The first Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club (AFVBC) to be hosted by a professional football club was held today at the Stadium of Light, home of Sunderland AFC.

The breakfast meeting was attended by over 60 veterans and serving personnel in Sunderland’s Black Cats Bar above the North Stand at the Stadium of Light.

The concept of the AFVBC was first mooted in 2007, when founder and former soldier,  Dereck Hardman and friends often staged an unofficial get together over a cuppa. Eventually as the idea of old comrades meeting up became more popular, others around the UK and beyond wanted to follow suit and the AFVBC was born.

As Dereck alludes to on his website, the ethos of the breakfast clubs is to promote a bond akin to that experienced when serving in the forces stating “involvement ends isolation, giving veterans particularly a sense of belonging, which many of us lost when we left our respective services and those attending AFVBC’s are stronger together because we have “returned to the tribe!”

There are more than 420 clubs across 14 countries worldwide, with more than 150,000 members.

Pathfinder editor Mal Robinson at today’s AFVBC event at the Sunderland Stadium of Light

Pathfinder International magazine editor, Mal Robinson, an RAF veteran himself was also in attendance at today’s event, he added: “football and the forces are two huge communities that often go hand in hand nationally, but in the north east region, the two are huge and so it is superb to see one of the region’s football clubs embrace the forces family in this instance. Having played a small part in Sunderland AFC signing the covenant in 2019, it is great to see the legacy of that continuing today and the first of many forces events to come for the club.”

Pathfinder International magazine and the Sunderland AFC Remembrance match programme versus Cardiff City

Sunderland based charity, Veterans In Crisis were also present at the AFVBC and founder Ger Fowler added: “it is fantastic to see Sunderland AFC welcome forces personnel and veterans today. With many being Sunderland fans, it is of course a great backdrop to have breakfast and catch up with old mates and make new ones along the way, which is of course, what this is all about.”

Mackem Daft founder Liam Greaves formerly of the Royal Navy added: “It has been fantastic to see other veterans from the city and catch up over a brew”.

View from the Black Cats Bar at the Stadium of Light at today’s Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club launch.

The AFVBC hosted by Sunderland AFC at the Stadium of Light will be held every second Wednesday of each month from today.

Sunderland AFC Armed Forces Veterans Breakfast Club

The Black Cats Bar

Sunderland Stadium of Light

Sunderland. SR5 1SU.

Phone: 0371 911 1200

Email: [email protected] 

Meets: 2nd Wednesday of every month

Time: 0900 – 1100 hours.

Read about Sunderland AFC’s signing of the Armed Forces Covenant in 2019 here. 

Read the Remembrance 2022 issue of Pathfinder International magazine by clicking this link.