WHEN national attention falls on the North-East, it is often to pigeon-hole the region as a poverty-stricken outpost, and in recent years, media interest has focused on parts of the area’s Brexit views.

Sunderland, in particular, has ended up in the spotlight because of its large leave-voting majority. Some of the coverage is fair, and examines the very real economic and social concerns that led to the leave vote, some of it less so, with a sneering, patronising tone.

It was heartening to see, therefore, the wholesale take over of sections of London by Sunderland football fans before Sunday's Checkatrade Trophy final, being treated in such a positive light.

Football fans are not always the best ambassadors for their home areas, but the sheer joy of both Portsmouth and Sunderland supporters to be having a day out at the home of English football was clear to see, and social media rejoiced in it.

Not many League One clubs could provide an 85,000-capacity crowd, and it is full credit to both that they provided such a bouncing atmosphere. Yes, it was hard luck on Sunderland to lose. Even harder luck that it was Lee Cattermole, who has been a player reborn in red and white stripes this season, who missed the crucial penalty.

But the real battle now is trying to secure promotion back to the Championship. Whether or not that is successful, the club is in much better shape than it has been for years, and truly feels like the fans are back at its heart.