Huge Sheffield Wednesday fan dreamed of making Sheffield Derby before tragic death, aged 36

Heartbroken friends and family are urging fans at tonight’s Sheffield Derby to join in a minute’s applause for a huge Sheffield Wednesday fan who tragically died, aged just 36.

Monday, 4th March 2019, 3:46 pm
Updated Monday, 4th March 2019, 3:47 pm
Tragic Claire Sunderland

Claire Sunderland died yesterday morning after a lifelong battle with the genetic condition cystic fibrosis. 

Her heartbroken mum Gill said her daughter’s dying wish was to watch tonight’s Sheffield Derby at Hillsborough ‘but unfortunately it wasn’t to be’. 

Tragic Claire Sunderland

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Fellow Sheffield Wednesday fan Ricky Moate is urging both sets of fans to come together at tonight’s match and join in a minute’s applause for Claire in the 36th minute.

He said: “Claire was a massive, massive Wednesday fan and the last game she managed to attend was the Reading game at home this season, despite being quite poorly and still being in hospital.

“Some of you may already know her or know of her, she was a Barnsley lass who saw the light and followed Wednesday from childhood. 

“Her main aim was to make the Steel City Derby tomorrow, but unfortunately it wasn't to be.

“Could you please help us by sending some love to a fellow Wednesdayites heartbroken family and possibly help us start a minute’s applause on the 36th minute in Claire's memory.

“So let's let her family see just how massive and special the Wednesday really are.

“In times like this football becomes irrelevant but Claire wouldnt want this, she'd want us to come together, loud and proud and be the 12th man!”

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition affecting more than 10,400 people in the UK. 

The condition causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system, leading to lung infections and problems digesting food. 

While treatments are available to help reduce the problems caused by the condition, life expectancy is still greatly reduced for those that suffer with it. 

In June 2017, a lifelong Sheffield Wednesday fan Tony Hallatt died from the same condition at the age of just 30. 

Ricky said that a picture of Claire will appear on the big screen at Hillsborough at half time and full time but he is asking all fans to join in the minute’s applause. 

“If I can help in any way with this then that’s what I’ll do,” Ricky said.

“The appeal has been shared a lot but we need everyone on the same page to start the applause ourselves. 

“Claire was a warrior who always gave her all. Claire’s family and myself want to thank all the fans who have already shared the appeal.”