‘Turn up the noise’ – ex-Sunderland skipper issues rallying cry as Black Cats fight relegation

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BLACK Cats legend Kevin Ball has one message for supporters ahead of tomorrow’s crunch relegation clash with Southampton at the Stadium of Light: “Turn up the noise.”

The former Sunderland captain and coach has given his backing to the Echo’s #HawayTheLads campaign as Dick Advocaat’s team look to stay in the top flight.

Sunderland Football Club's Kevin Ball, backing the Echo's #hawaythelads campaign

Sunderland Football Club's Kevin Ball, backing the Echo's #hawaythelads campaign

The team fell into the relegation places after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City, but with five games still to play there should still be enough chances to haul themselves out of trouble.

Speaking to the Echo, club stalwart Kevin said: “The fact that the Echo have started this campaign is brilliant.

“We’d never question our fans’ loyalty and support and it isn’t to say that the fans haven’t been unbelievable this season, because they have.

“They’ve spent their money watching the team up and down the country and I totally understand when they have left games when the team has not been good enough.

As one of the former captains of the club, I know that this is the time we need them (the fans) more than ever

Former Sunderland captain Kevin Ball

“As one of the former captains of the club, I know that this is the time we need them more than ever.

“I’ve had 25 years up here, 10 as a player and 15 on the staff and it’s a unique area, where the club means so much to the people.”

Kevin said that the added incentive of a raucous full house for tomorrow’s game could reignite the season and spur the team on to safety.
“I remember the Sheffield United play-off semi-final in 1998 when Peter Reid said he didn’t want a red-hot atmosphere, he wanted a white-hot one,” added the former midfielder. “That’s what we got. We won the game and got through to the final.

“I loved leading the lads out in front of a packed stadium. It made me feel like I was invincible.

Newcastle v Sunderland Nufc v Safc at St James Park August 25 1999 Photographer Peter Berry Score Nufc 1 Safc 2 Pictured left to right: Kevin Ball, Alex Rae and Paul Butler

Newcastle v Sunderland Nufc v Safc at St James Park August 25 1999 Photographer Peter Berry Score Nufc 1 Safc 2 Pictured left to right: Kevin Ball, Alex Rae and Paul Butler

“The contrast now is different but what we need is the same.
We need to win these games and get points. Together, we want the players to be the best they can be.”

No stranger to the rollercoaster of life at Sunderland AFC, Kevin also said now is the time for the Black Cats players to show their mettle. “We need bravery on the pitch, not just in terms of commitment but also getting on the ball and making things happen.

“If that doesn’t work, then the lads have to be prepared to do it again.”

Five lucky winners have also scooped tickets to tomorrow’s match in our competition. We asked you to tweet your messages of support for the team with the hashtag #HawayTheLads.

Bury v Sunderland Safc old ref number 51922  Tuesday April 13 1999 Photographer Peter Berry  'Game played at Gigg Lane Score Bury 2 Sunderland 5   see Wednesday April 14 1999  sport   'Kevin Ball pictured

Bury v Sunderland Safc old ref number 51922 Tuesday April 13 1999 Photographer Peter Berry 'Game played at Gigg Lane Score Bury 2 Sunderland 5 see Wednesday April 14 1999 sport 'Kevin Ball pictured

The five who have won a pair of tickets to the game are: @grahamrob1978, @GavinGavinleet, @stubailey73, @vitosauras and @ianjackstar.

Winners have been followed by the Echo Twitter account and should DM us with their full names, address and a contact telephone number.

Tickets can be collected from the guest collection window located at the south west corner, from noon tomorrow