LIAM O’Brien has warned Newcastle United to expect a very difficult game against Sunderland on Sunday – and urged them to forget their big win against the old enemy.
The Irishman, who scored a free-kick winner for Newcastle at Roker Park back in 1992, believes October’s 5-1 victory should be consigned to the history books.
“Obviously this will be a much tighter game, much more difficult,” said O’Brien. “I think Newcastle would be happy with a draw.”
O’Brien says his goal from almost 20 years ago is still the thing that he gets asked most about.
Newcastle went in to the fixture looking to preserve a 100 per cent start to their season, but when Gordon Armstrong equalised for Sunderland late in the second half it looked like their winning run was going to end. Then O’Brien stepped up to fire home from a free-kick, leaving Sunderland goalkeeper Tim Carter stranded.
“I still have mates in Newcastle and they tell me that people still go on about that goal,” said O’Brien. “It’s definitely a special memory.”
“It’s still the thing I’m asked most about, 20 years later. There is a photo from that game, with a huge crowd of Newcastle fans behind the goal, but I’m the only person celebrating. I was the first person to realise it had gone in!”
It was not the first time that O’Brien had scored at Roker Park. A year earlier, he had rescued a point for Ossie Ardiles’s team after Peter Davenport had put Sunderland ahead.
“We went into that game with kids, basically,” remembered O’Brien. “A lot of them – Steve Howey, Alan Thompson and Lee Clark – were to go on to great things.
“I remember the ball broke nicely for me and I chipped in over their keeper. Our fans went mad.”
Now coaching at Bohemians in Dublin, O’Brien keeps in regular contact with Newcastle, and was a visitor to the training ground when Chris Hughton was manager. And he hopes Newcastle can record another derby triumph for the man who oversaw their Halloween victory.
“I’m mates with Chris from internationals and he let me come along and watch his sessions,” said O’Brien. “I picked up a lot from them.
“I was very disappointed when he left, he was doing nothing wrong. But this is still his team and I hope they get the three points on Sunday.”