Watch the superb scenes as thousands of Sunderland fans turn Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square red and white
Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square have tonight been turned into a sea of red and white as the first wave of 40,000 Sunderland fans descend on London.
The Black Cats face Portsmouth at Wembley on Sunday in the Checkatrade Trophy final (KO 2.30pm) and it feels like all of Wearside has joined the party in the capital.
Supporters made their way to London via road, air and rail throughout Saturday before descending on Covent Garden throughout the afternoon, before moving on to Trafalgar Square to continue the pre-match celebrations.
Fans have backed Jack Ross’ side in record-breaking numbers all season and this weekend is no different, with the club selling out their allocation before receiving an extra batch of tickets.
League One promotion rivals Portsmouth stand in the way of a Checkatrade Trophy win, with the Black Cats in the hunt for two pieces of silverware before the season ends.
Sunderland last played in a cup final five years ago and supporters famously took over Covent Garden for the League Cup final weekend too, pictures and videos of the celebrations going viral on social media.
The sun has been shining in London this afternoon and supporters have made the most of the weather, with thousands more expected on Sunday morning.
Fans have been travelling down to the North East via trains, cars, mini-buses and coaches with a number of fans jetting in from around the world.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
Ahead of the game, Jack Ross has heaped praise on the Sunderland faithful with the manager and squad determined to bring the trophy back to Wearside.
Ross told the Echo: “I would hope that people believe that relationship has gone a long way to being rebuilt. The identity of the team has become more in line with the supporters.
“We reach the final with that relationship with the fans being rebuilt to a degree.
“You carry that responsibility all the time, when you go to a final with that many numbers you want to make sure when the full-time whistle blows they are not the ones in the empty seats, you want to ensure that they enjoy the whole occasion by winning.
“There are so many motivating factors for us to win the trophy on Sunday and having that amount of fans with us is one of them.
“The responsibility to bring success is always there, I grew to understand that quite quickly. You only understand the magnitude of it once you are in the job.
“This competition has allowed us to payback the supporters for their loyalty and commitment. There were a lot of unknowns at the start but they have stuck with us throughout and Sunday is for them, the occasion first and foremost and then if we can give them a win even better.”
The pubs in London have been doing a roaring trade with Sunderland fans hoping the celebrations last all weekend.
We’ll have a live blog running throughout Sunday with all the build-up, team news, action and reaction plus much more on the Echo site.