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On this day: 31 July 1993

Terry Butcher’s new look Sunderland side was preparing for its second pre-season fixture on this day back in 1993.

On this day in 1993, Terry Butcher’s expensively assembled squad was preparing for a friendly with Irish side Glentoran. It was the second game of the pre-season, after a 3-1 home defeat to Rangers in Gary Bennett’s testimonial.

Two of the newcomers, Derek Ferguson and Ian Rodgerson were set to miss the game with injuries, but of more concern was an injury to skipper Kevin Ball, who had a stomach muscle tear that was expected to keep him out for a couple of months.

Sunderland cruised to a 4-1 win over the Irish side, with a goal each from Shaun Cunnington and Gordon Armstrong, and a penalty each from Phil Gray and Don Goodman.

New signing Phil Gray notched his first goal for the club from the spot
Photo by Barrington Coombs/EMPICS via Getty Images

Of course, Butcher’s first full season got off to the worst possible start - a 5-0 reverse to a Marco Gabbiadini inspired Derby County, but preparations were severely hampered by the car crash involving new signings Ferguson, Melville, Gray and Rodgerson, which saw the latter miss the first three months of the new season. Ferguson and Melville were the only two to make the opening day line up - Ferguson lasting only 20 minutes before being replaced by Brian Atkinson. Ball, of course, also missed out, but there were debuts too for Alec Chamberlain and Lee Power, on loan from Norwich.

Derek Ferguson of Sunderland
A lot was expected of Scottish playmaker Ferguson. But his impressive debut against former club Rangers was as good as it got.
Getty Images

Also, tucked away at the bottom of this piece is a note on a trialist - Chima Okorie - who netted a brace in a friendly at Crook.

The 25-year-old Nigerian forward had played all of his football in the Indian leagues, scoring almost 300 goals in 8 seasons, but didn’t do enough to earn a contract at Roker Park. He did turn out for Peterborough, Grimsby and Torquay over the next two years - scoring six goals in 26 games - before heading to Norway. Guess the Indian leagues weren’t the best of standards in those days.

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