Kicking off the first in our series of FanGirl interviews - we met up with lifestyle blogger, film producer and life long Sunderland AFC supporter Harry Killen ahead of their home game with Arsenal.
How long have you supported Sunderland, and how did you become interested in football?
I've been supporting Sunderland since I was about 8 or 9. My dad took me to a game at the Stadium of Light with my brother and my sister vs QPR. It absolutely pissed it down with rain all day, and we lost a 2-0 lead to leave with a draw - turned out to be the story of Sunderland life. I loved every second of it though, and I was hooked from then on.
What are some of your favourite memories of the football growing up?
My first game was an incredible memory just cos that's where it all started for me. Another was going to Yeovil Town for a friendly and legging it on to the pitch during their warm up to get Niall Quinns autograph. The match officials came yelling on over the tannoys to get the children off the pitch, and my dad suddenly realised they were shouting at his kids! Just having the memories of enjoying football with my family, and that my Dad never excluded me or my sister from it cos we were girls.
Now you live so far away from Sunderland, do you find it difficult to keep up support in London?
Of course it's hard to get to home games, but there is an amazing fan base here in London. I've met loads of guys through the Sunderland message board, we watch the matches together here and go to away London games too. I met a girl who supported Sunderland through a mutual friend and we became friends through that connection. We'd often watch the games here together, and then she became my housemate!
What do you like best about your club - the team and the fans?
I love the passion from the Sunderland fans. They're committed to the bitter end. We regularly sell out our away games even though we've been one of the worst clubs in the Premiere League for the last four years. That's love though! The songs and chants are hilarious too - we're known for the sheer number we have in the back catalogue.`
What's been your favourite moment as a Sunderland fan so far?
Too many to count. Winning on penalties against Man U in the cup, going to Wembley and Borini putting us ahead. Beating our rivals Newcastle six times in a row, and being able to watch these games surrounded by the fans, either at the Stadium of Light or the Red Lion in Angel. The great escapes parts 1 - 4.
How do you feel as a woman supporting the game. Have you ever felt subject to any sexism or any aggression?
Yeah - you get chants like "do you take it up the arse" from the other teams fans sometimes, but it's a select few. I've seen it with our own fans as well though and I've called them out on it and they've apologised. The majority of male fans don't treat you any different, and are quick to stick up for you if some dickheads are giving you stick though.
Do you feel things are changing for female football fans?
You see so many more women going to matches now. I think women are becoming more confident in voicing their love of football. It's definitely changing.