SAFC 10 YEARS AGO:

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago.

WE’RE ON OUR WAY

Miller takes Cats three points of top

THE most thrilling game seen at the Stadium of Light this season enjoyed a fabulous finale as Championship leaders Derby County were toppled with virtually the last touch of the game.

There were 93 minutes on the clock, the last minute of time added on, when substitute Grant Leadbitter lofted a ball into the area from the left and Liam Miller rose to glance the deftest of headers across keeper Stephen Bywater and into the far corner.

The 36,000 crowd exploded with joy after a vital win which leaves Roy Keane’s side just three points from the top after a match which looked as though it was doomed to end in a draw.

That would have been hard lines on a Sunderland side which had been full value for their lead going into the break, the home team converting only one of half a dozen great chances in the opening 45 minutes when David Connolly was fouled in the area by Marc Edworthy and steered home from the penalty spot in the 27th minute.

Sunderland had gone 63 games without being awarded a penalty, but Connolly showed no nerves as he shot low to the keeper’s right.

Derby came out of the blocks in the second half like a steam train and showed why they were leaders with a non-stop charge on the Sunderland goal which finally bore fruit on the hour with a superb equaliser from sub Giles Barnes, who danced his way through several tackles before driving a low shot home.

Both sides fought all the way to the final whistle but the game looked set to end in stalemate until Miller’s last gasp winner.

CATS CHIEF WILL LEAVE IN SUMMER

SUNDERLAND AFC chief executive Peter Walker has resigned and will leave the Black Cats at the end of the season.

The club announced yesterday that Walker would continue as chief executive until the end of the season after his decision to quite for a new challenge was “reluctantly accepted.”

He joined Sunderland nine years ago an stepped up onto the board in 2001 as group financial director before being appointed chief executive in 2004.

He has performed the pivotal role during some tough financial times for Sunderland, notably their relegation from the top flight in 2003, which saw the Wearsiders make 90 off-field staff redundant and take a fresh look at its £40million debt in a successful bid to avoid receivership.

Walker said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed all my time at Sunderland and have worked with some fantastic people, who I will miss.

“Football has changed a great deal over the period and it has been very demanding at certain points managing the club through some difficult financial times to stabilise the business.

“The last 12 months in particular have been very challenging, culminating in the smooth transition to new ownership last year. It has been very regarding helping the new owners to take control of the business.

“I have enjoyed working with Niall and Roy in recent months and I wish them well for the future. I hope the current season ends positively and that I am watching Sunderland in the Premier League next season.”

Walker would not reveal where he will work in the future, adding: “After nine years I think the time is right for a new challenge and I am looking forward to taking up my new position in a different industry in the summer.”

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn said: “Peter Walker has been a fantastic help to me since I came back in the summer.

“In my playing days I didn’t appreciate how important a role Peter played at the club but I have now seen at first hand how significant his contribution has been.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for the marvellous work he has done behind the scenes at this football club and he will be sadly missed. I wish him and his young family all the best for the future.”

Sunderland have started the process of replacing Walker.