Bolton Wanderers picked up Jason McAteer at 20-years of age from non-League Marine for £500 and a bag of balls in 1992. Over the next three years the eventual Republic of Ireland international would pay off this price tag by not only contributing to a run in the League Cup ending in defeat in the final to Liverpool, but promotion to the Premier League in 1995.
As a result of his performance against Liverpool in that League Cup final, they decided to part with £4.5 million to take him to Anfield that same year. He would go on to spend four years on Merseyside, in a spell that saw 139 appearances for the Reds including the 1996 FA Cup final defeat to Manchester United.
In 1999, McAteer joined Brian Kidd’s Premier League strugglers Blackburn Rovers in a deal worth £4 million. The 1999/00 season would see Blackburn Rovers relegated resulting in McAteer helping the Lancashire club to gain promotion back to the Premier League in his first full season.
A year later saw his £1 million move to the Stadium of Light at the age of 30, as Don Hutchinson’s replacement on the right of midfield. McAteer spent three years on Wearside despite suffering relegation in his first season, making 61 appearances with 5 goals, that included appearances in both legs of a play-off semi-final and an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Millwall (where he received a red card). By this time his injury record was starting to catch up and although he was dependable during his time in the North-East he lacked the yard of pace his game had in years gone by.
He was eventually released in 2004 and joined Tranmere Rovers before hanging up his boots in 2007. Despite starting down the route of coaching as assistant to John Barnes at Tranmere Rovers, McAteer is now a regular match analyst on LFC TV.
Nicky Summerbee began his career at Swindon Town, making his debut in 1989 and going on to make well over 100 appearances for the Robins. It seemed inevitable that at some point in his career he would join Manchester City considering his Dad’s career at Maine Road and the fact he was born in Greater Manchester, and it became so in a £1.3 million deal in 1994.
City would struggle during the three years that Summerbee spent there under the regimes of Brian Horton and Alan Ball and that would result in relegation from the Premier League in 1997. In November of the same year, the old fashioned right winger would join Sunderland in a deal that saw Craig Russell move to City.
His debut was coming on as sub for Martin Smith in 4-1 victory against Portsmouth at Fratton Park where Summerbee would announce his arrival with the fourth goal. What followed was arguably Nicky Summerbee’s purple patch in his career where his pin-point crossing would create chance after chance for striker’s such as Quinn and Phillips.
This would all end, as many others, with a falling out with Peter Reid and resulted in moves out on loan to Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City. He’d eventually leave in a permanent deal in 2001, and go on to have spells with Nottingham Forest, Leicester City, Bradford City, Swindon Town, Tranmere Rovers and Tamworth before retiring in 2006. Summerbee has since been seen working as a co-commentator on BBC Radio Five and local radio covering Manchester City.
A youth product of the academy at Everton, Gavin McCann would make only eleven appearances for Everton after making his debut in 1995 before Peter Reid would get his signature for Sunderland in 1998 during a season that saw a record breaking promotion to the Premier League.
McCann would only make a handful of appearances as Sunderland blew the old Division One away on the way to a record of 105-points, and would make his mark with 21 Premier League starts in his first full season as Sunderland finished an impressive seventh.
The following season saw more of the same with McCann making a similar number of appearances that would see him typify the way Reid wanted Sunderland to press opponents, especially in midfield. As Sunderland tailed off towards the end of Peter Reid’s time at the club, so did McCann and although he was regularly making the starting XI, Sunderland struggled over the next two years and were relegated in 2003.
As a result of Sunderland’s poor financial position and McCann’s ambition to continue plying his trade in the Premier League, he would join Aston Villa in the summer of 2003. McCann would spend four years in Birmingham that were littered with injury setbacks that would result in release from Villa park and being picked up by Bolton Wanderers.
Injuries again would impact McCann’s time at the Reebok Stadium and he eventually retired in 2011. During 2018, Gavin McCann was coach of Bolton Wanderers U18’s.
1973 was a great year for Sunderland fans - yes that’s right, Allan ‘Magic’ Johnston was born in November 1973.
He’d begin his career with Heart of Midlothian, making his debut in 1990, and would make almost one hundred appearances over the next six years until leaving for France in the form of Rennes. His time in France would last less than a year when Peter Reid needed reinforcements in a bid to keep Sunderland in the Premier League as the transfer deadline was approaching in 1997.
Despite contributing and ending with the distinction of being the last ever scorer in a competitive game at Roker Park in a 3-0 victory over Everton, Sunderland would eventually be relegated as they began life at the Stadium of Light. As Peter Reid built his new-look team to get back to the Premier League, Johnston’s partnership with Michael Gray down the left hand side of that team would become pivotal.
With Gray overlapping allowing Johnston a simple pass to slip him in or to cut inside and bend it in the top corner, there weren’t many teams who could contain Sunderland in that area of the field. It seemed to work week after week, and after missing out in the play-offs at the first attempt, the second season saw no doubt as Sunderland broke almost all records in getting to the Premier League.
Everyone was looking forward to seeing how Johnston and Gray could attack teams in the Premier League, but it wasn’t to be. During contract talks, Johnston had caught wind of interest from his boyhood club Rangers and the contract talks would break down. Reid being Reid banished Johnston to train with the reserves and move out on loan, that included moves to Bolton Wanderers and Birmingham City, until his contract ran out at the end of 2000 and he would not play for Sunderland again.
His time at Rangers would only last a single season with fourteen appearances before joining Middlesbrough in a disappointing three years at Boro that included a year out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday. Spells with Kilmarnock, St Mirren and Queen of the South back in Scotland followed before hanging up his boots in 2013 becoming manager of Kilmarnock.
Four years as manager of Dunfermline Athletic followed between 2015-2019 and Johnston is the current manager of Queen of the South.