Honourable mentions, too, are due to our other shortlisted candidates – read the full list by clicking here – but here are the citations from our judges for their Top Three choices in the annual Salut! Sunderland awards …
So the shortlist for the Who Are You? competition stretched to 10 entries, chosen by me from the dozens published at Salut! Sunderland – more than the number of teams we played since there were often two or more contributors – during the 2009-2010 season.
It was hard job to whittle down all the excellent responses to our questions, and one judge, Pete Sixsmith, acted on my invitation to go beyond the list if another entry seemed to have strong claims for consideration.
When the results reached me, it was interesting to note that each of our four judges chose a different opposing supporter for first place. I awarded 25 points for first place, 15 for second and 10 for third and Martin Haworth, the Man City fan, finished top on aggregate.
This, then, is how the judges – Mike Amos, Jeremy Robson, Paul Dobson and Pete Sixsmith – summed up their preferred entries (each of which can be read by clicking on the name of the team):
ASTON VILLA: Gary Gleeson
3: Yet another from the banks of the Wear, and a good traditional view of the game including a salary cap. Nice evaluation of what Villa have achieved and what might come next. Outright condemnation of Eduardo (yeehah!), and got the bottom three right.(PD)
1: Leigh Bosworth: thought it was sharp, funny and almost made me like a rather uninteresting club. Worthy successor to Bernard Ramsdale and Wigan. (PS)
HULL CITY: Alan Fulcher
1: There’s only one winner to me and that’s the “Optimist’s survival plan,’ from Hull City fan, Alan Fulcher (who surprisingly is Wearside based). Alan has provided the most heartfelt contribution in the series for me, which struck a chord with me. Alan’s anguish jumps out at you from the screen, and I’m convinced that reading this piece would resonate with any fan whose club was sailing as close to the relegation wind as Hull were at the time it appeared. I hope that my vote for you will help to salve the pain of relegation for Alan and help make up for offending him with my article “From Hull and Hell. Good Lord Deliver Phil Brown.” (JR)
2: heartfelt, nostalgic (he saw Ken Wagstaff – brilliant player) and realistic. He knew Hull would go but stuck with them.(PS)
MANCHESTER CITY: Martin Haworth
1: Eleven out of 10! Oh OK, deduct a point for ‘I was sat’ and a point for extolling Adebayor and make it nine. I know I should declare an interest here but I really did think that Martin’s piece created an appealing mix of passion, knowledge, honesty and occasional humour. And apart from that. he’s a great bloke. (MA)
2: Provided a refreshingly honest appraisal of what it’s like to follow the “richest club in the world,” as well as an interesting insight into what it’s like to have Man Utd as your closest rivals. Martin struck me as the sort of down to earth lad that it would be good to have a pint with. A smashing read for Sunderland fans, and nice to read his views on Dave Watson. (JR)
3: a well written, thorough and informative view of Citeh (PS)
3: Informed, articulate, spot on with his top four prediction and almost on relegation. If there wasd a fault, I thought it a bit one-paced.(MA)
2: Thoughtful, knowledgable, wry and easy to relate to. The sort of writer with whom you;d enjoy a post-match pint. (MA)
WIGAN ATHLETIC: Bernard Ramsdale (our winner in 2009)
2: Wigan. Entertaining and light-hearted on the surface, but with a realistic evaluation of Wigan, appreciation of Bruce, and good traditional view of the beautiful game played by ugly people. Only one of the relegated teams right, and ambivalent on Eduardo.(PD)
Another nice contribution from Wigan, with sound Lancastrian sense at the heart of it! (JR)
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS: Andy Nichols
1: A happy mix of forward-thinking and traditionalism, and a realistic summation of events in the Black Country, also with a nice view on SAFC. Entertaining style, and got the bottom three right. (PD)
3: A very good read, with wonderful anecdotes about yesteryear. Andy comes across as a true fan to me and that carries a lot of weight. I loved the stuff about Billy Wright; a true legend of the game remembered so vividly decades on. Insightful analysis of the current Wolves situation and management. Given the Sunderland link that’s of huge interest to SAFC fans. A highly readable article. (JR)