‘It’s crap without fans’
Ahead of this evening’s play-off semi-final with Lincoln City, Bailey Wright has been speaking to The World Game about the highlight of his career, a League One play-off final win at Wembley.
Preston North End hammered Swindon Town 4-0 in 2015 to book their place in the Championship and Wright says that wanting to experience that feeling again is a motivating factor for him:
Definitely, you look back on your career and I certainly look back at my time at Preston, which I had many highs and many lows, and the ultimate high was getting promoted at Wembley.
I felt part of that club for many years, I had strong relationships with people throughout the club, throughout the city. They’re the memories you hold fondly. When you look back on your career, when you’re sat on the sofa with your grandkids one day and you tell them a story - they’re the sort of stories you share.
To know there’s a possibility of being able to recreate that with Sunderland is certainly a motivator and something that can inspire you. It’s something I want to achieve, but it’s a tough challenge and it’s not easy.
The 28-year-old believes tonight’s opponents are one of the more consistent teams in the division but is very thankful for the extra week or so without a game:
Lincoln have been one of the consistent teams throughout the season and we’ve already had some tough games against them and we know this is going to be no different.
You can put whatever tag you want on it, but we’ve got to focus on ourselves and make sure we’re prepared, which we will be. We’ve been training hard and it’s kind of been a breath of fresh air to have a week or so being able to train without a game, which we haven’t been able to have for a really long time.
It puts into place things we want to work on and improve on. They’re a team that have come up and risen quite quickly, they’re a respected side and of course we’ll show them respect, as we always do.
But at the end of the day we’ll make it about what we want to do and nullify them, and I’m sure it will be a couple of good games of football and of course we hope we’re the ones who come out on top.
Wright describes just how big this game is for everyone in Sunderland and goes on to say that playing a season without fans has been ‘crap’:
It’s been an interesting season for everyone in football I think, playing a full season without any fans in is always going to be strange, and it certainly felt different. There’s no other way to describe it – it’s crap without fans.
Now we know there’s a couple of games coming up with fans in it’s obviously added to the excitement of playoffs with what has been a steady season for ourselves. There’s been a change of ownership, a change of manager and through that there’s always change and having to readjust to things but we’ve done well.
And now we find ourselves – of course we wanted to push for automatic – but that’s always going to be difficult and we fell short of that.
The positive is we’ve got the playoffs and we’re going into it with a lot of positivity and confidence knowing that it’s going to be tough, but on the back of a season where we’ve been fairly consistent.
The playoffs are always exciting and there’s everything still to play for. Lincoln is going to be a tough game but we know how important it is as individuals, and as team and to the city, because it’s massive for everyone in Sunderland.
Sunderland linked with Clarke-Harris
Sunderland have been linked with the man who pipped Charlie Wyke to be League One top scorer, Jonson Clarke-Harris.
Darragh MacAnthony told Sky Sports News that he has not ruled out selling the League One player of the year during the upcoming transfer window:
We’re not going to be selling a lot of our assets, but you always have one player that so many clubs are after, they’re going to tap them up which is normal, par for the course and it’s difficult to compete with that.
Newly crowned Scottish Champions Rangers have been linked with Clarke-Harris and Daily Record have also credited Sunderland and Sheffield United with interest in the player.
William Mocquet speaks!
Niall Quinn only had a short spell as Sunderland manager before Roy Keane arrived to much fanfare but during that time he brought in French forward William Mocquet for an undisclosed fee from Le Havre.
Mocquet would never actually make an appearance for Sunderland and, during an interview with La Presse, he revealed that was due to Roy Keane’s arrival:
They changed coaches at the same time and Roy Keane arrived. He told me he wasn’t counting on me and I was then loaned to the fourth division, Rochdale and Bury.
Even before his move to Sunderland, Mocquet’s career had taken a downward turn after suffering a serious knee injury in a game against Marseille in 2002:
In a duel with Frank Leboeuf, he pushed me, I wanted to catch up and my right knee turned. Cruciate ligament rupture.
Nowadays, Mocquet works for the local council in Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie, after his team-mate, the local mayor, offered him a job:
The mayor was playing in the team and offered me to become a municipal employee. I’ve been doing this job for eight years. There, I just mowed the stadium lawn.