Sundy Nights Out!

Rutter Reunion On Island In The Sun

Friends reunited. John Rutter (left) with Alan Sunderland in Gozo this summer.

John Rutter has had another reunion in the sun with Alan Sunderland, one of his best mates from their respective careers at Molineux.

The two were in the same youth side at Wolves more than half a century ago and have met up a number of times across the decades, including twice in Malta.

“I spoke by phone with Alan a few months ago and he invited me over there for the second time,” Rutter said.

“I went with my wife a few weeks ago and Alan came to see us at the hotel in Gozo most evenings and took us to some lovely restaurants. He also still plays a good game of tennis.

“We have each been to see the other in the various places we have lived and played. I visited him at Ipswich and when he was at Arsenal and he came to see me while I was with Bournemouth and then Exeter. The village we are now is about the only place he hasn’t visited me.

“Obviously we would meet up much more often if he was living over here still but I hope to see him when he next comes back.”

Rutter captained the Wolves side who reached the FA Youth Cup semi-final under coach Gordon Ecclestone in 1970-71 before being beaten over two legs by Arsenal.

Photos in various Wolves books show Sunderland, Peter Eastoe and Steve Daley as being part of the same squad while Barry Powell is a year or two younger but another in Rutter’s circle.

Most of those went on to have fruitful top-flight careers but it was lower down the divisions at Stockport that Rutter clicked in a major way.

Alan Sunderland early in his successful career.

With his 453 outings, he achieved legendary status with these other Hatters by emerging as their third highest appearance-maker of all time and becoming an inductee in their hall of fame.

He subsequently served for 20 years as commercial manager at Edgeley Park long after Sunderland had appeared in a victorious League Cup team for Wolves at Wembley, scored a dramatic last-gasp FA Cup final winner for Arsenal and then decided his post-playing life would be better spent abroad.

Both Sunderland, who revealed in a Daily Mail interview that he is half German and trained with Borussia Dortmund as a teenager, and Rutter are now in their 70th year.

Thomas Publications