The unglamorous city of Sunderland may be a less appealing weekend destination than near-neighbour Newcastle, but as a football day trip, it’s a must: the atmosphere is stunning. Indeed, when decibel levels were measured around the country back in 2008, it was found that the 49,000-capacity Stadium of Light generated more decibels (129.2, to be precise) than any other stadium in the country.
Sunderland’s glory days may have ended a long time ago – they've won the league title six times, but not since 1936 – but under Steve Bruce’s shrewd management, backed by chairman Niall Quinn and billionaire owner Ellis Short, the Black Cats are enjoying something of a revival on the pitch at the moment. Bruce has blended youth and experience to create a well-balanced side, with Jordan Henderson, Darren Bent, Lee Cattermole, Kieran Richardson and Asamoah Gyan among his key performers.
Sunderland itself is short on attractions (unless you’re an enthusiast of the history of glass making, in which case The National Glass Centre is a haven), but it does have nightlife to rival most cities. Even Newcastle, the locals will claim – thanks to the 70 or so bars and 10 nightclubs situated in the city-centre area known as The Circuit. Well worth a visit, then – but bring your earplugs.
Like many grand old grounds, Roker Park was too antiquated and hemmed in by housing to modernise. So in 1997 the club opened the nearby Stadium of Light, its simple square-bowl design allowing for expansion up to a projected 64,000 capacity. At the moment it's pegged at 49,000 and isn't selling out – to the consternation of chairman Quinn, who controversially railed against fans watching matches in the pub instead – but Mackems, as the locals are known, are a vociferous lot and will get right behind their team. Just don't admit any affinity toward Newcastle…
The Sunderland/Seaburn station is a 10-15 minute walk from the ground. If you’re driving, take the A19 from North and South. Take the A1231 (Sunderland North) turn off. After four roundabouts, keep to the left hand lane and follow signs for B1289 (Roker). You'll see the Stadium of Light on the right-hand side. A free park-and-ride scheme, open to home and away fans, runs on matchdays from the Sunderland Enterprise Park on the Wessington Way (A1231), which is easily accessible from the A19 and is clearly signposted "Park and Ride". The shuttle runs every five minutes up until the match starts, and regularly after the match finishes.
Explore the area with our interactive map – click, drag, zoom
FourFourTwo.com: News • Features • Interviews • Videos
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010