Bent on the best spell of his career
Former Sunderland striker Darren Bent was a guest on Goals on Sunday on Sky Sports and during his appearance on the show, he discussed his career with the club.
Bent was asked whether he played the best football of his career at Sunderland and the 35-year-old was in no doubt about that and explained how much he enjoyed life in the North East:
Yeah, by far. Playing in front of those supporters, I knew how passionate they were from before I went there, which is why I went to Sunderland but there were times when I was playing up there and scoring the goals that they make you feel like you are walking on water.
You walk out and they are singing your name, singing your songs and everywhere you go up there, you are treated like a hero.
They like strikers up in the North East and they have had some fantastic ones but the way they make me feel up there...
Obviously it turned pretty bitter when I went to Aston Villa but I always think about my time at Sunderland with fond memories and how fantastic the fans were, the people at the football club and everyone associated with Sunderland.
He was then asked if he regretted the way he left the club and if he could do it again, whether he would do it differently:
Yes, 100% because the way it ended obviously wasn’t the way they portrayed it. I didn’t demand to leave, at the end of the day with how football clubs are, if they didn’t want to accept the money, they could have said ‘No, he’s not for sale’.
But what kind of hurt and upset me was the fact that when Aston Villa came with the money, they were like ‘yeah, we’ll take it’ and I was like ‘hold on, if I am that valuable to you, you can just say no, end of discussion’.
I was happy there, I was playing my best football, really enjoying my time up there and really liked living up there but for them to just accept the money as quickly as they did, I was like ‘Ok, fair enough’.
Bent revealed that he was made to hand in a transfer request as he was about to put pen to paper at Aston Villa and while he understood why the club needed to do it, it left a bitter taste:
As I was about to sign. The phone rang and they said ‘we’re not putting this transfer through until you hand the transfer request in’. So obviously by the time I am about to sign the deal I agreed and the deal agreed between the two clubs, it was tough to take at first.
From a football club perspective, I understand that. They don’t want the backlash from the fans but for me it was tough. As I said, it happens in football and you have to get on with it.
Finally, Bent said he had mixed emotions regarding celebrating the goal he scored for Burton Albion at the Stadium of Light last season but his emotions got the best of him due to the stick he got in the build up to the game:
It was mixed emotions to be fair, because I always said to myself that if I ever scored against Sunderland, I wouldn’t celebrate but the amount of stick I was taking when I was warming up and as I walked out for the warm up, it just got the best of me when I scored and it was unfortunate that they went down.
Rochdale praise for Sunderland fans
As Sunderland are set to travel to Rochdale on Saturday, 6 April, the Lancashire club have announced that they will give Sunderland a bigger than usual away allocation.
Rochdale’s usual away capacity is 3,517 but the away following for that away game has been increased to just over 4,000 tickets, with some of the home fans in the club’s family stand asked to relocate for the game so we can have a bigger away following.
The club’s CEO David Bottomley explained the club’s decision on their official site, saying that after speaking to the police, they received assurances that Sunderland fans are the best behaved in the division:
The police intelligence says that the Sunderland fans are the best behaved fans in League One and they genuinely mean that and the police that we deal with take intelligence from all over the UK.
We have had one [Sunderland] fan contact us and say that it is beer and banter they are coming for and the police have confirmed that every away ground they have been to this year from Plymouth to Wycombe to Bradford, there has been no trouble because Sunderland fans are not a trouble-making club. They are a club whose supporters go to away grounds to enjoy themselves and watch football.
Rochdale also spoke to other League One clubs and they had nothing but praise for the Sunderland fans:
Other clubs in the league, Wycombe and Bradford - in particular - who have given over sections of their home season ticket areas to Sunderland have reported no incidents whatsoever.
Plymouth Argyle, who we were with the other week, again said to us that they wish they had played Sunderland every week. They were the best fans, they spent the most and they left happy.
Ethan Robson started for Dundee yesterday in their 1-0 home defeat by reigning Scottish Premiership champions Celtic.
Robson actually came closest to scoring early on but his curling effort just cleared the crossbar, from then on Celtic dominated without breaking the deadlock but, deep into injury time, the away side finally broke the deadlock thanks to Odsonne Edouard’s 96th minute winner.
Elliot Embleton’s Grimsby Town shared the points with Northampton Town at a blustery Blundell Park.
The Sunderland loanee had a few shots on goal before being replaced late on by striker Scott Vernon as both sides looked for a winner but they game finished 0-0.
Hartlepool United also drew 0-0, this time at Barnet in the National League. Luke Molyneux started for Pools and although both sides had chances to win the game - with Molyneux shooting over the bar after a good bit of skill, the teams had to settle for a point.
Lamine Kone started for Strasbourg but it was a day to forget for the Sunderland loanee. His side were 2-1 up in injury time when VAR spotted Kone handling the ball in his own box and Teji Savanier tucked away the resultant penalty to rescue a point for the home side.