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Kit Cats: New Sunderland book hits the shelves, and readers have a chance to win a copy!

Co-author Andrew Smithson gives Roker Report the inside story of how a new book detailing the history of SAFC’s was put together…

You can enter the competition on Twitter to win a copy of the book - all you have to do is reply to the tweet above with your favourite SAFC kit, and retweet the post. Simple as that!

Kit culture has been big for several years and Sunderland supporters have always worn their colours with pride, but it seems as if interest in old shirts has increased over the last couple of years – perhaps due to the number of people having the time to go through their lofts and garages during lockdown and digging out their old favourites.

Club historian Rob Mason picked up on this trend and, knowing my long-held enthusiasm for Sunderland kits, first asked me to start working with him on a book about them late last year.

The main focus is on the colours worn during the Stadium of Light era, but with Rob regularly receiving queries from supporters about strips from even further back it was decided to also include an in-depth chapter on the general developments in Sunderland’s look since their early days in blue, and a chapter that features some of the less familiar examples that have been worn – including an extremely rare player issue only orange change top from 1986.

The book is in full colour and in a hard back format.

Pulled together by publisher Paul Briggs, himself a Sunderland fan, each completed Stadium of Light season has a spread containing images of home, away, third and goalkeeper tops alongside action photographs and design details as well as an accompanying season review.

Every one of Sunderland’s FA Cup final and Wembley appearances are also included alongside further notes and a match report for each game – the Lads having never worn the same kit more than once at the national stadium despite even visiting it twice in 2019.

Featured in the Wembley section are several original match worn shirts, including the yellow change top used for the Mercantile Credit Football Festival in 1988 of which very few are still known to exist. The 1913, 1937 and 1973 vintages are on permanent display at the Stadium of Light but some of the other tops were loaned by ardent Lads fans and kit collectors for which Rob and I were very grateful.

Barry Jackson and Mike Gibson, who helped write the Absolute Record with Rob, also provided much welcome assistance with some of the research for the book, and both Alex Middleton and Lindsay Douglas of the club were extremely supportive of the project throughout.

The pair both worked on the design of the current home kit and arranged for replicas of this season’s tops to be used so that the book could be bang up to date. Lee Cattermole also freely gave up his time to help, having been the obvious choice to provide a foreword considering the number of times he pulled on a Sunderland shirt.

Having been fascinated by Sunderland’s kits since I started going to the games, it was a pleasure to get to see these rare and new tops close up.

As a child I virtually lived in Sunderland kits, many of which were bought for me by loved ones and therefore hold sentimental value. Most of the replicas shown in the book are from my own collection and they spark fond memories of following the club with my mates and our fellow supporters – who are just as much a part of the fabric of Sunderland as red and white stripes are. I hope therefore that you enjoy the book.

Kit Cats, by Rob Mason & Andrew Smithson, is out now. Click here to order your copy!


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