It’s been 21 years since Charlton edged out Sunderland in the famous Clive Mendonca final at Wembley. Now the pair are heading back to North London for a rematch in the 2019 League One play-off final.
There’s more than just a place in the Championship at stake for these two clubs. This is a match filled with narrative, background stories and emotion between two of English football’s sleeping giants.
1998 and magnificent Mendonca
Not many players at any level of the game can lay claim to a hat-trick at Wembley. So imagine how Addicks ace Mendonca felt hitting one against the club he supported as a boy in the 1998 Division One play-off final.
The well-travelled forward pitched up at The Valley at the start of the 1997 season after a prolific spell with Grimsby Town. It’s fair to say 28 goals in his first season in South London – including that treble – justified the move.
Mendonca’s three-goal haul wasn’t just incredible, it was crucial. His two in normal time alongside Richard Rufus’ late-leveller ensured extra-time after Black Cats goals from Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips.
Nicky Summerbee then put Sunderland back in front before Mendonca volleyed home for 4-4 to send the match into penalties. He bagged the first-goal in the shootout as Alan Cubishley’s men won 7-6.
Charlton’s first visit to new Wembley
It’s not just the Mendonca narrative that will be special for Charlton fans on Sunday. The League One showpiece also represents the club’s first visit to the new Wembley stadium.
They’ve come close a number of times since the stadium was reopened in 2007. But this will be their first taste of the new Wembley arch and their first return to the same plot of land since 1998.
In fact this will only be the Addicks’ fifth trip to this part of North London. They’re yet to win inside 90 minutes on their four previous visits, losing twice and winning once each on pens and in extra-time.
Black Cats revenge
Sunderland will want revenge for 1998. But Black Cats fans have ghosts they’ll want to lay to rest from the current season too. Jack Ross’s men lost out to Portsmouth at Wembley in the EFL Trophy earlier in the season.
Lee Cattermole missed the crucial penalty as Sunderland fluffed their lines on spot-kicks. The Wearsiders have already exorcised that demon after dumping Pompey out in their two-legged play-off semi-final.
In some ways it’s been a season of retribution for Sunderland after years of suffering and turmoil. Could a Wembley play-off win be the icing on the cake, or will the Addicks summon up more Mendonca magic?
We can’t wait to find out, and our traders have been busy pricing up a range of specials ahead of the big match.
We’ve got any player to score a hat-trick at 20/1, a 4-4 Draw after Extra-Time at 66/1 and Charlton to Win 7-6 on Penalties at 100/1.
Alternatively, we go 125/1 about the match to end 3-3 in Normal Time and 4-4 in Extra Time, with a Charlton to win on Penalties add on taking it up to 225/1.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication