Jack Ross itching to sample the Stadium of Light roar as long summer comes to an end

Jack Ross is itching for the competitive football to begin as he prepares to make his Stadium of Light bow on Saturday.

Saturday, 4th August 2018, 6:00 am
SAFC training at Stadium of Light 02-08-2018. Picture by FRANK REID

The Black Cats are hoping to welcome at least 30,000 supporters for the beginning of what is only Sunderland’s third campaign in the third tier of English football.

Over 28,000 tickets have already been sold for a game that will be televised, despite two wretched seasons.

Ross is hoping to build on that feel good factor and says the atmosphere will make all the work in an often challenging pre-season period worthwhile.

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“I think I said this during the week, I’ve grown up as a football fan from a very young age and I genuinely love the game, so I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to make a living from it in different ways,” he said.

“There is no better feeling than going into a stadium that’s got that crowd in it and the excitement you get, it never leaves you.

“I was there as a supporter, as a player and as a manager, that feeling that I get when I walk out the tunnel was something that makes all the hard work that goes before it worthwhile.”

Sunderland will need to drastically improve their home form next season if they are to have any realistic chance of sealing an instant return to the Championship.

The Black Cats won just three league games at the Stadium of Light last season, one of which came against Wolverhampton Wanderers after relegation had already been confirmed.

That 3-0 marked the beginning of a new era in front of Charlie Methven and Stewart Donald, with Ross eager to sample the famous atmosphere.

He said: “It makes me grateful and appreciate the position that I’m in, so I’m really excited about it.

“I keep saying it, but this is a brilliant club, it’s really pleasure to work here and it’s a brilliant stadium.

“It’s a brilliant stadium with me being there with nobody in it, so the excitement for me is to then take my team when there is a crowd that’s going to be in it like on Saturday.

“Then the challenge for me obviously is to make sure that crowd keeps coming back and they bring more along, and we create something within our home stadium that we need to have and that’s maybe been missing in recent times.

“In that sense, I’ve got nothing but excitement and anticipation in terms of looking forward to it.”

Ross took his players through a training session at the stadium on Thursday to help them acclimatise to what are for many, new surroundings.

The Black Cats had hoped to hold a pre-season friendly at home before beginning their campaign, but Ross will hope they are ready to cope with what are certain to be lofty expectations.