FOOTBALL fans from Hartlepool are up for the cup as they get ready to leave for Wembley to cheer their team on.
The Black Cats take on high-fliers Manchester City in the Capital One final on Sunday in their first major final since the 1992 FA Cup.
Among the thousands of Sunderland supporters at the game will be Eric Goddard, from Hartlepool.
The 52-year-old dad of two, from the Dyke House area, has watched his beloved Sunderland overcome the opposition in every round of the competition so far.
And is hoping his heroes can lift the trophy come Sunday tea time.
Eric, who has followed Sunderland since 1976, said: “It’s unbelievable. You don’t get much success being a Sunderland fan so you have got to make the most of it when we do.
“I’ve been to the new Wembley around a dozen times to watch England and it has a tremendous atmosphere.
“We have never won a trophy since 1973 when we beat Leeds so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Eric, who lives with partner Janet Wearmouth, is taking the train early on Saturday morning.
He is travelling with fellow Hartlepool-based supporters Michael McKenna, his brother Andrew McKenna, Andrew’s wife and son, Susan and Owen, and Kenneth Patten.
Eric, who ran Hartlepool Trading Post, in Hart Lane, for 22 years, added: “Sunderland has quite a large following in Hartlepool. I would put it in the hundreds.”
But what does Eric think the outcome will be?
Sunderland are currently third bottom in the league while Man City are third top.
The Black Cats go into the game after losing 4-1 to Arsenal last weekend.
Season-ticket holder Eric said: “It’s going to be a tough game, but my heart says we will win one nil.
“That’s what I’m putting my money on.”
Also making the trip Anthony Brownbridge and his wife Alison, of Bishop Cuthbert, Hartlepool.
Season ticket holder Anthony, 40, could not get to the semi final in Manchester as he had to work at Hartlepool College of Further Education the next day where he is a lecturer.
But he and Alison, 35, who works at Sunderland University, booked their coach and hotel for London within days of Sunderland making the final.
Anthony said: “We have done alright against them at home but it’s Man City.
“I hope we can nick a one nil win like we did in 1973 against Leeds.
“It was a similar situation to now with us being down the bottom of the league and the opposition near the top so let’s hope history can repeat itself.”
Their Sunderland-mad son Coen, three, will not be there as his parents feel he is a bit too young for the experience but he will be cheering the team on back home.
lYou can send us your good luck messages in the run up to the big match which we will run in the paper and online.
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