'Most passionate fans in the country': Portsmouth chief reveals classy Sunderland gesture

Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin
Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin
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Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin has revealed how Sunderland fans gatecrashed the club's Checkatrade Trophy celebrations - even offering to buy him a drink.

Black Cats fans left Wembley disappointed on Sunday afternoon after Jack Ross’ side fell to a penalty shootout defeat, yet still managed to show their class at Pompey’s post-match bash.

The superb gesture occurred at the Hilton Hotel in Wembley when Blues management, players and staff joined their families in toasting the triumph.

And Pompey’s chief executive praised the graciousness shown by Sunderland and their supporters following the match’s dramatic ending.

“I thought the Sunderland fans were great,” said Catlin. “Walking around Wembley on Saturday, mixing and mingling with them, they were fantastic.

“Some of their fans gatecrashed our little get together on Sunday night. When players started to drift out, they came over and joined us.

“It was absolutely brilliant, they kept wanting to buy us drinks, congratulating us. What a lovely gesture that was.

“The same goes for those in charge of the club and Jack Ross and his backroom staff, fantastic people.Sunderland is a really, really great club from top to bottom. ‘

“To a degree, I think that made the victory that much more special, they are one of the big clubs in the country. And, inside Wembley, it was a great achievement to beat them.”

A record EFL Trophy crowd of 85,021 were present as two former Premier League clubs locked horns at Wembley.

Catlin was also fully aware of Sunderland's Trafalgar Square takeover, admitting he left impressed by their passion.

“For large parts of the second half we were losing – and you wouldn’t expect the losing team’s support to be as loud as the winning team during the game.

“Yet our fans were amazing, they kept on going throughout.

“Credit where it’s due, though, Sunderland are right up there as one of the most passionate sets of fans in the country.

“So to go head-to-head with them in regards of the singing and the passion was no mean feat.

“This wasn’t a club with a load of plastic fans, this was a real, proper football club – like Portsmouth.

“We let them take Trafalgar Square, but we took Wembley.”