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“It finally feels like our Sunderland are back!”

“Whilst it wasn’t a win, it was everything we hoped it could have been, and so much more” writes Morgan Lowrie, who thinks that the people of Sunderland did themselves and the city proud this past weekend.

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Whilst it wasn’t a win, it was everything we hoped it could have been, and so much more.

Twenty four months of pain turned to suffering, anger turned to apathy, hope diminished. To think those last two years (and many before) could be healed in a weekend that ultimately ended in defeat personifies just how special it really was.

On the eve of the game the people of our city and surrounding towns sang, danced, laughed and awakened the community spirit that built our club all those years ago. The thousands of fans descending upon Covent Garden, and then Trafalgar Square, emphatically painted the capital red and white. Shirts of memorable teams of the past, red flares lighting up the idling skies, conquests on the fountains and columns all combined to embody a sense of togetherness, anticipation, and the return of long, lost hope...

We all know how the opening 90, ensuing 30 and penalty shoot out was to end. Despite all of that, a local lad captain, a magical left wing performance and a squad proud to wear our famous stripes in amongst the cauldron of fire which was the red and white section of Wembley did us proud.

It finally felt that Sunderland, our Sunderland, were back.

Whilst it was a loss on the national stage it was a proud day to be a Sunderland fan, and those days have been painfully few and far between in recent years.

Despite the standing of the competition and the end result, nobody can take away the experience, memories, images, friends, old and new, and taking over the planet’s most famous city whilst the world stood in awe.

The focus now must turn back to the league, starting at Accrington on Wednesday. Now is our opportunity to claim what we all set out to achieve together, to gain promotion and set foot on the path to redemption.

With games in hand it’s completely in our hands to achieve that, and it’s in our hands to back them every single step of the way. Ha’way the Lads.