Pete Sixsmith says a fond goodbye to a Sunderland legend …
Private Eye’s resident poet, E J Thribb, aged 17½, may well have eulogised Nyron thus:
So farewell then,
You have completed your transfer to Watford
After seven years at the Stadium of Light
Although some of that time was spent
At Sheffield United on loan.
Our longest serving player has finally left us, over two years after his last, disastrous, performance at Eastlands, where he was so appalled by the gnome-like appearance of one Craig Bellamy that he refused to go anywhere near him.
As final performances go, it wasn’t exactly Olivier going out as Lear, more Reg Varney reprising Stan Butler from On The Buses, and it made Steve Bruce, and those of us there, realise that Nyron’s Premier League career was over.
He was the last of Mick McCarthy’s players to leave us and severed the link with the 15 point side that brought us so much angst and embarrassment in 2006. Along with Andy Gray, Jonathan Stead, Christian Basilla, Anthony Le Tallec and Calamity Kelvin Davies (who has rebuilt his career at Southampton), he joined a club that had relegation stamped all over it in July.
One of his earliest appearances in a Sunderland shirt was in a rare (one of three) win at Middlesbrough, where goals from Julio Arca and Tommy Miller (honest – I am not making that up!!) saw us break our duck. Nyron had performed creditably at full back, but with 10 minutes or so left, made possibly the longest and worst back pass in the history of humanity.
As the ball went out for a Boro corner, the cameras homed in on Mick McCarthy who shook his head in wonderment at such a ball. That feeling was to stay with us for the next three seasons.
Under Roy Keane, he improved dramatically and became a competent centre half, who won Player of the Year and had the Amy Winehouse song Rehab dedicated to him. I well remember singing it on Barnsley railway station after an important 2-0 win there; it was my introduction to the music of Ms Winehouse and was accompanied by a glorious Barnsley chav, complete with Staffie, on the opposite platform.
On the return to the Premier League, he coped well and the “Nuggsy Turn” was a huge improvement on the one done by some Dutch geezer from the 1970s whose name escapes me at the moment. Nyron was an integral part of Roy Keane’s team and clearly Keane had a great influence on him.
For a Brixton boy, used to playing in the lower leagues with Gillingham, lining up alongside the likes of Dwight Yorke, Djibril Cisse and Daryl Murphy (well, maybe not that), must have been a great experience and shows what good management skills can do for a player’s confidence.
With the departure of Keane and the arrival of Steve Bruce, Nyron’s star waned and he played a mere 10 games before he was packed off to Sheffield United in February 2010. He spent the rest of that season with The Blades and returned the following season, but was unable to prevent them slipping into Division One.
Back he came to the SoL and off he trotted again, this time to Watford, where he has now signed a permanent deal. They seem very pleased to have him and I cannot imagine that any Sunderland fan will do less than wish this most wholehearted of players every success as he swaps the Black Cats for The Hornets.
Thanks for the memories Nuggsy.