James McClean’s spell as pantomime villain has come to an end, though we can be sure this is a role he will go on filling from time to time. Out of the sow’s ear of a couple of the controversies has come the odd silk purse …
Having preferred to play for the Republic of Ireland rather than Northern Ireland – read all about it here – and then publicly paraded his exasperation at being left on Giovanni Trapattoni’s bench – he refused to wear the Sunderland poppy shirt at Everton last Saturday. On two of three issues – namely all but the tweet about his non-use in an international – he found support at Salut! Sunderland. There was also real hostility; don’t expect real consensus – you either think he legitimately exercised freedom of choice or regard him as a disrespectful rebel.
Out of the Goodison row has come some good. McClean, at his own instigation or under advice, announced his poppyless top, as worn at Everton, would be auctioned with proceeds going to a children’s leukaemia charity.
And what about that row over his choice of the shade of international green he wished to wear? A long debate, mixing intelligent argument and self-defeating abuse or insult, appeared at this site and was repeated when I strayed into a Northern Ireland football forum, Our Wee Country.
See M Salut on McClean’s need to enter a controversy-free period and show he really in a Premier player, not a flash in the pan … http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland?cc=5739
One man who certainly took a dim view of McClean’s stance, and for all I know mine, in both the Republic/NI spat and Poppygate is Stephen Rowley, across the Irish Sea and therefore an ardent Manchester United supporter (OK, some prefer Celtic or Rangers, Liverpool or Everton, and both Charlie Hurley and Martin O’Neill are, were or became Sunderland nuts).
When the dust had settled over the first controversy, Stephen made contact to ask we could take a Sunderland top that had come his way and somehow use it to raise money for charity. No ordinary top. This was was signed by the waifs and strays assembled by Mick McCarthy.
Stephen’s cause is the Marie Curie charity. It was in the Belfast Marie Curie hospice that a great friend of mine, Neil Johnston, died in the summer.
Anyway, we put up the idea on site as an auction. CSB, who works a lot in the Middle East, offered £100 and another exile, Antony Seymour, out in Western Australia topped the bid with one of his own: £150. Truly great stuff from both. There was a scare when Antony disappeared for work into the Bush but he soon resurfaced and money was on its way to County Down.
Let Stephen tell the story in more detail:
A big thanks from the Marie Curie Hospice in Belfast to a very generous Mackem.
Back in the summer I had contacted Colin through his excellent website to mention that I had in my possession a Sunderland shirt from the heady days of the McCarthy era which had been signed by all the players.
It had been presented to me by a good friend of mine whose young lad had been on trial with Sunderland at that time but who, unfortunately due to circumstances as previously explained here)) had failed to make the grade.
John had attended an annual fund-raising event I organise in my local golf club (Scrabo Golf Club in Newtownards, Co Down – if anyone is ever in the vicinity and fancies a game then please contact me and I’ll treat you – but as there is a dearth of Mackems around the Ards area there were no takers on the night and the shirt has been gathering dust in my house ever since.
After reading a few articles Colin had written on another website I contacted him and he kindly suggested that he would put the shirt up for auction on the site after first of all putting a guaranteed price on it himself – as it transpired a few very generous offers were made (one even of 666 Saudi Riyals!!) however the final offer of £150 was made by Antony Seymour a staunch, dyed-in-the-wool Mackem who lives very locally, in PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA!!
The shirt has now winged it’s way over to Oz and the money from Antony has been added to the monies which will be raised again this year for the Hospice and I’m honoured and very humbled to say that Antony’s donation has taken the total amount raised since we started the event in 2000 in memory of my late mother to £52K, an incredible amount. The next event will be on 17th November and I will make a point of mentioning the generosity of Antony and the time and help offered by Colin in contributing to making the night another roaring success
There are very few families who have not been touched by cancer and whilst the fight to find a cure goes on we can only continue to support those whose job it is to make the time the people affected (and their families) have left with us as comfortable as possible. The work they do in the Hospice is a credit to them and every penny donated is greatly appreciated (the last major development at the Hospice cost £3 million, a vast majority of it made up of donations like Antony’s).
Thanks again from the bottom of my heart.
A very humble Stephen Rowley.
If Antony is out there and keeping tabs on Salut! Sunderland, maybe he can send a photo – preferably showing him or the usual wear with the top on – we can stick on this site. His generosity is much appreciated.
And if Mr McClean is looking in, just remember that a winner at Craven Cottage would make just about everyone happier.