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Sunderland memories for Villa boss

Sunderland memories for Villa boss

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has spoken of his childhood love of Sunderland ahead of Saturday's trip to the Stadium of Light.

While O'Neill is often considered a life-long Celtic fan (especially by the supporters of the Parkhead club!), the boss has revealed the performances of Sunderland legend Charlie Hurley had him hooked from a young age.

O'Neill had to make do with following the Mackems on the radio and via the newspapers and never made the journey to Roker Park as a child - but confessed the sparkle he had then has never left him.

The Birmingham Mail quoted O'Neill as saying: "The sparkle never leaves you but it (the passion) has to do with growing up and becoming a professional.

"Because of where I was brought up and the type of background in Ireland, where you were Celtic or Rangers, I was a big Celtic fan.

"But in England, when everyone was choosing their side, mine was always Sunderland. They're my old team. I supported them as a kid and Charlie Hurley was my hero."

Unsurprisingly for a man with O'Neill's memory, the boss can recall several Sunderland games from his younger days - losing against Bury on Boxing Day 1962, losing against Chelsea 1-0 to miss out on promotion in front of 62,000 fans and losing in the FA Cup quarter final against Manchester United after three replays in 1964.

Despite his childhood love of the club, however, O'Neill reportedly turned down the chance to manage Sunderland when he was offered the chance 18 months ago - though the romantics among us may like to imagine that he would not have been able to refuse the offer if the club were still at Roker Park.

Hopefully Sunderland will suffer another loss at the weekend, which would perhaps in keeping with most of O'Neill's memories of them - though it is rather ominous that when he first went to Roker Park as a player with Nottingham Forest in 1972, his side were on the wrong side of a 4-1 scoreline.

But enough of the past - it's time for Martin O'Neill to make some new memories as he leads Villa back to winning ways against a struggling team who no longer have what they used to in years gone by.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

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Writer:Derry Villan
Date:Thursday December 13 2007
Time: 8:49PM


Obviously you need to read MON's quote in the fifth paragraph. He did say there he was always a Celtic fan. This wasn't just from Celtic fans, it was from him. Having said that, MON changes his mind like others do their socks. So who really knows the truth anyway?
13/12/2007 21:42:00
Are you suggesting Martin O'Neill changes his mind a lot and can't make decisions! Shocking! :D
13/12/2007 21:44:00
I wonder if that played a part in him not taking the Newcastle job.
13/12/2007 22:02:00
Yeah really DerryVillian!! Shocking right enough! I was a friend of Peter Withe a few years back and always liked Villa. I really hope you come back again.
14/12/2007 04:27:00
Charlie Hurley eh? Now there's a name from the past. Pretty good centre-half from what I recall. They've had some decent players down the years have Sunderland, but in my time I can certainly never recall them having a more than average team. Scaled the heights of course when they beat Leeds United to lift the F.A. Cup, but they've never really been a decent top flight side.
14/12/2007 06:12:00
Hi Glensider - Can you please get a hold of me regarding on regarding the Villa shirt. Thanks mate.
14/12/2007 07:23:00
Pablo1978, you can send him a pm if you logon in the forum.
The Fear
14/12/2007 11:25:00
Hi Pablo1978. Its not me you're wanting my friend, at least I dont think so. Another Vital Villan I would imagine. If it is I, then my apologies, and please remind me as to what we're discussing here.
14/12/2007 18:55:00
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