Soapbox: Mr Magnifico


We sort of knew Pete Sixsmith would have a bit more to say about Kenwyne Jones’s return from injury in the glamorous setting of Hetton Colliery Welfare’s ground. After dining like a king, he was suitably heartened by what he saw….

As the car pulled away from Sixsmith Towers last night, en route for the Hetton Centre, the first track that came up on the CD player was Eliza Carthy’s Mr Magnifico.

An omen, I thought as the main purpose of my visit to Hetton was to witness the return to football of our own Mr Magnifico, the excellent Kenwyne Jones.

I wasn’t the only one beating a path to the reserve game. When I got there at 6.30pm, there were already 5-600 people in the ground watching both sides go through their warm up – well, really watching Kenwyne go through his. Faced with the choice of seeing his mighty muscles ripple or sampling the delights of Dawn Dawson’s pie and chips, my stomach won and the pie (excellent) and the chips (fine) were dispatched.

By kick off time the crowd had swelled to 2,300 (almost twice as many as were at the previous nights Division Two games at Accrington and Macclesfield) and the gates had been locked. People spoke about parking half way down to Houghton and there was a lovely, family atmosphere on a dry, pleasant autumn night.

It wasn’t a bad game, but the crowd’s attention was on Kenwyne. There was a shudder as he went in for a tackle, an ooooh as he mistimed a diving header and an appreciative aaaaah and a warm round of applause as a fierce shot almost drilled a hole in Mike Pollitt’s ribs.

He probably played at 50 per cent capacity but he warmed to the task and some subtle headed flicks and nimble foot work reminded us of what we have missed. When he departed after an hour he got a good ovation and there were sporadic outbreaks of clapping as he made his way back to the dressing rooms.

By this time, we were a goal up through an excellent goal by the impressive Michael Liddle and David Dowson doubled the tally within a minute of replacing Mr Magnifico.

The Hetton Centre Café was doing a roaring trade throughout. Right up to the final whistle, youngsters were passing us by munching on Hot Dogs and burgers and wolfing down huge trays of chips. Good job Jamie Oliver isn’t a Sunderland fan – he’d have had them eating bruschettia with a small Mediterranean salad. Not too popular in Hetton.

As I drove home I replayed Mr Magnifico and had visions of Kenwyne towering above the likes of Taylor and Caccapa, flicking on for Cissé to ram in the fourth and fifth goals. When Eliza’s golden tones came to an end, I returned to the realms of reality and the not so gentle tones of Alan Green describing another Liverpool get out of jail performance.

Bring on the Magpies!!!!

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