Did I speak too soon in welcoming Steve Bruce’s promise to put out a full strength side? (*See the quotes below).
It may be part of the psychological build-up but he’s now talking of the possibility of Asamoah Gyan’s starting debut occurring without Darren Bent alongside him. In which case it would cease to be a full strength team.
But on to more serious matters. Where to have a pre or post-match pint. Especially if you’re an away fan.
The question was raised by Sam the Hammer, initially in his excellent responses – click here to see – to the Who Are You? questionnaire.
As I admitted on the Blackcats list, to which I appealed for ideas to help Sam, I have never been an away fan in Sunderland so felt a bit stumped.
I suggested the Harbour View – location self-explanatory – for the simple reason that it’s where I go most often.
Because supporters sometimes stay there, the Marriott often has a sprinkling of away fans. But it’s too far and too posh. The Bay used to be friendly and fun, but that didn’t save it from demolition (or from being even farther from the ground that the Marriott).
So here, for Hammers fans making the trip, are the responses I received from fellow Blackcats subscribers:
* (Jeremy) I once got talking to a Chelsea supporter who was lost and looking for directions. I took him in the Fort with a load of my mates. He wrote to the club programme chuffed to bits with the welcome he got. Friendly as owt me. He was on his own. Not sure what the reaction would be in there if a busload showed up.
* (Gordon) There’s often an away contingent in/outside the Colliery Tavern, right next to the ground. To be honest, I don’t think there’s too many that aren’t friendly in Sunderland but, as you say, never having been an away supporter ……
* (Nic) the Lambton Worm opposite the Empire had a few West ham fans in last season.
Other readers may come up with different recommendations.
It’s all a far cry from Wolverhampton, where every town centre pub barred Sunderland supporters on a sunny Sunday, last game of the season, with everyone in relegation-free party mood.
There were ways round it (and Wolves fans later came hear to suggest away-friendly boozers nearer Molyneux), but unless Salut! Sunderland readers have different experiences, Gordon’s view above – “to be honest, I don’t think there’s too many that aren’t friendly” – should have Sam and his fellow Hammers blowing bubbles of joy.
* And when is a rest not a rest?
Steve Bruce on the possibility of leaving Darren Bent out:
I don’t think it’s a rest – cotton wool comes to mind. I don’t think it’s a rest at this part of the season. Make no mistake, we have some people who need games – Bolo Zenden, for instance, is one, Asamoah Gyan is another, it might be a game to have a look at young Jack Colback – those type of people need a game.
Darren wants to play in every game, but you want him playing against Manchester United and Liverpool. That’s my fear, not resting him at this particular moment. He wants to be involved in every game, he wants to be involved and score a goal, that’s Darren.