Wembley A Family Affair For Local Lad Jack

Chris Brunskill

In an increasingly multinational modern game, Sunderland may just come away from Wembley with another local cup final hero this weekend.

Sunderland's Wembley adventure will probably hold special significance for academy-product Jack Colback.

The midfielder joined the club at the age of just 10, despite being a Tynesider with no shortage of Newcastle family connections, and this weekend's trip to the national stadium will be his first visit there in any capacity. It probably doesn't get much better than that.

He told reporters:

I never thought twice about it (joining Sunderland). Obviously parts of my family support Newcastle, but they certainly weren't going to tell me not to sign for Sunderland. It was an opportunity I had to take. It was a massive chance for me.

As players it's your job, isn't it, it doesn't matter where you're from, it's your job to go out on the pitch and play as well as you can for whoever you play for and that's what I do.

I've not got as many family going to the final as some of the lads, but I've got a few and I've got my kids going down so that will be nice.

I've had a few texts from people coming out of the woodwork and everyone on the Sunderland side of the family is desperate to go because we don't get many chances to go to a Wembley final. Everyone wants to be there.

May be I'm a bit of a man out of time here, but I absolutely love an academy product or two in the side. It's becoming rarer and rarer these days. I honestly believe it nurtures a connection between the stands and the pitch, though.

The 1973 side was packed full of lads from the north east and even the manager and unused substitute were local. Perhaps a big part of its legend is the fact it was so relatable.

Colback also joked that he thinks "Craig Gardner has about 140" tickets for the final given the sheer size of his family. He hasn't, of course, ticket conspiracy theorists. But you get the feeling that you won't be seeing Vito Mannone's mother-in-law interviewed in a broad Sunderland twang as she boards a bus on cup final morning with the rest of the fans like Jimmy Montgomery's was.

We still do better than most clubs in terms of local connections I think, despite what Greg Dyke says every time England are rubbish. As well as Colback, there is Sunderland-born Adam Johnson, Stockton-born Lee Cattermole, and Steven Fletcher's step-father is pretty much Sunderland daft.

But with modern football so multicultural and multinational, it would be great to see one of our own immortalised as a Sunderland cup final hero this weekend.

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