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Jody Craddock Game Proves Feast Of Nostalgia

A great day was had...

Scott Heavey

If Niall Quinn embarked on a special training regime for this game, it almost certainly involved Guinness. He wasn't mobile and lurched around the pitch like the middle-aged man he now is, but when a deep Neil Wainwright cross was flung into the box it was like he has never been away.

The ball ended up in the net via the head of the Irishman, of course, but the whole thing just had you thinking back to a simpler - and better - time. The overlapping run from the full back, the cross, Kevin Phillips providing the distraction at the near post, and Niall Quinn scoring. Goals come easily in testimonials, but back then they came that easily every week.

The afternoon was certainly all about nostalgia. For fans of a certain age - my age - it was a case of picking your poison and reveling in it.

It was all there: the Michael Gray jinking runs down the side and into the channel, Kevin Kilbane looking great at everything right up until the crucial moment before becoming total rubbish, Julio Arca's dropping shoulders and general Julio-ness. There was floppy hair and trademark step-over and run combo from Sam Aiston.

In goal, Thomas Sorensen, still a Premier League 'keeper, was as imperious as you'd expect him to be. Alex Rae, STILL looking like he was wearing a shirt presumably two sizes too big for him, was tenacious. Darren Williams was a calm strolling presence at the heart of the defence, and was eventually joined by his old partner and man-of-the-moment Jody Craddock, who switched teams during the second half.

Even Michael Proctor aficionados, if such a thing exists, were treated to trademark confusion on the ball. There was also a continuation of the proud Sunderland tradition of make-shift left backs - Matty Piper filled in after Gray's withdrawal.

The score was ultimately unimportant - Wolves won 4-1 with a penalty scored by each of Jody's three young children, for those interested. Essentially it was just a bunch of ageing men having a kick around on a bank holiday for a great cause (Birmingham Children's Hospital), but it was unashamedly good fun for every one of the 9000+ at Molineux.

Sunderland players: Sorensen, Wainwright, Gray, Williams, Holloway, Smith, Rae, McCann, Kilbane, Quinn, Phillips.

Subs: Myhre, Duke, Jones (Sky Sports), Sloane (cBeebies), Harrison (organiser), Proctor, Stewart, Piper, Aiston, Craddock.

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