As the "Beast from the East" hit Sunderland, swamping our city with snow, it was thought by many that Wearside Masonic Temple's annual Sportsman's Dinner wouldn't go ahead. However, the Freemasons of Sunderland and their guests proved them wrong as they packed into the James Hall Suite for the fifth year in a row.
Almost one hundred and fifty guests arrived, looking forward to an evening of edgy banter and high-spirited entertainment. This year proved to be one of our best events yet. After dinner had been served, our regular compere David Greener introduced the evening with a few gags before footballing star Julio Arca took centre stage to regale us with stories of his time playing for Sunderland, Middlesbrough, South Shields and the Willow Pond pub side! Honest, frank and charming, Arca revealed many a secret story, gave his opinions on the players and managers he had worked with over the years, and outlined what he would do to save ailing Sunderland AFC. Receiving a rapturous applause, Arca had clearly been a hit with the brethren and their guests.
The evening concluded with Dave Greener introducing the incomparably hilarious comedian Lester Crabtree, who returned to Wearside Masonic Temple after a year's absence to provide us with jokes, jests and one or two witty insults - few would dare to heckle him for fear of his comic reprisals! Entertaining the crowd in his usual style, Crabtree had everyone in the palm of his hand as he kept the laughter going for a full hour.
All in all, a very successful night! Thank you to all the guests who supported the 5th Annual Sportman's Dinner, as well as the organising members of the boards, our steward and bar staff, and our wonderful catering team. We're all looking forward to seeing you next year.