Newcastle United fans can mock Sunderland's Checkatrade Trophy run and cheesy chip T-shirts – but will they ever reach a final under Mike Ashley?
You can can buy cheesy chips mugs and T-shirts on Sunderland’s website ahead of the club’s Wembley visit on Sunday.
A T-shirt costs £12.99 and a mug will set you back a fiver.
The club’s Wembley merchandise has been mocked by Newcastle United fans, as has the excitement on Wearside ahead of the Checkatrade Trophy final against Portsmouth.
Sunderland supporters will be singing “cheesy chips on Wembley Way” on their walk to the national stadium.
Newcastle fans were at Wembley last month for the club’s Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur. The club, however, still hasn’t been to the rebuilt stadium for a cup final or semi-final.
It hasn’t come close since Mike Ashley bought the club in 2007. Cups, we know, have not been a priority for the club since Ashley took charge.
It’s easy to belittle Sunderland – who have sold more than 40,000 tickets – for reaching the final given that they beat United’s Under-21s on the way to the showpiece, but it’s still an achievement.
And, above all, it’s still a day out for a fanbase who have seen their team suffer back-to-back relegations.
Portsmouth have also sold out their allocation.
Five years after winning the 2008 FA Cup final, the club was in League Two.
Now, Portsmouth are vying with Sunderland for promotion to the Championship. Promotion is more important to both clubs, yet their runs in the competition could come at a cost.
That was always Ashley’s view of the cups.
Managers under Ashley, including Rafa Benitez, have never had squads capable of comfortably fighting on more than one front.
The club’s record in the cups has been dreadful under Benitez bar one run in the League Cup two seasons ago.
Benitez has largely escaped the kind of criticism Alan Pardew (and John Carver) faced for fielding weakened teams.
But he’s done just that – fielded weakened teams.
Going to Wembley to play Tottenham is one thing, going there for a cup final is another thing entirely.
It’s almost 19 years since the late Sir Bobby Robson took the club to the old stadium for an FA Cup semi-final.
Newcastle fans, like their rivals on Wearside, need a day out.
Benitez, out of contract in the summer, would love to give them one – and end the club’s 50-year wait for a major trophy.
But to do that, he’ll need more money, and few on Tyneside expect Ashley to promise much when the pair eventually sit down to discuss Benitez’s future once the club’s Premier League status is secured.
Who knows when Newcastle will be back at Wembley?