A Sunderland fan’s perspective – Peter Sixsmith from Salut! Sunderland

November 1, 2013

CTWD: What do you think of a football club changing its name?

It doesn’t seem to happen very often, apart from Swansea going from Town to City, I can’t think of one in the League in the 50 odd years I have been watching football. A football club is rooted in its community and will always be known by its original name. Hull Sharks soon reverted to Hull FC didn’t they?

Having said that, there are plenty of sheep who will follow you. The guy at Fulham looks a prime candidate for that (Fulham Jaguars anybody?) and the lower leagues will be up for it. For me, it would be another nail in the coffin of Premier League football.

CTWD: What would you Sunderland fans think if it was your club?

This one wouldn’t be very pleased, irrespective of which moniker was stuck on the end. Can’t see it happening to be honest, but if it did, I will be leading the boys out of the trenches.

CTWD: Is the AFC part of your name important?

Probably not as much as yours, where it is used to distinguish City from FC. It is part of an old terrace chant and it does define us and make us different from parvenus like Southampton. It looks good on a badge as well.

CTWD: How did the fans take to the nickname change from the Rokerites to the Black Cats and what consultation was undertaken by the club with the fans?

No real Sunderland fan has EVER used those two nicknames. It has never been a part of the fans perception of the club. For some clubs it defines who they are – you are always known as the Tigers, Rotherham are The Millers, Newcastle are the Riff-Raff, but Sunderland have always been Sunderland.

CTWD: How was the Stadium of Light name chosen and what consultation was undertaken by the club with the fans?

This one is a tad more contentious. Former owner Bob Murray was the man behind the move from dear, dilapidated Roker to the new site, built on the site of the closed (thanks to Thatcher) Wearmouth Colliery. We all thought that the name of the pit, a huge undersea operation which had employed people from Sunderland and County Durham for over 100 years, would be the name chosen.

So, The Stadium of Light was a bit of a surprise. It gave our local rivals (who simply cannot beat us in derby matches) a cheap rhyming joke – some could even work it out themselves, but the majority had to be told- and it wasn’t very original, seeing as Benfica had beaten us to it by a number of years.

The name is a tribute to all those miners who toiled underground, day after day, in the Durham coalfield and who, on their day off, flocked to Roker Park by bus and train. There is a huge Davy Lamp at the entrance and the mining message is interwoven into the club crest and the club ethos. The marketing possibilities are great as well – there was a story that Phillips were going to sponsor it but naught came of it as they closed their factories in the region.

No consultation, but it was Bob Murray’s baby and he put together the finance so he could call it what he wanted I suppose. It’s better than St James’ Park, that’s for sure (does SB still say that in his interviews?)

CTWD would like to thank Peter Sixsmith from Salut! Sunderland for his answers. Also, you can see how we returned the favour to Salut! Sunderland as they covered the CTWD campaign amongst other things, when speaking to one of our committee. Click the link below…