Andrew Smithson says…
I went to this with my eldest and a couple of my nieces and I must say they absolutely loved it.
There was a bit of an issue with the seating arrangements that would need to be sorted out, but other than that I really do hope it happens again because I got the impression that this was a positive afternoon for all concerned.
For starters, the club shop and concourse kiosks seemed to be doing well so that might mean a little boost to the coffers, but the tickets themselves were very reasonably-priced, so this will hopefully have been an affordable half-term trip for those needing to be careful with money.
Proceeds went to Foundation of Light as well, so they’ve got something from it too.
As for the players and staff, seeing so many fans turn up and being excited to meet them could be a real confidence boost, particularly the younger lads that were involved and may not have had many interactions with the supporters before.
I think the group that took the most from it were the kids in the stands.
Sharing a moment or two with certain players would’ve meant the world to them and could really strengthen their relationship with the club.
My three were fortunate in that they all managed to get signatures and a quick word with their favourites players, and I think they’ll remember it for a long time.
It is easy to relate to the current squad and I was very impressed with how Tony Mowbray and the players were with everybody. These things can be bit manic but I never got the sense they were going through the motions - they were trying to be polite and include everyone.
With any luck, that connection will be a good thing going forward.
The stronger the bond between the fans and the staff, the stronger the club will be, so fingers crossed that this is the first of many events like this in the coming years.
Malc Dugdale says…
I didn’t actually attend this session, but in my view this is exactly the kind of engagement with the fans and local community that should happen more often.
If one of the last notable times the club actively engaged with the fans was when an insurance salesman encouraged us to swap the seats for a the reward of a burger and a coffee, that isn’t ideal.
Yes, we have committees that liaise with the club, the owners and our fans, but that’s all very stuffy and controlled, and it doesn’t let the fans look the players in the eye and tell them how much they want us all to succeed.
I can only see engagements like this bringing positives.
It allows fans to get close to their idols and to build up a rapport and supporter commitment for the long term, and it also allows the players to see the people who spend their very hard-earned money on coming to roar them on, which should provide extra motivation.
It will also be of financial benefit to the club.
Our charitable foundation gets some income now, and the bonds between the players, the club and the fans, including new young supporters who are the future of our club, can only improve.
We have had a tough five years, but we are still the best-supported team in the whole of the EFL, and that deserves something in return.
I would love Kyril Louis-Dreyfus to push for these to be held during every major school holiday in the season. The club is a pivotal part of our community, so let’s reinforce that fact and build on it!
Watch the best of yesterday's open training, as the Lads prepared for Luton Town at the SoL.#SAFC | #LUTSUN— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) October 26, 2022