Assuming Stewart Donald, Jack Ross and Co don’t collectively lose their minds and sell him in January (I know, realistically we can’t afford his wages, but sentiment is more important than cash), come next summer, Lee Cattermole will have completed his 10th year of service for Sunderland AFC.
A decade in red and white for the Stockton slayer can mean only one thing; that’s right, it’s almost...TESTIMONIAL TIME.
Half of you will probably be LEE LEE LEEing in agreement already, without reading another word, while the rest of you could well be ripping this article up in disgust (or angrily clicking the cross on your browser tab, depending on how you’re reading this). Whatever your response, if Catts makes it to 10 years of service, he deserves a one-off game in his honour, preferably featuring special guest striker, Nicklas Bendtner.
Cattermole has seen it all since he followed Steve Bruce from Wigan in 2009. He has outlasted countless managers, including the man with the Geordie roots; Paolo Di Canio tried to banish him and hasn’t had a managerial job since (coincidence? I think not), while Gus Poyet tried to replace him with Liam Bridcutt.
The Uruguayan soon realised the error of his ways and returned him to his rightful place in the centre of Sunderland’s midfield. Indeed, the form Catts discovered while playing for Poyet was such that he really should have been called up to the England squad.
Of course, that was almost five years ago, and it hasn’t all been plain sailing since. As recently as this summer, coming on the back of a dismal second consecutive relegation and after an argument with fans after a pre-season friendly at Hartlepool, it appeared his time on Wearside was over. However, just as he’s always done, he fought his way back into the reckoning. He is Sunderland’s redemption man.
It should also be noted that his decision to tell Jack Ross “if the stick affects the younger lads, don’t play me” speaks volumes about his character and attitude. I’ll hear no more of this “rotten core” nonsense.
While the League Cup final was as close as Cattermole may have got to helping the club achieve something really special, helping the Lads beat Newcastle United six times in a row following that dismal 5-1 drubbing at least counts for something.
It couldn’t be more fitting that the player who simply will not be forgotten or left out has been so instrumental in our strong start to life in League One.
Before last season, he’d spent his entire career in the top flight; I’m sure, like us, he didn’t envisage spending this one in the third tier. If he can lead us to promotion, preferably as champions, and help guide us to a bonus Checkatrade Trophy win, then a testimonial would be a fitting way to cap a successful season.
There’s only one thing left to decide; who to invite to join us in celebration of 10 years of the great man. Barcelona are the only option as far as I’m concerned, with Lionel Messi no doubt desperate to get amongst a Cattermole “ratting about”. Sunderland AFC powers that be, I implore you, make the CATTSIMONIAL a thing. See you at the Stadium of Light next summer.