Soapbox: A Week in Sunderland

After last week’s shenanigans it’s been a calm few days, giving Pete Sixsmith time to reflect on previous encounters between Sunderland and West Ham and to look forward to Sunday’s match. Can our recent run of form of one consecutive win continue? Read on…

A much quieter week for Sunderland fans after last week’s rumours, counter rumours, counter counter rumours and counter counter counter rumours. Roy may not yet have signed his new contract, but he knows that the fans who count are all behind him. He’s in a better position than Joe Kinnear, whose predictions (“the club will be sold before the Chelsea game”, “I’ll be having a pow-wow with Mike Ashley”) seem to be as accurate as those who thought that we would be toasting President McCain and Prime Minister Hague.

So, we go into another important game, this time against a downbeat and financially squeezed West Ham. They are a club who should be doing better than they are but who seem to be caught in a downward spiral which may prove difficult for them to get out of.

I remember saying years ago, that if I ever went to live in London, the Hammers would become my adopted London team. Thankfully, I never had to go and work in The Great Wen, so my visits to the Boleyn Ground have not been that regular.

I have seen us play there a number of times and there are two games that stick in my mind. The obvious one is the Championship winning game three and a half years ago, when we came back from 1 down to win 2-1 thanks to Julio and Steve Elliott, and the other is an excellent 3-3 draw in the late 70’s, when Wilf Rostron ran riot and scored a couple of beauties.

They have always done quite well at Roker and the Stadium. I remember Bobby Moore scoring in a 5-1 win in the mid 60’s, and they also had a stirring cup win here when the Fascist Di Canio scored in one of our (not infrequent) relegation seasons. They had a good following for a 12.00 kick off that day and it will be interesting to see what they bring on Sunday.

That’s an interesting topic at the moment. Has the financial downturn affected away support? I’m sure it has at the moment as people look to consolidate their spending, and all of a sudden £70.00 that would pay for an away trip to Everton or Portsmouth could be better used paying off the Barclaycard balance. That might explain the weak away followings of certain clubs.

I have already commented on the poor turn out of Pompey fans a couple of weeks ago. It was a little annoying to see them in large numbers at West Ham and extremely annoying to see the supremely unfunny Kevin Day (a man who makes the appalling Phil Jupitus seem like a barrel of laughs – well, a barrel, anyway ) telling them what great fans they were in his report on Match of the Day 2.

The miserable turnout of Blackburn fans is more or less what I would expect from them – although if I lived in Blackburn, I would take every opportunity to get away from the place – even to the extent of going to Burnley. I gather that Middlesbrough took less than 250 fans to Everton, which some could say shows the effect of the looming recession on a traditional working class area and others would say shows that Middlesbrough fans are useless and would rather stay at home breathing in chemicals, and watching in the pub with “our mam and our dad”.

Welcome back to Carlos Edwards and here’s hoping that he has returned with his appetite for the game well and truly restored. He set up both of the Wolves’ goals at Southampton last week and I hope so much that he is able to show that he is a Premier League player. Anyone who saw those fabulous goals he got at St Mary’s and at home to Burnley a couple of years ago knows what a talent he is. I have heard that he has given up his apartment at the marina and moved back south, but it would be great to see a flat hunting agency scuttling around Wearside on his behalf, rather than seeking to relocate him in the land of pork scratchings and flattened vowels.

Go for it Carlos!!!!!

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