"Nothing Beats Winning A Local Derby" - Roker Report Meets Jody Craddock

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Adlene Guedioura of Wolves (L) celebrates with Jody Craddock after scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion at Molineux on May 8, 2011 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

I'm inclined to say that every now and then, it seems like we spoil you here on Roker Report. Not only do we bring you daily articles packed with Sunderlandy goodness, but we bring you the occasional interview with huge names in the world of SAFC too.

Joining our esteemed list of guests today is the one and only Jody Craddock, centre-back extrordinaire. We've been looking forward to this one for a while, so it was a really pleasure to finally chat to the Wolves defender, to hear his take on his time at the Stadium of Light, and hear a little more about his move into the world of art.

The name Jody Craddock is one that a lot of Sunderland fans will have very fond memories of. Joining the club in 1997, the big centre-back went on to play for the club 146 times, bagging two goals along the way, and a promotion to the Premier League.

Now, don't be going and getting offended by this, but it is fair to say that the north East doesn't necessarily have the best of reputation in the rest of the country. A number of players in the past have turned their noses up when faced with the idea of moving up here, so how was Jody persuaded to make the move?

"When I moved to Sunderland I was only 21 and had not previously visited the noth-east so my expectation was of an industrial region, yet when I moved there I was surprised at the beautiful countryside that surrounded the area and I have never felt so welcome as I did by the people of the north East."

Starting at the beginning, Jody was well liked from the off during his time in the famous red and white stripes, but was his debut a memorable event?

"I have racked my brains and can't remember who my debut was against. How bad is that? All I can remember is that i was playing alongside Darren Williams and that I was so excited to be given a chance in the first team."

As I mentioned, and you will already know, Jody was part of the squad that won promotion to the Premier League, and became an essential member of the squad in the teams that finished 7th in the top flight. With a career that must have boasted a huge amount of memorable games, which was Jody's favourite?

"The strongest memory would have to be playing, and winning, at St James' Park. Nothing beats the feeling of winning a local derby. I think too, the best seasons that I had were the two seasons that we finished seventh. Nothing could be better than that."

Since Jody signed for Wolves, he seems to have become something of a goal machine, bagging 14 goals in his time at Molineux. With only two Sunderland strikes to his name, I wondered if he could recall both of them? A lot of football players claim that they remember each goal that they score, but can Jody?

"Since there were only the two, I remember them both well. One was at Bolton, and helped us to win the game, and the other was at Arsenal. We were playing at Highbury, and a cross came in, which I slid into the back of the net. Unfortunately we lost that game, but it was an amazing feeling scoring against the Gunners at Highbury."

With seemingly so much to give after leaving the Black Cats, Craddock wasn't delighted to leave the club considering the good times that he had at the Stadium of Light.

"Naturally, I was disappointed as I had been at the club for six years. However, it was understandable as we had been relegated, and the club needed to offload players, and I was one of them."

Since leaving, Craddock has been remembered as something of a cult hero for the club. Have a flick through our archives to find his entry in the Cult Heroes. Has the defender enjoyed coming back to the team that he called home for six years?

"Since leaving the club, I have only been fortunate enough to return to the Stadium of Light once, although I have to say that I did score. The fans did give me a great response though, and I very much appreciate that.
I also keep an eye on the results of all of my former teams, so will always take an interest in how Sunderland are doing."

During his time at Wolves, Jody has taken something of a move towards art. His pieces are excellent, and each and every one of you should check it out as soon as possible. Is art something that he always took an interest in?

"I have always been interested in art since I was a child, and did all the way through my art A-level. It is my passion and something that I've always done, and will continue to do. Plus, once I retire from football, I hope that it is something that I can do as a profession.

Actually, a couple of years ago, I was really keen on doing some Sunderland pieces, both about the past and new stuff, but when I approached the club shop about it, they weren't so keen on the idea, so unfortunately, nothing ever made the canvas."

I wondered if Jody was hoping to continue his career in football, once his playing days were over, or whether art was the future in his eyes now.

"At the moment, I think I will concentrate on art, and hopefully pursue that with as much passion as I have put into football throughout my career, however, you can never say never about anything."

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And that, ladies and gentlefolk, is Roker Report meets cult hero Jody Craddock. Everyone here at the site would like to thank Jody for taking the time to talk to us, as well as wishing him well in the future, both in football terms, and in his art adventure. Please take the time to check out his work at www.art-affect.com - you won't be disappointed.

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