clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Draft: Second tier shootout Day 2 - We fight it out to make SAFC's best of the last 25 years

It's day two of the Roker Report draft and with big hitters such as Kevin Phillips, Julio Arca and Niall Quinn removed from the pool the pickings are becoming increasingly slim. Who will our writers select in rounds three and four?

Empics Sports Photo Agency

Day one of the Roker Report draft was all about the scramble for Sunderland's greatest second tier players, and boy were they snapped up quickly.

Damian, afforded with the first pick of the draft, opted to select Mr Sunderland Kevin Ball, leaving the likes of Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn for the rest to pick up. Was that a mistake? Only time will tell.

Here are our third and fourth round picks - will anyone take an early advantage in this competition?

Round three

Damian: 17 - Craig Russell

Craig Russell did his best work for us as a striker in the 95/96 season, hitting double figures. He wasn't the best we've had by any stretch of the imagination but he got the job done and that's what I need. Keeping his eye for the net in mind I'm going to take him as an attacking left back. He'll bring some doggedness and work ethic to my left flank, with the odd goal here and there.

Fishpaste: 18 - Michael Bridges

Goals win games, right? I want the bulk of my quality up front because, in truth, I am not sure the pool of top class attacking talent is really all that deep in this draft.

Just to be clear, the Michael Bridges I have picked is the first one - the player he was before his move to Leeds. Obviously, the dream would have been Quinny partnering SKP, but that was never going to happen, but I'm convinced I have the next best thing.

Kevin Phillips never liked playing up front on his own, and Bridges had the quality to compliment him brilliantly. While Summerbee guarantees delivery from wide, Bridges can be the player to create centrally, and I'm sure he'd have more than a few goals in him himself too.

Given getting both Quinn and Phillips was always going to be impossible, I think we are looking at pretty much the best strike pairing available here.

Leeds United v Sunderland Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Rory: 19 - Michael Gray

With Johnston in, I felt it was appropriate to give myself a strong left hand side. We haven’t been exactly blessed with left backs in the second tier so I was glad to bag our best one and a former captain.

Having Micky Gray undoubtedly gives me the strongest left hand side in this draft, given that he and Johnston were a formidable partnership. A man of many hairstyles, Gray would always look to overlap his winger and send crosses in to the likes of Quinn and Phillips and he was equally as strong with his defensive duties.

Graham: 20 - Marcus Stewart

My next pick had to be a striker. As solid as I wanted to make my defence, a goal scorer is paramount.

At a time when morale was low and the big names were leaving in their droves, Marcus stayed and lent an experienced head to youngsters like Dean Whitehead and Liam Lawrence.

Whilst he may not of been lauded in the way some of the forwards were before him, Marcus Stewart’s role in helping us back to Premier League back in 2005 can not be understated.

Gav: 21 - Shay Given

Have Sunderland had a more consistently excellent goalkeeper than Shay Given in the Championship? Sure, Tommy Sorensen was fantastic, but over the 15 games that Given played for us he was undeniably brilliant and was an important factor in Sunderland staying up under Peter Reid back in 1996.

Ignoring the fact he went on to be a Newcastle legend - playing in the Champions League whilst also representing his country on 134 occasions - you cannot deny the quality of Shay Given. He's an absolute certainty in my starting eleven.

Henchard: 22 - Tony Norman

Genuinely - probably - roughly my favourite Sunderland player of all time. Norman was a superb 'keeper who was exactly what goalies should be - brilliant but human and fallible.

Norman was the '92 cup final goalkeeper and the man in goal for the Play-offs two years prior when the Mackems stormed St James Park. For a lad my age there was a true warmth between us on the Roker End terrace and Norman between the sticks.

Capable of stunning saves no goalie should ever have made - think West Ham away in the cup run, Norman also produced the odd howler which somehow cemented his place in Wearside hearts - so much so, they named a fanzine after him in the 90s.

Walshie: 23 - Stewart Downing

Stewart Downing's month-long stay at Mick McCarthy's Division One Wonders in 2003 showed us two things - a) he was better than everyone in our squad and b) Sunderland had a knack of showing parent clubs what a talent they had on their hands.

Coventry City v Sunderland
Stewart Downing of Sunderland

Loaned from our Smoggie friends, Downing bagged three goals in seven games including an absolute pearler against Coventry City, a game best remembered for Colin Healy breaking his leg into a thousand pieces. Middlesbrough took note of Downing's progress, rejected our £100k bid, put him in the first team and the rest is history.

Tom: 24 - Phil Gray

Phil Gray might seem like something of an odd choice, but 34 goals in 115 games is a canny return considering he played in some pretty lacklustre Sunderland sides.

As with my other picks, I’ve tried to forge a team of hard-working players who are hard-working and determined to win. The Northern-Irishman was full of energy and desire which really helped form a bond with the Sunderland faithful. Nothing too flash, but dependable and desperate to win.

Round four

Tom: 25 - Carlos Edwards

Carlos Edwards is a player who would probably slide under a few radars in this draft, but I’ve decided to snag him. He might only have played half a season of Championship football, but Edwards was a good little player.

The man from Trinidad and Tobago came to Wearside with little fanfare in all honesty, but his pace, determination, and adaptability make him a good fit for my tenacious yet talented side.

Walshie: 26 - David Connolly

Who better to fill that fox-in-the-box position than David Connolly? A long-term target for many a Sunderland manager, the Irishman provided the perfect foil for absolute stalwart and dirty Mag Daryl Murphy during Roy Keane's barnstorming campaign.

Whacking in 13 goals (I assumed it was more, he seemed to score in every game that season) in our glorious 2007 promotion campaign, it was heartbreaking to see his time here curtailed by injury. Never fear, however, as he will be leading the line in this tour de force of a fantasy XI of players not many of us can remember.

Henchard: 27 - Andy Melville

Andy Melville was signed by Terry Butcher, so everyone thought he was crap - to start with. The Welsh international would go on to make over 200 appearances in a Sunderland shirt.

Melville got better the longer he was on Wearside and was solid. Organised and good with set pieces, calm under pressure he had a neat manner of taking the sting out of opposition attacks. Every draft defence needs a Mary at its heart.

Gav: 28 - Stephen Elliott

We're running short on decent striking options already so it's important that I get someone quality in to my side before all we are left with is Kevin Kyle.

Leeds United v Sunderland Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Luckily for me Stephen Elliott is still available, so he becomes my fourth draft pick. He was our talisman in the promotion season under Mick McCarthy and had it not been for injuries he'd have gone on to amount to so much more as a Sunderland player in the Premier League. Goal machine!

Graham: 29 - Ross Wallace

I always had a little soft spot for Ross Wallace. He always gave 100%, but seemed to have that little bit of quality about him too.

A wicked left foot, his delivery into the box was more or less spot on, whilst his tireless work-rate meant his full back was never left alone. Although not one of the big names, he certainly would get into my team to provide the ammunition to the front line, and to add commitment.

Rory: 30 - Tommy Smith

Seeing Stewart, Connolly and Elliott go so quickly was a blow, I must admit. It has left strikers thin on the ground so I had to think carefully and go for someone who would benefit from Niall Quinn’s knockdowns. Tommy Smith may have only had one season on Wearside and was usually second fiddle to Marcus Stewart but he did a good job for the lads.

Eight goals in all competitions, that season, isn’t a bad return for someone who spent almost half of his time on the bench. After his surprise sale to Derby County, Smith had just under a 1 in 3 record, proving that he was a canny goalscorer at that level. I think Smithy and Quinny (giving them there typical footballers nicknames there) will be quite the partnership.

Fishpaste: 31 - Martin Scott

Let's face it - it was always going to be slim pickings in terms of left-backs in this draft. I expected Michael Gray to go early, maybe even a little earlier than he did, so I'm thrilled that the next best option, Martin Scott, is still available right at the end of round four.

Scott was an outstanding full back. In fact, you could argue that he was a more well-rounded full back than Gray, albeit a lot less eye-catching. He was very sound defensively, could tackle with the best of them, and had a sweet left foot for free-kicks and penalties.

He also scored one of my favourite ever Sunderland goals, too - a late winner against Oldham in the 1996 championship winning season in front of the Roker End. Fine player and a solid pick.

Damian: 32 - Daryl Murphy

Daryl Murphy is another man of poor taste following his departure from the club, but I'm not building a team of friendly faces here – we're in this to win it. The man has a thunderbolt left foot and strength in the challenge. He's got a decent amount of pace that will help push my attack down the flanks.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report