Top Ten: 'One and Then Gone'

Stu Forster

After last week's Top Ten pointless signings, we thought we'd take the next logical step and look at players who contributed just one moment of magic in a Sunderland shirt, and then faded into obscurity/did nothing else/was otherwise utterly rubbish.

10. Brian Deane vs Ipswich

Many people took exception to my inclusion of the big man in last week's pointless signings list, with some believing I wouldn't know the meaning of the word 'pointless' if I looked up a picture of Darren Day in the dictionary. To make amends to the surprisingly powerful 'Brian Deane lobbying group', I'm starting with his notable substitute appearance away to Ipswich in 2005.

The former Sheffield United striker replaced R'n'B sex tape cameraman Chris Brown in the 69th minute and made an instant contribution, using his aerial threat to head a Stephen Wright cross straight into the path of Stephen Elliot who finished from close range. He then linked up with Carl Robinson to help the Welshman grab Sunderland's second. Ultimately the Black Cats had to make do with a point as Darren Bent scored a late equaliser, but it was an important point against a promotion rival. Deane, 37 years old at the time, was only ever signed as a short-term option and left the club at the end of the season having only made 4 appearances, but his performance against Ipswich was one very good contribution indeed. Therefore, Mr Brian Deane, I owe you an apology.

9. Calum Davenport's Absolute Wonder Cross

Next up a man who, by and large, isn't fondly remembered on Wearside. Ricky Sbragia signed Callum Davenport on loan from West Ham in an attempt to help his struggling side stay in the Premier League. The former Spurs and Coventry player made 8 appearances for Sunderland, and proved to be a pretty poor signing, looking slow, clumsy, and lacking any real strength. However, despite this Davenport had one, very fleeting, moment of glory.

Sunderland travelled down to the South Coast knowing a win would secure the clubs Premier League status for one more season, and they took the lead on 59 minutes with a moment of brilliance. Davenport, a centre half by trade, surprised pretty much everyone by winning the ball back from Peter Crouch in his own half, then bursting down the right hand side and putting in an absolute beauty of a cross from deep, straight into the path of Kenwyne Jones. It was a perfect ball that no-one would've expected the defender was capable of.

However, just one minute later, Davenport was beaten far too easily by John Utuka and Portsmouth levelled, bringing to an end the loanee's one excellent minute of football for Sunderland. The Black Cats stayed up on the last day of the season, which is to date Davenport's last game in professional football. Sadly suffering from personal troubles after receiving a stab wound in 2009, he fell away from the game and now plies his trade in non-league football.

8. Rade Prica's Goal

Rade Prica is generally considered to be Roy Keane's worst signing during his time as Sunderland manager, but you wouldn't have guessed this would be the case immediately after his debut at home to Birmingham. The Swedish international signed from Aalborg in 2007, and came off the bench in his first game to put us 2-0 up on the night. He then had another goal disallowed for a handball in the build up.

However Sunderland fans who thought the club had unearthed a diamond were left disappointed by Prica's five subsequent substitute appearances, as he looked genuinely awful in each of them. Things reached a low point away at Anfield when Prica, having already replaced Kieran Richardson early in the game, was substituted himself for being terrible. To make things even more humiliating, he was replaced by Roy O'Donovan.

7. Macho Macho Man

To be fair on Austrian international Jurgen Macho, calling him a one-game wonder is a little bit harsh. It's true that he was, by and large, a second choice (and later third-choice) keeper at Sunderland, and in the majority of games he looked like, to paraphrase Howard Wilkinson's description, 'he couldn't catch a beach ball', but Macho produced solid performances at home to Arsenal and away to Man Utd during his time at Sunderland. However it will be his performance at Anfield in November 2002 for which he'll be fondly remembered by fans.

Liverpool needed a win to go top of the Premier League, and absolutely dominated a game where Sunderland sat deep throughout and showed no attacking intent. The Merseyside club had 11 shots on target and Macho proved the equal to them all as he made a string of fine saves to somehow win a point for the '19 points side'. The keeper was, by and large, awful for Sunderland, but that day against Liverpool, he was absolutely world-class.

6. Michael Proctor's Liverpool Winner

Liverpool proved to be a good team to play that year in an otherwise abysmal season. Following Macho's heroics at Anfield, the two sides met for the return fixture at The Stadium of Light just one month later. Houllier's Liverpool side arrived on the back of three straight defeats, and fell behind after excellent play from Gavin McCann allowed the England international (he is, you can't take that away from him), to score. Liverpool levelled through Milan Baros, but with just five minute left up stepped local lad Michael Proctor to put the ball past Chris Kirkland and win the game.

Things never got as good as this game for Sunderland or Proctor, as it proved to be our last win of the season, and despite hopes that he might break into the side regularly, the striker never looked good enough. Aside from a couple of goals in the FA Cup, Proctor's only other meaningful contribution was to score two own goals against Charlton in a game that epitomises the Howard Wilkinson era.

5. Paul McShane vs Spurs

Like Prica, this a player who, based on his first game, you wouldn't believe would go on to be one of the worst to have featured for Sunderland. McShane, resembling an actor playing Shaggy in an all-Ginger production of Scooby-Doo, played the game at a snails-pace, and was among the clumsiest center halves playing in the top division at the time.

Yet, in his debut against Tottenham, the Irishman was absolutely magnificent against a talented Spurs frontline consisting of Berbatov, Robbie Keane, Jermaine Defoe and Darren Bent. Without his superb defensive contribution, Sunderland would not have been in a position where it was possible to score a last-gasp winner to get our first Premier League campaign under Roy Keane off to the perfect start.

4. Stan Varga's Debut

McShane wasn't the first centre half to have an excellent debut only to fade away. Stan Varga remains a fans favourite on Wearside, and this is largely down to his imperious debut at home to Arsenal in 2000. Arsenal had the better of the play in the match, and but for the hard-work and resilience of the Slovakian defender, we would never have won this opening season encounter. Varga dominated the Arsenal frontline, blocking every shot, winning his aerial battles, and getting to every second ball.

Varga's no-nosense attitude made him a cult hero, but he never quite reached the heights of this excellent debut performance. Suffering badly with injuries, Stan only played 20 more league games before leaving for Martin O'Neill's Celtic in 2003. He returned to the club with Roy Keane as manager three years later, and while he did okay, he lost his place in the side fairly quickly due to the effective partnership of Jonny Evans and Nyron Nosworthy. Still though, his first game against Arsenal must rank as one of the best debut performances a Sunderland player has produced.

3. Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

I wasn't sure whether to include Ji Dong-Won in this list. After all, he still has time to return to Sunderland and produce more scintillating moments like his late, late winner against Manchester City. However, for the time being, this is the only meaningful contribution from the Korean striker, and what a glorious contribution it was.

The goal is probably as fresh in everyone's mind as Martin Tyler's manic commentary is. Sunderland, having defended resiliently for 90 minutes, looked like they were heading for a well-earned point against the future champions. However, in the final minute of stoppage time, Larsson started a break-away. Eventually the ball found a clearly offside Ji, who rounded Joe Hart and put the ball in the back of the net and, for his troubles, received a kiss and an instant cult hero status. Hopefully Ji will return from Augsburg and make this entry appear incredibly mis-placed to future readers.

2. Malcolm Crosby Leads Sunderland To The FA Cup Final

After Dennis Smith was sacked in 1991, his assistant Malcolm Crosby was placed in temporary charge of the club until a suitable replacement could be found. Colin Wan...erm...Neil Warnock was constantly linked to the Black Cats, but Crosby ultimately showed his credentials by leading the club on a sensational cup run. Struggling in the second division, Crosby's side beat Port Vale, Oxford, and West Ham and Chelsea in replays, before overcoming Norwich in the semi-finals.

The club now prepared for the final against top division giants Liverpool, and as memories of 73 rose in the minds of Sunderland fans, Crosby was giving the job permanently. However, a recreation of that memorable final 19 years earlier was not forthcoming, and in the new managers second season, the team were pretty awful. Largely appointed down to the support he had from fans, he was never really wanted by the board, and with the club down at the wrong end of the table, they moved to sack Crosby and replace him with Terry Butcher. Crosby never took a full managerial position again, and was perhaps never really cut out for the job, but, because of that excellent cup run, he remains mostly popular on Wearside

1. Patrice Carteron

If there's one easy way to earn you place in the hearts and minds of Sunderland fans, it's to score against Newcastle. Keiran Richardson found this out after his thunderbolt of a free-kick earned the club a rare home win against our local rivals, and while Gary Rowell would have been a hero on Wearside regardless, it's hard to imagine his name having quite the same gravitas had he not scored that hat-trick.

Patrice Carteron only made 8 appearances during his loan spell Saint-Etienne. During this time he proved himself to be an exciting, attacking full back, who regularly went charging down the right hand side and generally left the defensive work to somebody else. However, nobody really remembers those other 7 appearances as the Frenchman's fondness on Wearside is largely down to his lovely opening goal against Newcastle in 2001. Carteron, on another of his overlapping runs, was found with an excellent through ball by Don Hutchinson, and then placed the ball passed Shay Given. Although the Magpies managed to get an equaliser, Carteron's goal gave Sunderland fans a moment of joy that is still fondly remembered today, and that's why it's a very worthy number one.

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