Say it quietly, but there’s a chance we might actually have a striker on the pitch this Saturday. As we all get used to the sheer terror and confusion of having a forward available, I thought it might be a laugh to take a look at two former Sunderland players who scored notable goals in red and white, and also ticked off Luton Town on their CV.
Naturally, neither of these are strikers, we can’t get too ahead of ourselves here.
One of a seemingly endless list of cult heroes from the Roy Keane era, words can’t really do justice to just how popular Carlos Edwards became in Wearside in such a short stay. The Trinidadian winger started his career in the UK with a five-year stint at Wrexham before moving on to Luton in 2005, back when the Hatters were in the Championship and on the verge of pressing the self destruct button that would see them drop out of the Football League in the following years.
Playing in nearly every league game in his debut season, followed up by a productive six goals in 26 games in the first half of the 06/07 season was enough to persuade Sunderland to part with £1.5m for his services in January. It only took him three games to get going, as Edwards hit the fourth goal in our 4-2 win at Sheffield Wednesday which allegedly saw Keano go crackers at our sleepy performance, and some nonsense with ageing prog band Hawkwind trying to set a record for air guitaring. Standard Championship behaviour.
Carlos would go on to score against Coventry, Birmingham and Southampton, setting up countless goals for the likes of David Connolly and Daryl Murphy on the way, but of course, the goal we all remember came on Friday night, 27th April 2007.
Sunderland needed to beat visitors Burnley and hope that Derby County failed to find victory at Crystal Palace the following day to confirm promotion in a ridiculous season. The game itself was insane, as an early Connolly penalty was saved but spilled straight to Murphy to score, only to be cancelled out thanks to a spot kick from returning knacker Andy Gray.
The visitors then took the lead early in the second half with an impressive long range strike from Wade Elliott, and things started to feel a bit nervy. That was, until Connolly took another penalty (Edwards being fouled to win it) only four minutes later, tucking this one away to tie the game and set up a frantic final half an hour.
Frenetic, chaotic football trundled on for 20 of those final minutes, but then Grant Leadbitter found Murphy in space just inside the Sunderland half. The Irishman carried the ball into the attacking half and rolled it out wide for Carlos Edwards. A single touch from the winger to set himself up, and then, from a distance that some would argue is too far to measure using human technology, Edwards let fly with a thunderous shot that rattled into the back of the net. The stadium erupted, Niall Quinn praised the heavens, Simon Crabtree needed smelling salts and Roy Keane almost smiled.
Everyone more or less forgot that we needed other results to go our way (they very much did in the end), that night felt like the promotion party. So much so, that I decided to go to the pub after the match, miss the last bus, and walked home to Washington. Thank you very much Carlos.
Following his time at Sunderland, Edwards took in stays at Wolves, Ipswich and Millwall, before spending a year back in the Caribbean. Incredibly, at age 44, he’s still going, lining up at Bury Town. Injuries robbed Carlos of any real chance at enjoying the top flight, but he’ll forever be remembered as a cult hero of the top tier at Sunderland.
|Joined||Left||League Apps||League Goals|
As is a recent tradition, we’ll go from the sublime to the ridiculous now. Fellow winger McManaman has had a bizarre career; breaking through Wigan’s academy in the Premier League and putting on a Man of the Match performance in the FA Cup final as the Latics beat Manchester City at Wembley.
However, following that taste of victory, things immediately took a turn for the worst, with Wigan relegated at the end of the 12/13 and unable to get back at the first time of asking, McManaman had a disappointing first season in the Championship before making a disastrous move to West Brom in January 2015. The winger was signed by Tony Pulis but managed a total of 20 appearances, almost all of them forgettable sub cameos at the Baggies churned out some truly horrific football back in the top flight.
So when the opportunity to leave on a free was offered to him, McManaman took it and ran in summer 2017, joining Simon Grayson’s Sunderland on deadline day. This was very much an error.
Although certainly not alone in this, McManaman’s impact was barely notable, and while you probably can’t accuse him of at least not trying, his main contributions in a red and white shirt can be boiled down to two hilarious incidents. First, there’s him scoring in the dying seconds of the first half at home to Reading, celebrating like he’d gone feral, and then noticing that not only had the goal been disallowed, but he’d also been sent off for deliberate handball. We lost 3-1.
The second incident is his only goal on Wearside, which came in the surreal Wear-Tees derby on 24thFebruary 2018. Joel Asoro gave the lads the lead, before Jake Clarke-Salter was sent off on 24mins for attempting to murder Adama Traore (weird that he played for Boro), he was himself sent off towards the end of the first half. 1-0 up at half time, very strange behaviour. Naturally, Boro had completely turned the game around within 8 minutes of the restart thanks to Patrick Bamford and a penalty from Grant Leadbitter. The perennially sad and injured Jonny Williams equalised for Sunderland only five minutes later, but Bamford struck again on 78 and it looked like yet another loss was on the cards.
But on the stroke of the 90th minute, McManaman struck from a corner to salvage what would prove to be an utterly irrelevant point. The celebration however, is the best bit, having been largely forgotten by Pulis at West Brom, McManaman took it upon himself to run right up to the Welshman, then in charge of Boro, and…try to goad him into a fight? Pulis looked completely unfazed, and arguably couldn’t even remember who McManaman was. Lovely stuff.
Following our relegation, McManaman was released, took in a season back with first club Wigan and then moved on to Luton in the Championship. A suspiciously productive single season as a Hatter in what was their return to the second tier (that self destruct button seemed a million miles away from them at this stage) seemed to re-establish the winger as a decent talent, but it would ultimately prove to be his last at that level to date. On leaving Luton just a year after he signed, McManaman found himself Down Under with Melbourne Victory, before returning to the UK in 2021 with Tranmere Rovers. A single season in Merseyside was all he managed before he was released at the end of 21/22, and as of today, still has no club.
A strange career for a strange character in Sunderland’s strange recent history.
|Joined||Left||League Apps||League Goals|