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1998

May 1998

  1. Disappointment for SAFC at Wembley

    Play off final thriller

      The first season at the Stadium of Light was a roller coast ride of emotions. The team just missed out on automatic promotion when they were pipped to the post by local rivals Middlesbrough….

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    Disappointment for SAFC at Wembley

    The first season at the Stadium of Light was a roller coast ride of emotions. The team just missed out on automatic promotion when they were pipped to the post by local rivals Middlesbrough. The team finished the season in third place and were faced with the lottery of the play offs.

     

    “It had been a fantastic season with Quinn and Phillips netting 52 goals between them in front of full houses at the stadium. Super Kev beat Brian Clough’s post war club record by scoring 35 goals (in all competitions) and became the first Sunderland player to ever win the European Golden Boot. It had been an exciting and memorable first season.” said Bob.

     

    “Just missing out on automatic promotion was another blow though. We were very nervy in the first leg of the semi-finals and lost 2-1 at Bramall Lane but I still felt confident because I knew we had to bring them back to Sunderland. On the team coach after the game I asked Captain Kevin Ball to get the suits for Wembley ordered immediately. The semi-final home leg remains one of my all-time best memories as a Sunderland fan. The noise and atmosphere created by the home fans that night was something to behold and absolutely electric. We won 2-0 and Wembley beckoned.

     

    “We were all full of confidence and optimism heading south to London for the Final but nothing could have prepared us for the up and down emotions of the 4-4 thriller and the 13 penalties that followed! It must have been an amazing match to watch as a neutral but to lose 7-6 on penalties was a cruel end.

     

    “That said, I can also remember something else quite exceptional that happened that day. I remember seeing the awesome power of sport in action and witnessing the birth of an invincible spirit that would see us win automatic promotion the following season.

     

    “We travelled from London in convoy. There were 3 coaches of players, back room staff, club staff and guests and we all left Wembley together. On the way home we stopped at a pub together. At first the atmosphere was very quiet and subdued as you’d expect. I don’t know what changed the mood but by the time we left we felt different.  I can remember Bally (Kevin Ball) was in fighting talk and we felt very strong, resolute and determined that we could go and win automatic promotion the following season.

     

    “That mood and spirit never wavered and we all started the new season absolutely determined to succeed. There was an unbelievable team spirit across the club from the playing staff to the cleaners and what followed was 105 point record breaking season. It was quite something to behold.”

     

     

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1997

July 1997

  1. SAFC Crest

    New club crest revealed

    Over the years Sunderland AFC has sported at least 7 different badges or crests and the move to the new stadium in July 1997 coincided with the latest version being revealed. cheap nfl jerseys,cheap jerseys,wholesale…

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    Over the years Sunderland AFC has sported at least 7 different badges or crests and the move to the new stadium in July 1997 coincided with the latest version being revealed.

    Bob was keen that a distinctive new crest be launched to coincide with the start life of life in the stadium and hoped that a fresh, modern image would help the club open an exciting new chapter in its history.

    Bob said: “The previous badge had been is use for about 30 years but was regarded as outdated by some and the depiction of a sinking ship which had become the norm to mock the club was disliked by many. I thought the time was right to make a change and update the image of the club. It was never going to be popular with everyone but I think it was the right thing to do.”

    The brief for the design was to draw its visual inspiration from across the region and the heartlands of Sunderland support.

    The crest includes a central shield divided into quarters and featuring unmistakable regional landmarks. The Wearmouth Bridge, is featured in the bottom right of the shield while Penshaw Monument in the top left, is included to acknowledge the depth of support for the team outside the City boundaries. The remaining quarters proudly boast the internationally recognised red and white stripes of Sunderland AFC.

    Supporting either side of the crest are a pair of lions which also feature on the City of Sunderland’s coat of arms – a reference to the long tradition of mutual support between two great institutions.

    A colliery wheel crowns the crest to honour the strong mining traditions of the region and acts as a reminder that the Stadium of Light lies on land which was once the largest mine in Sunderland and one of the most important in County Durham, Monkwearmouth Colliery.

    Entwined with the colliery wheel is the club motto, “Consectatio Excellentiae” – “In pursuit of excellence”, a fitting inspiration to the team and its supporters.

     

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  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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May 1997

  1. ROKER PARK - HOMES OF FOOTBALL

    Farewell to Roker Park

    After 99 years the final whistle blew on Roker Park in May 1997. The last ever league game was an emotionally charged affair against Everton on 3rd May, which Sunderland won 3-0. It was the…

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    After 99 years the final whistle blew on Roker Park in May 1997. The last ever league game was an emotionally charged affair against Everton on 3rd May, which Sunderland won 3-0. It was the end of era in typical Sunderland style though and the team still needed to win the final away game of the season against Wimbledon to guarantee safety but lost 1-0. 

    The Farewell to Roker Park match, the final ceremonial game against Liverpool, was played in front of a 22,000 full house on 13th May against the backdrop of relegation to The Championship.  “It was emotional leaving Roker Park as I started going to matches with my dad in 1956 but I knew in my heart that Roker was the past and the Stadium of Light was the future,” said Bob.

    ” It was difficult for everyone to lift themselves after the Wimbledon match and travel back to Sunderland for the final ever match at Roker. The season had started with such excitement and optimism for the future. We were moving to a new stadium but were in the wrong division, which was a huge blow but we knew we had to close the chapter on Roker Park after 99 years in style.” 

     

     

    Roker Park gallery

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1996
  1. Stadium of Light

    Funding the Stadium of Light

    The funds from the flotation were used exclusively to fund the Stadium of Light. The capital cost of the 42,000 seater stadium was £23m, a remarkable design and build cost for a new stadium in…

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    The funds from the flotation were used exclusively to fund the Stadium of Light. The capital cost of the 42,000 seater stadium was £23m, a remarkable design and build cost for a new stadium in the UK.

    The stadium was designed to be easily expanded and was extended to 49,000 in 2000 at a cost of £7m. It has planning permission to extend to 55,555 and the stadium freehold footprint has a maximum potential capacity of 66,000.

    Stadium of Light

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December 1996

  1. Bob Murray and John Fickling launch share price

    Sunderland floats on London Stock Exchange

    Sunderland AFC was one of the first UK clubs’ to float on the London Stock Exchange in December 1996. The flotation raised £12m of new money for the club, which was completely ring-fenced for the…

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    Bob Murray and John Fickling launch share price

    Sunderland AFC was one of the first UK clubs’ to float on the London Stock Exchange in December 1996. The flotation raised £12m of new money for the club, which was completely ring-fenced for the Stadium of Light. Bob also personally delivered a 7-figure cash injection to demonstrate his desire and commitment to see the project through.

    Bob decided to float the Premiership club to raise the much needed capital to fund the building of the new stadium and to widen share ownership. Following the flotation and the issue of new shares Bob’s controlling interest in Sunderland AFC reduced from 80% to 50%.

    Sunderland PLC Board (David Chance, Sir Bob Murray, Bryan Sanderson, Sir Richard Storey, John Fickling)

    Unlike other football flotations’ at the time, such as that of near neighbours Newcastle United, the issue of new shares diluted Bob’s stake in the club and he did not sell any of his own shares to profit from the float.

    Following the flotation Bob appointed an eminent board of non-executive directors to promote corporate governance and challenge the club including the former Managing Director of BP Bryan Sanderson CBE, the former CEO of BSkyB David Chance and Sir Richard Storey CBE former Chairman of Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers.

     

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