Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) is joining forces with Sunderland AFC in a new partnership celebrating the shared heritage of the two institutions.
The partnership will see Sunderland AFC support the work of the DMA, with the club becoming a ‘Marra’ – an official friend of the Durham Miners’ Gala. The Marras group was set up to ensure that, through donations and fundraising, the annual Gala can survive and thrive, and inspire generations to come.
The club’s final home game of the season against Portsmouth on Saturday 27 April has been dedicated to the Durham Miners' Association and will see a number of activities taking place to kick off the partnership.
The 135th Durham Miners’ Gala will be held on Saturday 13 July 2019, and SAFC is to play an active part in The Big Meeting for the first time.
The club will also give its backing to The Redhills Appeal, the DMA campaign to raise £5 million through donations and grant aid, to ensure the future of Durham Miners Hall as a vital centre of education, heritage, and culture. Redhills will be a living, vibrant legacy for the countless Durham miners, their families and their communities, who built it and have ensured it has survived for more than a century.
At the crucial match against Portsmouth, an array of miners’ banners from across the region will be proudly paraded around the Stadium of Light pitch before the game, including the historic Monkwearmouth Lodge banner, which is proudly displayed within the west stand of the stadium.
Supporters will also be able to enjoy music from the Durham Miners’ Association Band, who will be playing in the Fan Zone before the game.
Speaking about the partnership, Sunderland’s executive director, Charlie Methven, said: “There is a wonderful shared heritage and synergy between our two great organisations, which is something we are tremendously proud of. Sunderland’s support comes from across the region, but County Durham has, historically, always been a red and white hotbed. We want this to continue to be the case and our partnership with The Durham Miners Association will ensure that the history on which we were built remains firmly part of our future”.
Newly-appointed DMA secretary Alan Mardghum, added: “As a life-long Sunderland supporter this is a proud moment for the DMA. Sunderland AFC has always been a Durham miner’s club and has remained true to its heritage”.
Dave Anderson, Chair, Marras - Friends of Durham Miners’ Gala, said: “This is great news for the Marras. We need all the support we can get to keep the banners flying and bands playing at the Gala. The event is funded solely by the people and we rely on everyone’s goodwill to keep it going.”
To join SAFC and become a Marra, visit: www.friendsofdurhamminersgala.org.
For more information on The Redhills Appeal, go to: www.redhillsdurham.org.
The Stadium of Light’s mining heritage: Sunderland’s Stadium of Light home sits on the site of the Monkwearmouth Colliery, which, before its closure in 1993, was the largest mine in Sunderland and one of the most important in County Durham. In recognition of the history and heritage of the site, visitors are greeted on arrival by a large Davy lamp, lighting the way. A pit wheel sits proudly outside the west stand and stunning ‘the men of steel’ sculptures feature four eight-foot-tall steel men roll giant lumps of coal up the riverbank in a poignant tribute to the industrial past of the site and the city. The Monkwearmouth Colliery banner also adorns the stadium’s south staircase in the main west stand.