Nyron Nosworthy began his career with Gillingham working his way through the youth system to make his debut as an 18-year-old in November 1998. He quickly established himself at Priestfield and would become a first team regular very quickly and stayed with the Gills for the next years where he made 174 league appearances.
As Gillingham were relegated to League One at the end of the 2004-05 season, Nosworthy became a free agent and decided to reject the offer of a new contract. Nosworthy eventually signed for Sunderland, where Mick McCarthy’s side had just been promoted to the Premier League on the back of winning the Championship. Initially signed as back-up at right back to Stephen Wright, he would make his debut on the opening day in a 3-1 defeat to Charlton Athletic at the Stadium of Light when Wright suffered a serious knee injury.
It would be a tough introduction to the Premier League for Sunderland and Nosworthy as we would have to wait for our seventh league game of the season for a first win of the season. A 2-0 win for Sunderland through goals by Tommy Miller and Julio Arca were welcome relief but the victory at the Riverside, in a game that included Nosworthy lads concede a corner whilst attempting a backpass to the keeper from the halfway line, did not disguise that Sunderland were in trouble.
Sunderland continued to struggle and were relegated on 15 points which led to the introduction of Roy Keane as manager early the following season that transformed not only the fortunes of Sunderland but also those of the Jamaican international defender.
A move to the centre of defence the following season saw Nosworthy make 27 appearances and become a cult figure on Wearside as Sunderland defied all odds by winning the title despite being 19th position in the Championship in November. He would remain a vital part of Sunderland’s plans for the Premier League, going on to play over 30 games the following season and would remain part of the first team until falling down the pecking order under Steve Bruce in 2010.
Between 2010 and 2012 Nosworthy had successful loan moves to Sheffield United and Gianfranco Zola’s Watford before moving permanently to Vicarage Road in January 2012. He would make 44 league appearances over a two-year period that included another loan move this time to Bristol City in 2014 before joining Lee Clark at Blackpool on a short term deal in 2014.
After only a handful of appearances at Blackpool, that included a loan move to Portsmouth, Nosworthy would finish his career in 2016 following a year at Dagenham and Redbridge.
After working his way through the youth system at Villa Park, 21- year-old Darren Byfield was handed his League debut by Brian Little at Aston Villa in December 1997. The change of management at Villa Park from Brian Little to John Gregory reduced Byfield’s first team opportunities further and after making only seven appearances in three years that included loan spells at Preston North End, Northampton Town, Cambridge United and Blackpool, Byfield moved on permanently to Walsall in 2000.
The young striker spent two years with the Saddlers making 77 appearances before moving on again, this time to South Yorkshire and Rotherham United in a deal worth £50,000 in March 2002. Byfield impressed in his two year at two years with the Millers, achieving a goal ratio of almost 1 in 3.
His form at Rotherham would alert Mick McCarthy and in February 2004 a deal was agreed where Michael Proctor moved in the opposite direction. The Jamaican international would only stay with Sunderland until the end of the season, scoring 5 goals in 17 appearances in a year which ended in play-off disappointment. Byfield could also only watch on as Sunderland reached the FA Cup semi-final due to being cup-tied.
After being released from Sunderland, Byfield would reject offers from Preston North End and Walsall, deciding to sign for Andy Hessenthaler’s Gillingham in July 2004. After a slow start at Priestfield he would end as top scorer in his second season that attracted various offers as his contract was due to end in 2006 leading to signing for Millwall.
Good form at Millwall led to Bristol City spending a reported £250,000 to take Byfield to Ashton Gate despite the fact he was mainly deployed from the bench scored 8 goals in 33 appearances.
Over the next nine years, Byfield had spells of varying success with Doncaster Rovers, Oldham Athletic, Walsall, Solihull Moors, Tamworth and Redditch United before hanging up his boots in 2017. Darren Byfield is currently manager of Alvechurch in the Southern League Premier Division Central.
Gary Breen made his League debut for Maidstone United as a seventeen-year-old in 1991 where his form and potential led to moving to Gillingham where Breen made over fifty appearances between 1992 and 1994 for The Gills. This would be enough for John Still at Peterborough United to part with £70,000 for the player.
At still only 21-years-old Breen quickly established himself at London Road and would impress in his two years making 69 league appearances for the Posh until Barry Fry’s Birmingham City signed the central defender in a deal worth £250,000 to take him to St Andrews in February 1996 (playing against Sunderland during our run-in to winning the Division One Championship for the first time under Peter Reid).
It would take a year and 40 league appearances under Barry Fry and then quickly followed by Trevor Francis at Birmingham City to attract the Republic of Ireland international’s first big money move. West Midland neighbours Coventry City, led by Gordon Strachan, upped the ante and offered the Blues £2.5 million to take him to Highfield Road where he’d stay for the next five years making almost 150 league appearances.
His performances for the Republic of Ireland during a 2002 World Cup campaign that saw the Roy Keane saga followed by eventually being knocked out in the last 16 to Spain on penalties, would see Breen’s stock rise to new levels. Driven by the fact that Breen was a free agent following the competition, Breen was at one point linked with a move to Barcelona and also Inter Milan where a move to the San Siro would break down at the last hour due to a failed medical. He eventually, after much speculation, signed for Glenn Roeder’s West Ham United on a free transfer.
Despite arriving on the back of a successful World Cup, Breen would end his only season with the Hammers having made only 18 appearances and would result in Mick McCarthy bagging a bargain for Sunderland when he captured the central defender on a free transfer in the summer of 2003.
As Sunderland aimed for a swift return to the Premier League, Breen to be a classy centre-half in the Championship and would play 115 times for Sunderland that included lifting the Championship trophy as club captain in 2005. The Premier League proved a step to far for Mick McCarthy’s Sunderland and although Breen would make 34 appearances, the season would end in disaster with Sunderland finishing bottom on 15 points.
He would leave that summer and reunite with Mick McCarthy who was now in the hot set at Wolverhampton Wanderers where he’d spend two years before moving to Barnet in 2008, and after a career that included 63 caps for the Republic of Ireland, Gary Breen retired from football in 2010. Recently Gary Breen was a coach at Peterborough United under Darren Ferguson between 2013 and 2015 and his now a pundit on Irish channel Setanta Sports and Abu Dhabi based channel Premier League Television (PLTV).