Sunday 31st March will be a day I won’t forget. Despite the result and the heartbreak, what made that day special was the fans. From Saturday morning through to Sunday night Sunderland fans showed why they’re quite possibly the best in country, if not the world.
The atmosphere in Wembley was something I don’t think any of the 40,000 odd Black Cats fans will ever forget. I said in my previous article that this game was more than a cup final and it was so much more than what I even thought it would be.
The final showed the world we are coming back. We didn’t walk away with the trophy which would’ve been so fitting, but we did everything we needed to and more. We had our Wembley moments and I don’t think you’ll see a better advert for lower league football than Sunday. I could sit and pick the game apart but I don’t want to. I want to remember the moments, the atmosphere and the emotions.
I know he has had his critics more than once this season but I want to send a special thank you to Jack Ross. He got us to a final and quite frankly we have to use yesterday as a catalyst to push us on to a 2nd place finish. Ross has steadied a sinking ship because it would’ve been so easy to struggle again this season. I do want to reiterate a point I’ve made all season. We do not have a god given right to win this league or get promoted. We have to earn it and I think we will. With Jack at the helm I think we can go a long way.
We also have to heap praise on the owners. Stewart and Charlie have been fantastic and Juan Sartori turning up was brilliant. Also showing some class by inviting Ellis Short to the game. He wrote off the debt and sold the club at a fraction of the cost. I won’t ever forgive him for the way he left the club but I will give him credit for that. Stewart and co have done the difficult jobs and while I imagine it hasn’t been easy they’ve gave it their all. Whether they sell up this summer or stay for a few years I think they have done their best for the club and we should be grateful.
Now, I was talking about the atmosphere yesterday. I thought McGeady’s freekick celebration was special. That equaliser though. I felt my entire body shaking from the noise. The place erupted, the ground was shaking under the weight of every Sunderland fan going insane. I can’t fault the performance of the players they gave their all and could see they were all devastated by the result. However, I don’t think any of them will forget the noise they heard from start to finish and neither will I.
Lee Barry Cattermole, we haven’t always seen eye to eye. You’ve been criticised, praised, close to leaving the club but you’re still here. You could’ve easily got into a Championship team despite your wages if you wanted to. You were the man of the match for me in the final. You personified what it means to play for Sunderland. A few reports stated that you “apologised” to the players but you’ve got nothing to apologise for. You gave everything and left nothing on the pitch. Hold your head up and keep battling on.
So, in summary, when people ask me “how was your weekend?” Or even years down the line “what do you remember of that final?” I think I will always reply that it was the time I was never prouder to be a Sunderland fan. It wasn’t our result but it was our weekend. We turned the capital red and white. We are coming back.