Phil West says...
For me, the 1997 to 1999 Aasics/Lambtons Beer home shirt remains my all-time favourite Sunderland shirt. It was a simple, classic design: red and white stripes front and rear (no daft solid red panel on the back) and of course, it was the first shirt to feature our newly-unveiled club crest, which also gives it a unique place in history.
Every time I see that jersey, I’m reminded of Kevin Ball and Alex Rae dominating the midfield, Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips scoring for fun, and Allan Johnston and Nicky Summerbee terrorizing opposition defences from either flank. I always associate that shirt with the beginning of what was a highly positive new era for the club. The team that Peter Reid assembled during the two year spell from 1997 to 1999 remains my all-time favourite, and it was fitting that we had a home shirt worthy of the excellence of the team.
As a second choice, the 1996/1997 Vaux Samson/Avec home shirt has always been a favourite as well. With another stylish design, and worn by the likes of Richard Ord, Chris Waddle and John Mullin, it was the final home jersey from the Roker Park era. Although that season ended with a disappointing relegation from the top-flight, it wasn’t all negative, as we said farewell to the old stadium with some memorable victories, not least the final game at the stadium, during which we beat Liverpool 1-0. At the end of the game, the atmosphere was not one of despondency, but of optimism, as we looked to the future and closed out ninety-nine years of history on an upbeat note.
Gary Engel says...
This is a difficult one, we all loved the shirt with the grandad collar from our return to dreamland back in 1999/00. That season saw some wonderful and unforgettable moments. Beating the Mags away as well as putting 4 past Chelsea in revenge for our first day defeat at the Bridge - unforgettable!
However, if that season defied expectations, the following season 2000/01, with the Nike inspired black V neck, in some respects saw a much more confident Sunderland - both players as well as fans.
Oddly, we repeated the feats of the previous year, including probably the most memorable win at St James’ of that era putting a Shearer-led Newcastle to the sword. From the inch-perfect Alex Rae pass, Quinn’s looping header, Don Hutchinson, and not to mention that penalty save! We picked up some fine points on the road with an impressive record against London sides, including the win in the six-goal thriller down at Chelsea. We all recognised that side was just perhaps two top players short of going to the next level. Something no Sunderland have been since, no wonder that shirt remains me of good times, even if the following year only saw fleeting glimpses of earlier magic.
Rich Speight says...
Green Hummel/VAUX Goalkeeper Kit (1990-94).
Has a Sunderland shirt ever been so closely associated with one player as the goalie kit that Tony Norman wore for four years in the early 1990s? This was the era when the club changed kits every two or three years, rather than releasing three new strips a season.
We all know, in our heart of hearts, that Sunderland’s Hummel kits with VAUX across the front will never be surpassed, as a 10-year-old aspiring goalkeeper, I absolutely idolised the Welshman and loved the stylish design of his kit. The black padded shoulders looked cool, and the herringbone pattern gave it a modern feel - definitely an upgrade from the plain green version that preceded it.
Norman’s contribution to the club’s amazing FA Cup run in 1992 was instrumental, his game-winning performances inspiring me to ask Santa for a replica shirt for Christmas that year. It stat in a box for 25 years before I passed it on to my youngest last year, and he now wears it with pride to training sessions and on cold winter away days. The introduction of the garish AVEC ‘keeper kit (the one with the glove motif on the front) never suited Norman, so it was kind of fitting that its introduction coincided with Alec Chamberlain’s arrival at the club and him eventually taking over the regular between the sticks.
Mark Carrick says...
The shirt that evokes the memories is my first shirt, from the 1978/79 season. Three, thick red stripes, with four thick white. The same stripes down the sleeves. The red collar covering the v-neck pattern.
The badge! The black ship riding a crest of white waves. The blue sea and the blue sky. The red and white stripes below ‘Sunderland’ and the golden ball containing ‘AFC’. The blue border around the ball and stripes, all contained within the shield badge itself.
It was my first shirt. And it was the last one I bought as an adult.
It was given to me by my father - my own ‘Welcome to Sunderland.’ ‘Welcome to the family. Strap yourself in for it’s a bumpy ride!’
It was the shirt my first heroes wore. Joe Bolton. Kevin Arnott. Gary Rowell. Names that are in the books now, but names of the players that made me fall in love with our great club. The players they were, and the shirt they wore, became the benchmark for all that would follow!