Black Cats fanatic Alan Strand has an extra reason than most to hope his beloved Sunderland keep up their derby winning run this Sunday.
The exiled Mackem made a pledge not to shave his facial hair until the team won, as The Lads went down 4-2 at Leicester City on the opening day of the season.
More than two months later and as the hours count down to this weekend’s Wear-Tyne derby with Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light, the 45-year-old still has the fuzzy growth.
He told the Echo he hopes that by Sunday night he is cleaning his razor ready to go back to normal.
“I went to the Leicester game with a few of the lads and when we went 3-0 down I’d had enough,” said Alan, who is originally from Ford Estate, but now lives in Essex.
“I just said ‘That’s it. I’m going to grow a beard until we win a match’.
“Looking at the fixtures I really didn’t think it would take this long.”
Sunderland’s dismal start to the Premier League campaign has seen them record just three draws from their opening nine encounters, with head coach Dick Advocaat leaving the club earlier this month.
Sam Allardyce was appointed soon after, but even he couldn’t produce a win as Sunderland lost 1-0 at West Bromwich Albion last Saturday.
Alan added that the win will not only mean he can get rid of his beard, it’ll mean he can silence the taunts of his workmates.
“I work at an Argos distribution centre in Essex and they’re all West Ham and Spurs fans,” said Alan.
“They’re doing well so they’re all saying I’ll be coming back to work next week with the beard still there.
“They know how passionate I am about Sunderland, so I want to shut them up.
“There are about three Sunderland fans at work so hopefully we’ll be celebrating.”
Despite the Black Cats’ dismal form and the Magpies registering their first win in a 6-2 thumping over Norwich City last weekend, Alan is optimistic that his team can make it six-in-a-row.
“I can see Borini getting the winning goal,” he said.
“He hasn’t done much since we signed him, but he always seems to play well in the derbies.”