Cunnington made his debut with Wrexham where he spent four years between 1984-1988 making almost two hundred appearances in his time at the Racecourse ground. This resulted in a £65,000 move to Grimsby Town in 1988 where after becoming a permanent fixture in the Mariners midfield he would also become club captain.
His good form at Blundell Park would attract the interest of Malcolm Crosby who had just been appointed full-time manager of Sunderland following the FA Cup run of the previous season. Crosby would spend £650,000 to bring Cunnington to Roker in the summer of 1992.
His first season at the club was by far his most successful in terms of number of appearances, he’d start in more than 40 games and score 8 goals in all competitions. Over the next two years he struggled with injuries and made his final appearance just two games before Peter Reid took over at Roker Park.
He was released in the summer of 1995 and signed for West Bromwich Albion but only played a handful of times in his two years there, ending his playing career in 2000 following brief spells at Notts County and Kidderminster Harriers.
Signed by Terry Butcher from non-league Cowes Sport in 1993 after serving two years in prison on a charge of armed robbery, it’s safe to say Lawrence caused a stir on his arrival. Despite this, he would only make two appearances via making the starting XI (where he was subbed in both) and made three more as substitute. Clearly finding his feet in professional football during his time at Roker, this period was also interrupted by injury and the change of manager over to Mick Buxton.
He would kick start his career with a £25,000 move to Doncaster Rovers in 1994 and impressed enough at Belle Vue to convince Mark McGhee to part with £125,000 and take Lawrence to Leicester City a year later. Within a year of moving to the East Midlands, Martin O’Neill would take over at Filbert Street and lead the Foxes and Lawrence to a League Cup final appearance. He would appear as substitute in what was the last League Cup final to be decided by a replay in 1997 when Leicester defeated Middlesbrough to lift the trophy.
In 1997, Lawrence left Leicester and signed for Bradford City in a deal worth £50,000. He’d enjoy a successful five years in Yorkshire resulting in over 150 appearances for the Bantams before leaving for Walsall in 2002. Short spells then followed at Wigan Athletic, Grimsby Town, Brentford, Fisher Athletic, Worthing, Harrow Borough, Margate and Ashford Town before retiring from football in 2011.
Spotted by then chief scout Andy King, Peter Reid wasted no time in bringing 17-year-old Michael Reddy to Sunderland via Kilkenny City in 1999. The highly rated striker was fast tracked into the Sunderland first team squad and he’d make is first team debut for the club during a 3-2 defeat to Wimbledon in the League Cup in October 1999, coming off the bench to replace John Oster.
Less than a week later, Reddy would make his Premier League debut at the Stadium of Light in a 2-1 home win over Aston Villa. In his next appearance as substitute three weeks later, Reddy would score his first goal for Sunderland, cleverly following up a penalty to score the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the Riverside Stadium against Middlesbrough.
He would then suffer a medial ligament injury that stalled his progress this injury was combined with instability at the club and led to the Republic of Ireland U21 international loving out on loan to Swindon Town, Hull City, Barnsley, York City and Sheffield Wednesday (twice) until he would leave permanently to Grimsby Town in 2004.
Reddy spent three years at the Mariners scoring 26 goals in 70 appearances before a hip injury would force retirement from the game at the age of 27.
Twenty-four appearances for Grimsby Town was all it needed to persuade Howard Kendall and Everton to sign 19-year-old John Oster for £1.5 million in the summer of 1997.
Oster would spend two years on Merseyside, making forty appearances, before a nudge from Adrian Heath, who was a coach at Everton in Oster’s time there, convinced Peter Reid to part with £1 million to take him to Sunderland.
He would make his debut within days of signing in a 2-0 victory against Watford which was Sunderland’s first home game back in the Premier League in 1999-00. Injuries and loss of form meant that the Welsh international would only go on to start fifteen times for Sunderland over the next four seasons.
Sunderland’s return to Division One under Mick McCarthy was the catalyst for a return to the first team in 2003-04. He would make the starting line-up on forty-three occasions, as Sunderland suffered heartbreak in the semi-finals of both the play-off’s and the FA Cup.
The following season’s new signings blocked the path to first-team football so Oster moved on loan to Leeds United, where an incident of gross misconduct resulted, as we were still his parent club, in his contract being cancelled by Sunderland in January 2005.
Almost immediately, Oster signed for Steve Cotterill’s Burnley, before moving on to Reading after seven months. Oster’s time at the Madesjski Stadium would be fairly settled and included a record breaking championship winning side as Reading gained promotion to the Premier League.
A year at Crystal Palace would follow in 2008-09 before a move to Doncaster Rovers after his release from Palace a year later. In what was Oster’s most settled period in professional football he would stay at Donny for three years playing over 100 times.
John Oster retired from football in 2015 after further spells with Barnet and Gateshead.