Part one of our report on the judges’ decision in our annual ”Who are You?” awards, in which Salut! Sunderland rewards supporters of opposing sides who offered the best entertainment, insight or wisdom in their responses to the pre-match questionnaire, ended with the leaders lining up like this:
Stuart Jinks (aka Jinksy, Aston Villa fan) 10pts; Michael Hudson (Newcastle) and Jim White (Swansea) five; Richard Hulme (Stoke City) and Clemency Burton-Hill (Arsenal) three and Andy and Jo Nicholls (Wolves) and Keith Conneely (Liverpool) two. See part one by clicking here
But as we approach the finishing line, nails can be heard being bitten the country over. Here is the next group of judges’ marks and comments …
Malcolm Dawson, co-founder and former chairman of the SAFC Supporters’ Association Heart of England branch, now back in the North East after long years of East Midlands exile and deputy editor of this site:
1) Blackburn Rovers
… Mike Delap
Joint 1) Wolverhampton Wanderers … Steve Bishop
Joint 1) Arsenal
… Owen Amos.
They are in that order because that’s the order I read them in; there’s not much between them in my opinion. All were all well written, knowledgeable pieces which I could read all the way through. Not true of every contributor, I’m afraid.
Jeremy Robson is another exile in Canada but spent a big slice of his younger life offering warmth, guidance and encouragement to players passing his spot in the Clock Stand Paddock at Roker Park on their way to or from the dressing rooms:
1) Wolves … Steve Bishop
How can you deny a prize to a man who hasn’t missed a game his team has played for 35 years? In my mind you can’t, especially when the article is as balanced and knowledgeable as Steve Bishop’s contribution on his dearly beloved Wolves. Salut regards itself as a site for the thinking football supporter and Steve’s piece really epitomises those values as well as any article in this thread over the course of the season. Sorry to see your team go down Steve. Had you stuck with Mick then it may not have happened. It will be a very important summer and getting off to a good start will be vital for you next season.
2) Liverpool …Keith Conneely
Liverpool … I just loved Keith Conneely’s piece, mainly because it came direct from the heart and just made me laugh so much. The idea of refusing to let his mate back into his own living room especially helped me direct a vote to this piece. Plus “Yes. 100%. He was never worth that much and he never WILL be worth that much. Unfortunately, all the money we could conceivably have spent on psychiatric treatment for the guilty party has all been spent on Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson.” Christian Poulsen, I agree, was a pretty horrible player to watch and probably makes Keith cringe in the same sort of way Steve Hetzke’s name would make the Sixer wince. At least they didn’t have to start Poulsen up with jump leads ant five minutes to three! This one would have been the winner for me. But … I can accept a Liverpool supporter from Dublin, but Barcelona? Come on Keith!
3) Newcastle United …Michael Hudson:
Refreshing and knowledgeable contribution; he is clearly a proper football fan. I loved his views on Mike Ashley (how come they aren’t wanting a boycoutt these days?) and his idea that clubs should be owned by the fans. A great read this one. Michael has apparently lived in several different countries. They do say that “travel broadens the mind”. That is evident from reading this most considered contribution. Even though he’s a Mag, Michael is clearly a good ‘un!
NB: see Jeremy’s ”special mentions” – the ones that didn’t quite make it – in the comments below.
Paul Dobson, Sobs to friend who include his admiring readership at A Love Supreme:
1) Manchester City … Rick Haswell-Cohen.
Written with a bit of humility and a sensible take on the oil millions that have come their way. It’s always nice to hear appreciation of one of ours, and when it’s Quinn, it’s no surprise. Good bit of nostalgia in that it was one of their less glamorous former players, and our former manager McCarthy. Anyone who dislikes the glory-hunters is OK with me.
2) Liverpool … Keith Conneely. Interesting to have a non-Scouse fan writing from afar, and one who also ‘supports’ Barcelona. Good information and a reasoned assessment of Dalglish’s second reign, although (naturally enough) just biased enough, and also a sensible summation of the Suarez affair and Liverpool’s (mis)handling of it. In addition, it was nice to read of that little-mentioned Sunderland fans’ support of the appeal for Hillsborough information.
3) Wolves … Andy and Jo Nicholls. Interesting to have two people, inluding one of us, to provide opinion, and it made a fascinating and balanced read. Even their obvious disappointment in McCarthy was discussed without resorting to simple insults (although there is a time and a place, and fans’ reviews are probably that place).
* NB: I had originally settled on Villa, Wolves, City, and Liverpool, although there were a few others that were close to that final group. Then I read them again and decided the Villa fan was just a little too anti-O’Neill. Whether his comments were factually true, or whether it is even fair on my behalf to dismiss the report because of that, it doesn’t matter in the end, as I ended up not really liking the piece after initially picking it as one of my favourites. Just too bitter.
Monsieur Salut, of this parish:
1) Arsenal … Clemency Burton-Hill. A refreshingly honest and unrestrained appraisal of the reign of Arsène Wenger’s reign. She, like me, is a great fan and it clearly pained her to suggest that the time had come for change. Whether she is right or wrong does not matter. As Jeremy suggests above, Clelency rose above the ‘cemleb fan’ waffle cynics might have expected.
2) Liverpool … Keith Conneely. Sobs has explained why this was such a good read. I, too, appreciated his warm acknowledgement of SAFC supporters’ role in demanding information on the Hillsborough disaster.
3) Aston Villa … Jinksy. A hugely enjoyable piece that, but for excessive criticism of O’Neill that sits so uneasily on the pages of Salut! Sunderland, would have topped my list.
* Special mentions: everyone else. I am indebted to fans up and down the country, and often abroad, for giving up their time to answer the call.
Malcolm’s decision to make no distinction among his three choices leaves no reasonable alternative to giving the first-place award of five points to each.
Which gives us a shaken up leadership as the climax nears. Jinksy and Villa are still ahead, on 12 points, closely followed by Liverpool (Keith Conneely) on 11, Steve Bishop (Wolves) on 10: Arsenal’s Clemency Burton-Hill on eight and Michael Hudson (Newcastle) on seven.
The winning line is in sight. One more set of nominations to go (Pete Sixsmith’s) and we’ll be there … watch this space.
The US sportswear people http://www.soccerpro.com/ kindly agreed to stump up $200 worth of gear as the first prize and the excellent folk at When Saturday Comeschipped in again with further prizes, a subscription to the magazine and one of the Euro 2012 tops they’re selling this summer. To both sponsors go our warmest thanks.