Salut! Sunderland AFC (Against Football Cheats)


“Old bald headed bloke” * – see comments – considers the response from Wearside, the East End and beyond to the Jones/Ilunga incident during the 2-2 draw between SAFC and West Ham …

West Ham supporters have rallied gamely to the cause of their side following events at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

They have done it with a mixture of solid defensive work and aggressive counter-attack (there have also been a couple of more cretinous offerings, but the ratio of joined-up thinking to no thinking at all has been high).

Not everyone leaving comments appears to have read what was actually written – by Sunderland fans – before wading in with tit-for-tat retorts.

By way of a reminder:

* most or all of us here have accepted that the referee cannot, strictly speaking, be faulted for sending off Kenwyne Jones even if some – plus Zola – consider a yellow would have sufficed

* most or all of us believe the second yellow for Kovac was extremely harsh

* the Salut! Sunderland party line is to oppose cheating in football WHOEVER does the cheating. It is no coincidence that each Who Are You? feature this season, since a certain game between between Arsenal and Celtic, includes the “Eduardo question” (ie how would you feel about winning something important through a blatant act of cheating by one of your players?)

If a Sunderland player acted as Ilunga did, I would be ashamed. If a Sunderland player set out deliberately to injure an opponent, I would be the first to criticise. Diving is a sin against the spirit of the game whether the diver wears your team’s colours or someone else’s.

The Premier League has acquired a tradition of cheating which must be tacitly if not expressly endorsed by managers. It is a tradition we could do without.

Like Steve Bruce, I want the game to retain a physical edge. That is not the same as condoning thuggery.

Like some of the West Ham fans who have used this forum to argue for even-handed comment, I want fans, pundits and managers to treat with contempt ALL cheating, from the theatrics of uninjured or barely injured players intent on gaining unfair advantage to career-threatening challenges.

It means, for the committed supporters, facing up to some unpalatable home truths from time to time. It means, for example, that Steve Bruce has to back his noble words with actions and ensure that his own players observe the principles he articulated.

But I still think it wouldn’t be a bad start to make all players aware that if they fall in apparent agony to the ground, however accomplished the dramatic skills, they should face the possibility – subject to the referee’s discretion – of enforced substitution.

None of that resolves the controversies stemming from what was otherwise a pulsating Premier League game between two teams with much to offer the middle tier of the division (assuming one stays there and the other reaches it).

But football thrives on controversy. And it shouldn’t affect the respect that, I believe, most reasonable SAFC fans feel for the Hammers (and, I hope, works in reverse).

* Colin Randall

29 thoughts on “Salut! Sunderland AFC (Against Football Cheats)”

  1. NB I am a cretinous – and now linkless- web parasite.

    The game leads off with a teenage girl on a underground platform. She notices you are depending at her and claims, “can I assist you with something?”

  2. So what about Darren Bent’s 2 dives yesterday?!

    Pretty impressive I thought! Will you call for him to be banned?!

  3. Steven P. Warner-Clark III. glad you agree that the bench though there was no contact but played a blinding supporting actress role to Ilunga’s fantastic pantomime dame performance.

    I’m waiting for the shots from WH’s training ground of them practicing ‘the perfect dive’ as cheating seems to be the path Zola see’s as the best way out of the relegation spots as Carlton Cole won’t want to stick around in January with a bunch of pansies with releagtion the team mantra. Probably add Collinson to the out list too!

  4. Mr Warner -Clark III- Clarke said that Ilunga was trying to protect himself because Jones is a big lad. If that’s true, surely his best choice would have been to get as far away as possible, not to lie down a few yards away? Bruce was incorrect to say there was no contact with Ilunga’s face, as pictures have since shown otherwise, but he was right to say the lad over-reacted.

    PS if we offered you Cana would you turn the offer down? I think not. Take passion out of football and you’ve got ballet – I take it Billy Bonds was abysmal because he showed passion. Are you implying that Zola’s judgement of players is flawed?

  5. Cana was MOTM? On what planet? He is and was abysmal, he can’t pass, he can’t shoot, he can’t tackle? He is nothing! A League 1 player at best! Breaking players’ legs is not passion. If thats what you want from football you are in the wrong sport. Passion? Absurd!

    And I think you’ll find video evidence clearly shows Jones’ hand in Ilunga’s face/jaw area! So regardless of what Zola said, without a replay, a replay shows a hand in the face! Defend that because there are videos and photos everywhere which show Mr Clarke and me are correct! While Mr Bruce is wrong!

    If Zola said Anton Ferdinand was a good player would you believe that as well? LOL!

  6. HammerS you clown Zola himself said no contact had been made with ‘The Actors’ face when interviewed on MOTD but quickly ducked the whole question as to why the medical team were treating an imaginary injury. He did this ‘ducking’ by moaning on about why a second yellow card shouldn’t be given to a player who wellies someone high on the thigh full blast whilst ‘allegedly’ trying to kick a ball many feet away from him.

    Apparently in the East End now, a real man writhes about in facial agony when pushed in the chest.

    My Granddad would cut you down in your tracks if he were still here, a true honourable East End boy who wouldn’t have a team of ‘Actors’ falling over at every opportunity. A Hammer who would have given Cana MOTM for his passion and commitment and disowned half you squad for being Spineless Thespians.

    Get a life boy, grow up and understand football is a man’s game, yes a contact sport!

  7. It’s easy to continue to spread lies and myths, it takes a real man to admit they were wrong!

    We’ll see if Steve Bruce is a liar or a man at his press-conference. I expect an apology! 🙂

  8. Very late if intended as the ultimate defence, though the recovery from jaw injury was mentioned here on day one. It is the sort of thing that fools not just Bruce and the media but all those Hammers fans who were horrified by what they saw as a player of theirs feigning injury.

  9. Looks like Steve Clarke has made Bruce, the national media and Sunderland’s whinging look very silly this afternoon!

    Just returned from a triple fracture to the jaw, exactly where he was pushed hard by a 6’3 centre forward, and you are suprised he fell over and required medical assistance?

    As for diving, look at Steed Malbranque. Dived to get Upson booked/sent off (and failed) and dived for your 1st goal. Sad, sad times for Sunderland!

  10. Part of the problem with Ilunga’s theatrics is that they came 30 seconds after an awful dive by Franco that made it look like a deliberate West Ham policy. I desperately hope that is not the case as I previously respected both Zola and West Ham (a proper football club with a good away following despite the distance and a poor side). To be fair to West Ham, all their fans I spoke to were embarrassed by the antics of Ilunga and Franco.
    By the letter of the law Jones should be sent off but the law is a nonsense. Why is a push to the chest a sending off offence?
    Cana was incredibly lucky to not get sent off. I truly believe that he tries to win the ball every time and that the ‘nasty 2-footed tackle’ was actually a determined slide to win the ball, with both feet on the floor. He clearly won the ball and so when the referee awarded a free kick it had to be for a dangerous challenge so he had to get a 2nd yellow. The fact that Marriner managed to give the free kick and not the yellow just shows how bad a game he had

  11. Bill Taylor ~ I can fully understand you gloating after a few good results & your side attaining their highest position in the premiership in living memory

    In LIVING MEMORY well I am still in the land of the living and recollect two seventh place finishes under Reid and I seem to remember being somewhat higher in the premiership during the season . Had we won as we deserved from the chances created on Saturday we would have been about sixth in the premiership.

    There is no reason, that I can see, that YOU WILL MAKE AN ALMIGHTY CHARGE UP THE TABLE much AS I WOULD LIKE TO SEE SOME OF my WEST HAM FRIENDS CELEBRATING ONCE MORE whereas thus far our performances against the top teams have been fairly creditable.

    It would still seem that a finish around the top ten is most likely for us but injuries aside we are an improving team under Bruce with enough self belief to attack, with ten men on the pitch and a deficit of two goals. I would like to think that we put the wind up a few of the Irons fans in those last ten minutes but perhaps that is just an old mans wishful thinking

  12. Ha Ha Bill ~ Hardly a season goes by with our underpinnings being very shaky!

    At times we have played some very good football this season without getting the results. I’m sure that there are at least 3 worse teams than us in this league as things stand at the moment

    Our biggest fear is that if a new owner is not in place before the next transfer window there will be yet another West Ham fire sale. That would do for us with all the knock-on effects

    We cannot sustain the current conveyor belt of youth players going to become Internationals forever!

    It is always good to see so many of our youngsters coming through but we never have a settled side

  13. Gloating, Jack? Certainly not. I agree — it’s far too early to start counting chickens. I merely voice the opinion that West Ham has very shaky underpinnings this year. And if the Hammers don’t start getting better results, Zola’s head will be on the block. Nothing to laugh about, out loud or otherwise.

  14. Bill Taylor ~ I can fully understand you gloating after a few good results & your side attaining their highest position in the premiership in living memory

    However do not consider yourself safe yet! There are only possibly 4 teams that will definitely not get relegated. It is very very early in the season & the difference between our position & mid table is a win. The difference between Sunderland staying in the top 6 & being mid is a lose!

    I doubt very much that we’ll end up in the relegation dogfight at the end of this season in fact I’d be very surprised & a bit disappointed) if we don’t finish up above Sunderland

    None of us are safe!

    It would be a bit ironic, given your comments, if you swapped places with your geordie neighbours come the end of the season. Perhaps it might be your (geordie) manager who might be defecting over the water then!LOL!

  15. Cretinous or not, Dave, it’s an honestly held opinion. I think your team is in deeper trouble than you realize. Zola has always had the ability to get the best out of individual players but he’s lost the knack of making them play as a team. And, let’s be honest, your fans aren’t the best-behaved in the premiership, are they?

  16. I am a West Ham fan and Illunga’s reaction embarassed me as well. In retrospect, I think he should have been sent off as well as Jones.

    I was also disappointed in the free kick that never was that led to Reid’s goal. For all of Bruce’s moral crusade, I do think your player went down just outside of the box to give Reid the opportunity. Perhaps that’s a tactic?

    Anyway, I have huge respect for the black cats and their genuine fans. I had hoped you felt the same about us cos there’s many similarities between our clubs. Good luck for the rest of the season – I hope you break into the top 6.

  17. I agree with Dave that this is overall a good discussion because many of the contributors, here and in comments to other pieces about the game, are willingly putting aside partisan allegiances to address theserious issues that arise. Refereeing standards are not what they should be, but I sympathise with officials who have to decide week after week between the genuine and the simulated. Aside from the odd “you call it cheating, we don’t” line of thought, there is obviously not that much support for Ilunga’s actions and that is healthy for the game.

    I admire Cana’s wholehearted approach and endorse A T Hedley’s view that he is generally hard but not dirty. He was immense against Liverpool, in midfield in the first half and as a centre back in the second, and I am pleased the game, at least in England, still has room for the level of commitment he shows. I suspect Wenger will get him in the end, but I’m glad we have him for now. Undoubtedly there is a reckless side to his game, as witnessed by the almost inevitable yellow each week, and I wouldn’t defend dangerous two-footed lunges by anyone. If Bruce hasn’t told him so, he should.

    One other thought: players from overseas have no monopoly on playacting and diving. The worst dive I have seen was not Eduardo’s, or any of those by Klinnsman or Pires, but an absolute classic by Gary McCallister for Liverpool at the Stadium of Light a few years ago. Varga tripped him some way out of the box (I was going to say on the halfway line but that would be exaggerating) but the elegance and distance of the ensuing dive was extraordinary. It fooled Graham Barber, who got both decisions wrong: penalty for Liverpool and no red card for Varga, who was without any doubt the last defender before the keeper.

  18. Nice comment Bill, glad to see you’ve joined in, what was a good debate/discussion, with another ‘cretinous offering’!

    As a West Ham fan I was embarrassed by Ilunga’s theatrics but I suspect if he hadn’t, then the poor excuse for a referee would have decided Jones’ actions were not worthy of a red card. I am in no way defending our player but simply the quality of the referee.

    With my West Ham glasses on I felt Cana was lucky to be on the pitch after a series of (I was going to say ‘niggly but…) nasty two-footed challenges. I’m amazed Steve Bruce didn’t see Malbranque throwing himself to the floor on more than one occasion as well. I wonder what his take on that would have been?

    As for Kovac’s sending off, it was clumsy and I don’t blame (for once) the referee for viewing it as a second booking. Personally if a player, like Kovac, takes that long to try and kick a ball and ends up missing completely (in spite of Bent’s intervention) I would have give a straight red to the overpaid numpty!

  19. A couple of good suggestions from AT Hedley, especially the “sin bin.” As for West Ham, they have 7 points now and this time next week they’ll still only have 7 points. Never mind, come April 10 their followers can invade the pitch and tell us what they really think of their impending relegation. Zola, of course, will be long gone by then.

  20. I thought it was a very good game.

    Yes, I thought Ilunga did over react but the referee really had little choice but to send Jones off for raising his arms, regardless of how good Ilunga’s dying swan impression was ~ you can’t do that and expect to get away with it. Possibly on another day Jones would have escaped with a yellow.

    The sending off of Kovak was astonishing neither of the tackles looked to be bookable offences and innocuous compared to several tackles by Sunderland players, noteably by Cana (who should have had a straight red for a serious two footed tackle)

    I thought Sunderland did incredibly well to come back from being 2-0 down with 10 men and showed terrific team spirit, however they were aided and abetted by a very poor referee who was prepared to let a succession of very crude challenges go unpunished for the home side throughout the second half

  21. The problem is that blinkers do not make for sound judgement. It is intent that matters in so many cases and Cana is robust but then so were many of the defenders of my youth who were heroes of their day. There are always exceptions but those that went into tackles with intent in those days tended to be the enforcers seeking retribution.

    The pettiness and spiteful behaviour of players today is seen both off and on the field, for that reason I advocate refs enforcing the laws in the manner of the rugby refs. Mobbing refs has to earn a free kick ten yards closer to the offenders goal. Only the captain may query a ref’s decision for the sake of clarity.

    I also advocate use of a video ref when a serious offence appears to have been committed, it does not delay a game any longer than tolerating half a dozen players querying a decision. More particularly I would adopt the sin bin where the offence if it is a yellow car and is an instant ten minutes off the pitch thus the side offended against gets the benefit, not a team a couple of matches later. Red means red and off but there would be no totting up process for a series of minor offences.

    The problem with the offences referred to by the Irons fan independent refs have seen the offences and decided that there was no malice Cana is hard not dirty. I cannot comment upon Bent but he has in my opinion not yet recovered from his knee injury and may well have been hurt. If he was cheating yes he should have been punished but the acting involved with Jones on Saturday left no doubt, it was as blatant as the Newcastle handball by Taylor at chest height when he immediately fell down as though he had been shot, holding his nuts.

    You cannot excuse a clear case of cheating by pointing out others offences.

  22. To the old bald headed bloke at the top of this page, i assume you are the writer of said piece. Tit for tat retorts is what you have just done, as for cheating, forget it you wont get rid of it in football, its part of all competitive sports. A player in a 50/50 tackle,the ball goes out of play, he knows it came off his foot he was there he saw it he felt it, but instinctively he puts his arm up, thats cheating. a dive is just to emphasise a challenge, ive got no problem with my team going down like Drogba to get a free kick if he was actually fouled, arise lazerus job done, but if he wasnt touched then a big ban and fine should follow, thats the only way to stop that kind of eduardo type diving. Cana was diabolical, i was embarrased for you.

  23. If you are willing to see your own players correctly punished retrorespectively for their actions on the field, then we will gladly see Ilunga miss 1 match if you lose Bent for 1 match (feigning injury and screaming to get Kovac sent off), Malbranque for 4 matches (1 for feigning injury to get Upson sent off and 3 matches for diving) and Cana for 20 matches (18 for his 2 two footed tackles and 1 each for his dissent and multiple 2nd bookable offences).

    Deal? No thought not!

  24. Regarding the whole “rolling around on the floor as if snipered, only to leap up like Lazarus” debate, can I again propose the simplest of rule changes:
    If a player seeks medical assistance, or gives the referee the impression that he requires medical assistance, then he must leave the field of play for a mimum of 3 minutes. If the “injury” was caused by a foul, then the fouling player must also leave the field-of-play for 3 minutes. If a yellow card was awarded for the foul, then this should be increased to 6 minutes.

    Result: death to Lazarus….

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