Ha'way back when: How Sunderland favourite Chris Maguire became a cult hero at Oxford United

Chris Maguire is a player who divides opinion.

Friday, 8th February 2019, 1:56 pm
Updated Saturday, 9th February 2019, 9:34 am
Chris Maguire played against Oxford at the Stadium of Light earlier this season.

After joining Sunderland in the summer of 2018, the 30-year-old forward made such an impression he was nicknamed ‘the king’ by the Black Cats faithful.

Yet 12 months ago Maguire was struggling to get a game for League One basement side Bury, who were subsequently relegated from the third tier with four games to spare.

Before his move to Gigg Lane, the Scottish forward made his mark at Oxford in the lower echelons of the football league, first helping The U’s win promotion from League Two before consolidating their place in the third tier.

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Maguire could face his former side this weekend when Sunderland make the trip to the Kassam Stadium to face Karl Robinson’s side.

The Scottish forward has fond memories of his time in Oxfordshire, where he scored 17 goals and assisted 12 in League One during the 2016/17 campaign.

One of those was a 90th-minute winner against Peterborough from the penalty spot, when Maguire ignored the mind games of Posh goalkeeper Simon Eastwood to convert from 12 yards.

Maguire then ran to the goal line and mimicked Eastwood pointing to his right, before throwing himself to the floor to imitate goalkeeper’s unsuccessful dive.

“He was trying to put me off and he’s entitled to do that, but it always comes back to bite you,” said Maguire after the event.

“If you want to try and mug me off then I’ll just put it in the back of the net. That was what the celebration was about.”

Maguire may not play against his former side this weekend after only just making the bench against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

One man who will be expected to start is former Sunderland player Jerome Sinclair, who recently joined The U’s on loan until the end of the season, following his brief spell at the Stadium of Light.

Sinclair made his Oxford debut away at Burton last weekend and was on the receiving end of a challenge which resulted in a straight red card for defender John Brayford.

Robinson’s side weren’t able to capitalise though, as a goalless draw saw Oxford drop into the relegation zone.

Other players who have played for both The U’s and the Black Cats include midfielder Dean Whitehead, who retired from professional football at the end of last season.

Whitehead came through Oxford’s academy and made over 100 senior appearances for The U’s between 1999 and 2004.

The midfielder then joined Sunderland on a free transfer and was part of two Championship promotion campaigns, in 2005 and 2007, before signing for Stoke after five years on Wearside.

Sunderland legend Marco Gabbiadini also played for both clubs but only made a handful of appearances during a brief loan spell at Oxford, six years after leaving Wearside.

Before that, defender Andy Melville signed for the Black Cats from Oxford in 1993.

The Welsh international made over 200 appearances for Sunderland during a six-year stint in the North East.

Sunderland's last victory at Oxford

Sunderland’s last victory at Oxford came in 1994 when the Black Cats won 3-0 at the Manor Ground.

Martin Smith’s first-half double put Mick Buxton’s side in control at the break before Don Goodman added a third for the visitors in the second half.