There was perhaps little surprise that, when the League One Play-off final line-up was revealed, talk quickly began of Charlton and Sunderland’s shared history.
Naturally, whenever these two meet the year 1998 is never far away from anyone’s lips and, given this was a shootout for promotion, such conversations were only amplified.
As this one played out, though, many other aspects of this pair’s intertwining paths in recent history were laid bare.
So often penchants for calamitous own goals of their own, Sunderland profited from one early on as Naby Sarr’s backpass rolled under Dillon Phillips and into the Charlton net.
A far from ideal start to proceedings, the Black Cats’ tails were up, looking to capitalise on a potentially rocked Charlton side.
The Addicks, though, have shown time and again on and off the field they’re not ones for rolling over – particularly under Lee Bowyer – and they grew into the game, Josh Cullen in midfield making sure of that.
An irk of Sunderland fans this season has been that after going ahead they’ve not built on things and, again, this was the case – eventually to their cost.
Charlton’s probing had the Black Cats sat back and after good work down the right from Joe Aribo, Anfernee Dijksteel and Lyle Taylor – a man who could have ended up on Wearside last summer – Ben Purrington was on hand to tap home.
Sunderland would come out of their shells after that but, into the break, it remained level and captivating.
The second half began, then, as both sides set about getting themselves a big step down the road of returning to where they both feel they belong eventually.
Reflected in the pattern of play, neither side was going to give an inch – particularly when, conveniently, both managers had appeared to take the same tactical approach; employing several players to operate centrally.
Both sides enjoyed good spells of possession in the second 45 but the game needed a bit more spark and, happily, Lee Bowyer and Jack Ross both had means by which to provide it.
Aiden McGeady came on for Charlie Wyke, Jonny Williams – only at Sunderland last year – was on for Darren Pratley. The two men in their respective dugouts had sensed an opportunity was there to be taken.
McGeady curled over, perhaps still slightly match rusty after a recent lay-off. Williams took about gliding past several and winning fouls – reminding us all of his Premier League pedigree – just as both sets of fans had reminded onlookers of their clubs’ for the duration of the afternoon.
We were heading to extra-time but then Josh Cullen, who had been reminding West Ham of his own potential Premier League pedigree all game – suitably for the theme of the day – worked some space and dug out a cross that eventually fell for Patrick Bauer to strike.
At the death, Charlton had come out on top, now why doesn’t that come as a surprise when we’re talking about the Addicks?
So often written off for various reasons, they once again reminded us that this is a club that’s been misplaced for too long.
Perhaps, at last, times are changing.