Tributes paid to SAFC players and fans as Wembley dreams fade again
Wembley dreams ended in heartache for thousands of Sunderland AFC fans as Jack Ross’ side lost their Checkatrade Trophy final in the cruellest manner.
The game ended 2-2 after extra time before Portsmouth claimed glory with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win. Lee Cattermole was the only penalty-taker not to score.
Forty thousand Sunderland fans had descended on London for the weekend, taking over Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square on Saturday night, while hundreds more packed into pubs and clubs back on Wearside to watch the match.
Speaking after the game, fans were downhearted but proud of the team’s performance and travelling fans.
Kenny Dugdale said: “It was a great turn-out and all the supporters who made the trip have done us proud.”
Pal Ken Woodhouse said The Lads paid the price for not pressing their advantage: “The first half was fantastic but in the second half, we let them back into it.”
Sunderland City Council leader Coun Graeme Miller said: “Thanks to the team for getting us to Wembley again for another final. It’s been a fantastic occasion for us all whatever the result.
“Our city has a proud sporting history, and the achievements of our fantastic Sunderland Football club this season point towards a bright future to look forward to for the team, the owners and of course, the fans.
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“The hard work starts again in the league next week, and fingers crossed for all the games we have left and the push for promotion.”
His deputy, Coun Michael Mordey, watched the game in Ttonic in Holmeside.
“It is 1998 all over again,” he said.
“I feel very emotional. For the team to lose at Wembley, I am absolutely gutted for them. I think The Lads have done themselves and the city proud.”
He is hoping the team can secure automatic promotion and avoid a second visit to Wembley this season: “I don’t think I can take another play-off. We’ve still got the scars.”
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott took to Twitter to say: “Commiserations Sunderland AFC - you played your hearts out and made the whole city proud.
“The passion of the SAFC fans was absolutely amazing too - for heart and spirit Sunderland’s supporters are unbeatable.”