How the day unfolded as Sunderland fans made their return to the Stadium of Light
Match day is here – and the fans are finally able to take their seats once again in Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.
The ground will welcome in 10,000 supporters to watch Sunderland AFC take on Lincoln City in the second leg of their play-off against Lincoln City.
We’re at Stadium Park to soak up the atmosphere in the build up to the crunch game and will also be on hand to find out how fans react to the outcome of the match.
Our sports writers will bring you every development in the lead up to the 3.30pm kick-off and then every move on the pitch through their blog, which can be found by clicking here.
If you have any stories to share about today’s fixture or would like to send on photos from your watch party or being back in the stands for the first time in more than a year, get in touch via [email protected] or send us a message through our Facebook page.
Wearside welcomes back live sport as the Stadium of Light opens its gates to fans
Last updated: Saturday, 22 May, 2021, 14:12
- Today, Saturday, May 22, will see 10,000 people take their seats in the ground
- Kick-off is 3.30pm and we’ll be there to follow the anticipation ahead of the game, as well as reaction to the result after the final whistle goes
- We’ll be bringing you the latest from around the ground, keeping an eye on the roads, weather and more
What’s the weather got in store for us as the match approaches?
As people start to head for the ground, we thought we’d put together a guide to see if the wet weather we’ve seen over the last few weeks will hold off.
Traffic moving well across the city
Here’s the latest look at the Google traffic map.
The capacity for today’s match is 10,000, some 20,000+ lower that the average attendance before the pandemic hit - but it’s a start.
Sunderland’s streets set for supporters’ return
Our photographer Frank is on his way to the ground and snapped this photo outside St Peter’s Metro.
Traffic cams show Weamouth Bridge queue
It’s a busy Saturday for the city, now all its hospitality venues have joined the shops to reopen to visitors.
Here’s how it’s looking over the Monkwearmouth Bridge, thanks to a look at at the @NELiveTraffic cameras.
Fans head for the Stadium of Light
Milo Coates, 16, from Barnes was the first fan making his way to SoL.
He said: "I'm actually buzzing to be back.
“I definitely think we can pull it off. If all the players come together I have 100% faith we can get to the final."
Friends reunited for match day
Owen Young, 22, has travelled into Sunderland from Consett for the game.
He will be watching the game with friend Josh Montague, 22, who came all the way from Portsmouth.
Owen said: "Its incredible to be back. I'm very excited.
“I think we can will 3-nil if we put our minds to it."
Josh added: “I can't wait to get back there. It's not the same without the fans. Watching it on TV is not the same either. I reckon we'll win on penalties."
Life-time fan hoping for success
Allen Bramfitt, 64, has been coming to SAFC games since he was three.
He said said: "I'm just pleased to to get back to something more normal.
“There is a chance we could win on penalties. I wouldn't have come if I wasn't hopeful."
It’s ‘Just like Christmas’ say fans
Haway the lasses!
Julie Cheal, 59, from Hylton Castle said: "It's like Christmas morning. I've really really missed it. "
Her sister Susan Stephenson, 62, from Pennywell, said: "I'm excited. It's great to be coming here and going to the actual football match.”
Steady flow of traffic heads for the stadium
Here’s what it looks like on Kier Hardie Way with a look at the @NELiveTraffic cams.
Test checks, bring your own pie and staying put during the action - these are the rules at the SoL for fans
We’re getting used to the return of some parts of normal life, but today’s fixture will be different than the usual match day.
Our very own Mark Donnelly has put together this guide to help anyone heading to the stadium or if you’d like to know what awaits those who did manage to get a ticket.
‘It’s great to be back'
Chris Groves, 61, from Hartlepool was on his way to Blackpool last year when the game was cancelled.
He said: It's great to be back. I've missed it, I was on my way to Blackpool when that game was stopped. I've never been away for so long."
Speaking of today's match, he said: "I just wish it wasn't such a big game. It is going to be a nail-biter.
“ My prediction is 6-3, might be a bit optimistic.”
Stadium gets set to open its gates
Word from our sports team:
Crowd gathers at the front of the stadium
Fans have been heading for the front of the ground ahead of today’s fixture.
Among them us Aiden Marsden, 61, from Hartlepool, who has been supporting the team for more than 50 years.
The 61-year-old, whose mum was born in Sunderland, said: "My roots are so deep and my love for this club is so passionate. I have to support the boys.
"If we support them as we should be we might take it home"
Fans are allowed in through the gates
Staff are on hand to help small numbers get through the turnstiles as they head for the game.