Mon, May


As Ipswich and Sunderland clash at Portman Road on Saturday afternoon one man will be looking on with particular interest.

Carlos Edwards enjoyed the best years of his career playing for Sunderland before departing for East Anglia. Looking back he feels his Wearside departure was perhaps untimely, but he has no regrets that he got to wear both the red-and-white and the blue jerseys of the two respective clubs.

In just the second game of the 2019-20 campaign, the clash sees two sides expected to be serious contenders for promotion come head-to-head.

And while he won't commit to who will be first and who will be second, the former winger admits both sides returning to the Championship would be the ideal scenario for him next May.

"It would be a perfect season for me if both Sunderland and Ipswich were promoted," he told Chronicle Live.

"I know it's not going to be easy, but it is possible.

"It was a very tough decision to leave Sunderland at the time, but it was very much a situation out of my control.

"I just had to do what was best for myself and my family. I maybe left too soon, but no regrets. It was an honour to play for the club, and then I had some good years at Ipswich too.

"I'm hoping I can get down with the family to a game or two in Sunderland this season.

"My twins have never been to Sunderland. They're eight in October. My eldest daughter has been, but the twins have not.

"I'd love to bring the twins up and show them where Daddy used to twist a few spines!"

Now 40, Edwards still lives in Suffolk, although rather ironically he'll be back on Wearside this weekend as the Black Cats head to Ipswich. He's booked to do 'An Evening With' show at the Fans Museum on Saturday evening.

He still plays also. Representing Woodbridge Town, they play in the ninth tier of English football - the equivalent of the Northern League first division here in the North East.

They're two games into the season and have won both so far. Edwards started both and has already registered three assists. He's still got it.

Despite living so far away, his close affinity to Sunderland AFC remains. A club so close to his heart, he admits watching the club's demise of recent years was tough.

"It has been very tough for me to watch the club's recent fall," he says.

"It's hard to believe and accept that the downfall has been real. It's just collapsed and you're left thinking 'what on earth is going on!?

"At one stage I was close to volunteering to put my boots back on and saying I'll come back and score a couple of rockets! Listen, don't pay me, just register me and I'll come in the last 20 minutes of every game."

He continued: "But sometimes these things happen for the best and that seems to be the case here. It's brought about change and Ellis [Short] has sold the club and everything has steadied.

"Now hopefully we - I always still say 'we' because I'm still part of the family - we have owners who will invest, not just invest in new players, but invest in the fans and other important things that will help the club progress to the next level.

"Yes, right now we're in League One, but who's to say where we will be in the next five years? I know for definite we are not going to be in League One."

His own football schedule might make it difficult, but Edwards is hoping he will make a couple of games at the Stadium of Light this term too.

"I tried to get to a game last season, Walsall I believe it was, but had a family matter come up which stopped me coming.

"This season though I'm going to try my best to see if I can come and see a couple of games.

"The fans, as we all know, are incredible. They always come out in such strong numbers.

"You look at that 06-07 season when we won the Championship, it was remarkable. But that was not just down to the players, that was down to the fans as well.

"When we went to away games we were getting anywhere from 2-5,000 away fans going with us around the country and there's not many teams in the Championship will carry that many away fans. I think they propelled us to go the extra mile and lift the trophy at the end of the season.

"It is the fans who carry that club and make it what it is and the players should always go out to give 100% for them. If they don't then they don't deserve to be at the club. Putting on their shirt means something."