From Sunderland and Jarrow to Portsmouth and Wembley: meet the renowned Dean family


John and Rosie Dean, with daughter Maddie

Monsieur Salut writes: by far the best part of the Pompey awayday in December, not least because we lost, was meeting the Jarrow brothers Dean – twins Paul and Stephen, who never miss a game, their Portsmouth-based sibling John and John’s family – in an excellent pub before the game. Thanks to my pal and former colleague Kevin Maguire for the introduction.

There is a more conventional Portsmouth ‘Who are You?’ to come but I thought it would be interesting to hear from John and his wife, Rosie. They’ll be together but among the Pompey fans and both are going for a narrow SAFC victory …

Salut! Sunderland: first of all, can you tell us a little about your family and its roots: your remarkable twin brothers Steve and Paul, ever present at Sunderland games since the early 90s, yourself and your wife Rosie?

John Dean: I was born in Jarrow and although my father was a Newcastle supporter his five sons all ended up supporting Sunderland. My younger twin brothers, Paul and Stephen, have not missed a game, home or away, including pre-season friendlies, for 25 years. In fact, this is the 40th anniversary of the twins running the Jarrow branch of the Sunderland Supporters’ Association.

John Dean’s twin brothers at Fratton Park in December

How did you end up in Portsmouth?

I often wonder how I ended up in Portsmouth when the only thing I knew about the city was that Pompey played at Fratton Park.

Despite this ignorance my first teaching post in 1975 was in this area and I’ve been here ever since.

When I was a deputy head in a primary school we were often given complimentary tickets for the children to see Pompey home games. Sometimes I was able to use a couple of sneaky tickets to take my daughters. Despite this early baptism they still frequently remind me that they are, “Sunderland till they die!”

When I became a headteacher I always began my Monday morning assembly by asking the children, “How does Mr Dean feel today?” The children all knew I was a passionate Sunderland supporter and would respond with either: “Mr Dean is happy” or “Mr Dean is sad.” This all depended on the previous Saturday’s result.

The twins’ travels in pursuit of their Sunderland passion is formidable. To what extent have you actively followed the team?

Being fortunate enough to have Paul and Stephen as my brothers I have been able to get tickets to see a number of Sunderland games, particularly in London and the surrounding areas.

And marriage and geography has made Pompey your second team. What have been your best moments watching them?

On my 50th birthday my wife, Rosie, treated me to a Portsmouth season ticket. Consequently I was able to go to two FA Cup Finals at Wembley and see Portsmouth win the FA cup in 2008. This was some compensation for missing so many games at the Stadium of Light.

What about the highlights for you of being a Sunderland supporter? Best players you’ve seen in our read and white stripes?

The highlight for me as a Sunderland fan is inevitably the 1973 Cup Final. However, another personal highlight was seeing the great “slim Jim Baxter” stride onto the pitch at Roker Park in 1965.

Another legend I was fortunate enough to see was Brian Clough when he donned the number 9 red and white shirt. Sadly I was at the game when Clough suffered his anterior cruciate ligament injury in a collision with the Bury goalkeeper. This ended his playing career. What happened after that is another story.

Anyone who shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near Roker Park of the SoL?

There are a few players who I feel didn’t deserve the honour of wearing a Sunderland shirt but the person I feel really let the club down is Lawrie McMenemy. He was the highest paid manager in 1987 and walked out on the club before Sunderland were relegated to the Third Division.

And how does it work when the two clubs play each other – do you get a seat in our end or sit, well-behaved, among the Pompey fans?

On the occasions when Sunderland visit Fratton Park I always sit proudly in the Sunderland end with my family. Ironically for the forthcoming Checkatrade Cup Final I have been unable to get a ticket with the Sunderland fans so I have been “relegated” to sitting in the Pompey end.

Hand on heart, what will be the result at Wembley?

My prediction for this game is Sunderland 2 – Portsmouth 1.

Click on this caption to follow our buildup to Sunday’s Checkatrade Trophy final

Rosie’s story: tell us first about your own thoughts on Sunderland and the competing loyalties in your household

When teaching in secondary schools in the Portsmouth area I always had to be a Pompey fan in the classroom but as soon as I walked through the front door I re-embraced my Sunderland loyalties. I became quite accomplished at this “bi-polar” football support.

Your best times watching Pompey?

My best time watching Pompey has to be watching the Under 16 team play in their own Cup Final when some of my students were in the team. I felt very proud to see their burgeoning talent.

All-time favourite Pompey player/s?

My favourite player is probably Linvoy Primus who continued to be an inspiration and support to young people long after his playing career ended.

As with John, what will be the result at Wembley?

I have to be very tactful with my predictions but maybe Sunderland 1 Portsmouth 0 after extra time.

Interviews: Colin Randall

Monsieur Salut, adapted by Jake from Matt’s cartoon
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