BLACK CATS fans have boosted the coffers of Sunderland's lifeboat service by thousands of pounds.
A team of 35 volunteers from Sunderland RNLI lifeboat station took part in a street collection outside of the Stadium of Light prior to kick off.
Larger than life crew member Stormy Stan took part in the collection, which raised 6,362 in one-and-a-half hours before Boxing Day's game against Blackburn Rovers.
Paul Nicholson, the station's senior helmsman, said: "All of the team based at the lifeboat station are absolutely gobsmacked by the total raised during the collection; and wish to thank the supporters of both Sunderland and Blackburn for kindly contributing towards this fantastic result."
During the past two years it has cost the charity an average of 4,500 per year to supply fuel for its two inshore lifeboats.
The station's larger Atlantic 85 Inshore lifeboat is powered by two 115hp Yamaha engines that together consume 84 litres per hour when running at full speed to a rescue.
During the first six months of 2008, the two inshore lifeboats based at Sunderland, were launched 23 times and rescued 29 people.
Mr Nicholson said: "Without fuel none of our highly trained volunteers would be able to go to sea and save lives.
"This collection alone will cover the cost of providing enough fuel to power the two inshore lifeboats for the next 14 months or so. As a charity, collections like this are vital to keep the Royal National Lifeboat Institution operating."