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Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final

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Sunderland AFC are back - and now, we need you to come back too

After many years of pain, anger and despair, lots of lifetime Sunderland supporters fell away. Now, we are back - and we really need you with us next season at the SOL.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

The reported crowd of Sunderland supporters present inside Wembley on Saturday afternoon was 47,000 - that’s around 17,000 more than our average gate last season.

17,000 extra supporters who found a reason to believe.

17,000 extra supporters who were reminded of why they love this club.

In truth, there were likely more of us than that in the stadium - in the various corporate areas, possibly even in the Wycombe end. The demand outstripped the supply, and I maintain that we probably could have sold the place out if given the opportunity.

Right across Wearside, in the bars, clubs and living rooms of the region, places were packed out with thousands lads and lasses decked in red and white - those who couldn’t be there in person to cheer the team on at Wembley.

And not just across the country, but across the world there were Sunderland diehards cheering and willing Alex Neil’s men on in front of their TV screens, nervously anticipating the final whistle just like I was from seat at the game.

I don’t know if there’s even a way to work out how many fans this football club actually has, but it’s safe to say that our fanbase is huge.

We’re a one club city, and we love our team unconditionally.

My message to all of those people - perhaps you reading this right now - is this: now that you’ve got the bug back, why not come again next season and give the team your full support from the stadium?

Why not be a part of the next stage of our club’s journey?

Why not be there every other Saturday to show your love for the club in the same way that you did at the weekend, perhaps with your friends or family beside you?

Now, I’m not ignorant - the cost of living right now is immense, and most of us will have skinted ourselves just to be there in London at such short notice.

The cost of a season card certainly isn’t cheap, even though Sunderland have one of the cheapest annual offerings in the country.

Frankly, when people are having to choose between food or fuel, finding the extra pennies to spend on committing to a full season of football isn’t easy - I understand.

But, if you’re reading this and you can afford it, and you’re humming and harring about whether or not to get one, I’d implore you to take the plunge and do it.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One - Play Off - Final - Wembley Stadium Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

Sunderland fans have received an immense amount of positive press over recent days - everyone in the country knows that we have some of the best fans in the land.

And, we finally have the right manager to lead us forward. I can only speak for myself, but I fully believe that Alex Neil will eventually take Sunderland into the Premier League.

For that to happen, our fans have a huge say in how things pan out.

40,000-plus crowds at home games next season will help to push the team over the line. Those extra 10-15,000 supporters through the gates could be the difference between winning and losing games - as we saw at Wembley when the immense noise throughout the second half made it virtually impossible for our team to lose.

There’s also the fact that extra revenue generated by the club through season card sales means extra money made available for players, wages and infrastructure - for the club to become self-sustaining, and less reliant on rich owners dipping into their pockets, fans can also play their part to ensure the club builds year on year.

This isn’t just about supporting our men’s first team, though. As part of our ‘one club’ ethos, season cards from next season also include access for fans to watch Sunderland Women and Sunderland U23s - meaning that you get more football for your money than you perhaps ever have before.

Both our men's and women's senior sides are in the second tier, and both field local talent that give their absolute all for the badge - Elliot Embleton and Anthony Patterson, two of the heroes of the team that won at Wembley, are sure to be huge fixtures in the side, as will future England star Neve Herron for the Women, managed by local lass Mel Reay.

So whether you live local to Sunderland still or you’re based elsewhere, please consider buying a season card. I’ve had one for the majority of my life and I honestly couldn’t do without it - being at every game next season to cheer the Lads on in the same fashion that I did in the Playoff Final means the world to me, and I’m sure that it does you too.

As the club themselves said this week, this is Just The Start. Consider being part of the journey - this is our opportunity to help put Sunderland AFC back on the map, and to get this club back to its rightful place at the top of the footballing pyramid.

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