For the latest feature in Salut! Sunderland‘s “Who are You?” series, David Harding, a Chelsea fan who has written books on Gianfranco Zola and, er, A**n She**r, covers a lot of ground: from his club’s Unloved status and Abramovich’s billions to his thoughts on cheating and Sunderland (positive) and Newcastle (not). He sympathises with the late Ian Porterfield (our hero, less successful as the Blues’ manager) but drools over another of those Sunderland lads who never played for his home town team …
Come back tomorrow to see the full interview. Here is a flavour of it:<
Salut! Sunderland: Any memories, good or bad or funny, of games between our two clubs and the players and staff – Ian Porterfield, Clive Walker and – er – Gareth Hall spring to mind – common to both?
The biggest memory is the 1985 Milk Cup Semi Final. A disaster for us from start to finish. We had a decent side, pitched up at yours for the first leg, lost a player (Dale Jasper) to a broken collar bone early on, and lost 2-0. Then the return leg at Stamford Bridge was one of the most notorious games at ours ever. I distinctly remember more policeman being in the penalty area than players at one point there was so much trouble. I am not exaggerating, I think it was when you scored your third goal. A Chelsea fan attacked Clive Walker, and the whole game had a menace that a post-Sky audience could never imagine. Mounted police inside the ground, bottles and benches thrown. Genuinely scarey. To this day I cannot believe the fan punched Walker, that has always annoyed me. The Porterfield years were dreadful though he was in charge of a team including Wise and Vinny Jones, it can’t have been easy. Two other players I would mention are Pop Robson, who pitched up at ours in the twilight of his career but was still the best goalscorer on our books at the time. And Mickey Hazard. He may not have played for you but he is from Sunderland and was a wonderful player, criminally underused by England. The other big thing that always struck me about Sunderland was how windy Roker Park was.
Q: Name the greatest players you’ve seen in Chelsea colours – and those who should never have been allowed anywhere near Stamford Bridge.
A: In terms of heroes, there have been so many over the years. The ones that stand out and in no particular order….
Micky Droy – a woolly mammoth in ill-fitting shirt and shorts, but he could play and it was his misfortune to star in a collection of the crappiest Chelsea teams ever. But he cared so much and as a fan you knew it. Pat Nevin – Hard not to like a player like this and responsible for the most thrilling moment of football I have ever seen at Stamford Bridge. He must have beaten 7 or 8 Newcastle players in a crucial Division 2 promotion clash, dribbling from one box to the other. Beautiful. He crossed for Kerry Dixon, who missed. But the buzz from 40,000 around the ground afterwards was something to behold. David Speedie – A snarly, nasty, small man’s syndrome of a forward. Loved the way he celebrated when he scored.
Gianfranco Zola – How could you not idolise this man? A wonderful footballer, beautiful temperament. His goal in the 1997 FA Cup semi-final against Wimbledon was, I believe, the best goal scored in a Chelsea shirt. The player we would all like to be. Claude Makelele – Never the most glamorous of players, but he hardly ever put a foot wrong and not many players have a position named after them.
Special mentions to these: Marcel Desailly, Ruud Gullit, Glen Hoddle, Michael Fillery, David Lee, John Spencer, Carlo Cudicini.
Those who I did not like are very few and far between, but, and I have never said this out loud before, I always failed to take to Kerry Dixon. Sacrilege considering the amount of goals he scored for us but he never/rarely celebrated when the team scored only when he did. I never liked that.