Another of our new talents you'll be reading each week is David Boyle, who will be profiling 'Cult Heroes' each and every Monday on Roker Report. Enjoy his first profile, perhaps the finest Polish right-back SAFC has ever seen, Dariusz Kubicki...
Cult heroes. These enigmatic men of our favourite past time have never failed to intrigue me. Often not the most talented member of the squad there is something about them which endears them to the fans. Be it heart, commitment, personality or a rare flash of genius on the pitch that forever lives on in footballing folklore, we football fans lap it up.
The first entry in this series of Roker Report Cult Heroes is a bit of a guilty pleasure I must admit.
When I first started attending SAFC games in 1995 there was an immediate standout figure in the starting eleven each week – Dariusz Kubicki.
Maybe it was because at the time I was playing right back for my school that I felt an affinity towards the man that filled the same position for my favourite club, or maybe it was his simple yet affective approach to the game which saw him embark on a phenomenal run of consecutive appearances.
Kubicki had been brought in from Aston Villa, where he had seen very little first team action for two seasons. Sunderland paid the paltry sum of £100,000 pounds for the Polish full back in the summer of 1994 after impressing in a loan spell towards the end of the 1993/94 season.
Kubicki quickly established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet and his undoubtable class and ability was given the opportunity to shine much to the delight of the Roker Park faithful.
Dariusz was on course to surpass the post-war consecutive appearances record held by club legend George Mulhall of one-hundred and twenty five games. However this fairy tale was not to have a happy ending. Dariusz, controversially, lost his place in the starting eleven just one game before equalling Mulhall’s record. Having not being injured or suspended the Sunderland crowd was far from impressed to see the footballing icon that was Chelsea reject Gareth Hall starting in place of their favourite Polish import.
Quite rightly seeing the error of his ways Peter Reid quickly brought Kubicki back to first team action and he went on to make twenty-eight appearances for the lads that term.
At the age of thirty-four Dariusz was released by SAFC and joined Wolves on a free transfer having made 150 appearances for the lads in all competitions – with only one coming from the bench. Sunderland fans were left with memories of an impressively consistent and classy fullback who had a club record unfairly torn from his grasp. What caused Dariusz to lose his place is still a mystery that shrouds itself in conspiracy.