More graphic design wizardry from addick-tedKevin, but also a few words of appreciation for the efforts so far from two of our players – plus unqualified admiration for Darren Bent’s outstanding response to a worthy honour…
First of all, on the eve of Sunderland v Arsenal, let us hear it for two stars of our (slowly) improving season.
Steed Malbranque’s performances have oozed class, and even a level of stamina we didn’t know he possessed.
And Kieran Richardson, not always as convincing a member of our first team squad as discerning SAFC fans would like, has surely confounded critics with a string of excellent displays in a left-back position he was asked to fill in the first place because there was no one else good enough.
There are other instances, already this season, of Sunderland players who have raised their game: Anton Ferdinand springs straight to mind. And Simon Mignolet has been a revelation in goal after his nervous start, while Titus Bramble has already given plenty of evidence to vindicate those Wigan pals of this site who urged us to back him.
Both Kieran and Steed are illustrated courtesy of the latest creations of our Charlton-supporting friend addick-tedKevin, who apologises for the absence so far of a Lee Cattermole image (“I am sure I could do one one at some point, but there probably aren’t many photos of him seeing as he is always suspended”).
Thanks Kevin – your work is consistently original and entertaining. But sometimes, it seems right to forget about trying to fill the pages of Salut! Sunderland with features, views, memories or interviews you won’t find in other places.
For what does seem fresh here, I have my little band of contributors to thank. Not to mention the willing procession of “Who are You?” candidates who broaden our scope so much that the readership figures shoot through the roof when a really interesting or thought-provoking piece appears (or I have the gall to come up with a headline like Arsenal: go on, would you rather watch us, or Stoke?. If you missed that one, click the link and see the fuss it stirred, mainly among Stoke fans.
Every so often, however, it is sufficient simply to put on record our appreciation of something someone has said or done that concerns Sunderland AFC, even if it has appeared widely elsewhere.
And I thought Darren Bent’s response to winning the 2010 North East Football Writers’ Association player of the year fitted the bill to perfection:
“I worked really hard last season to get back to where I wanted to be and this feels like a big reward.
My dad is always saying to me ‘you only get out of life what you put in’ and I’ve worked night and day over the last year and more to try and get myself back up there again.
I’d like to thank Sunderland – the supporters, the players and all the staff – for that, for making sure that I wasn’t forgotten about, for helping me get back into the England squad.
I promise them that I won’t stop working.
There have been some brilliant players and top strikers who have won this in the past and to be in the same company as the likes of Kevin Phillips, Niall Quinn and Alan Shearer is very humbling.
When I first moved to the North East, it wasn’t about wanting to win personal awards or anything like that. It was far more basic. It was about getting my career back on track, playing regularly and scoring goals, but I know just how much the people up here love their goalscorers and to feel like I’m part of that fine tradition is brilliant.
I may not be a local, but I feel like one now, to be honest. I’ve always known about the passion of the area and that was one of the main reasons why I wanted to come up here so badly. I can relate to it and I’ve fed off it.
It’s been a fantastic experience. Whichever of the clubs they support, the people love their football with a passion, the area’s really nice, and I hope I’ve shown that I’ve completely embraced it.
Hopefully, I’ll be doing that for many more years to come.”
Those are utterly invigorating words and I suspect every Sunderland fan in the world – we’re everywhere – will agree. I think they’ve been published in all the North-eastern papers, but the version quoted was from the Sunderland Echo.
Good luck, Darren, in our colours and England’s: you’re a star.