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Opinion

Newcastle fans bemused as petition demands Europa League place for Checkatrade trophy winners

1 year ago
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The Checkatrade Trophy has probably had more publicity this season than any other.

Or to give it its proper name, it is the EFL Trophy.

It actually started off as the Associate Members’ Cup but in 1992 it was renamed the Football League Trophy.

Before then another renaming in 2016 to the current title.

You may more easily recognise it from the sponsor names down the years…

(1984/85–1986/87) Freight Rover Trophy

(1987/88–1988/89) Sherpa Van Trophy

(1989/90–1991/92) Leyland DAF Cup

(1992/93–1993/94) Autoglass Trophy

(1994/95–1999/2000) Auto Windscreens Shield

(2000/01–2006/07) LDV Vans Trophy

(2007/08–2015/16) Johnstone’s Paint Trophy

(2016/17–) Checkatrade Trophy

The competition is actually the high point of Alan Pardew’s career as a manager, the only trophy he won, with Southampton in 2010 when they were in the third tier.

For Newcastle fans, this season’s competition has been an amusing distraction.

The Police insisted that Newcastle’s Under 21s couldn’t meet Sunderland in the early stage, the same with Southampton’s Under 21s and Portsmouth.

That plan going awry as Newcastle’s kids progressed and it going down in history that Sunderland’s first team have now played a first team match against NUFC’s Under 21s.

That was pretty much job done for Newcastle fans but for Sunderland fans it has actually become so much more.

To the bemusement of Newcastle supporters who can see why you would fancy a day out at Wembley but not the over the top way it has been embraced by Sunderland supporters.

It certainly looks as though it hasn’t done their promotion hopes any good, Sunderland failing to win nine of their last 15 League One matches.

In their absence this weekend, Luton and Barnsley could go thirteen and eight points ahead of the Mackems though Sunderland would have three games in hand. However, the fixture pile-up partly caused by the Checkatrade Trophy means they have nine games to play in only 31 days.

A petition has been started (visit it here) demanding a place in the Europa League (they originally said UEFA!), not sure whether stared by a Sunderland or Portsmouth fan, although I have my suspicions!

It reads:

‘Its fairly obvious by this years teams competing in the final that the winners should be offered participation in the Europa league in 2019 / 2020 season.’

Not surprisingly the north east media covering football have been all over it as well this week, no doubt a visit to Wembley is something they fancy as well…

You would have to be a real anorak or just plain sad if you could remember previous winners/finals, I bet not many of you (nobody?) could have told me that Lincoln beat Shrewsbury in last year’s final. Or that the past 10 years have seen Crewe, MK Dons, Chesterfield and Carlisle all win it as well.

Sunderland’s route to the final has seen them play three Under 21 teams, three League Two sides, before finally the tough one, defeating Bristol Rovers who are 15th in League One, in the semi-finals – a crowd of 6,699 watching that one. Indeed easily their biggest crowd before this final was the defeat of Newcastle’s schoolboy team, with away fans boosting that crowd to over 16,000, though Sunderland and the police combined to prevent Newcastle fans getting their full allocation.

If Sunderland win at Wembley but don’t get promotion, I wonder how Sunderland fans will really feel.

Maybe more so their new owners who appear to be flying by the seat of their pants financially, with the final Premier League parachute payments next season, which will go to finally pay off Ellis Short.

Sunderland fans will claim Newcastle supporters are obsessed with what the Mackems are up to this season but why wouldn’t we be watching on with curiosity?

I have got a pretty good idea as to the levels of Sunderland fan interest if Newcastle ever fell into the third tier for the first time in their history but hopefully I will never get to see the reality, no matter how hard Mike Ashley tries.

PS The petition is doing well, 91 have signed it already!

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