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The Wembley Edition - The Twist #29 - The Wise Men Say Newsletter

The Twist - The Wise Men Say Newsletter
The Twist - The Wise Men Say Newsletter
After the longest week in living memory, all roads lead to Wembley Stadium as Sunderland face Wycombe Wanderers in the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final! Kick off 3pm.

The Twist | Wycombe Wanderers (N) | Issue #29
Here we are then. 46 games of League One football plus two legs against Sheffield Wednesday has led to this one game. One last chance. By 5.30pm on Saturday afternoon, we will either be facing a fifth season in League One, or we will, once again, be a Championship team. Looking up, instead of down.
Now, of course, we have been here before. We have literally been right here before. Speak to anyone who was at Wembley in 2019, though, and they will tell you, this feels different.
As we all fondly remember, the play-offs in 2019 felt very much like the wooden spoon after spending most of the season looking like promotion candidates. We threw it away in the last six weeks of the season, and having already visited the national stadium two months earlier, the appetite for going again, for a game we shouldn’t have even been playing, wasn’t as strong.
It is different this season.
Yes, we were in contention for promotion this season, but we stuffed that up months ago. And, if it wasn’t for Alex Neil’s efforts, we might not have even made the play-offs this year.
This trip to Wembley feels like the culmination of a journey, rather than a consolation prize. We go there in form, with a full squad to choose from, against a side that we have taken four points from this season.
Wycombe Wanderers are a mean opponent. As much as we have ripped the mick out of Gareth Ainsworth - and boy, have we done that - he has built an awkward, tricky team. Many people outside of Sunderland have tipped this as some kind of David v Goliath battle, but we know that’s not the case.
If we beat Wycombe, we’ll have worked damned hard for it. We’ll be bloodied and bruised.
In Alex Neil we have a manager that has won at Wembley and is something of an expert on one-off games. Put simply, we haven’t had a better single opportunity to go up.
For the last time this season. Please, PLEASE, for the last time in League One.
One more time.
Haway the Lads!
If you haven’t seen it this week, there is a plethora of content for you to assail your ears and eyes with as the build-up to 3pm continues. Loads of bonus pods, loads of articles, and we’ve also curated a playlist for you to listen to, if you needed to be motivated for this game any more than you are.
We are with you.
Episode 782 - "Walruses, Collect to Build Magazines and Humberside Airport"
Episode 783 - "Winning at Wembley"
Episode 784 - "Bad Wembley, Good Wembley"
Episode 785 - "A Trip Back to 1990"
Episode 786 - "1998 Play-off Final Revisited - with Kevin Phillips"
Episode 787 - "The Road To Wembley Playlist"
Episode 788 - "SAFC and Durham Special with Scott Borthwick"
Episode 789 - "Wembley Bound"
Episode 790 - "Meanwhile Back In Sunderland"
The Road To Wembley Playlist - Wise Men Say's contributions
Wembley Memories - Sunderland v Charlton, 1998. The most formative day in my Sunderland-supporting life
Sunderland AFC Finances - What would promotion to the Championship mean?
Wembley Memories: Sunderland at Wembley through the ITV Tyne Tees lens
Wembley Memories - The chronicles of the worst spent 48 hours of my life
Wembley Memories - With Sky Sports News presenter Tom White!
Sunderland Opinion: Momentum, Resilience and Alex Neil - Three reasons why we will get it right on Saturday
Sunderland Opinion: This time, it has to be our time
The Wise Men Say team have curated The Road To Wembley playlist based on contributions from social media, including all of the Sunderland AFC peak run-up music played at the Stadium of Light, and some classics.
It’s available on Spotify and Apple Music right now.
I don’t know what to say, really. Three minutes till the biggest battle of our professional lives all comes down to today. Now either we heal as a team or we’re gonna crumble, inch by inch, play by play, ‘til we’re finished.
We’re in hell right now, gentlemen, believe me. And, we can stay here – get the shit kicked out of us – or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb outta hell one inch at a time.
Now, I can’t do it for you. I’m too old. I look around. I see these young faces, and I think – I mean – I made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I, uh, I pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me. And lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror.
You know, when you get old in life things get taken from you. I mean that’s…part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small – I mean one-half a step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One-half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.
They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second.
On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch, because we know when we add up all those inches that’s gonna make the fuckin’ difference between winning and losing! Between livin’ and dyin’!
I’ll tell you this: In any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s gonna win that inch. And I know if I’m gonna have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willin’ to fight and die for that inch. Because that’s what livin’ is! The six inches in front of your face!!
Now I can’t make you do it. You got to look at the guy next to you. Look into his eyes! Now I think you’re gonna see a guy who will go that inch with you. You’re gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows, when it comes down to it, you’re gonna do the same for him!
That’s a team, gentleman!
And, either we heal, now, as a team, or we will die as individuals.
That’s football guys.
That’s all it is.
Now, what are you gonna do?
  • Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday
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