BULGARIAN BLACK CATS
Bulgarian contact: Radoslav Karaasenov (Secretary and Treasurer)
UK contact: Mr Danail Dimitrov (Chairman)
What inspired you to support Sunderland?
Radoslav Karaasenov (RK): The pure passion around the club and Super Kevin Phillips. I was a kid when he was scoring just for fun with the red & white shirt. He is my all-time favorite football player. I was also inspired by the great Sunderland supporters who are mad about football as I am.
Danail Dimitrov (DD): First I got attracted by the name Sunderland and the ground Roker Park as I am big fan of rock music. Then when I saw the fans and how passionate they were I just immediately recognized myself as one of them. This was back in 1990. The more I followed the team the more I fell in love and after seeing Gordon Armstrong header against Chelsea in the FA Cup replay 1992 I became a complete Sunderland fan. Kevin Ball was and still is my favorite player of all times. True leader and with never say die attitude on the pitch.
Have you watched Sunderland ‘til I die on Netflix and what did you think of it?
RK: Yes, I watched all 8 episodes at once on the day it was released and several times after that. It‘s amazing. You can easily see the pure love of Sunderland supporters. Can’t wait for the next season. Hope it will be with happy end.
DD: Yes, I have seen all episodes as soon as they came out. I absolutely loved every second of it, despite the fact it was painful to watch all the misery of the relegation from last season. It shows what this team means to the people of Sunderland. I am sure and I know for a fact that after the series a few of my friends became Sunderland supporters.
What time are the Sunderland matches on in Bulgaria and do you watch them with any other supporters?
Most of the games start at 5PM local time and I watch them at home. I have season pass for live streaming at safc.com and I haven’t missed a minute this season. Usually once or twice a month we watch games together with the other lads from our fan club who live in Sofia.
What was the first Sunderland match you ever watched? Can you remember the score?
RK: The game under the rain - Newcastle vs. Sunderland in 1999. With a superb winning goal of Kevin Phillips and 2-1 for Sunderland. I was already familiar with Sunderland’s history as I started following the team a season ago when we won a promotion from First Division. I was very impressed by the story of the rivalry between the two teams and couldn’t wait to watch it. After that game I was sure I am Sunderland till I die. I was 14 years old and I promised myself one day I will be at the Stadium of light watching that derby. In 2008 I was lucky enough to make my dream come true. That was the first Sunderland game I have visited and again 2-1 for the lads with a winning goal 15 minutes from time. A day to remember.
DD: My first game was in 1999 in London where I moved to live a year earlier. We played QPR and we drew 2-2 with ten men after Kevin Ball was sent off and mighty Niall Quinn equalized 4 minutes from time. The away stand including me went mental and I remember dropping my camera on the floor trying to take picture. I never took that photo but I will never forget the massive support and brilliant celebrations after the final whistle.
How long have you been supporting Sunderland for?
RK: This year I celebrate 20 years as a Sunderland fan.
DD: It is now 29 years
Roughly, how many Sunderland fans are there in Bulgaria that you know of?
Currently we have about 55 members in our branch and we are working hard to increase this number by spreading the Sunderland vibe. We also have members who are English living in Bulgaria.
What are your plans for the Bulgaria branch?
We would like to make more group visits to Sunderland games live. This year six of us were at the Valley for the game against Charlton. But we would like even more to attend a game at the Stadium of light. Our chairman Danail Dimitrov lives in London and he has the opportunity to wave our flag on many occasions every season. Our branch is quite popular amongst Sunderland supporters.
As a fan club we are trying to improve our merchandise as well. Our next big step would be to find a “home” for our fan club - Bulgarian Sunderland Supporters Branch. A place where we can make regular events and watch the games.
We also have a football team competing in fan club’s mini football league. We are top of the league right now and looking forward to win it.