Gary Mapstone

Massive Lads fans: Gary Mapstone

GAS’ Energy Management and Efficiency consultancy can prove to be an invaluable long-term investment for a business.  The Group’s most senior figure in the department, Gary Mapstone, is no stranger to long-term investments of his own, having followed Group Partner SAFC for his entire life.

Here we take a look at Gary’s passion for the Black Cats.

Name: Gary Mapstone

Role:   Energy Manager

Age:    34

Earliest SAFC memory

Growing up in Roker it was hard not to be involved in the football club from a very early age, passing Roker Park every morning on the way to school. We couldn’t really afford season tickets back then until I was a little older, but my Mam used to get free tickets from one of the stewards on the Roker End turnstile and he would walk me through into the Clockstand paddock to stand with my uncle and cousins.

Favourite ever SAFC player

It’s hard not to be drawn to the likes of Super Kev or Quinny, but in the era that I grew up watching Sunderland, for me it’s Craig Russell.  The 95/96 season was my first as a season ticket holder and watching him score four goals against Millwall in a 6-0 thrashing was special, and I was just drawn to him from then. I just remember it being so cold stood there, I think it was December, but constantly jumping around when we scored kept me warmer!

Favourite SAFC goal

There are so many to choose from that I’ve witnessed, from Defoe’s volley against Newcastle to Onuoha slicing the Chelsea defence open.  But for me it has to be Fabio Borini’s goal in the 2014 Capital One Cup Final.  Half of Wembley burst into raptures, there were bodies everywhere and you could physically feel the stadium shaking.

I ended up on my back because I slipped on a hotdog whilst celebrating!

Even watching it back on TV you can actually see the camera shaking when the goal goes in.  It wasn’t the result we wanted, and losing to Man City is nothing to be ashamed of, but in that moment when the goal went in, it made everything worth it.

Favourite match

It’s too obvious to mention going to Newcastle’s backyard and giving them a good kicking.  So, for nostalgic reasons, my favourite match was the last league game at Roker Park.  We beat Everton 3-0 and Chris Waddle smashed a free kick into the stanchion.

The game itself was surreal, knowing that (apart from the exhibition friendly vs Liverpool to officially close the ground) we’d never be back there.  My uncle and cousins stood as long as we could after the final whistle, taking in the atmosphere.  I just remember the crowd being so loud and that would be the last time we’d hear the famous ‘Roker Roar’.

Favourite kit

I’m a bit nostalgic, so it has to be the kit from the 1985/86 season with Vaux on the front.  Coincidentally it was manufactured by Nike, our new shirt manufacturer. I just always think Nike do the best shirts anyway.

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Paul JohnsonGroup Financial Director

Paul Johnson is very much a home-grown talent.

He joined Great Annual Savings Group in its infancy, fresh from a youth career as a professional footballer with Hartlepool United.  He quickly established a reputation within the business and aced all required accountancy qualifications in the space of four years to become the Group’s Management Accountant.

Several successful projects later, Paul was promoted to Head of Finance.  When the former FD left GAS, he took on the mantle of the business’ most senior finance professional; boasting a string of incredible achievements all under the age of 30.


“I have witnessed phenomenal growth at the Group over the many years I’ve worked here and I’m looking forward to guiding the Group into an exciting new chapter.”

Interesting fact:

Paul made his professional debut for Hartlepool United against Bournemouth in the Football League.  Some say Danny Ings still resides in his pocket to this day.