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Forgotten Black Cats: Loek Ursem

Yes, good old Loek - a man who only ever played on these shores in red and white. You remember him, don't you? Oh...

Loek Aloysius Jacobus Maria Ursem, or Loek to his friends, was born in the grand old city of Amsterdam, Holland in the year 1958, merely months before the well known romantic single from Max Bygraves, 'Tulips from Amsterdam', was released. He was the first Dutch player to appear at Roker Park in an era when signing foreign players was not half as popular as it is now. He was, at the time, the only player from overseas to have signed for Sunderland since Argentine's Claudio Marangoni in 1978.

The Dutchman was brought to Sunderland by manager Alan Durban, on loan, late in the 1981-1982 season. Durban had endured a difficult first season on Wearside after his shock move from Stoke City, where he had success after taking over in 1978, and brought in one of his trusted former Potters in Ursem, with the Dutchman joining in early April 1982 with the Lads sitting in 21st position - our team containing Gary Rowell, England international Nick Pickering and Barry Venison at the time.

Ursem had spent two seasons season at Stoke City following his move from AZ Alkmaar in 1979. Known as a pacey winger, his stand out season was the 80-81 campaign.

Returning a total of 7 goals in 28 league appearances, Loek cemented his worth to Durban's team and finished only behind striker Lee Chapman in the goal scoring charts.

Stoke finished the season in a respectable 11th place. However as we all know, losing a manager to a supposedly superior job during pre-season can have a spectacularly negative effect, and this proved to be the case for both Ursem and Stoke themselves. The dutchman found himself out of the Stoke side and he eventually ended up at Sunderland as a result.

He made his debut at home to Middlesbrough, replacing a young Ally McCoist in the 66th minute as we were 0-1 down. Ursem couldn't help negate a result for the Lads, as a late Mick Baxter goal saw us eventually lose 0-2, leaving us in 22nd place.

Surprisingly, he didn't appear again until an important 0-1 away win at his parent side Stoke. Replacing crowd favourite and local hero Gary Rowell with 5 minutes to go. A goal from Mick Buckley just before half time sealed a huge win at the old Stoke City ground. He followed up his five minute cameo a week later in exactly the same fashion, with a Colin West double giving us 2 wins in 2, defeating Birmingham City to give us a massive boost in the relegation battle.

Loek's final game would be a memorable one. After amassing a total of 47 minutes as a Sunderland player, he would bow out as a 78th minute substitute at a packed White Hart Lane. With goals from Glenn Hoddle and Tony Galvin looking likely to condemn us to a damaging defeat, the 24-year-old's introduction would coincide with a late comeback, a Rowell penalty and a Pickering strike in the last 10 minutes earning us a vital draw and taking us to position of 21st - considerably closer to the team's we were looking to catch. The season would end with 4 wins in 7, as we survived on the last day of the season two points clear of the bottom three.

As for our Dutchman, he returned to Stoke following his final appearance in London, Stoke also finishing 2 points from safety, above ourselves merely on goal difference. He would later be considered by the Management at Roker as a permanent buy, but with chairman Tom Cowie wanting to keep the purse strings tightened, he remained with Stoke as they improved on a disappointing season. However successful it was for themselves, it was not for Ursem, and after making only 2 appearances all season he decided on a move back home to Holland where he signed for FC Harlem.

Despite the move back to his native land, his career struggles continued as he made only 3 appearances back in the Netherlands, later retiring at lower league Dutch side FC Wageningen.

Loek is now the owner of a succesful TV repair shop in a city located in the province of North Holland, Purmerend.