Sunderland priest takes Sunday off to cheer on team at Wembley

It's not often that a priest takes a Sunday off, but for Father Marc Lyden-Smith this weekend is a special exception

Sunderland fanatic Father Marc Lyden-Smith
Sunderland fanatic Father Marc Lyden-Smith

It's not often that a priest takes a Sunday off, but for Father Marc Lyden-Smith this weekend is a special exception.

Wearing his priest’s garb, he will be the only one in black and white travelling down to Wembley on Sunday to watch his beloved Sunderland take on Manchester City in the Capital One Cup Final.

And to ensure his team has the best chance on the pitch, Father Marc has been saying a little prayer for the players in the run up to their biggest match in a generation.

“I am going down to Wembley on Sunday morning,” said Father Marc, who is the club chaplain.

“It is unusual for a priest to take a Sunday off but in the circumstances it was just something I had to do. I would not miss a cup final.”

He said: “A lot of Sunderland fans tend to get in touch through email or Twitter and ask for prayers to be said.

“I go to every home game so I speak to the fans then as well.

“Sometimes people come up and I’ll say let’s pray together now and you catch them and they do not know what to say. It’s all part of the spirit of the game.”

Father Marc is hoping his words will help the players excel on Sunday.

“I have been saying a few prayers so they reach their potential this weekend,” he said.

“I am very excited for it, it’s been a lot of generations since Sunderland have been in a cup final. I just want to enjoy a cup final and hopefully come back with the result we want.”

Sunderland fanatic Father Marc Lyden-Smith
Sunderland fanatic Father Marc Lyden-Smith
 

He added: “I’m going down but I am going to the part where everyone dresses smartly, I will probably be the only person in the stadium in black and white, my smart priest stuff.

“I have always taken an interest in Sunderland, but it’s not until I became the club chaplain that it took off.

“I do one day a week with them and since then I have really got into it.”

However, Father Marc, of St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle, said he accepted it would be a challenging clash as it has been 41 years since Sunderland won a major trophy.

“It’s like the story of David versus Goliath,” he said.

“Man City are fantastic to watch but in a cup final all those things can go out the window, league positions do not matter. It is all about the day.

“I was at the training ground and they have a very strong team spirit and a real sense of confidence around so I think we could definitely win it.

“The players are prepared physically, mentally and spiritually so they are ready and up for it.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer