He’d go on and play more than 150 games for the Wearsiders during his time at Roker Park. Later in his career he played in the UEFA Cup and was capped on several occasions for England.
First of all, who were your football heroes growing up?
Colin: “That era was a brilliant one for football, the 1966 World Cup win was an inspiration in itself but Bobby Moore was one of my inspirations and such a gentleman too. Funnily enough, my heroes seemed to be all centre halves, it was impossible not to look up to Charlie Hurley no matter what team in the North East you supported. I never actually thought I’d play alongside Charlie Hurley but it was an honour to do so and I'd like to think I helped him play a little longer. Then you had people like George Best and Jim Baxter who were unbelievably talented; an inside forward called Ivor Longchurch was the first person I watched regularly and he played for Newcastle.”
What were your first memories of football?
Colin: “My dad used to take me to St James’ Park as a kid as he was brought up a Newcastle fan, I never ventured to Sunderland at that age. I remember in the old standing terraces if someone fell ill the white flag would go up and they’d be passed over your head, down to the front. There was nothing better than going to a live game at full capacity! Also, the 1966 World Cup was a big part of football when I was growing up and getting into the youth team.”
You worked with the legend that is Brian Clough, what kind of a person was he and what was he like to play under?
Colin: “Well Brian Clough was a unique man, he managed me in the Sunderland youth team and then kept tabs on me and signed me when he went to Derby County. He was an unbelievable motivator and a great man manager, I remember once he kept kicking me in training, I was a quiet boy so said nothing, my wife told me to stand up to him and have a go back. One day he kicked me from behind and I turned round and had a right blast at him! Foul mouthed and everything but he just stood there laughing at me - he’d got what he wanted which was to toughen me up; after that he never kicked me again. I will always say that if he’d have stayed at Derby, then he would’ve achieved the same as he did at Forest, after all we did get to the UEFA Cup semi final and got knocked out by Juventus.”
You had the honour of playing for England 27 times, what did it mean to play for your country?
Colin: “I think that back then it represented a lot more than it does now, it was an absolute honour to be called up and play that many times as not everybody will get that chance. It is something I will always hold in high esteem as it is one of the top achievements in football. My full international debut was at Wembley against Northern Ireland under Sir Alf Ramsay, who was an unbelievable man.”
What would you say is your greatest achievement in football that you won?
Colin: “Without a doubt the PFA Player of the Year Award in the 1974/75 season. It’s the greatest honour you can get as it’s decided by your fellow professionals and it really is the highest accolade in football to be voted by players; I was presented the award by the Prime Minister of the time, Harold Wilson. I’m glad to see it’s still going strong and there’s been some great players to win it recently, people like Hazard, Salah and Ronaldo.”
What kind of experience was Vancouver when you played out there?
Colin: “A wonderful experience and a fantastic city too with a great environment around the place. I went over there when Alan Hinton was the manager and Terry Hennessey was assistant, they’d been my teammates at Derby so I knew them well from the word go. It was a great trip out there as I took the family and although the football wasn’t at a premium standard, like it is today in the MLS, it was a wonderful experience.”
If you were offered the Sunderland job, would you have taken it?
Colin: “When I was at Bolton, I had a great track record and we’d won the First Division and were doing well. What I will say is if I was offered it at the right time then I wouldn’t have had to think twice. Sunderland always has been an outstanding club and always will be, I’d returned with Bolton and it’s a special place to come as a player or a manager; it certainly gives you tingles when you walk out in the Stadium of Light. But yes I would’ve have liked to have managed Sunderland but it wasn’t to be unfortunately.”
How much of a change was managing in Denmark and was it a big culture change to English football?
Colin: “No not really, the culture or football style didn’t pose any problems as I knew what the culture was. I was fortunate enough to have signed a few players at Bolton from that region, such as Per Frandsen who was Danish then I’d signed Arnar Gunnlaugsson and Eiđur Guđjohnsen who were both Icelandic. I knew the mentality and enjoyed every minute of it and I’d highly recommend it too. I admit that I did better at Randers the second time, especially in Europe and we even got to a cup final but lost, also we didn’t finish out of the top five in the top division.”
Going back onto the topic of Sunderland, do you think we can get promoted this season?
Colin: “I think we can get promoted this season, I watched the Middlesbrough game in pre-season and even though only 45 minutes were played, I said then that there’s a good opportunity here, and that there’s certainly the ability to go forward. I think there’s a good blend there and Jack Ross is leading in the right way; promotion is the most important thing this season and I’m sure it’s everyone’s number one target. However, it’s a cup final for every team who play Sunderland this season, it’s not every week teams will play in front of 30,000 people; realistically, they’re used to playing in front of maybe 7000 each week.”
We play Shrewsbury Town at New Meadow on Saturday, what are your thoughts on the upcoming game and what’s your score prediction?
Colin: “There’ll be a capacity crowd there I assume as it’s one of their biggest games this season, I mean there’ll be nearly 2000 Sunderland fans there too. New Meadow is a difficult place to go, the atmosphere there should be a good one and hopefully it’ll motivate the players with the amount travelling support. It was a good win on the road at Bradford and the lads showed some good spirit and we need to build on that and if that happens then the players are more than capable on going on a good run. The problem is that there’s too many draws, if they turn those into wins then I shouldn’t see a problem in promotion and hopefully that’s how Saturday goes, I’m going to say 2-0 Sunderland.
Finally Colin, if you had to pick a side of players that you played alongside for Sunderland, who would be there?
Colin: “Montgomery, then a back for of Cecil Irwin, myself and Charlie Hurley and Park. Then in midfield I’d have Dennis Tueart, Martin Harvey, George Mulhall and the fantastic Jim Baxter. Up front as strikers there’d be O’Hare and Joe Baker.”
Thank you very much for reading and see on Monday for my review of Shrewsbury Town away, there’ll be more interviews to follow soon too so keep your eyes peeled.