Sunderland v Wolves: Mackem and Gold, Mickey Gray and Will

This makes a fascinating change for the “Who are You?” series: the answers come from an opponent’s hosuehold- but a Mackem’s voice. Jo Nicholls* is married to Andy, who is a moderator at the excellent Wolverhampton Wanderers fan site Molineux Mix . Andy is a past prizewinner, both in our annual honours and in one of those Who are You-of-the-month awards. Jo will be there with the family on Saturday and, whatever it means for her beloved’s beloveds, she needs no encouragement to pray for a Sunderland win. And she has a great Mickey Gray story …

You’re a Mackem married to a Wolfie: how did that happen and do you always have to end up in the Wolves end at games?

Bad luck I suppose! Not really – he’s alright for a bloke with a funny accent! We met in Edinburgh when working about 20 years ago. I didn’t realise what I was letting myself in for – I wasn’t the greatest follower of sport but that soon changed (love does strange things). We eventually married, moved around the country a bit before settling in sunny Wolverhampton – the furthest you can get from the sea in the UK – different to days spent down Seaburn! As for where I sit – well I don’t really have much choice really as we treat the football as a family day out and the other 3 are gold and black – I just humour them and go along with it!

Presumably you’ve a soft spot at very least for Wolves; how do you approach the issue of divided loyalties?

I do have a soft spot for them – I have to really, I’m pleased when they win and non committal when they lose! Divided loyalties? Sorry not when we are playing each other – I may sit with the ‘opposition’ but there’s only one real result I want!

Notwithstanding our win at Bolton, all your Wolves-supporting family and friends must have been feeling chuffed to bits to have us of all teams in the last game but one. Do they see us as a soft touch?

Depends when Andy looks at the league table and results – it changes weekly! At the moment they reckon they can get a draw out of us – but tomorrow he’ll reckon they’ll lose – The one thing that I’ve discovered about being a Wolves fan is that (very similar to us) they’ve had their hearts broken so many times that trust and faith in your team ebbs and flows constantly.

Loads of links in recent years: Alex Rae, Mick McCarthy, Neil Collins and others – fill in the ones I’ve inevitably missed – including, of course, Jody Craddock, who kindly answered questions before the same fixture a year ago. Any special favourites, or stories about or thoughts on, these people?

Jody (visit his art site if you like the examples shown here – ed) is as much of a legend in the midlands (maybe even more so) as he is in Sunderland – When he plays he does seem to offer the stability that has been lacking in previous games. One you missed out was Mickey Gray – he only had a few seasons at Wolves but I seem to recall that a lot of the fans liked the way he played the game. My son was a mascot at Watford v Wolves a few seasons a go – he has flowing locks like Mickey and the Wolves players were fantastic with him calling him Mickey and calling Mickey Will – really good natured – Mickey ended up walking out with Will which was great!

What do make of our appalling run since January? Is Steve Bruce’s time up?

Yes – it’s not been good. But Sunderland have had their share of injuries – those can’t be planned for. As for Bruce, I think we should give hi another season and see what happens.

Who do you most enjoy, have you least enjoyed, playing for Wolves and who should never have been allowed anywhere near their shirts?

I have a soft spot Matty Jarvis – he reminds me of my son – the way he runs. I also must say that since I’ve been watching them (even though not every week) Kevin Doyle is a good player – if Wolves do get relegated he would be good for us to go for! As for poor players – well Andy can name a few but of the ones I’ve seen I would say a bloke called the Hoff (he’s now playing in Germany somewhere) was pretty poor!

Your best and worst memories of seeing Wolves play, whether against us or anyone else?

Best memory – that’s easy – the last time they came up to the Stadium of Light – oh for a repeat of that score line (5-2 – ed)! I don’t really have any worst memories – I recognise when they have played poorly but they are not committed to memory.

If I had to choose a game played by Wolves that I enjoyed it would have to be the game against Notts Forest a couple years back – I have to say they looked good that day!

And you best and worst memories as a Sunderland supporter?

The last defeat to Wolves was not good in our household – I had to buy dinner! My all time abiding memory of Sunderland is of the parade through the city centre when we won the cup in 1973 – I was only a kid then but that’s something I still talk to Andy and the children about.

Who will finish top four, in order, and who will go down. Where will Wolves and SAFC finish if not in – er- either list?

Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City.

Bottom 3 – now that’s a tough one! West Ham, Blackpool and Blackburn – I reckon Wolves will send them down on the last day – a huge game! Sunderland will finish 11th!

The win against WBA leaves the issue in Wolves’ hands: hand on heart, do you think they’ll now survive and has Mick McCarthy done a good job for them?

I don’t know – neither does the rest of the family – I think so but as mentioned above – what a game for them next week! As for MM – you can’t argue with what he has done in 5 years for the club – He took them on when Glen Hoddle left and has worked wonders really – is he good enough to take them on to the next level that’s a bit like the Steve Bruce question isn’t it? If they stay up give him another season BUT if they do go down keep him – because he sure knows how to work the league below!

This used to be the Eduardo Question, and is now the Walcott Question. What did you make of Theo’s admission and apology about diving in hopes of stealing penalty: naive or brave? Writing before the Barca-Real second leg, but recalling the first, I should ask whether cheating of all kinds is now so commonplace that we might as well all accept it as part of the modern game?

Cheating has no place in sport as far as I’m concerned – I have 2 children – both play sport to a high level – they have been encouraged to play fairly from the start. Will looks up to some of these players and he has to be reminded that there is another way to play. The sooner refs are stronger and the FA sort themselves out the better!

How bothered were you that Fifa didn’t name England as 2018 World Cup venue?

Bothered at the time – but Fifa have their own agenda – I still wouldn’t be surprised if we are not asked to help out at short notice!

Tell us a little about your matchday plans for SAFC v Wolves

Leave at 7 (fancy having the FA Cup on the same day!), arrive just gone 10. Go and see my mam for an hour or so then off to the ground. We will stay up over night and travel back on the Sunday.

What will be the score?

Heart says 2 – 0 but I reckon Wolves want this more – especially after Sunday and they may well get a draw (I’m not even going to contemplate the unthinkable). For what it’s worth Andy reckons it will be a draw!

* Jo Nichols on Jo Nichols: I grew up in Silksworth – I went to St Anthony’s before moving to Newcastle Uni. I then moved to Edinburgh where I met Andy. We then moved around the country with work before moving back to Sunderland for a few years whilst Andy retrained as a teacher. I then got a job in the Midlands which meant us upping sticks and moving back to Wolverhampton. As for what I do – I work for one of the largest retail chains in their clothing head office.

Interview: Colin Randall

2 thoughts on “Sunderland v Wolves: Mackem and Gold, Mickey Gray and Will”

  1. Well what do I say? The unthinkable has been delivered. Guys – I really hope that you get some better luck next season because to have so many players out at the same time is not much fun. As always thanks for the great banter and the chat walking to and from the game. It’s rather quiet in the mam-in-laws at the moment but I’m sure Jo will soon come out of her ‘sulk’ and we’ll have a decent meal and a few drinks at the Ropery.

    aHope to be with you next season – just got to deal with Blackburn first – squeaky bum time for us Wolfies next weekend.

    Cheers folks, have a great summer!


  2. Another really good article in what’s been a great run of “Who are you?” How do you keep on doing it M. Salut?

    There are a lot of us who have a soft spot for Wolves Jo. Very similar clubs in so many ways I feel. Mick M. is a smashing fellah, and there’s still a huge amount of affection for him amongst our ranks when he was asked by the then chairman to produce a side that could stay up with about 35 quid in his budget.

    I for one would not be disconsolate to see the points go back to Molineux this weekend, and it’s not very often that I say that (if ever). I hope the Wolves can survive as I think another season is just what’s needed for Mick to make the improvements required to become a regular PL club. Lovely club and supporters. A proper old club in my mind.

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