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Trophy moments are to be cherished - especially after Sunderland missed out last time in 2007!

Sunderland should always strive for improvement, but like last Sunday, we should cherish success in any competition and make memories as we go.

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

The joyful images of Max Power lifting the EFL Trophy surrounded by his jubilant teammates will become ingrained in the memories of Sunderland fans for life.

While much has been said about our Wembley hoodoo, we’ve enjoyed a reasonable amount of success in the second tier over the past quarter of a century.

Captain Kevin Ball collected the old Football League trophy on the pitch at Roker Park in 1996, and again at the Stadium of Light three years later.

In the noughties, we became the first ever Championship winners in 2004/05, with skipper Gary Breen handed the honour of holding aloft the prized silverware.

But what are your memories of the trophy presentation in 2007? Dean Whitehead was the captain when we put together a remarkable run to win the Championship for a second time, secured with a thumping 5-0 win away to Luton Town on the final day.

Despite wild celebrations, the Football League had decided against presenting the trophy to the champions away from home.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

While Keane was frustrated with the decision, it’s understood the Irishman chose to cancel the planned bus parade and civic reception in Sunderland because he felt that it was only the Championship, we should be in the Premier League anyway, and that we should aspiring to greater success.

I remember buying into this, to a degree. If greater times did indeed lie ahead, we shouldn’t get too hung up over receiving the Championship trophy.

Footage did eventually appear of Whitehead and his teammates receiving the trophy at a private reception, surrounded by wives and partners.

Yet while that particular title triumph will be forever associated with a topless Nyron Nosworthy and his hat at Luton, there was no iconic moment with the trophy for the fans to cherish.

Years later, Stephen Elliott spoke of his disappointment that the bus parade had been cancelled. He said there were other members of the squad who felt the same, including veteran keeper Darren Ward, who had wanted to enjoy the bus parade to cap the highlight of his career.

Soccer - Coca-Cola Football League Championship - Luton Town v Sunderland - Kenilworth Road Photo by Mike Egerton - PA Images via Getty Images

Keane kept us up the following season, and built on that with some exciting signings for the second campaign back in the top flight.

Despite his best intentions, the dream fell apart. We ended up staying in the top flight for a decade, sometimes by the skin of our teeth, and reached a League Cup final in 2014.

But there were no more trophy moments until last Sunday - and even that came after a remarkable fall from grace - winning a trophy a club of our stature shouldn’t really be competing in.

Like Keane, our current manager Lee Johnson is clearly ambitious, and the same can be said for Kristjaan Speakman and Kyril Louis Dreyfus.

These men will be setting their standards far higher than the EFL Trophy, but they know what winning silverware – any silverware – means to the club and the fans, and they embraced the celebrations at Wembley.

The pandemic will no doubt ensure we have no bus parade again this time, but at least the players had their moment of glory on the Wembley pitch.

And while us fans couldn’t be there, watching them lift that trophy has made us all walk on water this past week or so.

We should always strive for improvement, but like last Sunday, we should cherish success in any competition and make memories as we go.

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