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Cult Heroes: Who Needs Cantona, When We've Got Dickie Ord!

Cult Heroes time, celebrating someone who did well for us, and appeared on the odd occasion for the opposition this week.
Cult Heroes time, celebrating someone who did well for us, and appeared on the odd occasion for the opposition this week.

Ahead of the midweek clash with another of the many London sides, QPR, we turn our attentions here at Roker Report to a man that played for both sides. Well this week's candidate certainly played and did enough to earn the tag cult hero but his time in the big smoke was something of a disaster and most QPR fans would probably struggle to remember our popular centre back.

Who needs Cantona when we've got Dicky Ord!

Warning: This piece also features what could actually be the greatest video available on YouTube!

Richard lived the dream that we all held as young lads kicking the ball around the park and made the successful transition from the stands of Roker Park to the hallowed turf itself. Ord worked his way through the local schoolboy leagues before joining Sunderland in 1984, signing trainee papers in 1986 and completing his transition to a professional in 1987. Dicky's debut was a memorable one for the local lad as well as he was given the nod in a home game against Southend United in November of '87 as Sunderland gave their opponents a right royal thrashing, running out 7-0 winners.

Ord made an early name for himself as an adept member of the squad equally comfortable playing in a number of roles including the centre of defence, the left side of the back line and as defensive midfielder. As per the norm for emerging defensive players early comparisons between Richard and the King, Charlie Hurley, were inevitable. Ord was a resilient, no nonsense player who wore his heart on his sleeve and, as a fan himself, gave everything each and every time he pulled on the red and white jersey.

The popular centre back would go on to make just shy of three-hundred appearances on Wearside and managed to find the back of the net on eight occasions. Ord always stands out in my mind because he was the player that introduced me to the betting culture around the game. Not Dickie personally before you think I've got some News of the World style exclusive! My Dad's friends who we would attend games with would always call in at the bookmakers on the way to Roker and stick a few quid on Ord as first goalscorer. Which I could never quite work out at the time, however when he finally came good the celebrations in the Roker End that afternoon were something to behold! Bovril everywhere!

Dickie was such a fan favourite that Sunderland fans took a popular chant from the terraces, seemingly spent five or six minutes in a "recording studio" probably similar to the Tenacious D video for Tribute and actually released "Who needs Cantona when we've got Dickie Ord" as a single. Cue a bliddy fantastic video I found:

In July of 1996 Ord clocked up enough years with the side to be granted his testimonial, a "glamour" tie against the Romanian side Steaua Bucharest. In events that could only happen at Sunderland Dickie was forced to sit out the game due to injury. The game itself was all together forgettable apart from Steve Agnew offering some entertainment having been asked to leave the field of play by the referree having clearly headbutted one of the Steaua players having taken offense to some niggling tackles from the visitors.

As Sunderland moved into the Premier League for the 1996/97 season it was expected that Ord would thrive on the big stage. Unfortunately things weren't to work out as planned. Dickie found himself out of Reid's plans following two red cards early in the season, most notably for a blatant stamp on Nicky Barmby on the hour mark. When I say a stamp, boy do I mean it, it was something you're more likely to see in the WWF, a clear leap into the air before driving his stoods into the annoying midfielder's chest. No excuses and no sympathy from his gaffer as Sunderland clung on to a 2-2 draw.

Ord was then sidelined through injury the following term, missing a large portion of the season and was unable to regain his starting spot upon his return to the squad. Dickie's eleven year spell with his boyhood club was over as he sealed a £675,000 move to Loftus Road to join QPR in the summer of 2008. Ord still had four years left on his contract with Sunderland and had many a sleepless night as talks were ongoing, however the lure of first team football and the chance to work with Ray Harford, who managed Dickie for the England Under-21's, was an offer he couldn't pass up.

As mentioned earlier, if you're to ask a QPR fan about Richard Ord they will probably only be able to give you a puzzled look in return. The reason being that his spell with his new club was over before it even began. It turned out that it was a miracle that Ord even passed a medical at his new side, undertaking the exam with a prolapsed disc. Somehow, in Demba Ba style, Ord passed all the required tests and moved to London eager to start a new chapter in his career. In reality, he didn't complete a training session, after attempting a routine block he managed to injure everything, his knee pretty much imploded, cruciate, nerve damage, you name it, it was goosed.

For the next two years Dickie went under the knife six times but was never able to recover, forced to hang up his boots before turning thirty.

Ord has since dabbled in the management game, taking the hotseat at Durham but most importantly still remains, like you and I, a Sunderland fan.

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