Goldy on the attack: fuelling the Danny Graham debate

As M. Salut and his deputy will shortly be unavailable it may fall to me, John Mac, to keep the site going.  My html editing skills are not what they once were and I’m still finding my way round the control panel so presentation may sometimes fall below the standard  you have come to expect. The quality, however, will remain as high as ever, as you can see from Goldy. The media speculation suggesting that the club may well be signing a striker who made derogatory comments about our beloved club has created debate, outrage and an on line petition calling on SAFC never to sign a player who has stated his allegiance to the team by the Tyne. Stephen Goldsmith tries to put it all into perspective.

Before we get there, here’s a weather update from the North West, or at least Liverpool, timed at 4pm on Friday:

It’s about freezing point but the snow which was falling for a few hours stopped about 3.30pm. All being well the snowbelt will have cleared Wigan shortly but it could be heading your way. If you’re coming tomorrow leave a bit earlier and wrap up well. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Stephen Goldsmith, looking through the transfer window
Stephen Goldsmith, looking through the transfer window

 Goldy’s Logic:

The arrival of a new striker appears imminent. The departures of Frazier Campbell and Louis Saha were inevitable of course, but the thought process allowing both to leave simultaneously is surely manufactured by the knowledge that a replacement is forthcoming.

And evidence is suggesting it could be Danny Graham.

So the uproar begins.

The North East derby has evolved into a bit of a soap opera in the last twenty years. We get a kick out of it in a perverse sort of way – the evils and the dramas that escalate when the region’s big two clash twice a season. The Pardew and O’Neill spats, the trash talking and the downright impossibility of actually enjoying the games once in progress – we get a fix from it. I won’t be arrogant enough to suggest that Sunderland and Newcastle support their sides better than other clubs, but taking into account the underachievement of both sides it appears to border on lunacy when trying to understand the rationale behind the fanatical nature of it. The fact the region only has two clubs helps create this goldfish bowl environment where it’s “us v them” – and I love it!

Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill have both spoken of the type of player it takes to play for Sunderland, a player with a personality that has the desire to win at all costs and can withstand the high expectations. Seems a bit rich considering our modest place on the Premier League dining table but it should be embraced in O’Neill fashion, rather than feared in Bruce fashion. That’s what thirty years outside of the region does to you. Players who arrive here need to understand the passion and mentality of the area and they are swiftly inducted into it for sure.

So you wonder if managers consider the consequences of planting a fan from one of these teams onto the playing staff of the other. It’s a situation Newcastle fans aren’t too accustomed to, partly due to the inexcusable low number of professional footballers hailing from the city of Sunderland in recent times. But the other way round? “It’ll all end in tears” is the general consensus. In the past I’ve uttered those words myself in all probability and it adds to the whole authenticity of us believing ours is the biggest rivalry in domestic football. But scratching below the surface can generate a little food for thought in that respect.

The initial reaction to Danny Graham’s potential move is understandable as it’s a very real and sensitive issue that can’t just be dismissed and belittled by those who don’t have a problem with it. Most are coming round, though. A lot aren’t.

Lee Clark is the immediate name that springs to mind. It’s understandable to be annoyed by that T-Shirt incident, no matter how much he was forced into doing it. Then there’s his admittance that he wanted to leave as soon as he realised he “had to go to Newcastle as a Sunderland player”. Boooo. Hiss. He continued “I couldn’t go do that, go there and give 100% for Sunderland against the club I love and played for”. Let’s all dig out those pitch forks. But while condemnation of these comments slots into our soap opera and anti-Newcastle agenda, some miss the point a little. He could have continued to play for us for convenience purposes, giving his all bar two games. He admits had he done this he’d “have been cheating Peter Reid, Bobby Saxton, the fans and all my team-mates”. While that may sound insulting, it’s impossible not to see that he had enough respect for us not to lower himself to it. He knows first hand what these games mean to us and couldn’t play and not give his all. A weak excuse, maybe. I know I would rather he left us than not perform against them but he was superb on the pitch, to be fair.

And this is where Danny Graham’s actions have to be deemed louder than his words. I understand the initial outrage, but try and forget those anti-Sunderland comments he made while at Watford. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt that he was engaging in this soap opera like the rest of us, because in the context of what he said, that seems the likely reason behind them. In truth, people using these comments to differentiate the situation from that of Steve Bruce are misunderstanding the contextual situation entirely. To suggest he’d be welcome as a Newcastle fan without making those remarks, is to say that we are to believe Jack Colback never made a joke about Sunderland when he was growing up. Or that Steve Howey didn’t do the opposite in his early Newcastle days. Let’s get real.

If Graham turns down other Premier League clubs to come here than that is his very assurance to us all, right there. We should at least give him the benefit of the doubt, surely? To refuse to accept him because of his roots implies Steve Bruce hasn’t been misguided with his managerial shortcomings all along. Hey, for that very reason alone we should roll out the red carpet for him. We all know the truth with Bruce of course, but it should be proved beyond doubt to all his pals in the media. Let’s not be hypocritical. And if you can’t take motivation in that, then just look how disgusted you are at Chelsea fans – and the vile and toxic atmosphere they have created at Stamford Bridge recently. We condemn them at will for their defiance in their anti-Benitez stance. We can’t lower ourselves to it.

Remember, for every Michael Chopra there is a Don Hutchison. Remember, for every Steve Bruce there is a Bob Stokoe.

Newcastle are looking for a striker anyway, we may just be paying for his petrol!!!

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26 thoughts on “Goldy on the attack: fuelling the Danny Graham debate”

  1. Surely we should be judging him on his ability or should I say lack of it. He’s no better than what we’ve got or what we’re shipping out. He’s slow, very slow, coupled with the fact that we play 4-5-1 is he here to warm the bench and add to numbers? Further his EPL scoring record is 1 in 3.5 games doesn’t really excite.

  2. Gordon says “More recent revelations about his personal problems have maybe cast new light on THAT incident”.

    Those who feel he missed because he supports the Mags could reflect on those words. I make no accusations but Gordon’s hint makes more sense. Remember, had his pass been accurate Kenwyne Jones would have had an open goal.

    Had Gary Lineker been in the same position for Spurs v Leicester, Robbie Fowler for Man City v Liverpool and dare I say it Shearer for Blackburn v The Mags I have no doubt they would all have gone for goal and most likely scored. But Chopra is not of their quality and I feel he took what he thought what was the easier option and messed up.

    Chopra did once say “It was difficult for me to play for Sunderland against Newcastle, as I’m a big Newcastle fan, but when it comes to football, you’ve got to put it to one side.” There will be those who will always be convinced he missed on purpose. That’s their prerogative. But I cannot agree with those who condemn a player we haven’t even signed yet because he told a group of people what he thought they would want to hear. Should he sign he’ll be under intense scrutiny and that will surely lead him to giving 100% in every game.

    The only player I would openly disagree with signing (as we could never afford Ballotelli) is Joey Barton and that is because he’d be a liability against any team.

  3. Anyone remember that moment when Chopra came off the bench and scored the injury time winner against Spurs which put us at the top of the Premier League, albeit only for a couple of hours as nobody else had played!?! The debut of the ‘Chopra’s one of us’ chant? OK, for an unwelcome hardcore element in our crowd that was never the case, carrying as he did the double burden of being both a ‘Mag’ and a ‘Paki’ (sic) but that was all most of us wanted, and all that we would want from Graham. Chopra scored considerably more for us than he ever did for Newcastle. More recent revelations about his personal problems have maybe cast new light on THAT incident, though he was never exactly short of personal ‘baggage’. I am honestly surprised that he hasn’t paid off part of his considerable debt by selling his version of that day to the media. I felt I could understand why he did what he did though could never forgive it. In my mind he should not have been in the squad that day, ultimately it was the manager who was culpable in filing to realise that he was just not up to it.

    All I am bothered about is whether Graham passes the age-old test of being ‘better than what we already have’ and, Fletcher excepted, he undoubtedly is, though I would add on the proviso that he be ‘better than anything else we can find in the next couple of weeks’. Would those who oppose his signing seriously rather we persevere with Campbell?! If Graham comes and scores regularly, which he would, then that’s enough for me, even if it means that there are two games a season he watches from the seats. I don’t think it would come to that, he’s a professional. I really can’t see how his comments have caused so much umbrage, even taken out of context. I just don’t see them as being ‘disparaging’.

    How about this much more recent quote, after he set up Swansea’s winner at the landfill:

    “To come and be part of a winning team here is special, especially with all the family sitting in the Newcastle end.
    “They obviously want me to do well, but they’re mad Newcastle fans so I’ve got one over on them.”

  4. Part of my occupational therapy (in or out of the clinic) is anagrams. Salut Sunderland becomes:

    Run, dauntless lad (Graham?)
    All understand us
    Undulated snarls
    Dullards eat nuns
    Slander dual nuts (naming no names, though mine would be one of them)
    Trundle lad’s anus (shome mishtake, shurely…

  5. Ultimately it comes down to whether Graham will be professional or not, if he is then it’s not a problem, if he’s not then it doesn’t matter who he supports, it’s actually about him as a person, not his football allegiance. I hadn’t heard about that Stubbs comment, and I wouldn’t have any objections to another Everton fan joining, I would however have had an issue with Stubbs playing for us again, as he had proved himself highly unprofessional: once on the pitch the opposition should be irrelevant, you should want to absolutely stuff them for your professional pride.
    Owers I’m not sure about, but Armstrong was definitely a Sunderland supporter.
    By the way, any professional footballer who’s daft enough to make negative comments about a club who may be a potential future employer, is either unprofessional or a bit of an idiot, either way is that the kind of player/person we want?

    • It may all prove to be irrelevant if he decides to move to the footballing hotspot known as Norwich. Can’t ever remember him saying anything bad about Ipswich.

  6. I’m thinking back to the stick I got the season before the last when I wrote here about my plan (soon to prove abortive) to scale back my support for the Cats. Not a lot of understanding or sympathy for my position, as I recall. There again it was, of course, untenable.

    • Don’t forget that Mags Ron Guthrie and David Young were part of the 1973 cup winning squad,and former Mag skipper Bob Moncur played 86 games for us. Lee
      Clark got well and truly set up but never gave less that 100% on the field. As for Chopra? Well who knows what he was thinking…if anything. I am sure that if Danny Graham does sign for us he will us his all.

  7. Colback has shown his all Goldy. He never hides and has grown up both as a boy and a player. His experience has effectively refuted any previous allegiance. I never had a problem with Don Hutchison, Gordon Armstrong (apart from the fact that he was a terrible footballer) and a few others besides; non of whom made their mouths go in the way that Graham has with his anti Sunderland rhetoric.

    There’s no need for us to be even having this debate as he should be simply avoided.

    • Jeremy and I have exchanged emails. He knows how much I regret his decision to wander off into a non-Sunderland existence, and therefore to make no more of his excellent contributions to these pages. But I accept that he has reached his extraordinary ‘last straw’ position for what he sees as perfectly rational reasons.

      We disagree on that and the Colback, Stokoe, Hutch and even Clark case studies reinforce my view, while Chopra may support his. Someone, here or at Blackcats, mentioned Gordon Armstrong but I have a feeling that, though from Tyneside, he was one of ours. I have not investigated his background so stand to be corrected but I can say that in a quick exchange we had at Roker Park, as reporter talking to footballer before the 92 cup final, he gave me the impression he was red and white.

      But I do commend this piece written by Jeremy all of four years ago. It gives you a flavour of why he feels as he does …

      • Armstrong and Owers were both Sunderland supporting Geordies growing up, I’m sure.

        To allow the actions of an idiot like Chpra get under your skin and stop you from supporting your own side seems a massive shame. Alan Stubbs has admitted he wanted Everton to beat us in a game in which he was playing for us. Not a lot gets said about that. I bet nobody would kick off if we signed another Everton player though.

  8. As long as he scores goals , thats what we’re paying him for. He played for Boro, so he’s not averse to playing for a rival team.
    If he plays against Newcastle and performs badly or doesn’t celebrate when he scores, then that will miff S’land fans a bit.
    At the end of the day, Steve Bruce would still be here if he’d won games despite the fact that he was born up the road.
    Successes and 3 points will change the mind of even the most tribalistic of fans.
    Mind you, if he doesn’t bang the goals in then he’ll be the first to feel what its like to be unpopular.
    Just like Redknapp said of Emmanuel Adebayor: if he bangs the goals in they’ll love him, if he doesn’t they’ll give him hell.

    • The problem is that should his form dip, which it will at some point, should he miss a decent chance against the Mags, if he’s seen out on the lash with Steven Taylor, if their lass is seen buying a B & W stripey baby grow at Mothercare in the Metro, if they choose to live on Tyneside, in fact any one of a hundred things, his Geordie roots will be laid bare and blamed for everything from the Pope being a Catholic to Shearer being a bald headed wazzack. It’s already started and he hasn’t even signed. Best policy: Avoid.

  9. After 44 years of supporting Sunderland through thick and think I am thowing in the towel if SAFC sign another Mag, particularly one that has made such comments.

    We don’t need another Mag. In fact it’s the last thing we need.

    Seen Clark’s T shirt and recognised Chopra’s miss immediately for what it is.

    There’s no way that I can support a team playing with another one like that in it. It’s time for SAFC to get some self respect. It’s disappointing (and that’s putting it very mildly) to see Sunderland supporters even countenancing such a thing.

  10. I don’t want another Geordie playing for us I just keep thinking when chopra was one on one with the keeper at the skunks ground and he bottled it and what Graham has already said in the past he is not worthy to pull on the red and white shirt plus if things goes wrong it won’t take long for the fans to slag him off like they did with S Bruce so do your self a favour and us and sighn for the slum up the road so MON turn your attention some where else there has got to be a centre forward that wants to put our shirt on and where it with honour and pride…

    • To be fair Chopra scored some important goals but aye that incident was a bit iffy, though we’ll never know the truth. He did, however, play well in the earlier fixture at the SoL and hit the woodwork if I remember rightly.

      That’s one person though. I prob would have agreed with you couple weeks back but the cloud of impartiality has lifted.

  11. Excellent balanced article I think us fans forget that to players football is a job we’ve had Howie and in the dim past one of your best ever players helped us get promotion a certain Stan Anderson. Toon Legend & captain Bobby played for you. To us this is sacrilege if Graham signs for you good luck to him but he will always been a Geordie

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