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Played For Both: Sunderland vs Dale
Monday, 10th Feb 2020 11:02 by AtThePeake

This week we take a look at two loanees that came to Spotland from the Stadium of Light with contrasting results.

Few Dale players can bear the distinction of having made their debut for the club on live television, but that's what Kevin Kyle did when he entered the fray as a substitute in a 3-1 home win over Leyton Orient, live on ITV Digital, in 2001.

Kyle came in on loan in January of the 2000/2001 season with manager Steve Parkin clearly looking to add some firepower to his frontline. Tony Ellis and Graham Lancashire were both showing their age at this point and Clive Platt, though certainly a vital member of the squad, hadn't quite been scoring with the prolific nature required to lead the side into the play-offs.

With the record-signing of Paul Connor still a few months away, Parkin first turned to the loan market to bring in Scottish striker Kyle on a short-term deal.

Having already made his Sunderland debut at this point - and having earned some experience out on loan at both Huddersfield Town and Darlington, this appeared to be a shrewd move on paper. As it turned out, it was anything but.

From the moment Kyle made his debut in that win over the O's, he looked completely at a loss as to what his job was supposed to be on the pitch. I'm actually fairly certain when I watched the whole game back on video (it was a real novelty for us to be on television in those days so I made my Grandad tape the match despite the fact that we were attending) that he even asked his manager which way we were supposed to be shooting before running onto the pitch.

It's perhaps the most damning indictment of Kyle's spell at Dale that, despite being brought in to add a goalscoring touch, Dale's next two games - with the Scot in the starting XI on both occasions - ended goalless at Cardiff City and Scunthorpe United.

Indeed, that victory over Orient would actually be Dale's last for quite some time as they then embarked on a 12 game winless run that saw play-off chances begin to wither and automatic promotion hopes completely die out.

Kyle's performances were dreadful as he lacked any real quality or confidence and although it would be churlish to blame him for the start of that dreadful run, he turned out to be one of the worst loan signings we've ever had. I even seem to remember him scoring an own goal at some point, although I can't see any record of that in the games that he did play - not even the infamous 1-7 home defeat to Shrewsbury Town in which Luke Rodgers managed a hat-trick.

Remarkably, he actually went on to feature in 91 league games for Sunderland, scoring 17 goals. 12 of these came in the 2003/2004 campaign, in which the Black Cats finished third in the second tier. In 2006, he earned himself a £600,000 move to Coventry City, but was never prolific in his two seasons with the Sky Blues, managing five goals in 44 appearances.

Loan spells at Wolverhampton Wanderers and Hartlepool United followed before Kyle returned home to Scotland and enjoyed fruitful spells with both Kilmarnock and Hearts. He scored three times in eight appearances in the Third Division for Rangers in the 2012/2013 campaign and finally ended his career in the same division the season after with five goals in 24 appearances for Ayr United.

Although far from a glittering career, the fact that Kyle managed to score goals at a higher level, earn himself a Championship winners' medal and indeed make 10 appearances with one goal for Scotland, is quite remarkable given just how out of his depth the target man appeared in his short, unhappy spell at Rochdale.

When Kyle arrived at Dale on loan from Sunderland in 2001, promotion was the aim for a team flying high towards the top of the table. When William Mocquet signed the same type of deal at Spotland in November 2006, the mood was quite different.

Having lost their last four consecutive matches, conceding 16 goals and going down 1-3 at home to local rivals Bury and 7-1 away to Lincoln City, Dale were plummeting towards the relegation zone in League Two. Manager Steve Parkin was very much on borrowed time as that woeful run of form had left the club just one point above the bottom two ahead of a home fixture versus Mansfield Town.

Mocquet's debut was scintillating as he added a skill, pace and flair that the side had been completely devoid of throughout the season. I even remember the match report on this very site after the game with a picture of Mocquet captioned "so that's what wingers look like!" such was the effect he'd had on the game. Dale ran out deserved 2-0 winners.

Unfortunately however, that wouldn't prove to be the turning point Dale were hoping for. Three defeats in the next three games, including an embarrassing 1-0 loss away from home against a Macclesfield Town side that had failed to win any of their 18 previous league games that season and had a man sent off in the first half, would spell the end for Parkin.

Thankfully for Mocquet however, that managerial change only helped him to flourish. Caretaker boss Keith Hill quickly realised the ability of the Frenchman and set about creating a team that would play out the rest of the season with an attacking, 'no-fear' approach, that continued once Hill was appointed permanently and after Mocquet returned to the Stadium of Light four games later.

In these four games, Mocquet was a shining light. He could beat a man with ease and looked forward towards goal every time he got on the ball. There was an end product to his flair too with a swinging, dangerous right-footed cross that caused problems to every centre-half he faced during this spell. Indeed, he even got on the scoresheet in the 4-0 win over Boston United (highlights below), heading in Dale's third of the game, prompting chants of 'Sign Him Up' and even a half-hearted rendition of the French national anthem from the travelling contingent at the following match, another 4-0 mauling at Grimsby Town just a few days later.

Unfortunately, that didn't come to pass and it came as a bit of a shock to all Dale fans when Mocquet rocked up at Bury on a loan deal just a few weeks later. He played nine times for the Shakers in the rest of that season, being on the wrong end of a 0-1 scoreline against his former club as a Glenn Murray strike secured a 0-1 win for the Dale at Gigg Lane.

Having clearly not done enough in these loan spells in the North West to impress the Sunderland hierarchy, Mocquet was released at the end of the campaign, just one year into his two-year deal, having never made a league appearance for the Black Cats. He had arrived with some pedigree too, playing over 80 times in France for Le Havre and Louhans-Cuiseaux and featuring for the French U21 side before moving to England.

After this disappointment, Mocquet returned to his native country and briefly turned out for FC Pau and AS Moulins before seemingly disappearing from the game altogether, having never quite lived up to the potential he displayed in his short, electric spell with Dale.

Based on their spells at Spotland, these two players were set for very different careers to the ones they had. Kyle arrived with hopes high and was involved in a side that saw their confidence drain away as promotion hopes began to fade. He looked completely out of his depth, yet went on to have a solid career both with the Black Cats and north of the border with Kilmarnock and Hearts.

Mocquet on the other hand, helped galvanise a hugely underperforming squad and propel them up the league table whilst showing real individual quality in his short time in a Dale shirt, yet never made a name for himself in the game and quickly faded away. Football eh? Funny old game.

Photo: Action Images

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