For many years, Sunderland has long been historically known by fans of other clubs as a vociferous, passionate and difficult place for away sides to come to.
Roker Park - whilst not aesthetically pleasing or ‘up to scratch’, particularly near the end - was a fearsome place to visit in its heyday, and somewhere that many supporters still miss dearly to this day. Fans got behind the team both in number and in voice, and more often than not that can be the difference between winning and losing a game.
But that was then. Now, we’re in 2019, in a glorious Stadium that, with some ambition and recognition that improvements were needed, is vibrant and colourful again. We have new, bright seats, a fantastic painted mural of former captains, and more plans in place to do even more - but it can’t happen without the help and support of our fellow fans.
The naming of the Roker End was a landmark moment in the era of Donald, Methven and Sartori. Not only because it gave Sunderland’s traditionally loudest stand an identity, but because our owners were open to allowing fans to have a say in what happens in their stadium - an obvious switch in attitude from what we had become accustomed to under the ten year rule of American billionaire Ellis Short.
Making the Roker End - and, in turn the rest of the ground - a loud, boisterous and vocal area of the Stadium will only help matters on the pitch. When the fans are in full voice they can push the players over the line where it’s necessary - it’s important that we do as much as we can as supporters to help create the best possible environment that we can in order to ensure that our team gets the results on the pitch that it needs to be successful.
The independent and democratic Sunderland AFC supporters’ group, The Red and White Army, are working with fans in the Roker End to increase the sense of local identity, history and tradition to help build the atmosphere.
The group are determined to secure funding that will help us to purchase surfer flags, smaller flags, large banners and anything else supporters come up with that will not only further enhance the identity of our stadium, but also help to lift the atmosphere and make the Stadium of Light the fortress that we should expect it to be.
In essence, we need to hearken back to the region’s proud and storied industrial heritage, celebrate the club’s historic successes of the past, bring our stands to life with colour and vibrancy, and combine that with the new, improved era at Sunderland.
It goes without saying that we’re all proud of who we are and what we are, and with the huge strides forward that the club has taken over the last six months, these flags will provide a visual representation of doleful devotion, historic pride, and show that we are Sunderland.
Please give what you can to help us achieve our aims.
Let’s continue to make our club the best it can be. Thank you.