Former Sunderland manager Crosby: Promotion with Gateshead would top FA Cup final

Malcolm Crosby.
Malcolm Crosby.
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Former Sunderland manager Malcolm Crosby says getting Gateshead promoted to the Football League would be his greatest achievement in football – eclipsing getting the Rokermen to the 1992 FA Cup Final.

Crosby famously guided Sunderland to Wembley 23 years ago in his short stint as caretaker boss.

He’s had a long and winding career ever since, but after quitting his job as Blackpool’s head of recruitment last week to take over at Gateshead, the 60-year-old wants to go out on a high.

Asked how ending the club’s 55-year-wait for a return to the Football League would rank alongside getting Sunderland to the ’92 final, he said: “It would be better because we would have actually won something.

“It was great at Sunderland and it was a fantastic thing that the players did – but we lost.

“People forget who came second.”

Crosby’s appointment at Gateshead sees him link up again with old friend Graham Wood, who was a director at Sunderland in the early 1990s.

Wood stepped down as owner of Gateshead last month, but remained as chairman and had no hesitation in turning to the experience of Crosby to replace Gary Mills.

“It’s a great opportunity for me because I haven’t been coaching for a couple of years, I’ve been in the recruitment side,” added Crosby. ”But you don’t forget things what you do on the football field.

“It’s a good club and the progress it’s made over the last few years is fantastic and I want to finish the job off and get promoted.

“When the phone call came from Graham he had obviously been speaking to a lot of candidates for the job and he’s decided to give me the call which is nice.

“He was massively supportive when I took over as caretaker (at Sunderland), he was the biggest supporter.

“The other directors were fantastic but Graham used to come to games with me, go all over, and he was very good to me.

“It was very important, the friendship, but the bad thing about it is that we’re great mates but in football it might turn out badly but I just hope that’s not the case.”

Crosby, meanwhile, has given incoming Newcastle United boss Steve McClaren a glowing reference.

McClaren is set to be unveiled as Newcastle’s new head coach this week after returning from holiday.

“I think he will do well with them (Newcastle),” said Crosby. “He will get them right and he will get them organised and make them a harder team to play against.

“He’s a good manager and people have missed the boat with him. We worked together at Oxford and Middlesbrough. He’s a good man and a good manager.”

Crosby will certainly be asking McClaren whether he can loan Gateshead any players – not that Crosby is confident of getting help!

“He doesn’t normally give me anything but I will knock on his door,” he laughed.