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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Carlisle vicar will be cheering on Sunderland against Blues

Vicar Sue Wicks is swapping a Sunday of worship and service for a day of cup fever football – as she cheers on Sunderland against Carlisle United.

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Dog collar and tie: Sue Wicks, vicar at St Elisabeth’s Church, Harraby, Carlisle, who will be supporting Sunderland at the FA Cup tie at the Stadium of Light on Sunday

The vicar at St Elisabeth’s Church in Harraby spends her time surrounded by a parish full of Blues fans – but is staying true to her hometown club by supporting United’s top-flight opposition in the big DA Cup match this weekend.

Sue has been a Sunderland fan since 1973 and travels across to the north east when she can to see the Premier League club in action. But she fears a defeat by underdogs Carlisle in the mouth-watering tie – and the grief she will get if her team lose.

“When the draw happened I thought, ‘Oh no, Carlisle are going to beat us. I’ll get so much mickey-taking at church,” she said.

Carlisle will travel to the Stadium of Light on Sunday supported by 5,500 fans after the club sold all its ticket allocation for the tie.

Sue, who has been at St Elisabeth’s for 10 years, said: “I will be in the Sunderland end.

“I grew up near Sunderland and I’ve been a fan since 1973 when we won the cup.

“I couldn’t switch allegiance. I always follow Carlisle but Sunderland will always be my home team.

“I go to the occasional match but, being a vicar, I don’t get many weekends off.”

Sue says she regularly has to put up with teasing from her parishioners over her football allegiances, particularly with the fortunes of her beloved Blacks Cats suffering at the moment.

“It’s a disadvantage supporting Sunderland when they are near the bottom of the Premier League,” she said. “I think Carlisle will beat us 2-1. But it would be great if there was a replay.”

The Carlisle club shop has reported good sales on merchandise in the run-up to the match. It will be opening on Sunday for anybody wishing to snap up items such as shirts and scarves.

Jenny Anderson, retail manager, said: “The store’s been exceptionally busy.

“We’ve been really busy on shirts and everybody’s been wanting a scarf.

“We’ve decided to open up on Sunday from 9am to 10.30am as a lot of the buses are going from here.

“If they are waiting they can get their hats, scarves or whatever else they want.”

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