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The Sunderland All-Time Greatest Derby Eleven

Mag slayers. Mag slayers everywhere.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

Goalkeeper: Thomas Sorensen

When it comes to memories of Sunderland goalkeepers in derby days, I always think back to one moment. My very first derby game was at St James Park in 2000, when Thomas Sorensen defied all the odds to save an Alan Shearer penalty and prevent Newcastle from earning a point in a rather tight game.

Sorensen is arguably our greatest goalkeeper of the last twenty years, and his performance that day is right up there with some of the best ever goalkeeping performances in the history of our club. For me, nobody else comes close. Big Tommy goes between the sticks.

Left Back: Paul Hardyman

Any man that attempts to take a Newcastle player's head off their shoulders during a derby game deserves a statue, so putting him in my team is the least I can do.

You can watch him attempting to decapitate John Burridge here - it's lovely stuff, I must admit.

Right Back: Patrice Carteron

Taking up the right back berth is Patrice Carteron, a loanee from St Etienne signed by Peter Reid whose only notable contribution at Sunderland was a goal scored against Newcastle that ensured he'd be remembered for many years to come at Sunderland.

At a time when it was unusual for a full back to get into a nosebleed position, Carteron thought nothing of overlapping past Don Hutchison, and as he latched onto a through ball he stabbed the ball past Shay Given to put us ahead. It's a shame we didn't win like, but nevermind.

If literally all you are ever remembered for is scoring against Newcastle for Sunderland, you've done a decent enough job.

Centre Half: John O'Shea

John O'Shea has never lost against Newcastle United in his career, so he has to automatically be inserted into this side. He's been the captain in all of our six wins over our nearest and dearest in recent years, and generally speaking his passion and influence on the pitch has been massive in this fixture.

Centre Half: Danny Higginbotham

Partnering John O'Shea is a man who, despite not really playing a great deal of Premier League football for us, turned up whenever Newcastle or Middlesbrough arrived at the Stadium of Light.

His header for us against them which earned us a 1-1 draw back in 2007 wasn't even his greatest strike against them - his freekick for Stoke a few years later is probably one of the finest goals scored by a defender in Premier League history.

For me, he's a cert alongside big John. Send him up for every corner.

Central Defensive Midfield: Lee Cattermole

What would a derby game be without Catts?

We all know he's a complete throwback - they don't make combative British midfielders like Lee Cattermole anymore - and though he has his flaws, some of his best performances in a Sunderland shirt have came against Newcastle.

He understands what it means, being a local boy, and he always ensures the Newcastle players know who he is early doors - just ask Cheik Tiote and Daryl Janmaat, two players that have been on the receiving end of an early twatting from Catts.

He also gave us this - I wonder if the ginger piss biscuit is up for another battle with his former team mate this weekend?

Attacking Central Midfield: Kieran Richardson

Kieran Richardson's defining moment as a Sunderland player will always be his free kick winner against Newcastle in 2008, a goal that broke a twenty-eight year streak that saw us fail to win a game against Newcastle on our home turf for twenty-eight years.

That goal was monumental - the power in the strike nearly ripped a hole in Shay Given's net and the pressure of not being able to turn over Newcastle on our own patch was lifted. Richardson may not have hit another strike quite like it during the remainder of his time at Sunderland, but the fact that he did so against Newcastle means he'll always have a place in the hearts of the Sunderland supporters.

Attacking Central Midfield: Don Hutchison

He might have been a mag at heart but Don Hutchison's commitment and desire to win for Sunderland against his boyhood team was never in question.

His goal at St James' Park in 2001 contributed towards us winning that game, and as the happiness of defeating Newcastle took over him he joined Micky Gray in dancing in front of the Newcastle supporters. Mint.

Alongside Lee Cattermole, Don can add flair and composure to our midfield - and with him always having a goal or two in him, he's a potent attacking threat in a team full of goalscorers.

Inside Forward: George Holley

Though the name George Holley may not be one that many Sunderland supporters are particularly familiar with, it may surprise you to learn that Holley is our leading goalscorer of all time in the derby fixture - in his fifteen years at the club, Holley scored against Newcastle fifteen times and was part of that famous side that beat Newcastle 9-1 at St James' Park in 1908.

George Holley is the original - and best - mag slayer, and his inclusion in any all-time Tyne-Wear derby XI is an absolute must.

Inside Forward: Gary Rowell

When we hit the forth I had a chat with Kevin Arnott about whether to try for a fifth or just to take the piss. We decided to take the piss.

Partnering Holley in playing just behind the striker is Gary Rowell, a local lad that lived out the dreams of every single Sunderland supporter when he scored a hattrick against Newcastle at St James Park in 1979.

Gary is THE MAN - the fact Sunderland supporters young and old still sing his name at every home and away game almost forty years later is testament to just how much of a legend he is at our club.

That hattrick at St James' cemented him into mackem folklore, and it would be a travesty if he wasn't included in my all-time derby day eleven.

Centre Forward: Kevin Phillips

Completing our line-up is Super Kevin Phillips, a Sunderland legend that scored four goals against Newcastle throughout his time as a Sunderland player, albeit only one of them contributed to a win.

It was during Phillips' greatest spell as a Sunderland player - between 2000 and 2001 - that his four goals came, and even now, at the age of forty-two, I'd fancy him to score goals in the top flight. He was, and is, that good.

Holley, Rowell and Phillips - what a front three!


Marco Gabbiadini, David Vaughan, Djibril Cisse, Michael Gray, Simon Mignolet, Niall Quinn, Adam Johnson.

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