Despite being just days from yet another trip to Wembley, the topic dominating the discussion isn’t about the upcoming League One Play-Off Final at England’s national stadium but, surprisingly, about Sunderland’s new home strip.
The kit has been a point of contention with a significant portion of supporters, who in typical fashion have treated the appearance and release of Sunderland’s latest shirt like a devastating, thumping blow to the head.
I know that, as customers, fans have a right to an opinion over the strips we wear and sell, but how much does it really matter? Are you really bothered? Like, really?
With such a big game on the horizon I can’t understand how anyone can be arsed to moan about the appearance of a football shirt. It’s the same crack every single year.
⚪️ Our new 2019-20 @adidasuk home kit is available to buy at the @StadiumOfLight club store from 9am this morning!— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) May 22, 2019
Alternatively, order online now and receive it in time for Wembley https://t.co/v5J3P9RUUC#SAFC
Stewart Donald hinted on his most recent appearance on the Roker Rapport Podcast that he wasn’t particularly enamored by the new kit - which was apparently selected by the previous regime, before Donald and co even arrived - and that with the kit deal up for negotiation we could well move away from Adidas as our supplier going forward. He did say that, if he had his way, that the supporters would have a say in what kits we go with in future.
It definitely feels like our fans are a lot less hyped about this Sunday’s coming game than we have been about any of our other recent trips to Wembley. I guess the fact we were only there a few months back is a big reason for that, and with slower ticket sales there has also been an admission from most fans that they can’t afford to do the full weekend, with the vast majority of supporters choosing to make the hefty journey down south on the day of the game.
And whilst that may seem strange to supporters outside of the Mackem bubble, I have a feeling at the pit of my stomach that the lack of excitement for what should be an astronomical occasion for this club might just work in our favour.
Whilst Charlton supporters were invading their pitch, hanging from the goalposts and celebrating like they’d already been promoted, Sunderland took a far more measured and strategic approach.
Naturally we’re excited and up for the occasion, but it would certainly appear that we’re a little more relaxed than Sunday’s opponents are about what lies ahead.
Goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin perhaps best explained this when, talking to SAFC.com yesterday, he noted that there was no cause for celebration as we’ve won nothing yet:
If we don’t get promoted it’ll be seen as a failure, we know that and understand the pressure. That’s why our celebrations weren’t crazy when we won the semi-final. Of course, we’re delighted to get through but we know that we’ve achieved nothing so far.
Still, it’s important to remain focused.
The Lads need the fans to put an arse in every single seat on Sunday as they try their best to get this club back into the Championship over the course of a single game of football - the culmination of a season’s worth of hard work from everyone involved with the club, both on the pitch and in the stands. They need a loud, passionate support behind them that can genuinely pick them up when they’re down and suck the ball into the net when the pressure is on and we find ourselves in a situation where an opportunity has presented itself.
So I ask this - please don’t get distracted by silly talk. It’s a football strip, we’ll have another one out in a year anyways and if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Simple.
Instead it’d make sense to focus our efforts on doing our part this week.
Encourage your fellow supporters to be there at Wembley. Help people out if you can with securing their tickets. Point people in the right direction if they need travel down. Share lifts if there’s space in your car. Get down and soak up the atmosphere nice and early. Let the city of London know who Sunderland are the night before again by showing our passion for our people in the most vocal and visual way possible. Get in the ground as the players warm up and give them a boost and reminder of the fact we’re in this with them.
Oh... and wear red and white, of course.