Is there anything wrong with Portsmouth fans sharing Sunderland’s Wembley joy?
The Football League bigwigs are cock-a-hoop: they’ve got the final they dreamed of.
This game rarely sticks to script, but when the Checkatrade Trophy semi-final draw was made it’s the outcome the powers that be at EFL HQ in Preston were hoping for.
The two clubs with arguably the two most substantial fanbases in the lower tiers of the English game going toe-to-toe at the home of football on March 31.
Sunderland’s relatively routine victory at Bristol Rovers made that a reality on Tuesday night as 1,900 Black Cats fans travelled to the Memorial Ground to witness their side making it to Wembley.
The reaction to the result on Wearside has almost been as delirious as the delight from Football League bosses.
Of course, the much-maligned competition’s showpiece fixture will now be the kind of occasion to match the other finals Wembley will host as the season reaches its climax.
While plenty of Pompey fans are wrangling with a way to justify their change of tack after vocally voicing their Checkatrade Trophy disapproval through the B-team boycott, there’s no such issues in the north east.
Sunderland have got on board with the prospect of a march to the arch in a big way.
‘They’ll be eating their cheesy chips on Wembley Way,’ chirped local-boy George Honeyman, as he anticipated a Mackem invasion of north London.
The excitement in the region has been palpable since Jack Ross’ team confirmed their final place. Yet, with the club’s ticket allocation for the final confirmed, it’s Pompey who have been given marginally the larger number of seats - 39,659 to Sunderland’s 38,979.
Whatever the complexities of supporters’ moral compass on the competition, not taking up the full allocation and even giving over tickets to the opposition would be viewed uncomfortably in many royal blue quarters.
Pompey, along with Cardiff, hold the current record for a football match at the new Wembley in 2008. The record for the Checkatrade Trophy in its various guises is the 80,841 who saw Wolves beat Burnley in 1988.
With the path now blocked when it comes to using the competition to filter B teams into the Football League, is there anything wrong with Pompey fans sharing their rival’s joy and savouring a record-breaking final occasion?