Coals to goals: Sunderland unveil new SAFC third kit paying homage to city's mining heritage

The Black Cats say they are paying homage to the "unbreakable bond" between the club and Sunderland's rich industrial past of its with the launch of their new charcoal-coloured third kit.

The kit was officially launched today as Sunderland take on Sheffield United at the Stadium of Light.

Barry Collinson in the new kit

Barry Collinson in the new kit

Sunderland's mining heritage runs deep, and a number of fans who sit in the stands today at the stadium worked at the Monkwearmouth Colliery, on which the ground sits.

Among the former mining workers was Barry Collinson, who now works for Sunderland AFC. He worked at the pit for 11 years and, now working at the same site but above ground rather than below it, he took pride of place at the kit unveiling.

He said: “I worked in the Wearmouth Colliery for 11 years and have worked at the Stadium of Light since 2008, where I’m a maintenance operative in the facilities department.

“I’m very proud to have been a miner and to now work at Sunderland AFC, I feel a special bond to this place and as a Sunderland fan, it’s an honour to be involved in the kit launch and to take part in the photoshoot at Beamish Museum, which brought back some special memories. This new kit will be a hit with our supporters and I’m sure it will bring the team luck”.

As part of the launch, the Durham Miners’ Association Brass Band performed at the stadium, with members wearing the new shirt.

Alan Cummings, secretary of the Durham Miners' Association, said: "Sunderland is a team and club built on foundations of coal. Generations of miners toiled beneath the ground the Stadium of Light now stands upon and on Saturday's they'd be at the match, supporting their beloved team.

“We welcome the fact that the heritage of miners and mining communities has been honoured in the design of the new kit. It helps to keep our unique culture alive."

The Monkwearmouth Colliery was the largest mine in Sunderland. It began producing coal in 1835 and was the last to remain operating in the County Durham Coalfield. The final shift left the pit on December 10, 1993, ending over 800 years of commercial coal mining in the region.

Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, celebrating its 20th birthday this year, now sits proudly on the former colliery site and its mining heritage is woven through the very fabric of the football club. First and foremost, its name pays tribute to those miners who toiled relentlessly, carrying a Davy lamp to light their way as they emerged from a back-breaking shift underground.

As supporters arrive at the stadium a huge replica Davy lamp, with its eternal flame shining brightly, lights the way for supporters and a pit wheel sits majestically outside the main west stand.

The ‘men of steel’ sculpture on the banks of the River Wear features miners pushing coal scuttles up the hill and the Monkwearmouth Lodge miners banner, presented to the club by the Durham Miners’ Association, is proudly displayed inside the stadium for all to see.

Sunderland AFC’s third kit is available in a limited edition at www.safcstore.com and club stores located at the Stadium of Light, Debenhams in Sunderland and The Galleries, Washington.