Sixer on MK Dons, awayday blues, John Terry bashing, misfired Liverpool moans

Jakes captures Pete Sixsmith in pensive mood

It starts with back-of-envelope calculations that explain why young supporters are being driven away – or, rather, not being driven away – but Pete Sixsmith then moves smartly on to discussion of tonight’s League Cup game in Milton Keynes, a snipe or two at John Terry and a mighty defence of Mark Halsey’s Anfield performance (probably just as well Pete doesn’t bother much with Twitter) …

Monsieur Salut suggested
that I wasn’t over enthusiastic about the trip to the Boleyn Ground on Saturday and he was right. I have to say that after last year, when I saw every game, I am finding it difficult to summon up much enthusiasm for racking up the number of miles that a home based supporter of Sunderland has to travel.

I’m not the only one, judging by the number of empty seats on the coach on Saturday. There was a double seat for every one who wanted one and the words on the aisle was that this may well be the last Durham Branch long distance trip for quite a while.

There is a good reason for that and it is a four letter word beginning with c – cost.

Before I had set foot on the coach on Saturday morning, I had coughed up £55 for the fare and the Over 60 ticket. Add to that a couple of London pints, lunch in the pub and other odds and ends, there would be little change out of £80 for a day out. A lot of money for someone on a fixed income and an enormous amount for someone wanting to take his/her kids.

West Ham are an expensive club to watch, whether you are a home fan or an away supporter. It was £34 for our fans and presumably the same for the Hammers. For their upcoming game against Arsenal, they are charging £49 for what I imagine are basic seats. That is an awful lot of money for an afternoon’s football, with no guarantee of a good game.

The travellers on Saturday were mostly older people. There were very few youngsters on the coach and, apart from the usual group of juveniles who persist in standing up during the game, the majority of those who turned out were over 30. Youngsters find it very difficult to afford away travel in this day and age.

When I was in my teens (Wilson had replaced Home as Prime Minister, The Beatles were still intact and the cutting edge of technology was a transistor radio with an earpiece), I could support my SAFC habit with a paper round and some reasonably generous parents. Now, you would need to own the paper shop, in order to take in more than a handful of away games a season.

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I will be at MK Dons as it is a ground I have not visited before. I was at the National Hockey Stadium in 2004 when Marcus Stewart and Darren Byfield scored in a 2-1 win and Matthew Piper (remember him!!) played on the right wing in one of his rare appearances.

It was not a great experience; they were still Wimbledon and the taunts of Franchise FC rang around the almost deserted stadium. They were like the unloved bastard son who everyone tried to ignore but they kept chipping away and, after a name change, they seem fairly well settled in Division One.

That excellent publication When Saturday Comes refuses to acknowledge their existence and in their annual preview of the season, they do not ask any of their fans to contribute. For some though, the dislike may be dissipating as they become more established.

I am no great fan of them, regarding them as an extension of the US system, where clubs can up sticks and move at the drop of a hat. In this country, we usually accept that a club that has ambition has to work its way through the pyramid and not occupy the shell of a club that is on the slide.

Were that the case, the likes of Coventry, Portsmouth and Port Vale would be looking over their shoulders in case an entrepreneur based in Worcester, Wakefield or Winchester (all big towns without Football League clubs) fancied buying a struggler and re-locating them.

It’s a hard game for us as Milton Keynes appear to have a decent side and are well coached by Karl Robinson and Mick Harford. It is the proverbial potential banana skin as we will undoubtedly rest one or two and give some of those who have hardly figured this season a run out.

I would expect to see Westwood, Kilgallon, Saha, Vaughan and Wickham start. I would equally expect that these players would be far better than their Division One counterparts and that their experience and enthusiasm should carry us through. A defeat would be a major disappointment and would cut off one potential road to glory at a very early stage.

Jake wants to know ...
See how Mick Harford, Sunderland-born, Sunderland-supporting assistant manager of MK Dons, handled the Salut! Sunderland ‘Who are You?’ questions:

Some observations on events of the weekend for those interested.

Like many, I am not in the least bit upset to see John Terry quit international football. He appears a deeply unpleasant man and I never trust a man who refers to himself by his initials. It’s the kind of thing the PE students did at Sunderland College of Education in the early 70s and most of them were prize idiots.

I thought Mark Halsey got all of his decisions right at Anfield on Sunday. Shelvey was missing the ball, Evans wasn’t; Suarez dived (how unusual to see those two words in such close proximity) and Johnson clipped Valencia, who made sure he got it.

I agree with Tony Pulis about Luiz and particularly the simulation – both Ivanovic and Oscar simulated (or, in old English, dived) like Brian Phelps. There is far too much of this. We don’t seem to be part of it – but that may be because we don’t get into the opposition box that much.

And the OPTA stats are rubbish and can be used to prove anything – but we already knew that, didn’t we.

12 thoughts on “Sixer on MK Dons, awayday blues, John Terry bashing, misfired Liverpool moans”

  1. The Brian Phelps comment was a retro one – and he married a Sunderland girl, the gymnast Veronica Rutherford. Although I gather it all ended in tears.

  2. Pete, you are right about the cost. My ticket was£39, plus £46 train fare from Bristol, car parking at station, tube, £9 for fish and chips in pub (with Bob Chapman)’ programme and beer. I don’t get to many games a season, and can afford the few I do, but hats off to the lads who go every week. It was noticeable that the mix of our fans on Saturday didn’t include a lot of kids

  3. Amazingly, I seem to usually agree with you on most things, Peter, and so it seems with this article, you’ll probably all know how I feel about JT (I’m a QPR fan for those who don’t know), so I’ll say no more about that comment, other than I agree!
    Mark Halsey, not only a strong bloke to come through his illness and return to top level football, but one of the best refs in the land, I admire the bloke immensely.
    Looking forward to our next dual on the football pitch 😉

    • I have also had to go into the admin and moderate my own comments. Pfffffft!!!!!

      Suppose people who refer to themselves in third person, and by the use of their initials, can’t be trusted after all.

      • Or should that be second person? I didn’t want to have to e-mail my English Linguistics tutor, what with me now graduated and gone.

  4. Spot on Ken. I’ve not agreed with every decision “our” refs have made this season, but I’ve not left a game thinking “what a stinker the ref had.”

  5. Sorry davef, I’m with Pete on this.I thought Halsey’s decision-making was excellent under the circumstances.I also agree that the cost of going to away games is prohibitive.I didn’t even consider West Ham when I saw the ticket prices for what is a very ordinary view at best.
    On the subject of refs,it was nice to see Mr.Probert (not my favourite ref ) showing a good sense of humour in ‘booking’ a Wigan player after being inadvertently tackled by him.The refs Safc have had recently, in my opinion have handled ouur games really well.(Cue disastrous decisions tonight)

  6. Hmmm, I disagree on the Anfield Ref decisions. Evans used both feet which is a red card offence so both players should have gone really. Both penalty decisions were marginal and I dont think Valenia or Suarez dived and both should probably have been given. These things happen so quickly though and we have the benefit of slow motion replays which Halsey obviously didnt. You cant blame the refs who have to make split-second decisions in a lightening-quick premiership matches.

    • I agree that Suarez, for a change, didn’t dive but Evans clearly got the ball so no pen.
      Regarding Chelsea, it was clear on Wednesday night that Hazard ‘simulates’ like Tom Daley and Lampard also threw himself over for a free kick. For it to be happening so often in 1 team means that, as a minimum, it is being sanctioned by the manager, if not encouraged, so my respect for di Matteo has disappeared entirely.
      Very disappointed that Match of the Day last week highlighted dives from the likes of Walcott but no great mention was made of Chelsea cheating.
      As for us, Sess has gone down easily a few times in the past (as a Sunderland player he clearly doesn’t cheat) but so far he has hardly been in a dangerous position so it hasn’t arisen.

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