Sunday 14 July 2013
Premierleague.com profiles all 20 Premier League venues, continuing with Sunderland's home ground, the Stadium of Light.
Year built: 1997
First League match (First Division): Sunderland 3-1 Manchester City, 15 Aug 1997
Standing on the banks of the River Wear, a few hundred yards from Sunderland’s former home, Roker Park, and close to the city centre, the Stadium of Light is an impressive home ground.
The state-of-the-art stadium was built after the club decided to move home following the recommendations of the 1990 Taylor Report, which would have imposed a severe reduction of the capacity of the predominantly standing-terraced structure known for its "Roker roar".
What emerged was an impressive arena which draws inspiration from Sunderland's industrial heritage in coal-mining. The name, the Stadium of Light, pays homage to the ground resting on the site of the old Wearmouth Colliery by referring to a miner’s lamp, and a Davy Lamp is situated in front of the stadium’s ticket office.
Constructed by the same company that built Ajax’s Amsterdam Arena, the Stadium of Light has a bowl-shaped lower deck and a second tier over the West and North stands, providing the fifth-largest capacity in the country. It has ensured that the passionate atmosphere of Roker Park lives on. In 2006 a statue of the 1973 FA Cup-winning manager Bob Stokoe was unveiled outside the venue.
The design of the ground, which opened with a friendly against Ajax in 1997, allows possible expansion of a further tier, which would produce a capacity of 63,000. As well as hosting Sunderland's matches, and music gigs, the stadium has also held international matches, after being selected as one of the temporary home grounds for the England team during the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium.
It hosted its first England match – a 2-1 friendly victory over Belgium – in 1999, while its first competitive England match took place on 2 April 2003, when England triumphed 2-0 over Turkey in a UEFA Euro 2004 qualifier. The Stadium of Light also held an England Under-20 match against Italy on 27 November 2002, which the hosts won 5-3.
Peter Tomlins, the ‘groundhopper’ who has visited 470 football grounds around the country, has nothing but praise for the venue. “The Stadium of Light is a very impressive structure; its facilities also offer you the best value for your money," he said.
4 December 1999: Sunderland 4-1 Chelsea
The little and large partnership of Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn was perhaps never better demonstrated than in this match at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland exacted revenge for a 4-0 opening-day defeat by Chelsea with a memorable rout in which Peter Reid’s side rattled off four unanswered first-half goals. Quinn opened the scoring after just 44 seconds before Phillips pounced on a loose ball 25 yards out and volleyed it past Ed de Goey.
Ten minutes later the diminutive striker added his second, a casual flick from eight yards out, and Quinn pounced from close range to seal a memorable victory for the newly promoted club, whose only blip came when they conceded Gus Poyet’s second-half consolation. In his first season at the club Phillips went on to rack up 30 goals, and win both the Premier League’s Golden Boot and the European Golden Shoe award.
25 Oct 2008: Sunderland 2-1 Newcastle United
Kieran Richardson's sublime free-kick earned Sunderland their first Tyne-Wear derby victory in eight years against a spirited Newcastle side. Djibril Cisse put Sunderland ahead when he redirected Steed Malbranque's effort, but Shola Ameobi's powerful header from Geremi's free-kick drew Joe Kinnear's men level before the interval.
With 15 minutes remaining of a close-fought affair Richardson ensured local bragging rights would belong to the home supporters as he crashed home the winner with a blistering 18-yard strike. In the great scheme of things it would prove a telling win as at the end of the campaign Roy Keane’s charges finished two points above their rivals, were relegated.
1 Jan 2012: Sunderland 1-0 Manchester City
Ji Dong-won's injury-time winner earned Sunderland a dramatic victory over the Barclays Premier League leaders. With Roberto Mancini’s team seeking to capitalise on Manchester United's surprise defeat by Blackburn Rovers, the Black Cats produced a determined display. In an open match Nicklas Bendtner and Stephane Sessegnon were each denied a goal either side of the break, while Edin Dzeko and Micah Richards both struck the woodwork, but with the last kick of a pulsating match game Ji, a substitute, latched on to Sessegnon's through-ball, rounded Joe Hart and stunned the eventual Barclays Premier League champions with an ice-cool finish.
"It was an amazing feeling. It has always been a pleasure to come here to Sunderland. When I was warming up the fans near me started clapping. I have always found this a very special place to play football. It was a fantastic atmosphere."
Arsenal striker Thierry Henry (February, 2012)
For a 3D tour of the Stadium of Light and a video profiling Sunderland and their home ground, click here >>