Everyone likes a happy ending. As we await Pete Sixsmith’s reflections on the subdued win against West Ham, let us offer belated congratulations to another star – if only once so far – of these pages …
Who recalls, from the photograph, the day last year when they read Tash’s tale, the beautifully descriptive account of a far-away, handed-down Mackem’s introduction to the Stadium of Light?
This, for those who missed it, is an extract from one of the most stirring pieces of writing to grace Salut! Sunderland, composed when Tash Scott, a pupil of Penair School, Truro, was all of 14:
The red seats will filled with bodies and an ocean of red and white lay all around me. Inevitably Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights began, and everyone rose to their feet, as though it was an order.
As the players emerged the adrenaline buzzed around the stadium as the clapping, chanting and whistling started. The sound was amazing. The sense of unity and passion was second to none.
There was a short hush as the crowd waited for the referee to start the game, the shrill sound of the whistle summoned the chants, and they never stopped. I barely knew the word but I tried to fit in with it.
Despite being one amongst thousands, I felt as though I belonged. I was on the edge of my seat whenever the red and white shirted men approached the penalty area. My fists were clenched tightly with the nerves and excitement, and passion the echoed around the stadium. Though they were soon put over my ears as Dad shouted angrily at whoever had just missed and obviously golden opportunity that even his “grandma could’ve scored”.
Even as Sunderland were defending the noise was constant, pushing the team on, willing them to win. Different chants ran loops around my ears, Dad knew all of them as did Grandpa.
The noise was so immense I was almost scared, almost terrified. As one chance whizzed narrowly wide I put my head in my hands in disbelief like everyone else around me.
My fingers were ice against my face; I’d forgotten how cold they were. I fumbled around in my pocket, scrambling for my gloves.
The noise of the supporters suddenly increased, a few of the people in front of me began to stand, I looked up quickly. I couldn’t see, I tried to find a gap between a thousand heads. I stood up, as the ball rippled idly against the back of net. The ocean of red and white erupted. Everyone was on their feet, jumping up and down, screaming. Dad hugged me so tightly I could barely breathe. The noise was…unimaginable, ecstatic, amazing.
If you wish to read the entire essay, all over again or because those words have whetted the appetite, go to this link: Love, loyalty and Sunderland: Tash’s tale
But why the reminder?
Yesterday, out of the blue, Tash’s dad posted this comment (which, given how long ago the essay appeared, might well have been overlooked by most Salut! Sunderland readers):
“This should’ve been added months ago, but it was part of her GCSE coursework, and contributed to her A*!! Salut Sunderland, Salut Kernow.”
Tash must now be 16. Salut! Sunderland wishes her well, as regular a role as she wishes writing for us and a successful future in whichever field she decides to enter.
* Among the comments received after first publication of the essay were the following:
Picked up the link to this through the e-mails at Penair school sent around about this piece. Wow! What a wonderful piece of writing – I love the way not just the flashbacks are used but also the weaving in of the relationships and family history. I hope that Tash continues to develop this amazing talent and to find publishing opportunities. I know Penair is proud of her!
Wow. My wife’s an English teacher and also a GCSE lead marker and she has no doubt that this is A* quality so if Tash prints this off, it will serve as a GCSE certificate recognised at all good Universities. In all seriousness, read by me as a very occasional visitor from afar, it evoked the sounds and feelings perfectly. Quite emotional.
I love it when she says
“The emblem in the corner was instantly recognisable. I probably would have recognised it from the day I was born.”
Tash’s piece reminded me of why I keep going to matches.
Sunderland’s got talent you certainly tried hard, is that what you do all week? I’d love to read the rest… and that’s from a VILLA supporter.
I was struggling to place this lovely piece into a time frame. It sounded as if Tash was referring to an experience that dated some time between the wars! It was the Werther’s Originals reference that gave it away. Despite the manufacturer’s best efforts to convince us of their heritage, I don’t think there was such a thing as a Werther’s original before 1991. A tale from the heart of a true Sunderland fan that. Lovely, lovely read.
Tash’s dad, Derek
She really is a star – the piece originally started life as an assignment in January or February. She was practising using flashbacks – I had her email it to me because I was going to hold it up as an example for teaching flashbacks in Literacy to Year 6. She was 14 when she wrote the piece and is 15 now, just coming to the end of Year 10 at Penair School in Truro (where curiously she will be presented with awards in Maths and Science on Prize Day, Jul 21, but not English!).