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Helen Blackburn

It was the May bank holiday of 1998 and I was studying for my finals at Edinburgh University. My studies were put on hold for the day as I managed to find a pub that was showing the play-off finals at Wembley. 

I put on my Sunderland shirt and scarf and made my way to the pub for what has been hailed as the best game at Wembley since the 1966 World Cup final.
It was indeed an outstanding game, real end-to-end stuff. After 90 minutes it was 3-3. It went to extra time and finished up 4-4. It was going to penalties! 

I could hardly bear to watch as Sunderland born-and-bred Michael Gray missed a penalty worth millions of pounds in sponsorship and television rights, to send Charlton Athletic into the Premier League. Words will never describe how I felt. Devastation turned to disbelief and it didn’t help that the two Newcastle fans sitting at the other side of the room were absolutely loving it.

However, there was a happy ending though it took another year. The following season we went up as champions and the whole city celebrated.

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