‘Like Christmas’, 'buzzing' 'it's been a long wait': What SAFC fans said about return to the Stadium of Light

The Black Cats were cheered on by fans at the Stadium of Light for the first time in more than a year.

Saturday, 22nd May 2021, 6:31 pm
Fans are delighted to be back
Fans are delighted to be back

Today marks the return of fans at the Stadium of Light for the first time since March, 7, 2020 – and fans have been buzzing with anticipation.

The latest easing of lockdown restrictions has allowed a limited number of people back at sports events and 10,000 home fans are among the lucky ones cheering on the Black Cats.

SAFC faced Lincoln City in the second leg of the League One play-off semi-final at the Stadium of Light, with the chance to reach the final and a spot in the Championship on the line.

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Sisters Julie cheal 59 (left) snd Susan Stephenson 62

But despite the 2-1 win the Black Cats lost out 3-2 on aggregate.

Despite the result SAFC fans spoke of their joy to take their seats back at the ground after 14 months away from the Stadium of Light.

Milo Coates, 16, from Barnes said: "I'm actually buzzing to be back."

Julie Cheal, 59, from Hylton Castle said: "It's like Christmas morning. I've really really missed it. "

Alex Clark, 22 with his grandfather Malcolm Wates, 74 from Peterlee

Her sister Susan Stephenson, 62, from Pennywell, said: "It's great to be coming here and going to the actual football match.”

Malcolm Yates, 74, from Peterlee, watched the game with his grandson Alex Clark, 22.

Malcolm said: “I enjoyed the first half. We tried, didn’t we?” Alex added: “Obviously the result wasn’t how I wanted it but it’s difficult to be fully mad at it because we’ve got to do what we’ve missed doing.

"It wasn’t to be our year this year but we’ll be back next year, we’ll be stronger next year. If being a Sunderland fan means anything it’s live on that elusive thing called hope.”

Sean Carr, 31, from Middlesbrough

Sean Carr, 31, from Middlesbrough said: “It was weird to be back, it felt like I hadn’t left. Felt nice to be back. Not my usual seat, but still.”

Speaking of the result, he said: “Its bitter sweet. For the first half it felt good and then, obviously, sadly we just gave up for 10 minutes. But if we keep the people we’ve got, the manager, we should get out of this league.”

Bill Bell, 76, from Billingham, has been a Sunderland fan since 1949 and went to support the lads with his grandson Jamie Bell 22.

Jamie, also a lifelong fan of the Black Cats, said: "I'm extremely excited. Very happy to be back."

Milo Coates, 16, making his way to the stadium.

Alyssa Rowell, 16, from Houghton, said: "It's been a long wait. I'm just excited to get back in there.

Aiden Marsden, from Hartlepool, who has been supporting the team for more than 50 years, was among the fans waiting to get inside the stadium.

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."

Chris Groves, 61, was another fan from Hartlepool, making his way to the ground.

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."

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Bill Bell, 76 with his grandson Jamie Bell, 22, both from Billingham

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Auden Marsden, 61.
Waiting at the gates 61-year-old Chris Groves.