Sunderland face Tranmere Rovers in the EFL Trophy Final on Sunday so I thought for this week’s article I would look at some of the players who have represented both clubs.
David Kelly started his career at Walsall in 1983 before later signing for Ossie Ardiles’s Newcastle United in 1991 for £250,000. The striker scored 11 league goals including the winner in the Tyne–Wear derby. Kelly was then Newcastle’s top-scorer with 28 goals from 57 games as Newcastle won promotion into the Prem. After playing for Wolves, Peter Reid signed Kelly to help Sunderland towards promotion to the Premier League. Kelly signed for £900,000 in September 1995 but was struck with an ankle injury which meant he only make 10 league appearances, scoring twice. Even though Kelly played for Sunderland, he remained a highly popular figure at Newcastle, receiving a standing ovation on his return to St James' Park. He remained a regular player in the 1996–97 season but failed to score a single goal as he was used as a right midfielder. He moved to Tranmere Rovers in August 1997 for a fee of £350,000. The Republic of Ireland international striker went on to have a successful three years at Tranmere where he scored 21 goals in 88 appearances. He ended his career at Derry City in 2002. Kelly has since gone on to have a successful career in coaching.
Right back Dariusz Kubicki began his footballing career in his native Poland before a move to Aston Villa in the summer of 1992. His two years at Villa Park were largely spent as back-up and he signed on loan for Mick Buxton’s Sunderland towards the end of the 1993-94 season. He impressed on loan at Roker Park and made the move permanent for £100,000 in the summer of 1994. The introduction of Peter Reid at Sunderland and his full-back combination of Kubicki on the right and Martin Scott on the left was a vital part of the First Division winning side of 1995-96. The two full-backs played one hundred games in all competitions between them that year. A funny story about Kubicki is that he is on my Mam and Dad’s wedding photos! Kubicki’s daughter was a pupil in my Grandma’s class at school so she mentioned to Dariusz that they were getting married and wanted a photo at Roker Park. Kubicki then arranged for the groundsman to unlock the ground so that they could get a photo after the ceremony, before the wedding reception. When they got to the ground Kubicki was there and got in one of the photos! Kubicki was a fan favourite due to his consistent performances. However, the Polish international was bizarrely dropped for a Prem game away at Derby when he was due to match George Mulhall’s post-war record for consecutive appearances. To make matters worse he was replaced by Gareth Hall, who was voted as Sunderland’s worst ever player. It was due to an apparent fall out with Peter Reid which then led to his release in the summer of 1997. Kubicki then signed for Wolves and had a loan spell at Tranmere in 1998 where he made 12 appearances. Kubicki retired in 1999 and has went on to have a successful career in management. He has managed Legia Warsaw twice as well as another 12 clubs across Europe.
Thornton began his career with Tranmere in 2001, making 13 appearances in the 2001–02 season. He was signed by Sunderland from Tranmere in the doomed summer spree of 2002 that also included the signing of Tore Andre Flo. Thornton fee was decided via tribunal as £225,000. Sunderland were later fined another £1,500 after being found guilty of breaching FA and Football League rules, for an illegal approach. Thornton did not feature at the beginning of the 2002–03 season and joined Blackpool on a one-month loan in November 2002. Howard Wilkinson eventually handed Thornton his debut in an FA Cup third round replay at Bolton that we won 2-0 in extra time. The talented midfielder was one of the youngsters who benefited from Sunderland’s disastrous 2002/03 season which resulted in relegation. He made 11 Premier League appearances which all ended in defeat. It gave Thornton an unwanted record of losing every Premier League game he had featured in. The record was broken by Aston Villa's Jack Grealish in 2016 who lost all 20 of his first appearances in the Prem. Thornton made 13 appearances for Sunderland at the start of the 03–04 season before suffering an ankle injury in October 2003. He returned to the side in January 2004 making a further 17 appearances. However, Thornton did not cement a regular place in the first team place during the 2004–05 season only making 20 appearances. Despite an impressive opening to his Sunderland career, Mick McCarthy sold him to Doncaster Rovers in for £175,000 in 2005. Thornton later signed for Leyton Orient, making almost one hundred appearances for the club he became a bit of a cult hero and had a local folk-punk act release a song in tribute to him. Thornton later played in Wales and Ireland and was last playing in Ireland for Moneymore FC in 2019.
Born in Birkenhead, McAteer played for Bolton, Liverpool and Blackburn before joining Sunderland from Rovers for £1 million in October 2001. He made 27 appearances in 01/02 season. In his second season on Wearside, McAteer was unable to prevent our relegation to the First Division. McAteer remained at Sunderland after our relegation and helped the lads to the Play Off Semi Final in May 2004 where we were defeated by Crystal Palace on penalties. McAteer was one of the Sunderland players to miss a penalty that night, and he was released at the end of the season. In total McAteer made 53 appearances on Wearside scoring 5 times. McAteer then headed back to Birkenhead, signing a two-year deal with Tranmere to finish his career. He trained as a coach ready to embark on a career after retirement. He was made club captain and help the side to the League One play-off semi-finals in 2005, where they eventually lost on penalties to Hartlepool United, McAteer didn’t take a penalty that night. He was released by Tranmere Rovers in May 2007 and announced his retirement shortly afterwards.
Power was born in Birkenhead and joined Tranmere’s youth set-up at the age of eight and captained the club at every age group including the first team. After impressing in the reserve team Power made his first team debut in the Football League Trophy in August 2011 and made his League One debut in the September. Power became a first team regular in the 12/13 season making 32 appearances, scoring four times. In the 13/14 season he made 37 appearances as Tranmere were relegated to League Two. The following season Tranmere were in a relegation battle again. Tranmere needed to win away at Plymouth to retain their place in The Football League. Power conceded a penalty and scored as Tranmere lost 3-2 and were relegated to the Conference ending a 94 year tenure in the league. Power left for Wigan in the summer of 2015, in total for Tranmere he made 127 appearances, scoring 19 goals. At Wigan, Power won the League One title in the 2015/16 season, making 48 appearances scoring six times. However, Power and Wigan were relegated from the Championship the season after. Power and Wigan won the League One title again at the end of the 2017/18 season and Power scored five goals in 49 appearances. Power signed for Sunderland in August 2018 initially on loan with the deal made permanent in January 2019. Power didn’t have the greatest start to his time on Wearside as he received three straight red cards against Oxford United, Bradford City and Walsall. Power has been a first team regular since his arrival on Wearside but this season he has swapped his usual centre midfield role for a spot at right back. Power has shown his versatility as a footballer as he has looked quite comfortable in his new found position.
Vaughan burst onto the scene as a 16 year old at Everton in 2005 scoring on his debut against Crystal Palace. The goal made him the youngest Premier League scorer ever, a record that still stands today. 12 years later in 2017, Vaughan joined Sunderland after our relegation from the Prem. He signed for an undisclosed fee reported to be around £500,000. He missed a penalty on his debut, against St Johnstone in a pre-season friendly and also missed a spot-kick on his home debut, a 5-0 friendly defeat to Celtic. He scored his first goal for Sunderland in a 1–1 draw at Hull in September 2017. Vaughan only scored once more in his disastrous spell at Sunderland. He found the net in a 2-0 win at Burton and celebrated by running over to our travelling fans and shushing them. It’s no surprise he was unpopular on Wearside and was sold to Wigan in January 2018. Vaughan joined Tranmere Rovers on loan in January 2020. The deal was made permanent in August 2020 after former club Bradford City agreed a mutual decision to terminate Vaughan's contract. Vaughan has scored 19 times in 32 appearances this season however he is Injured and will miss the final on Sunday. This has come as a welcome relief to me as I had a very bad feeling that he would score a last minute winner before shushing a non-existent crowd.