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Three Years On - Sunderland's day at Wembley ends in defeat, but the memories live on

Today marks the three year anniversary of Sunderland's League Cup final appearance at Wembley against Manchester City. All of us who were there for that weekend will hold the memories of the entire experience dear to our hearts - Sunderland and our supporters proved that, even in defeat, we know exactly how to enjoy ourselves.

Manchester City v Sunderland - Capital One Final Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Some people say football is 'only a game' - obviously, though, they are wrong and deserve to suffer severe consequences for daring to utter such heinous words.

The next time a poor unenlightened soul trots out this statement with a look of smug self-satisfaction on their face, do not rise to their bait. Make them a cup of tea, offer them a biscuit and tell them the story of when Sunderland AFC visited Wembley in 2014 - the weekend which united a football club, a city and a region.

Anyone that traveled down to London to take part in the festivities of those few days would happily concede that, despite our loss, it was one of the greatest and proudest weekends that we've had as Sunderland supporters in recent living memory.

From the minute we all piled on to the train at Sunderland central early on the Saturday morning we could sense it was going to be an interesting weekend. Despite numerous announcements and signs declaring that it was a dry train, the travelling lads fans paid little heed and the accompanying alcohol contributed to the high spirits of all on board.

When we arrived at Kings Cross much of the talk was about where everyone was congregating that night for the pre-cup final festivities after a Russian society had rudely claimed our traditional Trafalgar square spot. It had been decided that Covent Garden was the meeting place for the travelling red and white army, so after a quick change at the apartment we jumped on the tube and made our way there, and in truth I was not quite sure what to expect.

But as we neared the main event Sunderland supporters were appearing from everywhere. Regular commuters seemed bemused as hoardes of our fans belted out a series of chants and danced about between tube stations. At times it was easy to forget that we were hundreds of miles away from home, and not in Sunderland hours after a derby day victory.

Upon arrival at Covent Garden it was like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. By the time we had got there, every off-license within two miles had been stripped bare of every alcoholic beverage that they had in stock and the party was in full swing.

Strangers embraced, drank and jumped all over singing Sunderland songs. Fans stood on top of phone boxes leading chants, all generations mingled and had a great time and there wasn’t a hint of bother all night. The scenes of celebration were such that you would be forgiven for thinking we had already won the cup final - it was quite simply a night where you felt immensely proud to support the lads.

Eventually the crowd dispersed and everyone got some kip before descending on Wembley way the following morning.

As we got off the tube at Wembley station, raw emotion completely took over - there were tears in my eyes once the Stadium came into view; red and white shirts were everywhere you looked and suddenly the magnitude of the occasion hit me.

All weekend I had thought to myself that the result was irrelevant providing we gave a good account of ourselves. But suddenly I felt sick with nerves. In the opening lines of this piece I referred to football being more than a game, and it was never more evident than in that moment.

I began to think of the Sunderland supporters who were sadly no longer with us and what this day would have meant to them. I thought of my Granddad, who was desperate to see us win one last trophy in his life time. I was more fired up for this game than any other in my life so far. We were ninety minutes from glory.

And initially it looked as though our prayers would be answered when Fabio Borini got the better of Vincent Kompany and fired the ball into the far bottom corner. As the ball struck the back of the net there was sheer bedlam in the Sunderland end and bodies flew everywhere. I just kept staring at the scoreboard, scarcely comprehending the information in front of my eyes.

When City made it 3-1, arguably the most pride-filled moment of the weekend took place. To a man the Sunderland fans roared defiantly and broke into a chant of Wise Men Say, and it was sung right until the full time whistle.

Even walking out of Wembley, our fans bizarrely seemed the happier of the two fan bases and you could sense that the weekend just gone would go down in Wearside folklore.

Despite the defeat, our weekend in London was about as perfect as it could have gotten without us actually winning the game - we had drank London dry, sung our hearts out, got to celebrate going ahead in a Cup final and above all else showed the world exactly who Sunderland AFC are and what we are about.