SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Collins relishing clash, Hurley to be guest of honour

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

THIS IS THE BIG ONE!:

Collins relishes visit of league leaders Cardiff

DANNY COLLINS says tonight’s game against Cardiff is Sunderland’s biggest of the season so far.

And the Black Cats are desperate for a third successive victory which would have the league leaders looking over their shoulders.

The 26-year-old defender said: “It’s a massive game for us, our biggest of the season so far but if we can beat them it will really put a marker down for the rest of the division.

“It’s not going to be easy though, Cardiff aren’t top of the table for nothing. And we are going to have to be defensively strong again because they are a very attacking side. But we are home and in front of our fans we’ll be confident.

“It’s a game we are all looking forward to.”

Back-to-back victories over Barnsley and Hull City have lifted Sunderland up to mid-table.

And if they can keep the unbeaten run going tonight they are likely to go into the top half of the table for the first time this season and Collins, in particular, thinks the only way is up for Roy Keane’s men.

The centre-half said: “We know that if you are going to talk the talk you have to walk the walk but hopefully our actions on the pitch in the last couple of games have backed up what we have been saying – that we are capable of doing very well in this division.

“I look around at the players in our dressing room and the people we have got in our squad and I don’t think there’s anyone better than us in this division.

“Certainly, there’s no one we need to be scared of. But we know we’ve got to go our there and continue getting results.

“Cardiff tonight is a great test for us but after our last couple of good results we’ll be confident and I think that it will be an exciting game for the fans.”

NEW HONOUR FOR HURLEY:

SUNDERLAND legend Charlie Hurley will be at tonight’s game against Cardiff City to see his name carved into the very fabric of the Stadium of Light.

The man once voted Player of the Century in a fans’ poll will be guest of honour this evening to celebrate his recent 70th birthday.

And in honour of the occasion, chairman Niall Quinn has announced the Chairman’s Suite at the ground will be renamed the Charlie Hurley Suite.

A proud Hurley told the Echo: “I was quite surprised to have this happen at my age but obviously I am absolutely delighted. It’s a great honour for me.”

Typically Hurley said he regarded the occasion as not simply for him but as a mark of respect for the 1963-64 promotion-winning side he captained. “You are only as good as your squad and they were a great set of lads,” he said.

Charlie who, like Black Cats boss Roy Keane, was born in Cork, made 400 appearances for Sunderland from 1957-1969 and remains a hugely-revered figure on Wearside to this day.

The Irish centre-half, an inspirational figure on and off the pitch, won a lasting place in the hearts of Sunderland fans with his exploits having been down from father to son.