Born in Canvey Island, Billy Knott joined the Academy of Light in 2011 as a 19-year-old after being released by Chelsea.
He would spend three years at Sunderland making only one appearance for Sunderland. Loan spells at AFC Wimbledon and Wycombe Wanderers, Woking in the Conference and Port Vale gave Knott his introduction to professional football.
His debut for Sunderland came in an end of season game at White Hart Lane, where Paolo Di Canio threw him on as substitute for James McClean for the last twenty minutes in a 1-0 defeat.
After Sunderland, Knott moved to Bradford making 79 appearances over two seasons before a move to Gillingham after release from his contract at The Bantams. This was followed by spells at Lincoln and Rochdale, where he started just once and made three appearances from the bench in January 2018, before signing for Chelmsford City in March 2019 via a brief time at Concord Rangers.
Sunderland-born Preece did not play a competitive game for Sunderland after progressing through the youth system, but earns his place via the thirty-two occasions he was named as substitute goalkeeper.
This included twenty-two games in Sunderland’s first season in the Premier League during 1996-97, moving up the pecking order after Tony Coton was ruled out for the season, and twenty minutes in the farewell to Roker Park match against Liverpool replacing Chris Woods.
Inevitably leaving for first team football, Preece would join Darlington in the summer of 1997 going on to make over a hundred appearances during his two-year stay before moving to Scotland where he signed for Aberdeen. Although he stayed at Pittodrie for six years he would find fierce competition for the number one jersey and would leave in 2005 in moves that saw him join Silkeborg IF followed by OB in Denmark.
He would return to England in 2009, joining Barnsley where he would be understudy for three years playing seven games before moving to Lincoln City as a player-coach in 2012. He’d then return to Lincoln City as goalkeeping goach after a brief spell with Keflavik in Iceland. David Preece is currently coaching at Graham Potter’s old stomping ground Östersunds in Sweden.
A distinguished twenty-one year career for the Sunderland-born Harford started at Lincoln City in 1977 where he impressed after making his debut in 1977, and would go on to score 41 goals in 115 appearances before a £180,000 transfer to Newcastle United in 1980. A disappointing year on Tyneside led to quick fire moves to Bristol City and Birmingham City before eventually ending up at Luton Town in 1984.
Harford would spend six successful years at Kenilworth Road, becoming a fans favourite and gaining two international caps for England, before a £450,000 move to the midlands to join Derby County in 1990. This would only last a year until he was on his travels again, this time returning to Luton Town despite interest from Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. Following Luton Town dropping out of top tier, Harford joined Chelsea for the opening season of the new Premier League for a fee of £300,000.
Despite being top scorer for Chelsea, Terry Butcher would take Harford to Sunderland for £250,000 in March 1993 where he would only manage two goals in eleven appearances. His last move would be to Wimbledon via Coventry City in 1994 making 60 appearances before retiring in 1998.
Since retiring from the playing side, Harford has held many positions at various clubs including Director of Football, Coach and Manager. Last season saw him lead Luton Town to promotion the Championship.
Born in Whitley Bay, Cornforth would make his mark in north-east football by beginning his career with Sunderland and although making his debut as a seventeen year-old on the last day of 1984-85 he would not make another appearance until 1987 under Denis Smith.
In his six years at Sunderland, Cornforth would make 38 appearances and had loan spells at Doncaster Rovers, Shrewsbury Town and Lincoln City before leaving for Swansea City in 1991. He would enjoy a successful five years in Wales where he’d make 149 appearances that included winning the Football League Trophy in 1994 and also being capped twice for Wales in 1995.
His form led to a £350,000 move to Barry Fry’s Birmingham City in 1996 where he would struggle to hold down a first team place before moving to Wycombe Wanderers within months of his transfer to St Andrews. Cornforth had further moves to Peterborough United (on loan), Cardiff City, Scunthorpe United and Exeter City ahead of hanging up his boots in 2001 when he was appointed manager of Exeter City.
He has also managed Newport County and Torquay United and was recently assistant manager of Blyth Spartans.