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ALS tiny tots XI
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In the last two issues of ALS, you’ve seen the Non-league XI and Overseas XI. A while ago you saw the arrested development XI – Sunderland players who’ve moved into non-league football, earned their living abroad, or simply been some sort of criminal. Searching desperately for another common trait that we could apply to ex-lads, we applied the magic of beer to our collective imagination, asked the readership for their suggestions, and now ask you to behold (look down now) the hobbits that are… Sunderland’s Tiny Tots XI.

GOALKEEPER: Sandy McLaughlan

right up your crack

Despite being the most popular choice of ALS readers, Chris Turner was, and still is, 5’10”, and the gloves must surely go to Sandy McLaughlan, at 5’8” our smallest ever keeper. Second choice to Monty (5’10”) and above third choice Derek Foster (5’9”), he was part of our shortest ever ‘keeping squad, with an aggregate height of only 17’3”. Played his last game whilst allegedly under the influence against WBA on New Year’s Day 1966, let in five, and never played for us again. 43 games, 0 goals.

RIGHT BACk: Keith Coleman

vertically challanged

Keith Coleman (5’9”), a Washington lad who made his debut on 11.9.71 following the demise of legendary partnership Cec ‘n’ Len. Lost his place immediately to the even shorter Fred McIver of Birtley (5’8”) – his only game – but regained it immediately. Left in ’73 for West Ham (for whom he collected a cup winners’ cup runners’-up medal), Mechelen, and Darlo. Scored in a 4-3 win over Burnley and a 1-1 draw against Hull at Roker, making him one of our highest scoring fullbacks in recent decades, despite looking uncannily like a member of Sweet. 55 games, 2 goals.

LEFT BACK: Mickey Gray

gray now in blue and white

Mickey Gray (5’7”). Local boy Mickey scored with his first kick at Roker on his full debut against Barnsley in 1992, and has since won 3 England caps, played over 300 games and scored over 20 goals. Famous as much for his dress sense, hairstyles, fast cars and brushes with authority off the field as his undoubtedly energy on it, Mickey was made captain on the retirement of Quinny and never looked forward again. As a high earner was put up for sale in the summer, there were no takers, and Sunderland fan Martin O’Neill took him on loan – by the time you read this, he could be back. Last spotted alongside non-short arse Stan Varga in the Champions’ League for Celtic against Lyon.


hot toddy

Colin Todd (5’9”). Another local lad. Toddo had a glittering career, and his name adorned more schoolbags than any other at the time – mine included. Scored his first senior goal against Toronto City when we pretended to be Vancouver in an American summer tournament in 1967, he captained England under 23s, and won 27 full caps, and was a class act who was exciting to watch. Sold to Derby in 1971 for a record fee, after the board said, “If you want to see Colin Todd play, come and pay to see him play”. Graced the fields of Birmingham, Forrest, and Everton before easing up at Vancouver, Oxford and Luton. 191 games, 3 goals.

CENTRE-HALF: Martin Harvey


Martin Harvey (5’9”). Beats off shorter Darren Williams, mainly because Daz captains the “appreciative” XI, Martin came from Belfast schools in 1958, and actually took Danny Blanchflower’s Northern Ireland place before becoming a regular at Roker. A tremendous tackler without ever being a “blood and guts” defender, style and timing were his biggest assets. Retired through injury at only 30, he’d been an essential part of the 1963/64 promotion side, partnering McNab and Hurley across the middle. His commitment was never in question, as those who attended the 0-3 FA cup defeat against Orient will confirm. Breaking up a bout of fisticuffs. Martin produced a cracking punch to floor an Orient player who’d foolishly returned to the fray. 357 games, 5 goals.


captain marvel

Bobby Kerr (5’5”). Impossible to ignore, we all know that Bobby recovered from a twice-broken leg to lift the FA cup for the lads. A debut scorer against Man City in 1966, Stokoe’s “little general” played his last game for us against Stoke in the league cup in 1979. In between, he carved out a niche as one of our most popular players in the club’s history, in a career characterized by non-stop effort and quality crossing. He even scored a few with his head. Winding down at Blackpool (that Stokoe knew a good player) and Hartlepool, Bobby has run several pubs on Wearside, and is a regular at home games. 427 games, 67 goals.



John Harvey (5’4”). Purely because of his status as our shortest ever player, John wins his place here. That and the fact that he won the championship with us. Playing from 1889 until 1897, with a brief sojourn in Clyde in 1891-2 he was part of fearsome partnership with John Campbell. The pair spoilt it all by joining them up the road at the same time in 1897. 108 games, 17 goals.



Mick Buckley (5’5”). Came from Everton in ’78, stayed for 5 years, and scored twice on Ally McCoist’s debut at Ipswich. Neat and hard working, he’d been part of the Everton team that put us down in’77, but redeemed himself by scoring the goal that kept us up at Maine Road in ’82. His career fizzled out when he was released, moving from Hartlepool to Carlisle, and, shame of shames, the Smoggies. 135 games, 8 goals.

LEFT FIELD: Stan Cummins

stan-d you short ar*e

Stan Cummins (5’5”). A magical player with the ball at his feet. Stan was a tremendous entertainer. Largely remembered for two things – scoring four against Burnley, and falling out with the management, the second of which saw him claim a free transfer to Palace. A stinker of a game for them in the League Cup preceded his return to Roker, but he missed out on a place in the final, as he was cup-tied – as you’d expect. Went to the US to play and coach, applied several times to manage Sunderland, and kept turning up in the Black Bull in Ferryhill with unfeasibly tall American women. Now turns out for the Greyhound over-40s. 159 games, 32 goals.

FORWARDS: Milton Nunez

microscopic milton

Milton Nunez (5’5”). Lied about both his playing career and his height, as he was neither an international or any higher than 4’10”. Arriving in a blaze of publicity, playing half a game against Wimbledon at the SoL and half a game away to Luton in the League Cup, you’d have to have been both dedicated and of impressive ocular capacity to have spotted him. We tried, unsuccessfully, to get our money back, but the case fizzled out and we ended up paying legal costs (which has been kept very quiet). Last seen beneath a bunch of 12-year-old autograph hunters at Kingsway, Bishop Auckland. 2 half games, 0 goals.

FORWARD: Eric Gates


Eric Gates (5’6”). Now irritating and entertaining in equal measure as part of Century’s “Legends” radio phone-in, Gatesy arrived as one of Mackemenemy’s bright hopes in 1985. His assessment of the manager as “Nice bloke, knows eff-all about football” proved to be correct. Fortunately for club and player, Mr Smith bought Mr Gabbiadini (5’10”, too tall, sorry) and Gatesy’s career took off again. An England cap and European trophy winner with Ipswich, he added a third division medal to his collection as our overall top scorer, including 4 against Southend and 3 against Rotherham, just ahead of Marco. Scorer of 11 headed goals a lot for a tot, he made way for Big Bad Billy Whitehurst, but won back his place for the last two years of his stay. Scored and set up Marco at Sid James Park, to the obvious annoyance of the skunks. Eventually gave up playing when at Carlisle, because it was “Too cold”, he dodged around the non-league circuit for a while before moving into punditry 218 games, 54 goals.

(First appeared in issue 119 of ALS 03/04 season)

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