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Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy Final

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How did it feel to finally see Sunderland win at Wembley after 48 long years?

Go on, tell us - how did it feel to see The Lads FINALLY win a game at Wembley Stadium?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Chris Camm says...

It’s a remarkable feeling really. I’m 24 years old so I only know the stories of what it was like in 73, and to be honest, I barely remember the best times under Peter Reid with Phillips and Quinn.

My best memories of Sunderland are the promotions under McCarthy and then Keane followed by a slew of dramatic escapes from relegation. Therefore the sight of a Sunderland team lifting a trophy and celebrating at Wembley was actually a bit odd. I’m not used to this feeling - this feeling of accomplishment, fulfillment and pride that can only come from your team completing the job and winning.

There are so many fans just like me who this competition, although not a major trophy, is the first cup they’ve ever seen us lift. It’s different, winning is different, and being able to say that this is the start of a new era where success is the only option. Well, that's different too.

On another note, speaking of how the win made me feel. I want to say how happy for Grant Leadbitter I am. What a servant of SAFC he is and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of that moment where he carried the trophy off the Wembley pitch.

It just sums up how the culture around the club has changed under the new regime. Lee Johnson was so keen to stress in his interviews post-match about how all of the staff and the players who couldn’t play all had a massive part in this success. Seeing Joyce the chef enjoying the moment with the players proves how this club really feels together again, and looks capable of pulling together to emerge from a troubled decade with a restored sense of pride and ambition.

For some, Sunday was the burying of a hatchet with Wembley, for others it was the first taste of success but for everyone, it was the start of something that could be great.

Malc Dugdale says...

I’d sum up my feelings after the Papa John’s Trophy win in a few key phrases - relief that the Wembley curse has passed, joy that squad confidence and belief continues to grow, and optimism that this may not be another brief peak of form which we will fade away from, as we have in the past way too many times.

When we failed to win the cup against Portsmouth 2 years ago, quite a few fans I know claimed that they weren’t actually that bothered. With the way we then missed out on auto and then playoff promotion, however, it is feasible that the failure to win versus Pompey may have put enough doubt into our squad members’ heads to prevent them pushing that extra yard to the 99th minute, as we needed to in that playoff final against Charlton. These fine margins make all the difference when you approach the finish line, and back then, we fell short. I’m not so sure that losing the cup wasn’t part of why that happened.

The importance of high standards and expectations that Lee Johnson has rapidly instilled is the other major positive feeling for me. The club wanting to win every game - whether it is a top of the table six-pointer, a battle against a relegation cert or a cup game that we could arguably class as lower priority - is exactly what we needed, especially after the acceptance of mediocrity we saw at times from Ross, and more so from Parkinson.

This whole run of performances including the cup triumph are bigger than the individual results themselves - they symbolise a new ethos being defined and rapidly embraced, which is bringing benefits on and off the pitch, and is providing real hope.

Life is tough for people in and from the north of England, and football is often a welcome distraction from the challenges of real life that surround us every day. Even on cup final day, life can be incredibly hard. To be given reassurance that the present twinkle of hope may actually be the one that carries us out of this league, giving us something really positive to look forward to in these very challenging times for all... that to me is more than worth missing a day out at Wembley for.

Well done and thank you to the lads, but please please ensure we build from here. Know that we believe in you as a squad, and we feel that our time is here too. Let’s take this chance with both hands, and let’s refill the SOL in the next league up this autumn.

Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy Final Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Phil West says...

Ending the forty-eight-year Wembley curse and getting that trophy into the cabinet is a crucial first step as we begin our journey under the new regime. After so much futility at the national stadium over the years, and seeing our hopes of victory shattered by a variety of different players under a variety of different circumstances, it was one hell of a relief to finally come out on the winning side. I genuinely never thought I would see Sunderland win a game at Wembley, and seeing Max Power lift the trophy, and the celebrations that followed, was something I’ll never forget.

As we progressed through this season’s competition, I was always of the opinion that we should treat it with respect and aim to win it. This group of players needed the psychological boost that lifting the trophy would provide. Knowing that you’ve navigated your way through a knockout tournament and have prevailed at the end of it can only be of huge benefit to both the players and Lee Johnson. They’ve tasted success now, and I am 100% certain they will be even more determined to achieve further success at the end of the league campaign.

It genuinely does feel as though we are on a new path now, and this victory has to be the start of the journey. Team spirit and confidence ought to be absolutely sky-high now, and it is crucial that we channel that into our remaining league fixtures to ensure that the season concludes with a double success. EFL trophy victory and promotion would be a superb double, and there is absolutely no reason why we cannot do it!

Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy - Final 2021 - Wembley Stadium Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says...

As a seven times beaten Wembley attender, and having been to every game in our 72/73 cup run bar the final at Wembley (I could not get a ticket), I experienced a strange brew of emotions.

From a very personal perspective, winning the trophy has perhaps exorcised 48 years of pain and agony and I am grateful this morning for that. The anti-climatic feelings I experienced at the end of the game were I think to do with not being able to be there, as well as not being able to share in the victory with lots of my fellow fans.

The performance for me continues our ability at the moment to not play particularly well, but still win games. This is a handy capacity to have as we get down to the business end of the season. There were perhaps four bits of class in the game, with McGeady’s pass to Gooch and his emphatic despatch being the killer blow. Just prior to the goal, I was ruminating on who LJ would replace Gooch with - it shows you what I know!

I am pleased we have the Wembley monkey off our backs - now, if we have to go back in May, we can go unencumbered with our history of defeat.

Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy - Final 2021 - Wembley Stadium Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

Wow, that Wembley feeling, not to be on the wrong end of the scoreline or penalty shootout! We’ve all heard countless stories of 1973 from fathers and uncles, but finally we get to experience a Wembley win for ourselves.

We know what potential this club has, as Peter Reid once said, we are a ‘sleeping giant’. Yesterday felt like that awakening, every great footballing dynasty has had to begin somewhere.

If any doubters want to know what is different about this new dawn, at least we can now point to our win yesterday.

I was at Wembley on the last three occasions and remember the heart-ache or nearly moments from John Byrne’s early chance against Liverpool in the cup final to Michael Gray’s penalty miss against Charlton.

Our win over Tranmere may not banish all of those memories but a sustained period of success from now could go a long way towards this long-suffering club’s redemption. For the record, the three teams we have beaten on the Wembley turf all wear white. Finally, we feel like a team who will fight for any success we achieve and no longer wave the white flag...

On This Day (9 June 2007): Midfielder turns down Sunderland return – and heads to Bolton instead


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