Tony Benn and an early Sunderland chant: ‘peanuts, tanner a bag’

A hero of of Jake's boyhood?

What is
the first chant you remember hearing at Roker Park, or which early chant or song has lingered longest in the memory? The Fulwell singing along to the chorus of the Monkees’ I’m a Believer doesn’t count.

There were plenty of football-related chants in the 1960s: Charlie, Charlie, Charlie Hurley … is one I especially recall.

But the one that springs to mind most often is “Peanuts – tanner a bag”, a tanner being sixpence then or just 2.5p in today’s money and the bag being a missile, in case purchases were made from further back, that the seller was able to aim with unfailing accuracy.

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Jake’s re-introduction to fatherhood with the birth of Xuana on Sunday has clearly sent his imagination into autodrive.

Is he old enough to have bought a bag of peanuts from tanner-a-bag man at Roker Park. Can he remember how many laps of the ground the seller completed before each game and at half-time? Only Jake can say.

But this man, or memories of him, is a fixture of Sunderland supporters’ collective memory. If they are too young to have seen the great man in action, they often enough know of his work from fathers or grandfathers or uncles.

I am sure I have seen newspaper articles about the man behind the memory. Was it an obituary? Had he gone on to found the Phileas Fogg snacks company in Consett in 1982? Or was he tracked down to luxury retirement, paid for from the profits from all those sixpences Phuket or Marbella?

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A couple of years ago, there was a short thread at Ready to Go, which began with “Norm” asking:

Remember the peanut gadgie at Roker Park? Used to wear a white coat (not quite sure why!) and he had the most accurate throw known to man – could hit a single spectator every time up to fifty yards away while the tanner was being passed from fella to fella with scrupulous honesty in the opposite direction. Happy days!

Debate ensure. Was it not a brown coat. The photo – provenance unknown but taken from that same thread – suggests so, but others thing he may got become posh and white later on.

“TheLordRowell” chipped in with:

Everton cup game late 70s for some reason we were in the Roker and it was p****** down I turned around to say summat to my mate and got smacked straight in the eye by a bag of soggy f****** peanuts somebody farther back had hoyed.

To which “Genericus” had the great one-line reply:

plays for Stoke nowadays iirc

Add any knowledge you may have about the man and what became of him. The one thing I am sure of, despite Jake’s apparent thought to the contrary, is that he did not become, or was not all along, Tony Benn …

Benn tells Jake: bugger this, I'm leaving politics to spend more time with my peanuts

19 thoughts on “Tony Benn and an early Sunderland chant: ‘peanuts, tanner a bag’”

  1. Bernie Winter’s dog Schnorbitz was funnier than the pair of them. The only comedy duo with two straight men.

    ‘We are for Kinnell, we are for Kinnell’ always sticks out in my mind. Probably cos it sounded naughty to a young lad.

  2. Early chants?

    The first I remember is “If I had the wings of a sparrow, the dirty great a**e of a crow, I’d fly over Maggie supporters and s**t on the rabble below” and I remember the version of “He’s here, he’s there, he’s every *******where” as ending “George Kinnell, George Kinnell.”

  3. What was the name of the guy who scored the winning goal for Blackpool that Jake mentioned? I seem to remember that it was Goal of the Season.(Winner got £100 in Premium Bonds!)
    I, like Jake remember the pillock in the brown coat that day.

  4. Yes the Winters brothers were truly awful. Mike was the straightest straight man in comedy history and Bernie’s act consisted of making a goofy face and saying “choochie face”.

  5. Morecambe and Wise were asked once in an interview what they’d have been if they’d failed as entertainers. One of them replied, “Mike and Bernie Winters.”

  6. Niall Quinn, Niall Quinn, running down the wing,
    Niall Quinn, Niall Quinn, [can’t remember this bit]
    feared by the mags,
    loved by the lads,
    Niall Quinn,
    Niall Quinn,
    Niall Quinn,

    • That was Martin Smith flying down the wing, not Niall Quinn. A remake of the Ryan Giggs song when he was even more in his prime.

      I love Niall to death but never saw him running down the wing.

  7. As regards the two of them, my mate Dave Lish(sadly no longer with us) told me a wonderful story about Mike and Bernie Winters, two of the unfunniest men who ever lived.
    They were appearing at The Glasgow Empire, a graveyard for English comics – even good ones like Morecambe and Wise and Ken Dodd failed there – and Mike (the cuddly untalented one) was on first. His act was going down like the proverbial lead balloon, when Brother Bernie, (the goofy untalented one) appeared from behind the curtain. There was a pause and a voice rang out from the rear stalls “F****** hell, there’s two of the b*******”. They were paid off

  8. Brilliant memory, Jake. I remember him!! He dropped the stretcher one day. When I saw the medical team dealing with Fabrice Muamba, I thought that the SJA folks in the 70’s would have given him an aspirin and carried him off. An old college mate called Bob Harrison worked on the catering side in the 70’s and he told me about the boy who burnt his leg.
    My favourite song of all time was undoubtedly to the tune of The First Noel “O’Hare, O’Hare, O’Hare, O’Hare, when we want goals he’s always there” which changed when we played The Mags to “No hair, no hair, no hair, no hair, Poor old Jim Iley has got no hair”.
    Oscar Wilde eat your heart out!!!

  9. I can’t remember the automated mobile Bovril dispensing man Pete. I always got my Bovril (we always called it Oxo) from under the Roker End. Somebody must know the identity and eventual fate of the peanut gadgie, such a legendary figure should have his own chapter written about him in The History Of Sunderland AFC. Another character I remember from way back was a very tall, thin St John ambulance man who wore a coat and hat that were far too big for him. He looked a bit like Blakey from On The Buses. One day a player had to be carried off and this character was one of the stretcher bearers, another of the stretcher bearers was an identical twin of the man I’ve described. As I’d never seen them side by side before that day I’d never realised there were two of the buggers!

  10. “We’ve got Denny Denny Denny Tueart on the wing, on the wing.” Is one I particularly enjoyed.
    Harking back to Jake’s picture, that Tam right at the front looks very much like the one worn by Ray, otherwise known as ‘The Scotsman who isn’t.’ He was famed for one piece of repartee, when an opposing player went down and the trainer came on, Ray bellowed,”Give him the heat treatment… (Pregnant pause)…like the crematorium!’ Scenes of collapsing fans in the Clock Stand.

  11. Dennis Smith went to town in his Lamborghini, he came back with a bag of gold and called it Gabbiadini.
    Jimmy Smith went to town in his Ford Carina, he came back with a bag of SH**E and called in Mirandinha la la la la la la la la

    Or something like that…

  12. Aye I agree that a full throated un-choreographed roar is the most effective, and spine-tingling noise you can hear at a football ground. But it was great chanting Charlie, Charlie, Charlie and pointing in uinison to the opponents penalty box every time we got a corner. Another great anti-mag song was “F*** them all, f*** them all, Wyn Davies Pop Robson McFaul, we’ll never be mastered by black and white ba****ds , cos Sunderland’s the best of them all”. And in my memory the peanut gadgie will always wear a brown coat, he might have gone upmarket later but I don’t remember it. And was the peanut gadgie unique to Roker Park? I always assumed that the similarly attired man who jumped about behind the goal at Blackpool and put Hughsie off when he missed that penalty was a peanut gadgie but he could have been a steward, I dunno, brown coats were de rigueur for a lot of gadgies in those days. I was at that Blackpool game, a helluva match but we came away with nowt!

  13. I remember money being passed hand-to-hand with, as Norm says, “scrupulous honesty.” But I don’t remember anything – peanuts, icecream, whatever it was – being thrown. That was passed, too. In my memory, anyway. It’s a long time ago.
    Songs – certainly “Charlie, Charlie, Charlie Hurley…” and, very vaguely, a version of “Sweet Molly Malone” that had her wheeling “her wheelbarrow through Sunderland and Jarrow, crying…”
    But mostly it was that roar, which you could hear even if you weren’t within sight of the ground. As I wrote here some time ago, it was hearing that and asking my dad what it was that first got me hooked on Sunderland.
    There’s also a Newcastle chant I recall, either from seeing them at Roker Park or from a very rare and reluctant visit to the Ikea Palace of Varieties (née Sid James Park): “He’s here, he’s there, he’s every f***ing where, McNamee, McNamee.”
    Being Mags, it was, of course, uncouth.

    • I remember the Mollie Malone song being “from Walker to Jarrow” for a while when the Tyne Tunnel opened.

      I also remember the response to “peanuts, tanner a bag” but won’t repeat it on this website

  14. As well as the Peanut man, they also had people going round selling ice cream (Eldorado, if my memory serves) even in the deepest winter. In the 70’s they had a man who went round with a container of Bovril on his back and a long tube to fill cups. That stopped when he scalded his leg.
    The first chant/song I can remember is the Charlie Hurley one and Sun-der-land, clap, clap, clap. In those days it was the Roker Roar rather than organised chanting/singing. Much better than the choreographed stuff you get nowadays. FC United fans sang all game on Wednesday at Whitby and Schalke 04 had guys with their back to the game organising the singing in last nights game against Athletic Bilbao.
    The best crowd we have had in recent years was at Villa in Keane’s first season, where we desperately needed a win. Chopra scored and the 3,500 Red and Whites roared the team home – no songs, no chants, just a deep throated roar which terrified the opposition and must have impressed the Villa manager, one Martin O’Neill.

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