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Forgotten Black Cats: William Mocquet

Do you remember Billy Rocket?

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

The period in time between Mick McCarthy leaving Sunderland in March of 2006 and Roy Keane taking over at the end of August that same year was a massively uncertain one both on and off the pitch. Niall Quinn, heralded as the saviour of a sleeping giant, swooped in to take over the club backed by a consortium of Irish businessmen and the time for adjustment was slim, with Quinn not only tasked with stabilising a club relegated from the top flight but also needing to assist in building a side capable of bouncing back immediately from the previous season's failings.

Niall was all heart. His mission in saving Sunderland was borne out of the faith the club and the fans had shown him over the years, with the belief in his mind that he could do something good for people that needed him. The problem, however, is that his experience in club management was nil, as was his ability as a transfer negotiator.

Though Quinny was absolutely certain that Sunderland were a club worth investing in, he seriously struggled to attract a big name to drop down to the Championship and take control of what was now his club. Talks with Sam Allardyce, Roy Keane and Martin O'Neill lead to nothing, so Niall took the reins himself and attempted to piece together a squad that would be capable of rebounding back from what had been an awful year for the club.

One week before Roy Keane arrived at the club, Quinn signed relatively unknown Frenchman William Mocquet from French second division side Le Havre, a transfer that had most fans scratching their heads wondering just who he was.

We were told he was a winger that was quick and good on the ball, but actual footage of him playing was rare and you have to wonder just how much Niall Quinn saw of Mocquet before signing him. It wasn't a great start to the summer transfer window, admittedly. Quinn signed a number of players that struggled to fit in at Sunderland, particularly under Keane.

Unsurprisingly, 'Billy Rocket' never made an appearance for our first team. Although he was technically quite good, slight and fairly quick, he was physically just not cut out for English football and, unsurprisingly, Roy Keane just wasn't interested in the player and he spent the rest of his days at Sunderland training with the younger players and other first teamers that had been labelled 'not needed', such as Tommy Miller and Rory Delap.

Towards the end of the season, Mocquet spent time on loan at Rochdale and Bury - both sides playing in League Two - and had spent time training at Scottish side Hibernian but was unable to secure a permanent move, instead leaving to join FC Pau, a French amateur side.


The fee paid to sign Mocquet might well still give Niall Quinn sleepless nights, and rightly so - Mocquet came across from France on decent money and never kicked a ball for the first team, and was released at the end of the season with a year of his contract still to run. Decent work if you can get it, like.

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