The closet Sunderland supporters who reside in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, finally have cause to show their true colours again. According to the latest Soca Warrior to join Roy Keane's Stadium of Light revolution, the entire nation will soon be backing an increasingly compelling campaign for promotion.
Stern John may not realise it but a number of his fellow countrymen have been waiting for this moment for some time. Sunderland became the English club of choice for those Trinidadian football supporters in the know when the Black Cats' famous FA Cup winning player Ian Porterfield was appointed national team manager in the 1990s.
"I saw the Trinidad flag and it's nice," said John, who became the third Trinidad and Tobago international to play for Sunderland this season when he made his debut against his former club, Coventry City. "Although we're a small nation, when the players play abroad the whole country comes and supports the team they play for."
Whether they will be sporting the current kit or the '73 vintage remains to be seen but there is already talk of Keane taking his squad on a T&T summer tour as the Wearsiders seek to capitalise on the club's new-found popularity. Such a trip would be all the more satisfying for John, Dwight Yorke and Carlos Edwards if promotion to the Premiership has been achieved in the interim period.
"I feel I am a Premiership player and I want to play in the Premiership again before my career is over," added John. "Sunderland belong in the Premiership and I want to get the club there as quickly as possible." Yorke's 19th-minute opener and a stunning long-range strike from the midfielder Edwards six minutes from time saw Keane's team continue its stealthy progress towards the Championship's top six.
However, Coventry's caretaker manager and former Sunderland coach, Adrian Heath, deserved more after his fully committed players dominated the second half.
Former Black Cats' forward Kevin Kyle had a losing return to the club where he forged his reputation, but painful in more than one respect. Before checking into a local hospital for an x-ray on a suspected broken bone in his hand, the Scotland international said: "I've got plenty of experience of trying to turn things around from my time at Sunderland. But it's not a nice feeling when you're losing."
Goals: Yorke (19) 1-0; Edwards (84) 2-0.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Ward; Whitehead, Nosworthy, Varga, D Collins; Edwards, Yorke, Leadbitter (Simpson, 72), Wallace (Hysen, 61); Murphy (Stokes, 61), John. Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Clarke.
Coventry City (4-1-4-1): Steele; McNamee, Hawkins, Hall (Virgo, 46), Whing; Hughes; Mifsud (Adebola, 71), Thornton (Tabb, 35) Doyle, McKenzie; Kyle. Substitutes not used: Lee-Barrett (gk), Birchall.
Booked: Sunderland (Leadbitter); Coventry (Whing).
Referee: S Mathieson (Cheshire).
Man of the match: Nosworthy.
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