In 2007, Sunderland signed a deal with Umbro, bridging a 26-year gap since the club had lost worn the double diamond.
At the time – just prior to the advent of the Tailored by Umbro era – the company’s kits were laden with extra detailing and panels, but the Sunderland strips, which featured bookmakers Boylesports as the new sponsors instead of Reg Vardy, were not unattractive. The first-choice outfit was fairly traditional while an all-white second kit allowed for mixing-and-matching options.
Given that white was a strong constituent colour on the primary shirt, a third strip would have seemed like a necessity and one did exist – an all-blue rig-out that was similar to the away but had different trim around the neck.
However, with no other team in the Premier League sporting red and white stripes, the Black Cats were able to survive by using just the two kits (at Arsenal, the white shirts appeared with the black home shorts and socks). In fact, the only outing for the blue kit was a pre-season friendly in early August as the club toured Ireland to capitalise on the links with the club ownership and of course manager Roy Keane.
While blue might have been a better option than the home kit against the green and white stripes of Cork City, the sole appearance was against the solid maroon shirts of Galway United. Against the similarly-clad Scunthorpe United earlier in pre-season, Sunderland wore stripes, as they would in the league against Aston Villa and West Ham United.
While the new Premier League number font was present, player names were not, nor were league patches on the sleeves. A 4-0 win, with goals from Michael Chopra, Kieran Richardson, David Connolly and Stern John, meant the kit had a 100 percent record.