NEW GULL PROFILE
Matty Hayward – @MattyHayward96
Around my Christmas dinner table, the conversation was dominated by how cooked the pousins were (or weren’t), what time the Eastenders special was on, and how much my Christmas jumper cost. In the Johnson household, they were talking about Sunderland U23s. Different strokes for different folks.
The announcement of attacking midfielder Stephen Wearne was met with widespread panic that it simply had to mean Armani Little or Connor Lemonheigh-Evans or both were on their way out the door. Notts County or Wrexham or Chesterfield or Peterborough (?!) simply must have come knocking, and Wearne was a pre-emptive replacement for them. But then it turned out that the loanee can play wide, thus directly replacing other wide man Jack Sparkes, neither player was going anywhere in the immediate term, and suddenly it was all fine again.
Stephen Wearne’s entire career has been spent circling round the football clubs of the North East. He started his youth career at Newcastle, then joined Middlesborough aged 17, then Sunderland aged 19, all without making a first team league appearance. His debut for Torquay was actually the first time he’d ever left the North East of England. He’d become stuck there, unable to escape or even admit to himself that there was a world outside, eating parmos and listening to Jimmy Nail. Many say he was struggling with Stockton Syndrome.
On the pitch, Wearne “senior” debut was in the Pizza Trophy at Lincoln, where he scored on his debut. Most of his football, so far, has been in Sunderland’s U23, though, which included a winner against Man United Embryos. His youth team reached the play-offs of PL2 last season, which I’m told is good, and that earned him and six of his colleagues a contract for this term. I’ve milked his “career” dry enough, now.
If video evidence of this goal in the Papa Johns Trophy, I can’t find it. Perhaps whoever does the highlights is, rightly, boycotting the competition.
Absurdly, you can watch the whole game of Sunderland kids 2 Man United kids 1, if you’re so inclined. The move for Wearne’s nice headed goal begins at about 1:06:00, here. If anyone does watch the full ’90, do contact TorquayTalk so we can put you in touch with someone who can help.
Most/Least Likely To
Most Likely To
Go straight into the team. We saw that on Saturday, with touches of class mostly drowned out by a sodden pitch. Make no mistake though, Wearne has been signed to start games for Torquay.
Have local radio commentators make lame jokes about Gary’s son “doing him a favour” and such frivolity.
End up at Darlington or Spennymoor or Gateshead, probably. (That’s a joke, I actually think he’s a neat player).
Least Likely To
Play centrally. We’ve got plenty (although, to be fair, most are injured) of number 10s and central midfielders. We have a paucity of wingers. He looked accomplished there against Dagenham and will spend most of his time there, letting them Lemon plough his central furrow.
Understand my dreadful attempts to get a desperately forced “Wearnham Hogg” joke into an article (or, more likely, a tweet)
The Gaffer’s View
Gary is obviously happy about securing Wearne until the end of the season. He said, on the club website, “I actually saw him in the Man United game and was very impressed…so I got the call a few days ago and Lee said he’s ready o let us have him now which is great timing as we lost a couple of loans and it’s worked out nicely for Stephen, for us, and for Sunderland.”
Again, this is a bit of a punt. We don’t know if this lad is ready for men’s football any more than Lee or Gary or the lad himself do. He might take the league by storm, he might be a disgraceful flop, he’ll probably be somewhere in between. The fact that he’s come from Sunderland, and Johnson trusts his son’s evaluation of a player, is probably a sign that he’s at least not a total damp squib. For sure, we know that Wearne has talent. We’ve seen that in the brief highlights and on his debut. Whether he’s got the mentality and strength to crack it in the fifth tier of men’s football, we’ll soon find out.
COYY – Matty
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