It would be completely rude to overlook Niall Quinn rightfully receiving the freedom of the city. It underlines what has been almost a fairy tale relationship reminiscent of the most heartening of love stories and maybe gives just a tiny bit back to the Irishman we will be forever indebted to. As a player he oozed professionalism and class and as a man he oozed exactly the same.
I guess everything I am about to write will be stating the obvious for all Sunderland fans but I will try my level best not to be entirely predictable.
A football club to most players is an employment, somewhere to make some coin and/or somewhere to enhance reputation for the opportunity to play elsewhere for coin…and maybe an ounce of desire for glory. Seldom does a player not only fall in love with a football club, but also strives to offer the solace so desperately needed to that club and its fans at a time where the future was merely an all-engulfing black hole. Quinny had such a glorious career with this glorious football club to the extent that every aspect was littered with sentimental glory.
Whether you look to his debut brace against Nottingham Forest, his unrivalled partnership with Kevin Phillips, those two goals, donating his testimonial money (and other huge charitable contributions), saving us with the Drumaville, Chairing our rise to Premier League stability, yesterday’s deserved recognition or indeed how he always had time for us fans – it’s just glorious. He was even in the Isis having a few pints amongst fans.
It is pretty clear that Quinn’s lasting contribution to this football club and indeed this city began in 2006. I can’t imagine the amount of his own time he spent persuading the Drumaville Consortium to buy into a drowning football club – whilst also purchasing 1,180 shares of his own in the process. Did he do this to make money? There is nothing that would ever convince me that was in anyway his motivation, of course he didn’t, he did it to save this football club from being ground into dust. I am sure there was money to be made, otherwise six other Irish businessmen wouldn’t plough their own money into this mess, I hope they made a decent return!
Where would we be now without that takeover? We certainly would not be a Premier League football team, heck I honestly believe we would have been lucky to continue being a Championship team. The club was in dire straits in all aspects, from the pitch right up to the very top after recording a pitiful fifteen points. A club ran on prehistoric values and transfer budgets which rifled into the millennium by the gentlest green giant you are ever likely to meet.
Here’s to you Quinny, you have the freedom of this city; we owe you at least this football club in its entirety. Every gasp I take of that beautiful atmosphere at the Stadium of Light – that’s because of you big guy. You are Sunderland AFC.