Former Sunderland player Darren Holloway will return to the Stadium of Light this weekend and run out alongside the Lads…..wearing his Wimbledon FC shirt.
Holloway, 27, was born in County Durham and signed by Peter Reid in August 1995 – only five months into his reign as Sunderland manager. Holloway stayed at the club for five years, moving to the then newly-relegated Wimbledon for £1.2m in September 2000.
Darren was one of twelve players sold in the 2000/01 season, after the club’s first season back in the Premiership – other notable departees in the twelve included Chris Makin, Nicky Summerbee and Paul Butler but the cull raised only £3.65m in transfer fees for the season. He told the Milton Keynes Citizen newspaper that he was devastated when Reid decided to sell him. “I’d been at Sunderland since leaving school at 16. It was my first club and to be honest it was a bit gut-wrenching to leave when Reid decided to sell me.
“Playing in front of a packed stadium is what you dream of when you’re a young’un and nothing anywhere in the country compares to the Stadium of Light when it’s packed. It’s a real bonus.”
Holloway says he thought the Dons’ relegation back to the Nationwide League would only be a temporary foray. “I thought they were coming right back up to the Premiership, but it’s hard to keep the team together when you get relegated and we’ve had to sell a lot of players.
So what does he think of the Sunderland that he’ll face tomorrow, still adjusting to life in the Nationwide, as opposed to the Premiership team he left three years ago? “I tipped them to get back up at the start of the season. Lots of players have gone but they’ve still got the basis of a good side and I think they’re a good shout to get back up. A lot of the younger lads coming through when I was still there are still there”
Holloway picked up a slight knock in the Dons’ last match, against Walsall last weekend, but he’s desperate to be involved at the Stadium of Light this weekend – but his loyalty now lies firmly with his current employers: “I’m really hoping we can get one over on Sunderland!”