Sunderland AFC smashed the League One attendance record as a near-capacity Stadium of Light saw the Black Cats beat Bradford City.
An amazing 46,039 fans watched Jack Ross’s side ride their luck to secure a 1-0 win over the Bantams.
Executive director Charlie Methven took to the pitch at half-time to announce the final total: “I set a challenge to reach 40,000 today and I massively underestimated you,” he said.
“You helped us beat Leeds’ record by over 8,000 people, so thank you very much.”
The previous League One record of 38,256 was set by Leeds United in 2008. The record for the third tier is from the 1979 Sheffield Derby when more than 49,000 fans watched the game.
Manchester City hold the third tier record for the highest average League One attendance, with a figure of 28,261 from their 1998-99 promotion season but Sunderland are on course to beat that too, with an average of 30,000-plus.
I hoped we would get around 40,000, but to get more than 46,000 is quite something.Charlie Methven
The crowd was entertained at half-time by life-long Sunderland supporter Martin Longstaff - aka The Lake Poets - who performed his song Shipyards.
The haunting tribute to his late grandfather George has earned a special place in Sunderland fans’ hearts as the theme tune to Netflix documentary Sunderland ‘Til I Die.
Speaking before the match, Charlie Methven said he had been overwhelmed by the response to his challenge to fans to beat the League One record.
“I hoped we would get around 40,000, but to get more than 46,000 is quite something,” he said.
Supporters’ Association chairman George Forster said the attendance was an indication of the passion fans had for the club and the shape of things to come if the new board can deliver on their dream of returning to the top flight.
“It is overwhelming,” he said.
“But if we can get back up, we will be back to seeing 40,000 every week.”
Chris Thompson , editor of fanzine A Love Supreme, was delighted to see the club rebuilding its relationship with the fans.
“Today is pretty mental,” he said.
“It defies logic, because everyone is skint at Christmas, but football is a family thing and Christmas is a family time.”