Sunderland at Wembley: The fan born on day of SAFC play-off defeat who went on to become an academy coach

He was born on the day of Sunderland’s devastating loss at the hands of Charlton Athletic 21 years ago, now this Sunderland AFC academy coach is hoping for a winning trip to Wembley.

Now Nathan works full time for South Shields Football Club
Now Nathan works full time for South Shields Football Club

Nathan Kew was fortunate enough not to have to endure the play-off heartache fans suffered at the hands of Charlton in 1998 and saved his mum a gray day at Wembley.

But tomorrow he’ll be among the thousands of Sunderland fans packed into Wembley hoping to achieve promotion back to the Championship.

Nathan is an academy coach at Sunderland AFC

Nathan, who celebrates his 21st birthday today before the most important match of Sunderland’s season, attended his first Black Cats match when he was just three years old - and he’s been hooked on the game ever since.

But in 1998 it was his mum Paula who had a ticket to see her team play at Wembley along with Nathan’s grandparents Neil and Pauline.

Thankfully the family’s football heartache was brightened by the arrival of their little bundle of joy.

Peter Reid and Michael Gray after the 1998 defeat

Nathan, who is now an academy coach seven to 10 year olds at Sunderland AFC, said: “My mam was due to go down with my gran and grandad but obviously couldn’t - my grandparents went anyway.

“She still reminds me about it to this day.”

Nathan’s middle name is Michael which his mam jokes is after Michael Gray who infamously missed a penalty in the shoot-out which saw Charlton emerge victorious.

Nathan was born on the day Sunderland lost at Wembley exactly 21 years ago

Now Nathan, who lives in Jarrow, has high hopes for the match on Sunday.

When the teams last met in the Division One play-off final on May 25, 1998, the teams drew 4 - 4 with Sunderland-born Clive Mendonca scoring a hat-trick against his hometown club.

Nathan is feeling confident about Jack Ross’s team ahead of the match but jokes: “As long as it’s not the same result as the day I was born and Sunderland make it through.

“I’ll be getting the Wembley experience this year that my mam missed out on.

“It’s a huge match for the club, I think back to the start of the year and we’ve come such a long way.

“It’s the same fixture as it was 21 years ago with both teams not in their red and white kits.”

Growing up Nathan has always been passionate about football and now works as the head of South Shields Football Club’s school’s programme.

He’s heading to Wembley tomorrow morning with friends to cheer on the lads.