FAMILY loyalties will be put to one side when the teams of two football-mad dads go to battle in the Capital One Cup final – just a month before their children tie the knot.
When Sunderland take on Manchester City in the final on Sunday, March 2, Hartlepool resident John Mennear and Ian Smith, from Manchester, will be sitting at opposite ends of Wembley Stadium.
Mackem John, 61, and Manc Ian, 52, never imagined their beloved football teams would be battling it out for a major honour just weeks before their offspring celebrate their big day.
But just over a month after the Wembley showpiece, the pair will be standing side by side in church as their respective children, Richard Mennear and Kelly Smith, a wedding and events officer, get married.
As soon as Sunderland’s dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United sealed their place in the final, the football banter started between the two dads – and both will be hoping for the bragging rights come the Wedding Day, on April 5.
Pools fan Richard, 28, and City fan Kelly, 26, from Seaton Carew, will wed in the village of Middleton Tyas, near Richmond, surrounded by family and friends.
The lovebirds just hope their dads will be back on speaking terms before the wedding.
John, who is an assistant director at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “It is funny how it has worked out, what with the wedding falling just a month after the final.
“Both families get on really well but I’m sure we will be putting that to one side for the match.
“To reach the final is a great achievement for Sunderland in itself but we are going there to win the cup and the way we are playing at the moment, there is every chance.
“Plus I need to make sure I have the bragging rights on the day of the wedding,” added the season ticket holder, who is originally from Hetton and is married to Eileen and also dad to Peter, 30, and David, 25.
Lifelong City fan Ian, a season ticket holder at the Etihad Stadium, attends the matches with wife Frances and daughter Dayna, 24.
Police officer Ian said: “I’ll be keeping an eye out for John at Wembley, I need to make sure I know exactly where he is sitting so I can wave at him when we are celebrating at the final whistle.
“We get on really well but there have been plenty of jokes flying around since the semi-final wins.
“Man City have tasted success in recent years with the FA Cup win and then the Premier League title so we go into the final feeling pretty confident.
“But Sunderland have had a good run and anything could happen on the day – I’m just hoping it is a City win.”
Richard, Hartlepool United reporter for the Mail, said: “Manchester City are one of the top teams in the country so there was every chance they would reach the final, but we never in a million years thought they’d be playing Sunderland.
“I don’t think my Dad did either really. It will at least give them something to put in their speeches.
“We’re just pleased the final wasn’t on April 5 as we’d have had to set up a video screen outside of Wembley so they could watch the service.”
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