Where SAFC players should visit to give them a true flavour of Sunderland

Sunderland players (left to right) Darron Gibson, John O'Shea, Brian Oviedo and Joleon Lescott.
Sunderland players (left to right) Darron Gibson, John O'Shea, Brian Oviedo and Joleon Lescott.
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New signings have been getting a flavour of Wearside by getting out and about in the city.

Bryan Oviedo, Darron Gibson and Joleon Lescott got a chilly initiation yesterday by visiting a wind-blasted Penshaw Monument as part of the club's Keep the Faith campaign to encourage fans to stick with the team.

Players also visited the shopfloor at Nissan at the end of last year, and Kevin Ball has talked of meeting an irate fan in a Chinese takeaway - and of days gone by when players were pushed out into the community to meet fans.

Penshaw and Nissan are obviously musts, but here are nine other things we think would give players a feel for what it is to be a Mackem - but we'd love to hear your suggestions too:

1) Have a pint in the Colliery Tavern

Where better to learn about Sunderland's pub scene than where SAFC fans imbibe their post and pre-match pints. They may well pull out more stops on the pitch if they have to call in to see fans in the pub after the match.

2) Get a fish lot from Clems and have a wander down Blandford Street

It's a street rich with characters and Sunderland history - and they may pick up some bargains on the way.

3) Take a ride in the Roker Park railway

What better way to take in the great seafront park which once lent its name to the Black Cats stadium, meet young fans - and perhaps have a kick about with them on the grass after, using jumpers for goalposts.

4) A shopping trip to The Bridges and Jacky Whites Market

It's often said that players are less willing to come to clubs in the North East because we don't have the shopping choice of London and other big cities.

While we can't compete with the capital, a wander round The Bridges would show them what we do have to offer - and Jacky Whites is a must-visit for anyone wanting to steep themselves in Sunderland's culture.

5) Go for a meat draw at Heppies

Turner-prize winning artist Grayson Perry visited the Hepworth and Grandage Social Club on North Hylton Road on his mission to drink-in Sunderland's culture for his tapestries project in the city.

Sunderland players could well glean something from the experience too.

6) Get a sun tan on the Cat and Dog Steps

Costa del Sol we are not, but proud city by the sea we are. And on a sunny day, it's just glorious. Not to be missed by anyone who wants to be part of Sunderland's heart and soul.

7) Take in a show at the Sunderland Empire

Our Edwardian theatre regularly draws in top touring West End shows, trumping Newcastle thanks to its gigantic flytower and technical set-up.

8) Have a night on the town followed by chips and gravy in the Bakers Oven

It's a lively night out, a great way to mix with fans - and try a classic Sunderland takeaway. Just make sure you don't have one too many, lads, we need you in top shape on the pitch.

9) Visit the Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, with a wander round Mowbray Park afterwards

Soak in our rich history, and meet the walrus by the lake to learn about the city's connections with Alice in Wonderland.