Niall Quinn first encounter with Sunderland was when he wrote to the then chairman of the club Bob Murray expressing concern of the treatment of Mick McCarthy. Despite hostilities the pair met in a London restaurant and a strange thing happened. Bob Murray started to cry. He was besieged and under pressure and he pleaded with Quinn to help. "The club is in a mess," he told Quinn.
The rest is history, Quinn was instrumental in bring in the Drumaville consortium using his Irish contacts, a new manager in Roy Keane after he tried originally to do both roles after first choice Martin O'Neill was unavailable, Premier League football etc. only to step down as Chairman and two weeks ago, announce he would be leaving Sunderland and returning to Ireland. The club he decided to save after lunch with Bob Murray is a different club to the club he bought.
Keane was the first casualty when he left the club and as one Drumaville member said "Things changed the day he left,"
Keane was more than just an ex-player looking for a chance. The story of his reunion with Quinn captured the imagination and his wit gave Sunderland fans reason to believe. At an early meeting between Keane and the consortium, Keane was asked, 'What are your ambitions and hopes for the club?' Keane looked at them. "You've got to tell me yours."
Today, Sunderland take on Newcastle with O'Neill in charge. Keane works out of TV studios, still challenging the ambition of others.
Passion has always been a factor in the local derbies and with both sides having a good season, O'Neill will savour a victory over the Magpies.