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Portsmouth v Sunderland - Checkatrade Trophy Final

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Wembley nerves... hello, old friend

It’s time to sing loud and sing proud for our boys in red and white!

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

The Wembley date is ticking ever closer, and as it will have been nearly two weeks without football, it feels like an absolute lifetime since we booked our place there.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been well over a week since Patrick Roberts tucked the ball into the back of the net at Hillsborough, sending 2000 Mackems in that particular corner of South Yorkshire absolutely mental.

Since then, we’ve had Wembley tickets go on sale, sell out, receive extra tickets, have those sell out, and then request a further allocation.

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 2nd Leg Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

We’ve stepped up a gear in preparation in the meantime, but we’ve also very strangely been labelled arrogant by fans of other League One clubs for not wanting to see 20,000 empty seats at Wembley Stadium.

It has been a stressful time for those getting hold of tickets (if I never need to sit in another virtual queue on Ticketmaster ever again, I’ll be a happy man), but the wait was worth it.

I just hope that, by 5pm on Saturday, I have a sense of it being really, really worth it.

The buzz around social media almost since full-time at Hillsborough has been nothing short of amazing.

Seeing fans supporting each other by getting tickets for those unable to get them in phases one or two, or by making sure someone could make use of their tickets if they themselves could no longer go, has been heartwarming.

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 2nd Leg Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The past week has shown just how big and strong the SAFC community is and why, even after years of dross on the pitch and feeble leadership off it, we’ll still back our club to the ends of the earth.

I’ve often said to my dad, the man who is responsible for getting me on board with the magic carpet ride of SAFC nearly 20 years ago, that there’s no way I could ever be emotionally invested in a football team as much as I am with Sunderland ever again.

The two play-off fixtures against Sheffield Wednesday were occasions on which I’d felt the most nervous ever following this club.

The fantastic buzz around Sunderland city centre followed by the electric atmosphere created at the Stadium of Light were factors that should serve as a reminder of firstly how much this club means to the city and surrounding area and, secondly, what we can do as a fanbase.

Watching the second leg on TV was almost unbearable. I find watching us on TV hard at the best of times, but in a match with so much riding on it makes this experience so much worse.

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One - Play Off - Semi Final - Second Leg - Hillsborough Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images

We’ve had a week and a half to get up for this game, and that wait is almost over.

We’ve sold over 46,000 tickets, sold out our transport, organised where we will eat and drink, and organised how to get to the stadium.

The day is for the fans. And, with the buzz around the club, I’m in no doubt it’s going to be one hell of an occasion.

As we head to Wembley once again, it’s time for us to do what we do best and get behind the lads for one more time this season.

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