Niall Quinn describes the deal as right for the club, says what no one denies, that Jordan Henderson “is a credit to himself, his family and Sunderland’s Academy”, and promises that work is in hand to strengthen areas that need it. Pete Sixsmith takes it philosophically, recalls another momentous transfer and adds his own tribute …
I remember where I was when news came through that Colin Todd had been sold. I was having a lunchtime pint in the Continental in Athaneum Street when someone came in and quoted from the Echo billboard outside: “Roker star leaves.”
This was long before the internet, mobile phones, Sky Sports News etc. In those days, that kind of headline usually meant someone like Colin Symm had gone to Lincoln City or Ralph Brand had signed for Invercockieleekie Wanderers. But we knew what this one was.
Pressing a shiny sixpence into the grubby hand of the Echo seller, we discovered that Toddo had indeed left us and gone to the Brian Clough-inspired revolution taking place at the Baseball Ground. Our “Toddo is Goddo” graffiti would now have to be cleaned off the Fulwell End wall as our hero left us for the First Division.
Some of us vowed never to go to Roker Park again. Others lambasted the board for selling. Nobody blamed the player’s agent for engineering the move – they didn’t have agents in those days. The massive fee of £140,000 would go towards the running costs of the club and our manager, Alan Brown, could be relied upon to use whatever bit of it he got wisely. He used it to buy Dick Malone and Dave Watson.
Since then, we haven’t sold that many players to so called top clubs. Watson, Horswill and Tueart went to a half-decent Manchester City side, Barry Venison to Liverpool and Chris Turner to Manchester United. Even in the fire sale after the 19-point season, most of them went to middle ranking clubs – apart from David Bellion and I don’t suppose Sir Alex wants reminding of that.
Jordan on his way to Anfield is good news for the Reds and disappointing news for us. But, in this day and age, if a player feels he needs to move, there is absolutely nothing that a club can do about it. Players are in control of their own destinies and Jordan clearly believes that his destiny lies in L4 0TH rather than SR5 1SU.
There will be some who are pleased he has gone. “Can’t pass”, “can’t shoot”, “can’t score” were some of the comments on RTG last night. Others would counter that he has great energy and is clearly a work in progress and that playing alongside Gerrard, Lucas and Meireles should improve him.
The fee is a huge one and shows the intent that the new owners at Liverpool have. Henderson, Carroll and Suarez are all young players who could become icons at Anfield. With a respected manager in Dalglish rather than the ludicrous Benitez, there is scope for them to grow.
What do we do with the money? One would hope it will be re-invested in players who will “take us to the next level” ( ninth in the Premier League!). There may well be players at lower levels who can make the jump up to the Premier League; there is an opportunity for Colback to cement a first team place alongside Cattermole; maybe Riveros will get more time on the pitch after his wonder goal at Upton Park. It’s also a great opportunity for Pop Robson to show off his scouting skills and pick up a couple of gems from Moldova or Finland.
I look forward to seeing Jordan do well at Liverpool. He never failed to give his best at Sunderland and was always looking for the ball, even when things were going against him. He has a good approach to the game, seems sensible and level headed and has brought a huge amount of money into the club’s coffers. If he does as well as Toddo, he will have an excellent career.