Sunderland Opinion: This time, it has to be our time

Matthew Keeling was at Hillsborough on Monday night and sums up the special atmosphere in S6 that night, as Sunderland sealed their passage to Wembley

This time is our time. (I hope).

It’s been a long, long time. I’m not talking about the time passed since you had the pleasure of reading something I’ve written, I mean since something nice happened to our stupid, beloved football club.

Something nice did happen on Monday night in Sheffield though, and it says a lot that one of the best things to happen to Sunderland AFC in the last few years was an equaliser in a Third Division Play Off Semi Final, in season in which we finished fifth.

It was utter euphoria. Delirium. Relief. An explosion of emotion that felt like it had been bottled up for five years. Five years of just complete drivel, failure, and disappointment.

The strangest thing is, we haven’t even achieved anything yet – we’ve been here before.

In a moment though it felt like something was different this time. We’ll have to wait and see of course, but in Alex Neil we have a manager who was made for these occasions.

The latest trip to the capital feels slightly different. A lot has changed in the world in the last two years, you don’t need me to tell you that, encapsulated nicely by the pleasing, but ultimately looking back fairly depressing win over Tranmere at Wembley.

It’s been the strangest two years of most of our lives and we have an opportunity next Saturday to get the job done, and celebrate with our nearest and dearest, that the club that means so much to all of us has finally had a nice day. The club that is always the bridesmaid and never the bride, the butt of everyone’s jokes, the club that constantly fails in basically everything it does.

All this positivity from a man who’s been saying we’re going to finish 8th all season, you’re thinking.

It’s strange feeling like this because the atmosphere around the club has changed so much in the past month, and we have one man to thank for that and his name is Alex Neil. Whether he achieves the goal next week or not, the job he has done and the way he has conducted himself is just so commendable.

That’s enough from me, you hear enough of me on the pods. Just thought I’d share some of my thoughts really.

On a personal note, this is the first Wembley trip that I’ve done that my dad won’t be joining because I think ultimately, he just can’t face going through it all again.

So let’s do it this time lads, for those in the capital, those overseas, those back and home and for those who sadly simply can’t be there on May 21st. One day you know, we will get it right and everything we have been through will be worth it.