The best team lost ...

Niall Quinn celebrates after scoring.
Niall Quinn celebrates after scoring.
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NO ONE spares a thought for the Press on these occasions, but we’re people too you know.

We come to solemnly record the facts of Jody Craddock’s testimonial game, to diligently write a match report, to lay down the first draft of history so that future generations may get a genuine flavour of an intriguing contest.

But then what happens?

With Sunderland dominating a first half and leading at half-time thanks to a trademark Niall Quinn header, the second-half goes all a little bit Pete Tong.

Well, a bit CBBC to be more accurate.

What is children’s television linkman Sid Sloane doing leading the line for Sunderland in place of Quinn? Why is Sky Sports’ Dave Jones bombing through the midfield for the Black Cats?

How come Alex Rae who was playing for Sunderland in the first half is now wearing the old gold of Wolves. Wasn’t Jody Craddock playing for Wolves until the last 25 minutes?

And how do you explain Jody Craddock’s children Joseph, Luke and Toby - with the scoreline locked at 1-1 in the dying minutes - deciding the game with three consecutively-taken penalties!

Were those youngsters even properly registered? Their names didn’t appear on the official team-sheet.

And while former Sunderland keeper Thomas Myhre may be 40 now, surely he should have got close to at least one of those penalty kicks?

Ultimately the Press Box had no alternative but to take things at face value and accept the fact that if nothing else, the game once again proved Alan Hansen’s claim wrong that you win nothing with kids!

In reality of course, it was never about the game, it was about the cause - Jody’s wish to support the Children’s Cancer Centre appeal at Birmingham Children’s Hospital; and about the cameraderie - his former team-mates at Sunderland and Wolves willingness to support him.

Craddock was at Sunderland from 1997-2003.

And the classy centre-half’s stay coincided with a special time at the club which included the Wembley play-off season against Charlton Athletic, the 105 point promotion campaign and the two seventh place finishes in the Premier League under Peter Reid.

Many of his team-mates from that era turned out for him at Molineux with the Kevin Phillips-Niall Quinn partnership being re-united for possibly the very last time.

Phillips, who only hung up his professional boots for the last time at the weekend, was the day’s pantomime villain where the home fans remember his playing days at several of their local rivals.

He was good-naturedly booed every time he had a shot at goal.

But on a stage where you would have fancied him to score he wasn’t able to get the ball in the back of the net.

Instead, it was left to his old partner Niall Quinn to roll back the years with a trademark headed goal - Neil Wainwright hoisting in a deep cross from the right in the 43rd minute and the big Irishman stooping to conquer with a downward header at the back post.

It put the seal on a first-half Sunderland dominated with Thomas Sorensen barely troubled as a back four of Wainwright, Darren Holloway, Darren Williams and Michael Gray handled all that came their way.

In the midfield, Martin Smith, Alex Rae, Gavin McCann and Kevin Kilbane had the better of it and Phillips had a sight of goal as early as the fifth minute but shinned his shot straight at keeper Carl Ikeme.

For Wolves, Dave Edwards played Sylvan Ebanks Blake through in the 10th minute but the striker blazed over Thomas Sorensen’s bar.

There was classic play from the former Sunderland team in the 17th minute when Alex Rae fired a long ball to the 18-yard box, Quinn headed down, Phillips touched on and Smith forced a save out of sub keeper Matt Murray.

And Sunderland continued to dominate with Michael Gray twice putting Kevin Kilbane in on goal but the ex-Baggie unable to find the back of the net.

Former Sunderland defender Neil Collins, playing for Wolves, might have scored just past the half hour but couldn’t get a clean contact from six yards out.

And Sunderland were well worthy of their half-time lead, courtesy of Quinn’s 43rd minute header which immediately saw the big striker jogging to the bench to be replaced by Michael Proctor.

Procter had a couple of great chances to extend Sunderland’s lead in the second-half - winger Sam Aiston setting him up once before he skied an even better chance from six-yards out.

Dave Edwards equalised for Wolves midway through the second half amid a plethora of substitutions from both sides.

And then, with the game in the last 10 minutes, Craddock ‘accidentally’ tripped Hollyoaks’ Ayden Callaghan inside the Sunderland box and on sprinted his three sons to fire three penalties beyond Myhre and put the game out of the Black Cats reach.

The scoreline thought was probably the least important part of the day though on an occasion when his old team-mates celebrated one of the nicest and most genuine characters in football.

It was no surprise that more than 9,000 fans from both sides - an estimated 1,500 from Sunderland - had made the Bank Holiday trip to Molineux.

Craddock has earned all the goodwill that came his way on the day after more than a decade of exemplary professionalism for both clubs - that, as we members of the Press are fond of saying, is a fact.

Wolves starting XI: (4-4-2) Ikeme, Collins, Craddock, Berra, R Edwards, Daley, D Edwards, Olofinjana, Hill, Stearman, Ebanks Blake.

Sunderland: (4-4-2) Sorensen (sub Myhre 46), Wainwright (sub Paul Harrison 55, Craddock 65), Holloway (sub Dave Jones 55) , Williams, Gray (sub Piper 55), Smith (sub Duke 55), Rae (sub Arca 18, sub Mcann 55), McCann (sub Stewart 18), Kilbane (sub Aiston 55), Quinn (sub Proctor 44), Phillips (sub Sid Sloane 55) .

Att: 9,095.