For me, this weekend is about more than 90-minutes of football, it’s about our day in the sun.
It’s not often we get something to cheer about and look what we have had to go through in recent years to get this. Wembley for me is an opportunity to take stock, think where the club was 12 months ago, take it as a standalone experience and enjoy it with my friends and family.
Whoever you are heading to the match with, enjoy it all, take it all in, soak it up, have the best time. I will be, from boarding the train with mates on Saturday, the atmosphere in London on the night, to meeting family at the game on Sunday afternoon, I’m making the most of the whole occasion.
The last time Sunderland were at Wembley against Manchester City in the League Cup Final of 2014, the club was embroiled in a relegation battle, and it was a day giving some relief to the supporters, a day when the struggles in the league could be forgotten about. The team led at half time too, before a second half comeback saw City run out 3-1 victors.
Despite the result, who will ever forget the scenes when we took the lead? I was at that game, and I was also at the 1998 Play-off Final against Charlton as a six-year-old. We lost, I cried.
Experiences like this weekend are unique for a club like ours. In 20 years’, “who won the Checkatrade trophy in 2019?” could well be a trivia question, people outside of our fanbase might not remember.
But we will remember being there, we will remember being there with the people we care about the most, watching the team we care about the most.
Genuinely, for me, I could not think of a bunch of players I’d rather represent us at Wembley, representing the City I am from. I’ve watched Premier League sides, and loved them, but I’ve never seen a squad “get” everything about the place as much as the current squad. I love them, and they have given us all something that will stay with us forever – regardless of the result.
Who knows when we’ll get this opportunity again, so let’s head to London and watch a group of players proud to play for Sunderland play for us at the most famous stadium in the world, and let’s watch them come back to the City with the trophy.
Imagine the immense levels of pride. Pride in the players, the club, ourselves as fans and of the City of Sunderland. As a City we’ve endured some difficult times, and the football club has always been something to bring everyone together.
40,000 Sunderland fans, a sold-out Wembley, it’s going to be quite an occasion. Although the experience itself is a standalone thing, the actual game can be used as a catalyst for the rest of our season. Win the trophy, it could give us momentum to clinch automatic promotion as it will give the players that taste for success.
I’m dreaming of the roar now, the roar of a packed Sunderland end, in front of which Max Power has scored an injury time winner. I’m crying again.