On this day in 1995, Bobby Saxton had enjoyed a trip to the seaside the evening before, and we were expecting big things of Brett Angell. Yes, you read that correctly.
After narrowly avoiding relegation the previous season thanks to the arrival of Peter Reid, pre-season had seen Sunderland – and Angell – hit the goals trail. The previous evening’s 2-1 friendly victory over Blackpool (whose managerial position Saxton had turned down in favour of joining Reidy’s coaching staff) had seen Angell grab a brace – his fourth and fifth goals of the pre-season campaign.
Angell had arrived as Mick Buxton’s final throw of the dice - signing from Everton for £750,000 mere days before Buxton was shown the door. He’d failed to score competitively in eight games for the club, seven of them under Reid, so far.
Still, he was optimistic about the new season, attributing the one-on-one work undertaken with coach Pop Robson to his new-found form.
“I always used to score goals,” said Angell. “Pop has worked on getting me in the right positions and getting me to continually keep tucking the ball away.”
Angell did start the season in the first XI, partnering Phil Gray – who’d also bagged five pre-season goals – up front in a 2-1 home defeat to Leicester City.
However, despite notching in a league cup draw at Preston, he lost his place after the subsequent goalless draw away at Norwich, and was never seen in a red and white shirt again, departing for a couple of loan spells as Reid’s team went on – after an indifferent stat – to clinch the title.
In a quirk of fate, Angell played against Sunderland that season - while still officially a Sunderland player - in the final home game of the season, during a goalless loan spell at West Bromwich.
While he only managed one goal for Sunderland, Angell was a prolific lower league scorer throughout his career.
Before joining the club, he’d scored four times against us for Southend, including goals in away wins in consecutive seasons at Roker Park. And, in depressingly predictable fashion, when lining up against us for Stockport at the Stadium of Light, he scored again. Fortunately, a Niall Quinn hattrick ensured it was a meaningless goal, points wise at least.
Brett Angell: another to add to the list of ‘decent strikers who couldn’t do it for Sunderland’.