Lynden Gooch is hoping that the current Sunderland crop can write themselves into the Club’s history books at the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final.
The Black Cats edged Sheffield Wednesday on a 2-1 aggregate score-line to reach Wembley earlier in the week.
Midfielder Gooch rushed over to greet the travelling Mackems at Hillsborough, clutching his shirt with pride and a stirring cry of “come on”.
“We knew we had something to hang on to,” he said, reflecting on the 1-1 draw in South Yorkshire that saw Alex Neil’s side progress. “They made it difficult at times and it was an intimidating atmosphere, but we dug deep and got our chance in the end.
“Our goal at the start of the season, of course, was promotion. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get in the top two and we’ve had to go through the Play-Offs but we’re in the Final now. We’re one game away and hopefully, we can do it.”
Gooch has been on the books at the Stadium of Light for a decade now. He’s seen the Black Cats in the top-flight, the Championship and League One, but Gooch is hoping the Club can get back to where they once were.
“Sunderland were always a Premier League team when I was growing up and I made my debut in the Premier League,” he explained. “Then, 18 months later, we were in League One. I’ve been on a big rollercoaster ride every step of the way.
“I’m the last one here from the Premier League days. I’ve tried to never look back. I’ve always tried to represent the Club as best as I can.
“I’ve been here nearly half of my life. There’s been a lot of tough times, and that’s what makes moments like this really sweet. I’ve been through hell and back with the fans.”
The 26-year-old notched the match-winner in the Papa Johns Trophy Final 2021, breaking Sunderland’s ‘Wembley curse’, marking the first time the Black Cats tasted victory at the National Stadium since 1973.
“Every game you play for Sunderland is a massive pressure,” he noted. “The fans expect us to win every game, it doesn’t matter what competition we’re in.
“Unfortunately, the fans weren’t with us. It would be nice to clinch promotion with the fans with us.”
Victory over the Owls in the Semi-Final extended the Mackems’ unbeaten streak to 15 games.
“Previous seasons when we’ve been in the Play-Offs we’ve petered off towards the end of the season and out of the top two, whereas this time, we’ve been on a good run,” Gooch continued. “We just need to take it one game further.
“It’s a massive, massive Club and you have to embrace that when you’re here. I don’t think people realise how big of a Club it is until you walk through those doors. We need to write our own bit of history.”