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1997

July 1997

  1. Stadium of Light main stand

    Stadium of Light opens

      The Stadium of Light opened to wide-acclaim on 31st July with a sell-out friendly match against Ajax of Amsterdam and a show-stopping party. Hundreds of local school children and budding pop stars took part…

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    The Stadium of Light opened to wide-acclaim on 31st July with a sell-out friendly match against Ajax of Amsterdam and a show-stopping party. Hundreds of local school children and budding pop stars took part in the celebrations as well as legendary rockers Status Quo who landed on the pitch by helicopter to kick off the party

    Stadium of Light main stand

    The match was a typical pre-season friendly affair and finished Sunderland 0-0 Ajax.

    The stadium initially opened with a capacity of 42,000 (the North Stand was later extended to increase the capacity to 49,000 in 2000) although as Bob ruefully remembers due to a re-numbering blunder by a contractor 24 hours before the stadium opened there were unexpected ticket issues on the night, “It was a big day at the end of a journey

    that had started in 1990 and there was always going to be lots to do at the last minute and teething problems to deal with. It was a frantic day and we were rushing around until we finally got the safety certificate with just hours to go and when I finally went to take my seat there was already someone in it! He was very good humoured though and we both had a laugh about it!”

    Kevin Phillips

    The first league match at the stadium was against Manchester City in The Championship. “That fact always makes me smile too. We spoke to a well-respected sports psychologist during the design and build of the stadium and she strongly advised us against using the colour red in any of the dressing rooms. Unsurprisingly, we ignored her advice for the home dressing room. Her recommendation for the away dressing room was to use blue and yellow as they are more subdued colours. I think Manchester City felt quite at home although they didn’t get a win that day!”

    The first season at the Stadium of Light was a roller coaster one that ended with Kevin Philips winning the European Golden Boot after scoring 33 goals and Sunderland finishing in 3rd place, just being pipped to automatic promotion by Middlesbrough. Sunderland beat Sheffield United over two legs to proceed to the 1998 Play Off final against Charlton at Wembley which they ultimately lost on penalties after a thrilling 4-4 draw after extra time.

    Extended Stadium of Light

    “The Sheffield United play off tie at the Stadium of Light is still one of my top memories at the Stadium of Light. It sticks in my mind because the noise and the atmosphere generated that night was absolutely electric.”

     

     

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  1. Stadium of Light

    Stadium name unveiled

      The Stadium of Light name was finally announced at a dramatic midnight press conference on the eve of the ceremonial first match against AFC Ajax. Bob wanted a name that would be instantly recognisable,…

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    Stadium of Light

    The Stadium of Light name was finally announced at a dramatic midnight press conference on the eve of the ceremonial first match against AFC Ajax. Bob wanted a name that would be instantly recognisable, distinctive and inspirational and one that paid tribute to the industrial heritage of the club’s supporters and the location of the stadium.

    The stadium is positioned on the site of the former Monkwearmouth Colliery (Wearmouth Colliery), which was a major North Sea coal mine on the banks of the River Wear. It was also the largest mine in Sunderland and one of the most important in County Durham. When it closed in 1993 it ended a mining tradition in the region that had spanned over 800 years.

    Stadium replaces Monkwearmouth Colliery

    The connection to light was chosen for 2 main reasons; namely as an ever-lasting tribute to the region’s mine-workers and proud industrial heritage and in the expectation that the stadium would be a guiding light in the future

    The name is very much a symbolic link to the thousands of miners and Sunderland supporters that emerged from the darkness and into the light every day when they returned to the surface after working in the mine.

    A 10m Davey Lamp, which saved the lives of thousands of miners and was invented in Sunderland is located on the approach to the stadium and the words ‘Into the Light’ also appear on the Murray Gates in front of the main reception.

    The name was also chosen in the anticipation that the stadium would be a symbol of hope for the club. It reflects the desire of the club and its supporters to be in the limelight and to achieve sporting success.

    In an age when so many stadiums’ are not distinctive or where naming rights have been sold for commercial reasons, the name Stadium of Light remains unique and inspirational and sets Sunderland apart.

     

     

     

     

     

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