TONIGHT is the night that Wearside hopes to pave its way to Wembley.
More than 9,000 Sunderland supporters were today en route to the North West as their team looks to seal victory over Manchester United and get to the Capital One Cup final.
Gus Poyet’s team take a 2-1 lead into the game and despite United suffering from poor form this season, it will still be a tough ask to get through the tie as victors.
A draw or win would mean Sunderland will be one game away from winning the club’s first silverware since 1973.
Former Black Cats skipper Gary Bennett, part of the Sunderland sides which lost League and FA Cup finals in 1985 and 1992 respectively, said: “It’s a great opportunity for the club and the supporters.”
“Usually we don’t get as many tickets at Old Trafford when we play there in the league so it’s definitely going to be an advantage.
“The supporters away from home are always great and they will be heard tonight, that’s for sure.”
Tickets for the Sunderland section of the ground sold out more than a week ago. A fleet of buses is set to transport the hordes to Manchester after Sunderland Football Club said it would pay for each supporter’s travel.
Lifelong fan George Forster, of the Sunderland Supporters’ Association, says the team has a good chance of progressing.
“We’ll have a wonderful set of fans there, but knowing Manchester United, they will have good players to come back into their team,” said George, 87.
“As long as we start well enough, we’ll give ourselves a chance.
Mal Robinson, editor-in-chief of fanzine Red and White Lite, said: “I’m really looking forward to the semi-final at Old Trafford. It will be a memorable night with 9,000 Mackems there and hopefully the team can put a shift in to make it even more memor- able.”
Mal added that his week has already been one to remember and could get even better should his beloved Black Cats overcome David Moyes’s side.
“Personally, it’s been a great week already with the birth of my son on Monday, called Charlie after Charlie Hurley, so to reach Wembley would cap it all off very nicely indeed,” he said.