSAN Micra and my co-editor Barry Robson can always be relied upon to produce a topical and amusing front cover.

We’ve kept membership fees to £3 which basically covers photo-copying and postage costs and yet as I write this only six people have paid their subs. Take a bow Colin Harrison, Pete and Mark Sanderson. Bob Patterson, Stuart Thomson and John Watson, I won’t shame those who haven’t but it is a poor show.

Being a small branch, trying to get players to visit is very difficult. Marco only lives as far away as York but three invites have been “overlooked”. Winston Young, when secretary of the ex-players’ association, was hopeful that after a golf day in the Midlands a group of former players would call in for an hour. The chance went and since Winston’s death I’ve been unable to re-establish contact.

Small and forgotten (cue violins) but now hopeful that after the past few bleak years the better times are on their way back. Thank you Stewart, Charlie and Jack.

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2 thoughts on “Branch Lines: keeping the Sunderland faith down the A19”

  1. If Bob Patterson’s grandson and my grand-daughter stick with Sunderland as long as Pete Sanderson, it’ll almost be the 22nd Century.

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