On this day in 1989, Sunderland were trying to figure out just how on earth they could hold onto on-loan midfielder Paul Bracewell, after the on-loan midfielder impressed on his first outing during his second spell at the club.
Bracewell had played a starring role in the home victory over Middlesbrough two days earlier – which came exactly six years after his ‘first’ Sunderland debut – and Smith was desperately keen to keep hold of him.
The signing of Bracewell was something of a coup at the time. Having returned from around two years on the sidelines, he’d played more than 30 games for Everton the previous season, including the FA Cup Final against Liverpool.
Left on the sidelines for the start of the ‘89-90 season, however, Bracewell sought a move, and joined his former Stoke teammates Denis Smith and Viv Busby at Roker. At the end of his loan spell a permanent deal was agreed – £250,000 heading in the direction of Merseyside.
And so the long association with Sunderland recommenced for Bracewell, who was a fantastic, intelligent midfielder, and one of the key players in the team as we eventually won promotion.
In 1992 he was, ridiculously, only offered a one-year contract in the belief that his legs wouldn’t last much longer – only to be given a three-year deal when he returned to the club three years later.
Who says we don’t plan for the long term?