The Roker End of the Stadium of Light is set to be covered in a sea of red and white when Sheffield Wednesday visit Wearside for Friday’s League One play-off semi-final.
The Spirit of 37, coined by its four organisers due to the block they sit in and in honour of the year of Sunderland’s first FA Cup win, are responsible for the club’s fan-led displays.
Over £3,000 has been raised so far by the group’s fundraiser page over two days, smashing the original target of £2,250.
“We were just trying to do whatever we could to build things back up and bring a depleted fanbase back on side to try and create something different in League One” said organiser Michael Conroy, 44.
“When results are going well it’s easy to get volunteers, but when it’s -3 degrees and everyone wants to be in the warm pub, numbers started dropping.”
The group, which formed in 2018, have received hundreds of messages from volunteers in advance of Friday’s huge encounter.
“The response from fans has been amazing, for just four daft lads who go to the matches, to raise this much,” said Patrick Scott, 25.
“The volunteers coming on Friday don’t even know what the display is going to look like, but they love the club and want to help.”
The group have been working non-stop since the fixture was confirmed, combined with their full-time jobs, to prepare the display which in the past has included huge flags held above heads by fans and individual sections of material held up to form a bigger image.
Friday presents a huge opportunity for both ex-Premier League clubs to take a huge step in climbing back up the divisions.
“You don’t get this often in League One, but I think it will actually be a good game to watch as both teams try and play good football,” Patrick said.
“Wednesday have hit form at the right time, it’s a shame that this won’t be the final as Wembley would have been packed,” Michael added.
All four agreed that Sunderland would need to take a lead into Monday’s second leg at Hillsborough to have a chance of progressing.
The Spirit of 37 also confirmed that they will plan an even bigger display for Wembley if the Black Cats progress to the final.
Patrick – 3-1, 1-0. Sunderland win 3-2.
Brad – 2-1, 1-0. Sunderland win on penalties.
Michael – 2-1, 1-1. Sunderland win 3-2.
Jamie – 2-1, 1-1. Sunderland win 3-2.