A NEW book celebrating the enduring appeal of Sunderland Football Club, told by those lucky enough to pull on the famous red and white stripes, hit the bookshelves this week.

Chief football writer Paul Fraser found a common theme running through players’ stories highlighted on the book’s launch night at the Stadium of Light.

“SUNDERLAND were struggling at the time….” recalled Darren Holloway, John MacPhail, Martin Scott, Gordon Armstrong, Tony Towers, Vic Halom and Stephen Elliott at various stages of their interviews.

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And each time the phrase was repeated, the ironic laughter grew a little more among an appreciative audience in Quinn’s Bar to mark the launch of Tales from the Red and Whites Volume 2.

With the current Sunderland side bottom of the Championship, it was a reminder that underachievement has haunted the club too often over the past 60 years.

Not that the book itself is depressing or repetitive.

Stan Anderson starred in the golden Bank of England era while Stefan Schwarz is synonymous with Peter Reid’s high-flying Premier sides that were in Champions League positions over two festive seasons before finishing seventh at the end of each campaign.

Anderson, (now 84), and Schwarz (abroad) were absent from the launch, as were Shaun Elliott (in Norwich, with a hip problem) and Tony Coton (on club duties with Aston Villa).

But the remaining seven of the 11 players were there for an enjoyable night’s reminiscing in a room where players and fans were joined by their enduring attachment to the club.

The book follows on from Tales From The Red and Whites Vol 1, which featured stories written by former players, journalists and broadcasters and superfans.

The new edition is written by former Sunderland Echo sports writer Graeme Anderson, former SAFC programme editor Rob Mason and Lance Hardy, who wrote the award-winning book Stokoe, Sunderland and 73.

All were involved in Vol 1, but the new book was a different challenge.

Anderson explained: “We tell the stories of 11 players, each fitting into their traditional position: goalkeeper, right-back, left-back etc, united only by variety and the fact they played for SAFC.

“Tony Coton for example only played a dozen games for Sunderland, Gordon Armstrong and Stan Anderson are among the club’s leading appearance makers - but each of us has chosen players we thought had interesting stories still to tell.

“The book’s not meant as a chronology of events - though that naturally happens - but as the reflections of players on what they personally went through at the time. Time can offer a different perspective, can free the mind and the tongue.

“And as Stephen Elliott pointed out, he was only a kid at the time of Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane being in charge, barely 21. Mind you, he’s only 33 now!”

The book offers something for every Sunderland fan, covering 11 players spanning 50 years – from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light; from the Bank of England club to the Premier League; from FA Cup heroes to Third Division champions.

And with the ‘Tales From’ format proving popular at other clubs, like Watford and Norwich, another Tales From The Red and Whites is already potentially in the pipeline.

“We always envisaged it as a three-book series but we’ve yet to decide on what a third one might be about,” reveals Graeme.

“One idea is we could do Sunderland managers - but the challenge there will be keeping it down to just 11 chapters!”

• To purchase Tales from the Red & Whites 2 visit talesfrom.com or buy the series on the same website.

EACH former player took the chance to look back on their Sunderland careers, telling their own story in their own words.

Here’s a flavour of their quotable quotes:

Tony Coton

“I missed playing football an awful lot when I had to give it up but coaching at Sunderland helped me get over it.

“I threw myself into it and David Kelly says that to this day I’m the only person he’s seen carrying out a coaching session leaning on a crutch with his leg in plaster!”

Darren Holloway

“Terry Butcher was the manager at the time and I’ve still got the newspaper clipping of me signing my forms at Roker Park. I went with my Mam to Foster’s in Bishop Auckland and we bought a black and white dog tooth blazer. It was probably a bit too big for me, but I thought it looked really smart. When I turned up at Sunderland, Terry Butcher had the same jacket on!”

Martin Scott

“Kevin Ball came up to me at the Charlie Hurley Centre in the first few days, pointed at me and said: ‘First impressions?’ And I said: “Relegation - no standards, unprofessional, and too many players hate the manager.”

“And he looked at me and said: “Spot on, mate. Absolutely spot on. Bally and me are firm friends to this day, and that was the start of it.”

Stan Anderson

“My main memory of that first match - other than the shock of playing that is - was the crowd.

“The support for the club has always been remarkable. I don’t care what anybody says, the Sunderland spectators - and I have stood as one of them - deserve their team to be in the top four of the Premier League every year.”

John MacPhail

“We played for the shirt. I think the days of playing for the shirt have gone. Nowadays it is about money. In our day it was all about heart and passion”

Shaun Elliott

“I would have played for Sunderland for nothing, so would people like Gary Rowell and Joe Bolton. That was the mentality I had. I just loved playing football”

Tony Towers

“Bob Stokoe wanted to talk to me. I listened to what Bob had to say and I said to him “Thanks, but no thanks.””

3 years later.., I didn’t want to leave and I really want to put that message out there to all the Sunderland fans”

Stefan Schwarz

“Sunderland are a Premier League in every aspect - the stadium, training facility, supporters and it hurt me then to see them go into the Championship, just as it hurts me now to see them back in the Championship again.

“All I know is that it is a club that deserves to be in the Premier League.

“It may be that it takes a lot of money for that to happen but I think it is a club that should be of interest to investors because the club has a lot of ingredients for success.”

Vic Halom, on the ‘73 Cup final.

“We were playing Leeds, who were top class. In order to combat that, the work-rate was unreal.

“That defensive system was excellent and the more I watch that game the more I appreciate it.

“For me up there I had a job to do against their defenders, so all I could do was try to get a bite in, so I spent most of the game running, just chasing things. That’s why I had cramp.

“I’d never had cramp in my life, but on that surface I did more running than ever and hardly touched the ball – but part of the team’s principles was work-rate, work-rate, work-rate.

“It was staggering, really, and with a little bit of luck we could have won by a bigger margin.”

Stephen Elliott

“Champions! We were champions! That moment was amazing - the roar and the smiles - and I was on top of the world, scoring the goal that gave us the title.”

Gordon Armstrong

“I was a lucky boy to be a professional footballer. I loved it. I played for the club that I loved and I wouldn’t have changed one minute of it.”