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The Draft: SAFC's Second tier shoot-out - Rounds 1 & 2

This summer’s draft is up and running, and eight of our illustrious writers are gathered at Roker Report HQ to select from a pool of players that have represented Sunderland in the second tier in the last 25 years. If you missed our introduction yesterday you can read it here - today we bring you rounds 1 and 2.

Luton Town v Sunderland Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Round one

Damian: 1 - Kevin Ball

Kevin Ball has become a name synonymous with Sunderland football club. He fast developed a reputation for hard tackles and harsh language but more than that he has the charisma and respect required of a leader. On and off the pitch, Bally has shown his passion and commitment to the club time and again and I'll use him as a reliable and sturdy hand at the rudder to keep the ship steady from the centre of the park.

Fishpaste: 2 - Kevin Phillips

I genuinely couldn't believe my luck when Kevin Phillips dropped to number two in this draft. Best player we have had at the club at any level, never mind Championship, in my lifetime. Absolutely thrilled to get him.

Rory: 3 - Niall Quinn

Having the third pick meant I had to narrow down a top three, so I could guarantee at least one of them. With Damian and Michael picking Ball and Phillips, two were already gone, so it made my first choice easy - Niall Quinn. The disco pants-wearing Irishman will be my number 9, holding up the ball for others, scoring powerful headers and just being an all round great bloke.

Niall Quinn

Need someone to console you after a bad game? Niall will be there. Need someone to get the beers in after you were man of the match in a big win? Niall will be there. Or maybe you just need someone to nod the ball onto you as you dart through the defence? You better believe that Niall will be there.

As well as being a top player in the Premier League, Saint Niall was of course a linchpin of the team that got the play off final in 1998 and romped to the title with 105 points the following season. I'm sure no one could argue with this selection.

Graham: 4 - Thomas Sorensen

A good team is nothing without a solid reliable goalkeeper and our great Dane is easily the best ‘keeper of our last 25 years, especially from the second tier years.

Sorensen was great at commanding his box, he was always vocal and left the club an iconic figure. His first season on Wearside saw him clock up a record amount of clean sheets and he was just genuinely someone you knew would never let you down in the sticks. Although the ten men in front of him were important, I felt making sure I had the best number one possible was paramount to my team.

Gav: 5 - Julio Arca

How could I not take Julio Arca with my first selection? I've maybe mentioned this once or twice on these pages but Julio is my footballing idol and nobody else will ever come close.

Sure, the other four picks before mine are all outstanding ones but what sets Julio Arca apart from the rest is the fact that he completely bucked the stereotype of foreign players coming to Sunderland and stayed around when things were really shit. Plus, he deserves to be in any of these teams purely for that goal away at Bradford alone.

Chelsea v Sunderland Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The man was amazing, and that is why I have made him my number one draft pick.

Henchard: 6 - Gary Bennett

A stalwart for over a decade, Bennett's Sunderland career spanned the incredible depths of relegation to Division Three, a League Cup final, a glorious run to a Wembley FA Cup appearance in 1992 and a pair of promotions.

Bennett was a classy centre-half who got Roker roaring with his legendary storms forward from the back. He deserves to be in any winning side just for smashing David Speedie into the Main Stand paddocks in 1989. Quite possibly Sunderland's finest centre-half of the last quarter of a century and the rock from which to fashion my team.

Walshie: 7 - Mart Poom

You need a reliable goalkeeper - you need one that is chiseled out of Eastern European stone, you need one that can head a football better than the majority of your strikers... you need Mart Poom.

Armed to the teeth with Estonian grit and eyes so deep it looks like he's witnessed a war crime, no second rate Championship jobber is pinging the ball past this colossus. Let's be honest, when it came to our second tier goalkeepers none of them really held to Big Mart and none had as good a cat call.


*I've still never forgiven Mick McCarthy for not giving him a contract and buying Kelvin pissing Davis instead.

Tom: 8 - Jody Craddock

This isn’t a particularly flashy first pick, but Jody Craddock was a real class-act in my opinion. The strong, shrewd defender was a rock at the heart of our Premier League side, but also played an important role in our rise to the big time.

Extremely reliable, and a real gentleman off the pitch - Craddock really was a top professional and the club could use more players of his ilk. He was somewhat no-nonsense, but what he lacked in skill and flair he more than made up for with aggression and a burning desire to succeed - something we’ve sorely lacked in recent years.

Round two

Tom: 9 - Alex Rae

Alex Rae was a brilliant central midfielder, and could do everything on the pitch. His passing was fantastic, he was tenacious in defence and had an absolute rocket of a shot. Rae was intelligent with the ball, and that’s what I liked about him - he had that nice balance of tenacity and quality.

Alex Rae

Much like Jody Craddock, I always got the feeling that Rae cared and wanted to win. There was rarely a half-arsed performance from the Scotsman and the Sunderland faithful love that.

Walshie: 10 - Lee Clark

"Oh but he wore that nasty t-shirt at a cup final", "Oh he used to play for the Mags and proper hates Sunderland". Let me dish out a bit of real talk - Lee Clark was one of, if not the, best second-tier midfielder to grace a Sunderland shirt in the past 25 years.

Dynamic, tenacious, had an eye for a pass and chipped in with the odd-goal he was the Rolls-Royce to Kevin Ball's Land Rover Defender between 1997 and 1999. Had he decided not to bottle it and played for us in the Premiership in the following campaigns we could've easily achieved so much more.

I'd happily have a team full of Mags if they possessed the same calibre of footballing talent that Clark had.

Henchard: 11 - Don Goodman

The Don. 'Nuff said. Pacey, powerful, packed a punch. Scored one goal in three in some pretty poor Sunderland sides between 1991 and 1994. Goodman was Denis Smith's final signing for a then club record fee of £900,000.

He could spring, he could sprint and Don was cool, a Tarantino gangster set against a stark Roker backdrop. Best of all, when he left in '94 claiming Wolves were a better prospect than the Sunderland side on the cusp of the Reidy years, he ended up looking a proper twonk.

Gav: 12 - Jonny Evans

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

This is an elite pick. Jonny Evans, in my opinion, is the greatest central defender that we have had during the last twenty-five years and it was his signing that I believe pushed us from finishing mid-table to winning the league that season under the stewardship of Roy Keane. You won't see a better centre half selected during this process. Booooom.

*drops mic*

Graham: 13 - Chris Makin

Chris Makin was my hero when I was young. Whilst the other lads at school loved Super Kev, Quinny and Johnston, I always enjoyed watching Chris Makin smashing into wingers on the right hand side.

When people talk of the great Sunderland side of the late 90’s and early’s 00’s it is often Makin that is forgotten about, but his role at full back never went unnoticed by me. His ability to marshall wingers with tough tackling and close marking was supplimented by his ability to support his winger. I wouldn’t have anyone else at full back.

Rory: 14 - Allan Johnston

“It’s hard to beat a football team that plays with a magician/And Allan Johnston’s cast his magic spell on this division”, sang our friends over at A Love Supreme in their smash hit “Niall Quinn’s Disco Pants.” Good job I can harvest said magic!

There was always going to be competition for the players from the Peter Reid era, so I thought I best hoover up another one. Quinn will need service from the wings, so who better than Allan "Magic" Johnston to ping balls into him? Johnston wasn't just around for crossing though. An absolute peach against Port Vale, where he sweetly curled the ball into the top right hand corner, was a great example of his scoring abilities and that's the kind of flair I need in my team.

Allan Johnston celebrates

Fishpaste: 15 - Nicky Summerbee

I already have Kevin Phillips, so delivery into the box became an absolute priority. With that in mind, there has never been anyone better than that at Sunderland than Nicky Summerbee.

It never felt like any real surprise to me that Phillips' goals started drying up when Summerbee fell out of favour, so that made reuniting them in my team an absolute no-brainer.

Damian: 16 - Lionel Perez

Lionel Perez can't be forgiven for his poor taste following his departure from the club to ply his trade for the dark side, so I won't try to convince anyone of that. What I can say is that Perez pulled off some spectacular saves, most notably in the play-off semi final, and he had spectacular hair. He looked like Van Damme in Hard Target and that's enough to convince me I can trust him between the sticks, ripped sleeves and all.

Join us tomorrow for Rounds 3 & 4!

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