Played for Both: Wear the Arsenal boys

WTTGT Writer: David McManus

Nicklas Bendtner, Steve Bould and Niall Quinn… they are the most recent ‘famous’ names to make the switch from the red and white of Arsenal to the red and white of Sunderland.

But, forgetting the more glamorous names that have made the switch from north London to Wearside – or vice-versa I may add – there have been other names that have made the move.

For example, how many Gunners’ fans remember Sunderland new-boy Sebastian Larsson in an Arsenal shirt? Not many I bet.

Larsson, best known for his Birmingham City days, of course started his career in England at Arsenal, signing when he was just 16-years-old.

But, this was back in 2004, when Arsenal were one of Europe’s top forces, so despite spending three years at the club he only managed three appearances in that time.

His first-team debut was a League Cup match against Manchester City in October 2004, where the Swede played at left-back.

Another less glamorous name to have made the switch from London to the north-east was Anthony Stokes – now plying his trade north of the border with Celtic.

Stokes, who joined Arsenal at just 15-years-old from Shelbourne, made his debut against Sunderland in October 2005.

I was there actually, and although I don’t recall Stokes getting up to much, I distinctly remember Arsenal’s youngsters tearing the Black Cats to shreds for want of a better phrase.

Initially, Sunderland wanted the young Irishman on loan, but that fell through and the Wearsider’s eventually secured his services for £2 million in 2007 – not Sunderland’s finest hour in the transfer market, it has to be said.

One player who went the opposite way, however, was one of Sunderland’s most prolific scorers in their history – Dave Halliday.

Long before anybody’s time who will be reading this website, Halliday scored 100 goals in 101 appearances for the Rokerites – going on to score 156 in total.

It was that astonishing record that prompted his move to Arsenal in 1929, having spent four seasons at Sunderland.

But, things didn’t quite work out at Arsenal the way they had on Wearside, and Halliday only played one season for the Gunners.

That said, he still managed a very respectable goals-to-games ratio, netting eight goals in 15 games, four of which came in a 6-6 draw against Leicester City.

And, finally there are the legends: Steve Bould and Niall Quinn.

No Arsenal fan will forget the tremendous service Steve Bould gave to Arsenal in his 11 years playing for the club.

Just short of 300 appearances for the Gunners, Bould led Arsenal to league titles, FA Cup wins, League Cup wins and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994.

The celebrated “famous four” – Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Bould and Nigel Winterburn – consisted of a back line that would rival most great teams of the modern era.

But, as age caught up with him, Bould secured a move to Sunderland in 1999 where he went on to play a major role in the newly promoted sides’ impressive seventh place finish.

And. then of course there is Quinn, the towering Irishman who has now been a player, manager and a chairman.

Signing for Arsenal in 1983, Quinn made his first-team debut for the Gunners in 1985, scoring against Liverpool’s famous Hansen and Lawrenson defensive partnership.

Although not a regular in Arsenal’s side until the 1986/87 campaign, that season Quinn helped the club lift the League Cup trophy with victory over Liverpool.

However, the arrival of Alan Smith meant Quinn’s days were numbered at Highbury, and after a very successful spell at Manchester City he joined the Black Cats in 1996.

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