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On This Day (8 September 1994): Happy Birthday to former Sunderland captain George Honeyman!

Forever a Seven out of Ten... the local youngster who took the captaincy of his boyhood club will return to the Stadium of Light with Millwall this weekend as a 28 year old seasoned pro.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It has always seemed strange to me that George Honeyman left when he did. After Sunderland’s failure to get promoted back to the Championship at the first time of asking, Honeyman departed for Hull City ending his fifteen year old association with his boyhood club.

To this day, I’m not entirely convinced that he wanted to leave. Honeyman was a proud captain and being a local lad born in Prudhoe, it was probably the honour of his life.

At the tender age of ten, the all-action midfielder joined the academy. With his name being bookmarked with many people in the know from early on, George made his senior debut for the club under Gus Poyet in the FA Cup defeat to Bradford City in February 2015, and then Honeyman spent much time on the bench as an unused substitute.

Gillingham v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

The following season, loan spells at Gateshead ensured he was getting necessary game time to continue his progression, scoring scored one goal in nine appearances for the ‘Heed.

After many flirtations, Sunderland’s relegation to the second tier was eventually confirmed and with it came more opportunities in the first team for young Honeyman.

He immediately impressed with a goal in a League Cup win and followed this up with his first league goal in a 1-1 draw away to Sheffield Wednesday. In what was an extremely difficult season, he stood out as one of the few who could keep his head held high.

Honeyman finished the campaign with the most appearances for the team. He notched up 42 games and six goals to his name and showed that he certainly did not look out of place in the division.

After relegation to the third tier, the performances of the previous season were likely in Jack Ross’ mind as he cited Honeyman’s passion, determination and grit to succeed at Sunderland and called him a shining example to the rest of the squad of what he wanted from his team.

From the quotes, it appears the new Sunderland captain was bursting with pride to have been given this honour.

I’m incredibly proud, not only for myself but for my family. This is just a small repayment for the number of journeys my parents made when I was little, and for all the times we went back and forth to training and games.

I’ll do everything I can to make sure we’re celebrating something at the end of the season, as that will be the moment I’ve dreamed of since I came to the club all those years ago.

To his credit, Honeyman was a stellar performer in the first League One campaign, doing all he could to return Sunderland to the Championship. He amassed 35 appearances and, once again, six goals demonstrating consistency in his game.

Fans were caught somewhat off guard when the departure of Honeyman was announced in the Summer of 2019. He joined Hull City for an undisclosed fee and left a void in the centre of midfield for the season ahead. After a successful spell on Humberside, he has moved south to this weekend’s opposition at the Stadium of Light, Millwall.

At a time when things were dark and dreary, Honeyman was one of few shining lights for the Lads and he will be fondly remembered by many Sunderland fans for contribution through trying times.

Happy Birthday, George!

Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images
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