Sunderland and Charlton Athletic go head-to-head on Sunday in the League One play-off final at Wembley Stadium, with a place in the Championship up for grabs. Sunderland overcame Portsmouth in their semi-final and will be hoping to bounce back up at the first time of asking. Charlton overcame Doncaster Rovers and will be looking to cap a memorable, and controversial, season with promotion.

We sat down with BA (Hons) Football Business & Media student and huge Charlton fan Brandon Smith to get his thoughts ahead of the final. Brandon has recently been working within the media team at The Valley, so has seen first-hand how the players have made it to Wembley…

A sell-out crowd of 25,428 – the biggest at the Valley in four years – celebrated an extraordinary win over Doncaster last week. Can you tell us what the atmosphere at the club is like at the moment?

The atmosphere at Charlton has been nothing short of electric. Obviously the club is coming out of an unsuccessful period and so the mood is really good. Lee Bowyer has worked wonders in making sure that the fans and the club itself have become closer again; after all this is a club which prides itself on keeping in touch with its supporters. Everyone’s feeling it, from the day-to-day staff at the stadium to the training ground staff, and ultimately the players of course.

Can you talk a little bit about how fun it is to work in football and tackle such a big story?

Working at a football club in general is amazing. I previously worked at Dartford in the National League South and that was an incredible experience, but working for Charlton really is a huge step up. I’m a Charlton supporter and so at the moment I really am living the dream! But even if you weren’t a supporter it’s a fantastic business to be involved in and when you have the ability to make everyone from supporters, players and the local community happy it’s really fulfilling. To be involved with the club at potentially such a historic time has been nothing short of an unforgettable experience. Everyone is riding on a high right now so hopefully come the big game we can finally get the club back to where it belongs.

How has your time at UCFB helped you in your role?

My time at UCFB has kept me grounded more than anything. It’s taught me to understand that football is a career just like any other and not necessarily a world of celebrities. While you do still have your moments of serious fandom, you learn through your lectures not to lose your head and make a fool of yourself. Of course, all the other things that UCFB teaches you such as writing for effect and ensuring that everything is ready for publication do come in handy as well.

Charlton will face Sunderland on Sunday in a repeat of the classic 1998 First Division play-off final, which they won on penalties following a 4-4 draw. Will you be tapping into that nostalgia in your coverage of the game?

In terms of tapping into the nostalgia of that day, every fan knows that football is a funny old game and no two matches are ever the same. However, because of the importance of the game in Charlton’s history we’ve been really looking back at that iconic play-off final and there’s been some strange coincidences with the points and goals scored! Even down to our current striker, Lyle Taylor, having the same number of goals going into the final as Clive Mendonca – who of course scored that mesmerising hat-trick in 1998. I think we’ll be incredibly lucky if we get even half the game that it was 21 years ago.

How important do you think history like that is in motivating the current squad?

I think a lot of the players are aware of the clubs’ history, but they’ll be looking to make their own history this weekend. Of course, they’re aware of what’s at stake and many of them have seen what the club was like when the going was tough, so they’ve really noticed the difference in the support now that things are looking brighter. You only have to look at the figures of ticket sales to see the potential that this club has.

Charlton have been unable to grab a victory over Sunderland so far this season (lost one, drawn one). Can The Addicks do it at Wembley?

I think Sunderland are a very good outfit; no one is fooling themselves and thinking otherwise. It’ll be a huge test of character for the full 90 minutes and potentially beyond. Lee Bowyer has stressed the importance of the supporters lifting the players and as much as that may sound like a typical cliché in football, at Charlton it really is gospel. When the fans get going you notice the players go that extra yard. Whatever the result it’s no doubt going to be an intense game and fingers crossed that The Addicks come out on top!