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Forgotten Black Cats: Lee Power

The former Republic of Ireland youth international featured three times for the lads in 1993 after joining on loan from Norwich. Remember him?

Lee Power of Norwich City in action

Signed in August 1993, Norwich academy product Lee Power was one of many pre-season signings made by Terry Butcher. Alongside the marquee signings of Phil Gray and Andy Melville, the former England captain drafted him in on an initial one month loan deal after he failed to oust the likes of Chris Sutton and Efan Ekoku in what was one of the best Canaries sides of the last fifty-plus years.

That same summer will be remembered rather infamously - fellow summer signing Derek Ferguson managed to somehow drive the wrong way around a mini roundabout, crashing his car with Gray, Meville and Ian Rodgerson in it, injuring them all and putting them out of the opening games of the season. But truth be told, was Rodgerson ever fit anyway? We highly doubt it. Power didn't have the easiest of debuts, replacing Lee Howey on the opening day of the season. A disastrous first half performance meant the team went into the break 3-0 down to Derby County, with our former hero Marco Gabbiadini amongst the first half scorers at The Baseball Ground. We would eventually lose our season opener 5-0.

He had more success only days later though as Butcher opted to start with Power in the absence of the injured Phil Gray, where he was rewarded with an excellent performance from his forward line, as the Lads overcame Chester City 3-1 at Roker Park in the League Cup with three goals in seven minutes - Sunderland overturning an early deficit, with Lee Power sandwiching a goal in between a brace from Don Goodman. With his strikers in form, Butcher once again opted for an unchanged line-up and once again was rewarded, hammering Charlton 4-0 in our opening home game of the season.

Within days Lee Power's short but successful Sunderland career would come to a drab end. The return leg of our League Cup tie at Chester City was a dour goalless affair, as were many League Cup second leg ties of the day. The 0-0 draw in front of 2,903 spectators was an unusual way for Power to end his short stint at Sunderland, baring in mind that thirteen goals were scored across the previous three games he featured in. A two goal deficit over the Division Three team eventually made it too difficult for The Seals to claw back. He nonetheless helped us on to the next round, where we would go on to be drawn against, and beat, Premier League giants Leeds United, across two memorable cup ties.

His loan spell was cut short by his parent club Norwich a day later. Highly rated at Carrow Road, he managed to break the record for most Republic of Ireland Under-21 caps during his time there and recorded a record of 10 goals in 44 games. Their success was to the detriment of his progression though, so the inevitable happened with a move away from the club coming a year later. He joined Bradford for a handsome figure of £200,000 but although his move to Yorkshire started off well enough, as he bagged a goal at his debut at home to Swansea, a serious virus threatened the career of the young striker. More loan moves followed as he attempted to gain fitness, but Power's career has already begun declining by this point.

Subsequent moves to Peterborough, Dundee, Hibs, Ayr, Plymouth, Halifax Town and Boston had varying degrees of success without him ever really reaching the heights he was tipped for. Retiring in 2001 with 163 appearances and 27 goals to his name, Power moved into the world of Football Agency, setting up the company CRE8, which is now the biggest Sports Publisher in the UK. His new found career eventually lead him to Cambridge United when he took over as Chairman in 2006. Much like our own player-turned-chairman, Niall Quinn, he also held a caretaker's role at Cambridge only a few months after his takeover.

He did however move on from Cambridge, citing differences with fellow board members. In April 2013, Power joined the board at Swindon Town becoming a part-owner of the club. Swindon were taken over in February by a consortium led by Jed McCrory - a friend of Power. On 29th November 2013, Swindon announced that Power had taken control of ownership of the club. A statement regarding the ownership of change was released on the club’s official website with Power thought to be taking sixty percent of the shareholding in the club to gain control at the County Ground. Whilst he "did a Quinny" again, taking over first team affairs temporarily from Mark Cooper, he has since gone back into the boardroom where he is still the Chairman.

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