Sunderland fans have made it a tradition to take over parts of London whenever we play at Wembley.
Trafalgar Square, Baker Street, Covent Garden and (to a lesser extent in my experience) Oxford Circus were all bedecked in red and white on the Friday and Saturday of our victorious weekend.
In particular, one Covent Garden pub has been a favourite watering hole for Sunderland fans during each of our last four visits to Wembley, dating back to the 2014 League Cup final.
The Nags Head is a proper London pub, located in arguably one of the most famous areas of the city.
Following the latest visit to the pub last weekend, one which none of us will forget, many Sunderland fans have chipped in to send a special gift to the to staff.
The supporters who started the fundraiser posted their reasons for making such a gesture, which reads as follows:
‘The Nags Head staff have welcomed SAFC supporters with open arms each time we have visited Wembley, and have allowed us to fill the bar and surrounding streets with a sea of red & white.’
‘The staff worked tirelessly this weekend and deserve a treat, whether it is a staff night out, a staff meal or even an even share for tips.’
‘Please show your generosity to those who looked after us during our trip down south.’
At the time of publication, over £900 had been raised for the staff at the Nags Head.
I contacted the pub to see how they viewed the latest Sunderland takeover, and how the huge numbers who made their way to Covent Garden did the club proud.
General manager Will Buck told me all about the day, and the ‘beautiful gesture’ that was given to his staff.
“We were absolutely blown away to see that this had been set up by Sunderland fans, it was such a beautiful gesture,” he said.
“One of the ladies who was involved in setting it up works in hospitality and understood how hard the team would have worked that weekend, and thought it would be a lovely way to say thank you, which it truly was.”
“The team were so happy with this and are all currently planning on how to celebrate! Whatever they choose, I’m sure there will be lots of red and white involved and many pictures posted on social media to say thanks.”
The pub has a good relationship with Sunderland fans, and Will pointed out that his team noticed exactly how much the club means to the fans.
He added: “Regarding the weekend itself, we have affiliated ourselves with a few clubs over the years, but Sunderland are always an absolute pleasure to host,”
“We always have great communication before London matches so we can always be fully prepared for the fans.”
“You can really tell it’s a family club at heart, with fans who are out to support the club and celebrate together, with a few beers along the way too!”
“The pub and street were full of fans and full of red and white, but the atmosphere was amazing and the fans were so well behaved. A great example of what football should be about.”
Previous trips to the capital for a Wembley final are usually memorable up until the match itself, but after finally getting the job done against Wycombe, it was a complete weekend. We took tens of thousands to the capital and once again we did our club proud.
The campaign to send a ‘thank you’ to staff of the pub is fantastic, and it has rounded off a great season in style.
To donate to the fundraiser, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-nags-head-staff-from-sunderlandafc-supporters.