At 5 o'clock on Sunday morning my Dad put my sister and me on the bus to
London. Called to the hospital to see my Mum, the two of us were left to
make the perilous voyage to the play-off final together.
Excitement and nerves rose combined as countryside whizzed by and we replaced Durham for Wembley.
As we travelled further and further from our home town, the familial coach-
load of fans, their chanting and the smell of pies took me back to our first
football match the previous season, struggling to shoot penalties in the sand
at Roker beach before walking up to the Park to loose 2 - 0 to Leeds.
(Later my Mum would reign victorious as Middlesborough beat us at home
in our new stadium, where we had been forced to start the season
discarded from the Premiership).
Not so far up the coast and my family and I enjoy a walk along the beach at
Marsden Rock, as yet still free from notions of cancer.
Still further North and the five of us cycle to the Winding for a cup of tea or
can of iron brew. Although the caravan was small and damp we enjoyed
years there, going up any weekend or school holiday we could. Every
waking moment was spent on the beach, or as close to it as possible,
walking, reading, swimming, playing.
Now, ten years later, we walk along the beach at Blackhall Rocks, me still
wrapped up in my Sunderland scarf.