Soapbox: a sign of the times


In a more innocent age, people often felt flattered when approached for autographs, to the extent of finding a bit of space on the final page and writing silly rhymes likes “by hook or by crook, I’ll be last in this book”. These days, it seems, it is a chore to be avoided whenever possible. Salut! Sunderland can see that footballers may regard autograph hunters are annoying, trainspotterish oiks. But Pete Sixsmith argues that it doesn’t actually take a long time out of their lives to oblige young admirers

As if things were not bad enough …

A dismal mid season could well herald yet another relegation scrap. There is animated discussion amongst the fans about whether Bruce should go to the library with the pearl handled revolvers and do the decent thing. It appears the camp is split between the underachievers brought in by Keane and those attracted to the club by Bruce. And now……..

We have players who are non-signers.

Yes, there really are Sunderland players who refuse to sign the signature books proffered to them by collectors. In certain quarters, this is a crime as heinous as laughing at Ant and Dec or owning up to buying a Sting album.

How do I know? The bush telegraph spreads its tentacles wide, and news reached me from Bexhill on Sea via Little Ouseburn in North Yorkshire, that Darren Bent and Andy Reid refused to sign when leaving their hotel at Portsmouth before the recent FA Cup tie. The other players and the management were “as good as gold” ( a euphemism for their willingness to scrawl on a carefully selected page of an immaculately bound signature book), but Bent and Reid brushed past and ignored the dedicated and determined collectors.

Not to be thwarted my intrepid source set off from Bexhill on Tuesday to the same hotel in order to catch the new players. Once again, Bent refused the option of attaching his moniker to the page. However, as he walked to the coach, his former Spurs team mate Alan Hutton turned to him and said “You know, Benty, you can be a right miserable sod.”

Maybe the last minute +7 equaliser was a form of retribution for this. Time for Bruce to make sure that the buggers sign in future!!!

* Dissenting view: it may be that hundreds of fans do possess autographs willingly given by both players on other occasions and that, every now and again, Bent and Reid just want to be left alone, or be miserable sods – ed.

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