During the club’s 141 year history, Sunderland fans have seen many great players wear the famous red and white shirt. However, there are a select number of players who have endeared themselves so much with fans they have the honour of being cult heroes.
In part one, we looked at a former captain, a tough-tackling full-back and a local lad who became a fan-favourite. Here, we look at three more of the players who will always be remembered on Wearside having earned their title as ‘cult heroes’.
Sunderland Cult Heroes: Part Two
Not The Best of Starts
Nyron “Nuggsy” Nosworthy arrived at Sunderland on a free transfer in 2005 having left Gillingham. He came to the club as an understudy at right-back. However, during the first game of the season at home to Charlton Athletic, he was called into action.
With Sunderland trailing and struggling to break down the Charlton defence, Nosworthy added ‘unable to trap a ball’ to the Black Cats’ woes. A simple ball played to the new signing rolled calmly under his foot and out of play. Many were not convinced. The following season, though, he redeemed himself with some magnificent performances.
Cult Hero Status Earned
Under new boss Roy Keane, Nosworthy, now becoming a consistent performer at right-back in the Championship, was moved to central defence. His partnership with loan signing Jonny Evans was one of the reasons why Keane’s Sunderland side walked away with the title that season.
As with most soon-to-be cult heroes, a song sung by the fans was heard regularly at games. Sunderland fans would famously chant “they tried to get the ball past Nyron but he said no no no” to the tune of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”.
On the final day of the season, he endeared himself further with the Sunderland fans. Upon the final whistle, and a return to the Premier League confirmed, Nosworthy joined the fans in the away end at Luton Town to sing a rendition of his song.
Nosworthy stayed on Wearside until falling out of favour when Steve Bruce took charge. However, fans will never forget his performances in the promotion season which went a long way to securing their Premier League return. And also, that song.
Sunderland have had the luxury of having had many excellent goalkeepers play for them down the years. However, one keeper stands head and shoulders above the rest. Jim Montgomery is the club’s most famous number one. Born in Sunderland, Monty would make a record 627 games for his home town club. One game, however, will also come to mind of anyone when the name Jim Montgomery is mentioned.
Double Save Will be Remembered Forever
May 5th 1973 will never be forgotten by Sunderland fans and football fans alike. The Black Cats took on the then mighty Leeds United in the FA Cup final. The men from Wearside were underdogs but surprised the world by winning 1-0. Although it was Ian Porterfield who scored the winning goal, Jim Montgomery will be remembered as the man who kept Leeds from scoring. A double save in the second half from the shot-stopper is still replayed to this day and will continue to do so whenever the FA Cup is mentioned.
Sunderland were hanging onto their lead as United pushed forward for an equaliser. An attack from Leeds saw their full-back, Trevor Cherry, head towards goal. Montgomery flew to his left to save the shot only for the rebound to fall to Peter Lorimor. His close-range shot looked destined to make it 1-1 but Montgomery somehow managed to deflect the shot on to the bar with an unbelievable piece of agility. When the final whistle blew, manager Bob Stokoe ran across the Wembley pitch to thank the man who had won his side the cup.
It was destiny that Julio Arca played for Sunderland. As a youngster in his native Argentina, he would wear Sunderland away shirt from the late 1980s. When Arca signed for the Black Cats he was already a talented player captaining the Argentina youth team. He completed his move to Wearside in a £3.5 million deal from Argentinos Juniors.
Instant Fan Favourite
Arca became an instant favourite with fans, scoring on his debut at the Stadium of Light and showing the skills associated with South American footballers. He helped the club finish seventh in the Premier League for the second consecutive season. When he returned for the new season, he came back with an U20 World Cup winners medal.
When the club went through a difficult spell, including relegation from the Premier League, many players left. Arca wanted to stay and help the team and repay the club and the fans for the support they had given them. Fans loved him for this and give them hope that even though many players were deserting them, they had a chance with the likes of Julio playing for them.
Arca would play 157 games for the club, scoring 17 goals. Whenever he played, fans believed. Their song about him, to the tune of Gold by Spandau Ballet summed up their faith in the Argentinian magician:
Always believe in your soul.
Always believe in yourself,
You’re indestructible, Always believe in, JuliO!’