This is a posting that could not decide whether to be one of those occasional Salut! Sunderland reviews of the week just gone, a simple Guess the Score competition or a second bite at the “Who are You?” cherry.
Monsieur Salut thought of rolling them all into one but finally accepted the rebuke of Terry McLoughlin who, while boldly offering a scoreline forecast of Liverpool 1 SAFC 2, questioned the device of mixing up Guess the Score and further debate on the Tottenham Hotspur post-Olympics diving squad. “Too much talk, too few predictions,” Terry thundered.
So let us restrict this to the simple question of how the FA Cup Third Round tie at Bolton Wanderers will go. We have sold out our 5,000 allocation, a grand day out beckons for the travelling army and, this being Sunderland, no one can be sure what mood the troops will be in for the return journey.
But if the outcome is about as certain as a politician’s promise, we can be sure of one thing: the FA Cup has a stirring ingredient – or should that be tasty stir-in ingredient? – for Sunderland supporters this year.
Promotions apart, the last proper trophy was, of course, 40 years ago this coming May 5. Back in 1973 (I once wrote about it only for a Daily Telegraph sub-editor to change it to 1974), we beat Leeds United in the final remembered by all British football fans old enough and known about by the rest.
We have been at Wembley four times since, for two losing promotion play-offs, one losing Milk Cup final and one losing FA Cup final.
Not a great honours record for four decades despite those promotions, the plurality sadly meaning there have been relegations, too.
Our Tottenham sparring partner Stoney – already signed up for a future Who are You? so you haven’t heard the last of him – mistakenly claimed our last trophy was the 1988 Third Division title in 1988 whereas every schoolboy should know we have also risen to the Premier no fewer than four times since as champions.
Click anywhere on this paragraph to see the Bolton Wanderers ‘Who are You?’ feature. Sample: I remember going to my first Bolton game when I was about 5 or 6 years old. That game was coincidently against Sunderland, a 1-1 draw with Michael Gray’s opener cancelled out by a comic own goal from Phil Babb.
Are we about to stage a barnstorming run in honour of honour the ruby anniversary of an event none of our players was alive to witness or even sleep through in nappies? Can we go all the way to Wembley? Will we even put out a competitive enough side at the Reebok, given how much more important Premier survival will be seen by Martin O’Neill and Ellis Short.
The usual rules apply. The winner is the first to post the correct result. I will carry forward the prize offered for the Liverpool game, none of the pre-Anfield entries coming from anyone who could bring themselves to believe Sunderland would produce such an inept display. A Martin O’Neill “Team of All Talents – work in progress” mug goes to the winner and will be modified if a Wandering opposition fan posts the first correct prediciton.
Ha’way the Lads. I fancy a decent cup run …
See also: Monsieur Salut talks all things Sunderland at ESPN FC:http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland?cc=5739