One of the seven Sunderland supporters who made a midweek trip to see their team’s Under 21 side play in a minor trophy says there were more stewards than away fans at the game.
Just a handful of Black Cats fans made the journey to Lincolnshire to see the managerless club play Grimsby Town in the Checkatrade Trophy.
The hosts gave the attendance for the Blundell Park encounter as being 248, with three Sunderland fans.
But it is actually thought that seven SAFC supporters were in attendance.
Among them was Matthew Jewitt, who took his grandad Steven Thompson, who is a Leeds United fan, as a way of marking Steven’s 65th birthday.
“I live in Sunderland and my grandad lives in Bridlington so I picked him up on the way,” said Matthew, a social worker.
“People might think it’s strange but I just enjoy going to games.
“For 90 minutes, nobody cares about anything but the game.
“I’ll be able to look back and say ‘I was at Grimsby on a freezing cold Wednesday to see Sunderland in a cup no-one cares about’.
“The match itself was terrible, which was just like watching the first team, and players were out of position too.
“But it was a right laugh. There were more stewards than us away fans so I’ll probably remember it forever.
“We were even allowed into the players’ lounge by the home fans to have a pint.”
The match finished in a 1-1 draw before going to a penalty shootout which the visitors won 7-6.
Both clubs could not qualify for the knockout stages of the competition and despite the win gaining Sunderland two points, one for the draw and another for winning on penalties, they still finished bottom of Group H.
“The best moment was when Jack Rodwell went to take his penalty and I shouted ‘not him!’, added Matthew, of Monkwearmouth, who has followed Sunderland as far afield as Ireland, Germany and even America.
“He gave me a wink and scored.”
Boldon-based SAFC fan Keith Charlton was also among those at the game, alongside pals Colin Brown and Fred Hill.
Keith, 44, who is involved with the SAFC Fans Museum, said: “I’ve always been a loyal fan and if I can get to any of the games I go.
“It’s a bit of a day out and a chance to see some of the younger players coming through as well.”
After being relegated from the Premier League last season, Sunderland are bottom of the Championship with just one win in 16 league games.
The club sacked manager Simon Grayson on Halloween following a 3-3 draw at home to Bolton Wanderers.
*Are you one of the fans who followed Sunderland at Grimsby? Call us on 0191 501 7326.