Kate Sussams* is a Norwich lass with a grand turn of phrase, infectious humour and a warped view, doubtless formed by indoctrination as an exile on Tyneside, of the relative virtues and failings of Mags and Mackems. She thinks the world of Delia, and not just for her cooking, thinks Grant Holt should play for England and believes Sunderland’s never-say-die qualities will drive us on to a resounding, er, goalless draw against the Canaries on Sunday afternoon … ps anything that looks like a typo is either Norfolk dialect – or a typo
Salut! Sunderland: As I write, we are in 13th and 14th position (it got worse) but not safe from the danger of being sucked into the relegation zone. How do you feel the second season back up has gone and how confident are you of consolidating Premier League status?
What a season for the Canaries! At least it’s been one of lows AND highs (as opposed to just lows a few years ago). I can’t believe we got to the lofty heights of, what, seventh place in the Premiership, oh so briefly before it was snatched from us. I hold out faith that we’re good enough to hover mid-table, but we seem to not-quite-believe-our-luck and slide inexorably down to flirt with the relegation zone. An average January didn’t help. However, we’re a Premier League team and we’ll stay up. Anything to cock-a-snook at Paul Lambert…
Chris Hughton is considered one of football’s good guys and even many Sunderland supporters, not noted for sympathetic feelings towards anyone connected with Newcastle United, thought he was treated outrageously. How well has he stepped into Paul Lambert’s boots? Is he the right man to lead Norwich to greater things and what, realistically, is the limit of those greater things for a club like yours?
Hughton is a good guy and good guys are given a fair ride at Norwich. He’s consolidated the team and made sure our lads are playing tightly and defensively. However, he’s not an aggressive manager and maybe we could now do with someone who had a bit of edge, a bit of knowing how to get class players on loans or cheap-as-chips. We’re never realistically going to have the kind of investment of the Man Citys or Chelseas of the world so we need someone who can build up a strong team with deals and loans and take-a-risk players…..(Harry Redknapp, anyone?!).
I suppose you are my Delia substitute. However much I may praise her crunchy roast potatoes Complete Illustrated Cookery Course, P226), I fear corporate football would never allow her to do this Q+A. To what extent do you attribute Norwich achievements to her?
I love Delia! Hats off to the old gal, she’s poured millions of her own money into the club, not just to make an investment and view it as something on her portfolio (she’s not a member of the Qatari royal family!) but it’s almost become a family business, a strong local business in the way that Butchers or Jarrolds or Jarvis once were (you who remember the Norwich of the 60s know what I’m talking about). I think people view her with a sort of grudging respect, though she should really keep off the microphone on match days. My only real bugbear is that she blimmin’ well lives in Suffolk…..grrrr…..
Your predecessor in this hot seat, Christopher Dalliston, told a wonderful tale of being a newly ordained curate who had to rush from his Sunday service to the 1985 Milk Cup Final vs Sunderland along the M11 with “dog collar and City scarf flying”, making praying gestures as he passed Norwich buses. Top that with your Milk Cup final story!
Well, I’d love to but I was 14 (Chris is much older than me!) and the only thing on my radar was hanging around outside Top Shop dressed in my finest ra-ra skirt, lace bows in my hair a la Madonna and planning on going to Andy’s Records for the afternoon. At that time, boys and football were a glorious ignorance…..however, my brother-in-law recalls how his school allowed all the lads to put their City strip on the day before and it was a really massive event.
Who are the best players you have ever seen – or wish you’d seen – in Norwich colours and who should have been allowed nowhere near them?
I grew up hearing names like Justin Fashanu, John Bond, Martin Peters (who lived in my village and whose son, Grant, was my first boyfriend; we used to snog behind the shed on the rec … ah, thems were the days). To me they were the real stars.
Worst players? Hmmm….well wasn’t Jan Molby a little, er, portly, to be playing for City (or anyone)?
Which people connected to both our clubs stick out in the memory? You have Michael Turner now, of course, but I am also thinking of Martin O’Neill, Steve Bruce, Shaun Elliott, Gary Rowell (briefly) and I am sure others I have overlooked.
What about poor old Calum Davenport? Another ‘nearly-but-not-quite’ player. Despite being a bit of an adopted Magpie myself, I think Martin O’Neill does a decent job at Sunderland and it would be interesting to see him go back to Norwich as manager. Now there’s a thought….
Who are the real stars of your present team and where do you still need strengthening?
I’m a big fan of Holt…I know, it’s not always fashionable, but I think he’s a decent, solid player. We still need more power up front, though, with an ability to put it away where it matters. I’d love to see us have the flair of the bigger clubs but deep down I know it wouldn’t then be the club I love.
See also: Monsieur Salut, aka Colin Randall, at ESPN: http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/1210?cc=5739
What are you own highs and lows as a Norwich supporter?
My personal highs have actually been connected to living near the ground. My first ever house was a little two up, two down terraced house just off King Street, across from the ground. I used to rent out my parking permit to friends and family (I was poor!) on match days and used to sit in my little back garden and hear the roar of the crowd. My best friend, Emma, taught me how to do hand-brake turns in my beaten up old Vauxhall Cavalier in the car park of the stadium. Fine old days. My low was taking a now-ex boyfriend who came from London to a game; he was experienced, older, I was in love .. the game was abysmal, we lost, the only goal we scored was a fluke and the home crowd just sat there and clapped politely, making me look like a country bumpkin … it didn’t last, me ‘n’ him, and I did secretly blame that game.
And since you live in the North East, what are your impressions on Sunderland – club, support, area – and how does tribal rivalry compare with the Norwich/Ipswich variety?
County tribal rivalry is all to do with century-old gripes and grumbles, how one place perceived that another place was richer, more famous, had more sheep or ships etc. The Canaries and Tractor Boys? Well, Ipswich has always had a chip on its shoulder for being the lesser town; even today, Ipswich struggles to be somewhere where people enjoy going shopping or out for the night, whereas Norwich … well, not quite London, but still a darn good place to live and work and socialise. However, the football spats are minor compared to the North East. It’s like the Norwich-Ipswich rivalry is like two girls fighting – all slapping and pulling of hair and feeble kicks. But the Newcastle-Sunderland rivalry? Well, it’s like two Geordie girls fighting – proper punches, false nails for a good scratch and, if you’re unlucky, a WKD bottle in yer face.
I haven’t got a lot to say about Sunderland, I don’t really know it. Beautiful coastline but the town is awful compared to Newcastle. (Sorry, Sunderland, but it’s true.) My impression of the supporters and club is that Magpies fight clean and Black Cats fight dirty.
Is there anyone in the current SAFC squad who’d walk into the City team?
Not a chance, mate, not a chance (er, though we could do with a couple of their strikers I suppose…..).
What will be the top four this season and who is going down? Where will our two clubs finish?
Top four will be Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea and Tottenham. Bottom will be QPR, Reading and Aston Villa (oh, that’s a shame…). Norwich will graze the relegation zone and finish fourth from the bottom. Sunderland? Well … just somewhere in the middle.
Bale booked for diving again, Suarez publicly admits one offence (he was clearly being modest); two excellent players widely suspected of also being cheats. Is it reaching the stage when we should simply accept it as part of the modern game? If not, what’s to be done?
If we want to accept top-class players into the country then we have to realise that they will bring styles of playing with them and those styles of playing might be acceptable in their home countries and even part of the ‘theatre’ of a game. However, it doesn’t mean we have to accept it. I’m pretty patriotic and think that this country needs to uphold decent standards for players and it’s the senior players/managers/coaches responsibility to tackle this (no pun intended). It’s like little kids trying it on; if they continually get away with it, then they’ll keep on thinking it’s acceptable behaviour. I fear, though, that the money, money, money attitude of the big bosses will mean that charismatic divers will always get a second chance (and a third, and a fourth….).
Club vs country. Who wins for you and why?
Country all the time, I think, though perhaps one day Norfolk will declare itself an independent state and we can have our own national team. Holt’s got to be in a national squad somehow.
WIll you be at our game and what will be the score?
This Sunday I’ll be glued to a wide-screen plasma tv in a dodgy pub in Jarrow, cheering on the City lads with the rest of the punters in there, of course. I’d love us to win, I really would, but I think Sunderland will put up a massive fight and it will be a goal-less draw.
* Kate Sussams on herself: I was born in Norwich (the ward I was born in is now a luxury flat on Ipswich Road) and went to the university nearest to home which did my subject (Leicester and archaeology). All I ever wanted to do when I was little was to work in the Castle Museum in Norwich and I did after finishing university! It was a great few years there, but then I shocked and disappointed my family by moving to Suffolk to work in Ipswich. I’m not sure they ever really got over that. A few jobs later (still in Norfolk-Suffolk), I decided to see the world and moved up to Newcastle to work in a museum.
It was a cultural shock to say the least! Five years on and I’m getting just about used to it. I now work in Newcastle and absolutely love the city – it is vibrant and interesting and arty. I’ve been to St James’ a few time to watch Premier League matches as well as the Olympic Games quarter finals last year; fantastic stadium. So proud to be there for the Norwich-Newcastle match last autumn, watching thousands of Magpie supporters shout and swear at us! Can’t beat that feeling…….
My whole family are still in Norfolk, with all my nieces and nephews being brought up as City supporters, of course. However, many of my closest friends are from my days working in Suffolk, so I can now hold my head up high when I go back; different league, darling, different league. The proudest moment of my life was when a close friend who is an absolute die-hard Ipswich fan came to my dad’s funeral three years ago, bearing a City scarf in Dad’s honour. I knew how hard both the funeral and actually touching (let alone buying) a City scarf was for him. Bless him and bless my lovely ‘Norfolk-boiy’
** Not really Salut! but Amazon – but if you use our link for Amazon purchases – http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/184502320X/salusund-21 takes you to this book for just over a fiver – it helps meet the cost of running this site.
Interview: Colin Randall