Sunderland Fan Chooses Ultimate SAFC 5-A-Side Team - What's Yours?
1 (GK): Jimmy Montgomery
The only choice for GK. Selected not just on his club legend status but because he's the perfect 5's keeper. His reactions were sharper than an alley cat on speed. As my youth team coach at Sunderland, for a man in his fifties, he made saves in training that defied time itself. Also a brilliant table tennis player. Best known for THAT save in the 1973 FA cup final, I always said to him he should've held the first header.
2: John Kay
As mad as ten boxes of frogs but could play a bit too. Once broke into his mother's house to teach her a lesson for leaving a bathroom window open. Also pretended to paddle in a canoe when he was being stretchered off after breaking his leg in two places against Leeds United. And for that reason, he's my captain.
3: Paul Bracewell
But for the story of another broken leg, which eventually kept him out for two seasons, Brace might have been on the pitch at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City to stop Maradona embarrassing the rest of his teammates. Very much a pupil of the Ray Wilkins school of sideways passing, he rarely gave the ball away and was a key part of Howard Kendall's brilliant Everton side of the mid-eighties. Always bought the second round after Peter Reid on team nights out.
4. Martin Smith
Cult figure at Roker Park in the 90's and nicknamed "Son of Pele", had the left foot of Maradona and the hair of a young Nick Carter from the Backstreet boys. His career never matched his talent and I'd still/put him amongst the best players I ever played with. Could drop his shoulder with such effect that sales of pies at Roker Park would double after sending the full back for one every time he had the ball.
5. Niall Quinn
A player who the phrase "Lovely touch for a big man" was made for. A touch as delicate as his Irish lilt, not only was he the best head tennis player I've ever seen but also the nicest man I've met too. Fondest memory is of him and Tony Coton who were both injured at the time, Quinny dressed as a monk, TC as Captain Hook, both hitting two fellas over the head with their crutches from a taxi window during a mass brawl on our Christmas party one year.
6. Tony Norman - Joker in the pack. Keeper who was brilliant outfield too.
7. Chris Waddle - A poor man's Martin Smith, but a good replacement.
8. Marco Gabbiadini - Pace and power. I only appreciated how good he really was when I played with him at Darlington.
9. Eric Gates - If Marco plays, Gatesy has to as well. A given.
10. Kieron Brady - Career curtailed by an operation to cure bad circulation in his feet but on his day, quite brilliant.