SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Hurley hails Irish influence, Kavanagh’s double dismay

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


Hurley hails Irish influence in rebirth of Sunderland

SUNDERLAND legends Niall Quinn and Charlie Hurley both celebrated milestone birthdays this week.

 But Hurley says the happy returns they really want is Sunderland returning to the Premiership as soon as possible.

 The Irish centre-half, dubbed The King by Sunderland fans in the 1960s, said: “We both have Sunderland in our blood and I know that we’re both desperate to see the club back to where it belongs.

 “In Niall, Sunderland have a chairman who has got involved purely because of his passion for the club and that has got to be a good thing for the club.

 “I’m invited up to the Stadium of Light for a home game later this month and I can’t wait to sit and chat to Nialll about his plans.

 “I’m very excited about what is happening there and I’m thrilled with the appointment of Roy Keane which has focused so much interest on Sunderland and shown it in such a positive light.”

 Quinn turned 40 yesterday and celebrated the landmark on holiday with his family while Hurley was 70 on Wednesday and enjoyed a surprise birthday party organised by his family.

 “It was a wonderful day and what has struck me all week has been the interest shown by the club and the fans in Sunderland.

 “I must have done something right to be remembered so affectionately in the North East.”

 Hurley, an iconic figure at Roker Park and for the Republic of Ireland in his playing days, is hoping the Irish connection might once again benefit Sunderland.

 He said: “Irish people have always been good for Sunderland Football Club and I like to think that I did my bit for Wearside in the 12 years I spent there.

 “But now, with an Irish chairman, Irish manager, Irish board and plenty of Irish players, I hope that it shoots Sunderland to promotion at the first time of asking.

 “If I could have had one sporting wish for my birthday, I would have wished for Sunderland being promoted by this time next May.”


Cap blow adds to star’s misery

CROCKED Sunderland midfielder Graham Kavanagh has revealed the double misery behind his knee injury.

 Not only will the problem keep Kavanagh our of the club competition for up to six weeks, but it has also cost him his 17th Republic of Ireland cap.

 Ireland boss Steve Staunton has told the midfielder he would have started tonight’s Euro 2008 qualifier in Cyprus had he been fit. Eire then host the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

 Kavanagh, who had a cartilage operation ahead of the Black Cats’ win over Sheffield Wednesday last week, said: “It’s always a bad time to drop out through injury.

 “More so because the games were coming thick and fast for Sunderland and we were getting points on the board.

 “I spoke to the manager about it and we both agreed that I would just be getting through games, which wasn’t doing myself or the team justice.

 “The knee would only have got worse and I’d need the operation anyway, so we decided to bite the bullet and have it done now. It’s just one of those things, though, and I’m trying to stay positive.

 “I also spoke to Steve Staunton and he said that if I’d been fit, I’d have played this weekend. With the injuries they have, I probably would have, but it wasn’t to be.

 “The most important thing for me is just getting myself right.

 “I suppose it was a good time to have the operation, at the start of a two-week international break, because I will miss less games.”

 Kavanagh returned to the Black Cats’ training ground for the first time on Thursday to begin the hard work towards recovery.