Everyone has a story to share about Sunderland AFC; an unforgettable moment that reaches into the very being of any Black Cats supporter, and makes them say "I was there."
Maybe it doesn’t happen enough. Maybe that only adds to the magic of it all; the all-too frequent lows that make giants out of the eventual highs. And maybe, that is what makes this grand, historic club so special today.
Together, we have experienced so many extraordinary days; from the child attending their first match at the Stadium of Light, to the old folk who just cannot refuse that one more season to see it all live.
We have seen players come and go; the grafters who lacked the quality, the talented youngsters with all the potential to be the best, heroes who made real the impossible dreams, and legends who we will never forget.
Yet, in the end, our greatest experiences are of those who remain: ourselves. It is all of us who are truly Sunderland AFC. We roar from the stands; we beat our chests with pride, sigh in collective exhaustion at a hard-earned win, make the long walk home when we lose, and soak up the moments with awe when, even as all seems wrong with the club, it all goes right in the end.
We create these moments. You create these moments.
And on Wednesday night, we need to do this one more time. What happened against Chelsea was something very unique and very special; that unity, that togetherness, that moment of collective determination to shout, "This is Sunderland and we are going nowhere!" That is the power of a true football club. Look at what it did to those players that day; look at what it did to all of us.
DAFABET PRICE BOOST: Sunderland to Win and both teams to score NOW 16/5 (was 12/5)
So, when Everton come to the Stadium of Light, let’s make this happen again.
Do it for the likes of John O’Shea; a leader who captained his team-mates through five years of the most turbulent managerial shake-ups the club has ever had.
Do it for the likes of Jan Kirchhoff and Yann M’Vila; players who nobody wanted to take a chance on before they came to Wearside, yet still became damn fine influential midfielders this season.
Or do it for players like Fabio Borini; whose blatant passion to see this club succeed is as welcome today as it was two years ago.
Do it for the longest servants of the club – Lee Cattermole and Sebastian Larsson – whose work rate over the years has helped drag Sunderland through relegation battles and into Premier League safety.
Do it for the new lads – Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Koné – who have proven that being mid-table Ligue 1 players means nothing as they continue to be crucial to keeping us in this league.
And for Jermain Defoe. Do it for one of the greatest goal-scorers in the history of this country; who, even at 33 years old, is as professional and as effective now as he was a decade ago. We may never see another like him for a long time.
Most importantly, do it for Sam Allardyce. We have had many quick-fix managers over the years, but with Big Sam we have something greater. Allardyce is on the brink of overseeing Premier League security after a 9-game head-start by our relegation rivals, and he has done it whilst instilling a stability and strength within the squad that we have not seen in a very long time. Not Steve Bruce, not Martin O’Neill, not Paolo Di Canio, nor Gustavo Poyet or Dick Advocaat could do this. We truly have one of the best managers in all the land at the club, and he deserves every ounce of respect he is given for it.
And lastly, do it for ourselves. Because, on what will be the longest night in our season, we deserve one more moment to say, "I was there".