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Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off - Final - Wembley Stadium

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Fan Letters: Ticket troubles and playoff final omens!

Securing tickets for Saturday and positive signs ahead of the big game are our topics today! Got something to say? Email us: RokerReport@yahoo.co.uk

Photo by Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’ve spent a few hours and had a few pints at my darts competition tonight, which was time enough to try and comprehend what happened this morning.

After waiting in the queue for the tickets to go on general sale (having taken the morning off work on the off-chance they would be available), I was over the moon that there were tickets remaining.

I’d signed in, got my ticket in the basket, then clicked on ‘review’, which was the option before payment. I then proceeded to watch the timer tick away, but it wouldn’t take me to the payment screen.

I waited for the screen to change, but it never happened, and the timer was ticking down all the way to eventually releasing the ticket in my basket. Afterwards, I felt physically sick that the service had let me down.

I’ve emailed the club with my screenshots, and although I know it’s not their fault, I was wondering if anyone else had experienced this problem?

I can live without going. Indeed, it might be a good omen after my previous visits to Wembley, and I honestly didn’t think any tickets would be available, but this was worse than it simply being sold out.

I’d like to wish everyone with a passion for my beloved SAFC all the best, not only this weekend, but in the future also. Keep the faith, even though mine has been all but lost.

I’ll get over it sometime. It will take a while, but I’ll get there.

Love to all you bonny lads and lasses,

Paul Phillips

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Thank you for your letter, Paul.

It does seem as though the online booking system being used for the playoff final has not worked perfectly, and that many people, yourself included, have been left frustrated and annoyed.

Perhaps this was always likely to happen. After all, there has been high demand for tickets over the past week, and maybe the system simply hasn’t been able to handle it. The short turnaround from the semi-final is always tricky, and it seems to have caused problems again.

I do feel that the club's ticketing system in general is an area that could be improved, and hopefully, changes can be made to make it much easier to use for everyone.

FBL-ENG-LCUP-CHELSEA-LIVERPOOL Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

It was so frustrating to see the incredible demand for tickets from Sunderland fans, yet no real common sense coming from Wycombe or the EFL, who seemed determined to hang onto tickets they will never sell.

I thought football was the people’s game? It will be a sight of great dismay for those watching at home when they see 20,000 empty seats in the blue end of the ground.

Tom, in Sherburn Village

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Thank you for getting in touch, Tom.

I agree that, in the early stages of the process, the split between the two sets of supporters seemed quite peculiar, especially when the EFL were aware of how many Sunderland fans would’ve been desperate to get their hands on a ticket.

Indeed, Sunderland fans were accused of ‘entitlement’ by Wycombe supporters, which I thought was unfair. This is a high-stakes game, and we simply want to ensure that as many fans are in the stadium as possible.

At the time of writing, it seems like the worst-case scenario of thousands of empty seats may well be avoided. Wycombe seem to have sold a generous amount, as have we, and hopefully it makes for a superb atmosphere at 3:00pm on Saturday!

Wycombe Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Next year will mark my sixtieth year of supporting Sunderland in person, which began with our 1-0 loss to Chelsea in a promotion-clinching game that was mentioned in a recent article.

Thinking ‘nothing ventured’, I entered the general sale ticket queue well before 10:00am and was feeling optimistic at number 78 in the queue, when the inevitable ‘SOLD OUT’ message flashed up.

It looks like 2022 will join 1973 as a Wembley occasion I will miss (though I am happy to accept a spare ticket).

If it is any consolation, the occasions on which I have attended - 1985, 1992, 2014 and 2019 versus Portsmouth - all have one thing in common, which was a loss. With that in mind, my enforced viewing of the game on television may be a good omen!

Andrew Bailey

PS: Please ignore the above suggestion if you have a spare ticket.

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Andrew.

Perhaps you are right, in that not going through the emotions of Saturday’s game in person may just be the lucky charm we need to win!

I am sure that Sky Sports will be ramping up the drama during the build-up, and here’s hoping you can finally celebrate another Wembley victory at the end of the day!

Oxford United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

On the 5th of May 1973, I was nineteen years old and serving in The Lifeguards mounted Squadron, Household Cavalry.

At 11:40 in the morning, I was returning on my horse from Whitehall to our barracks in Knightsbridge with the other fourteen members of the regiment, after our twenty four hour Queen’s Lifeguard duty. I can still vividly recall my thoughts and events from that day.

I had managed to get home on leave to see two games at Roker Park during the run to the final. The first game was the draw with Reading- managed by Charlie Hurley, as I recall- in the third round, and the second was the sixth round win against Luton Town.

At 07:00 that Saturday morning, I was on guard duty, when around thirty Sunderland fans walked through Horseguards on their way up to Trafalgar Square. Of course, I couldn’t speak to them, but as they passed me I stood to attention and carried my sword to salute them, as I would an officer.

When we returned to barracks and dismounted, I handed my horse over to my mate from the stables, while I went to change out of my ceremonial uniform. I was off duty from 13:00pm until 06:00am the next morning, when I would be preparing for another twenty four hour guard duty.

Normally my routine to prepare for guard duty would be lunch in the cookhouse, followed by a couple of hours of kip, then cleaning my kit for the next day. On this day, however, Sunderland were playing in the cup final, and I had overheard in the cookhouse that a guy who worked in the stores had got a job working on the turnstiles at Wembley Stadium for the game.

It just so happened his best mate was sitting next to me, and I asked him, “Is Des working on the turnstiles?”. (He was from Cramlington and was a huge Newcastle fan).

“Aye,” he said. “I don’t know which turnstile, but if you fancy it, we can get a tube and go and see if we can find him, and maybe he can get us in.”

Fast forward to 14:55, and me and my mate were standing inside Wembley, after an hour and a half spent walking up to every turnstile at both ends of the stadium, trying to find him. We finally found him manning a turnstile in the Sunderland end, but it was ‘panic stations’, as they had a police officer posted outside the turnstile in an attempt to clamp down on ticket touts.

As we passed through the turnstiles, I smartly pulled out a coupon from my cigarette packet- a ‘number 6 coupon’- and my mate duly let us pass into the stadium.

We were ‘in’, but not really ‘in’!

Gerald Hunter.

Ed’s Note [Phil]: That was a fabulous story, Gerald, and it shows exactly how far some fans will go in order to see the team play in the biggest matches.

After the lengths you went to and the difficulties you faced, it was fantastic that you were able to witness the team winning the FA Cup, and that your efforts were worth it!

Soccer - FA Cup Final - Leeds United v Sunderland - Wembley Stadium Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

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