As Salut! Sunderland hits two million, Kevin Maguire talks hope and passion

Maguire of the Mirror: red and white through and through
Maguire of the Mirror: red and white through and through

Welcome to Salut! Sunderland en fête, on the day – or, at worst, the day before – it finally clocks up its two millionth visit. Cast your eyes to the right where you find the heading “The Salut! Sunderland Readership Count” and you will see the little figure beneath it. Fewer than 900 further visits to the site today and we’re there. If you happen to spot that you are the reader making that milestone visit, try to photograph or screengrab the vital statistic and send it to Monsieur Salut at If I receive one such e-mail, and it appears genuine, a commemorative mug will be on its way (soon). If I receive two or more, I’ll know it can be fixed and all entries, sadly, may have to be disqualified unless I find a way of verifying the true winner. And don’t forget the Two Million Hits competition; closing date is June 30 (

Now read what the Daily Mirror, Sky, BBC and LBC journalist Kevin Maguire* has to say about a site devoted to his lifelong footballing passion …

It’s the hope we can’t stand as Sunderland supporter and it is a hope never extinguished, although I admit losing 3-2 at Aldershot in the old Division Three during 1988 was a personal low point. I felt little hope motoring up the M3 in a Mini Metro after the defeat.

In football a club is part of your life. Part of your identify, a constant presence playing with emotions. Win and you’re happy; delirious when it’s the Mags or the traditional 1-0 at home against Manchester City. Lose and you’re, well, gutted. Which is why I am the Number One fan of Sixer, Peter Sixsmith.

Sixer captures regularly how I feel and expresses it wonderfully, intelligent writing one of the reasons why Salut! Sunderland is a Premiership football site.

Sixer by Jake
Sixer by Jake

Wry humour, self-deprecation, spot-on insights and a generous appreciation of opposing players and teams is far more engaging than wearing red and white blinkers to insist blindly that Sunderland is the greatest team in the world when the truth is most of us would settle for winning the FA Cup again. Sixer feels my pain and I share his passion for football, sport generally and the North East of England.

My other favourite corner on Salut! Sunderland is the “Who are you?” slot with a fan from whoever we’re playing.

Ground segregation has reduced the banter on match days unless you come across a decent group in a pub but the chosen rival supporters are always good value for money.

To see how they see us can be an eye-opener or add to a frustration. The Spurs supporter before last December’s match(we lost 2-1 at the Stadium of Light) picked out Connor Wickham as a player of enormous potential. He is and I fear it is unfulfilled potential.

The hidden gem on Salut! Sunderland is the SAFC stats link down at the bottom of the site. I like to put on my anorak and check results and players. I saw most of Bob Lee’s 33 goals in the 1970s, a forward I liked watching while mates called him a carthorse.

Study the tables and next season, our seventh successive in the Premiership, is Sunderland’s longest spell in the top division since the club’s first relegation in 1958.

We’ve never had it so good and are living in a golden period? Not until Sixer pronounces it so, and I suspect that is one column I’m unlikely to read in the near future.

The rise of Salut! Sunderland, created by Sunderland fans for Sunderland fans, has established the site as part of supporting our team.

We chat and argue between ourselves and followers of rival clubs. We read newspaper sports pages, listen to football on the radio and watch games on TV. And we get news, information and opinions on this and other good sites.

The British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee may not have had Salut! Sunderland in mind when he invented the internet but I bet he’d be heartened.

So happy two-millionth milestone, Salut! Sunderland. Onwards and upwards!

* Long before Kevin Maguire took to the airwaves, that resonant South Shields accent booming from our radios and TV sets on all matters political, long before he was associate editor of the Daily Mirror, he was the sort of journalist The Daily Telegraph employed as if to show you didn’t have to be Simon Heffer or Boris Johnson thinkalikes to work there.

Kevin let on he was also a fanatical Sunderland supporter and he and Monsieur Salut, also working there, became firm friends, attending London matches together or meeting up to watch televised games.

As a lad, Kevin had been a Fulwell Ender. The story of his first visit to the Roker End, but only to see what the Fulwell looked like from there, cropped up in Salut’s ‘Famous on the Fulwell’ article for A Love Supreme many years ago. I originally remembered this anecdote the wrong way round (and added £100 to the next one) …

When SAFC reached the 1992 FA Cup Final, he set himself on principle against paying over the odds for a ticket. That was when they could be had for £90. By the eve of the match, he was desperate enough to hand over £325 (which a kindly senior colleague covered by commissioning some in-house freelance work). He has yet to see Sunderland win at Wembley. Thanks Kevin for helping to mark our little achievement.


Hays Travel Holidays
Enter the great Salut! Sunderland Two Million hits competition. Read about the prizes – £200 towards a holiday from Sunderland-based Hays Travel and great clobber from Philosophy Football at BUT POST YOUR ENTRY IN THE COMMENTS SECTION ONLY AT
Philosophy Don't panic

Join the Salut! Sunderland Facebook group – click anywhere along this line

And follow us on Twitter: @salutsunderland … click along this line

Click anywhere on this sentence for a glance at the home page – and highlights of all the most recent articles …

20 thoughts on “As Salut! Sunderland hits two million, Kevin Maguire talks hope and passion”

  1. I remember when Salut! – a blog about life in France – was just a twinkle in Colin’s eye. I don’t think he expected that a few years later a mere off-shoot – SalutSunderland! – would have racked up 2,000,000 hits and counting. Well done. Not least due to Pete’s consistently good match reports. How many football sites would have references to the Tolpuddle Martyrs, Bo Diddley, Archie Andrews, Robespierre and Mike and Bernie Winters….

  2. Kevin said ” I admit losing 3-2 at Aldershot in the old Division Three during 1988 was a personal low point. I felt little hope motoring up the M3 in a Mini Metro after the defeat.

    Indeed you must have felt that there was little hope of getting back home driving one of those!

    I remember that game as if it was yesterday. We were stood with both Petes (Sixer & Horan) at the back of our away end, still bemused by the bowls match taking place behind the goal at the other end of the ground. Handing victory to Aldershot after going 2-0 up in the first quarter of an hour was galling, not least when Steve Berry hit a brace for the home side.

    After 25 years even, it still irks!

  3. Congratulations to all at Salut Sunderland for making this site what it has become – the number one Sunderland blog.

    2M plus hits is wonderful milestone and just reinforces my view!

    • There’s always 3,000,000 to wait for, on current form that should be in by our second home game against Arsenal!

  4. Great news on 2 million hits. 22 short when I logged on. Two questions.
    Does Kevin ever have time to actually go to The Mirror office?
    Secondly, is anyone else scared of that picture of Sixer? I am sure he’s just about to ask: “What are you doing in my manor?” Never thought of him as a crime boss before.

  5. I think CSB’s comment about Wigan winning the F.A cup was interesting .A fantastic achievement , that breaks the big 5, s , well Chelsea’s really stranglehold on the competition.Yet in light of their relegation from the all important Premier League the wins viewed by some as a consolation prize at best and the cause of the relegation at worst.Winning the cup has been our standout moment for 40 years and for 36 years before that.Ask true Wigan fans what it means to them and Swansea fans what the league cup means to them and I bet it is the highlight of their supporting lives.But would I swap our premier league status for a cup win ? I’m afraid the answers no. Five years ago the answer probably would have being different .This is known as progress I’m told.What I am sure off is that I would take Ellis Short over Mr Cashley any day of any year.

  6. I have to admit I share many of your feelings CSB. It’s a generational thing I know, younger fans accepting the present day situation whilst we older supporters hark back to earlier times.

    I accept the need for an Ellis Short at the club – fing’s ain’t wot they used to be and all – but in the days of Syd and Keith Collins, Tom Cowie and even Bob Murray the club was rooted in the local community. Shack may have been right to leave the chapter “What the Average Director Knows About Football” blank in his book “Clown Prince of Soccer” but the club was in those days seen primarily as a football club whose main aim was to win trophies.

    Nowadays, clubs in the Premier League and even some non league clubs are seen as businesses with footballing achievements just an adjunct to making money for some individuals, or an expensive plaything for billionaires.

    Still I’d rather Short than Ashley.

    • Definately Short than Ashley.

      Although neither hail from the areas in questions and both are self made men, I think Mr Short (and Di Canio) understands the link between football club and community but also understands the harsh realities of modern football as a business.

      In many ways he is similar to Cowie and Murray who always said they took the fans points of view seriously, but still controlled the purse strings tightly. Cowie probably saw the club as a means of making money, Murray was probably in both camps. Short I think understands the economics of football but also wants to build a successful venture both on and off the pitch.

      We are probably very lucky for this as he really only linked up with SAFC through the Irish connection. Its to his credit that he seems to have been bitten by the bug and wants to establish this legacy for the Club and City. We are fortunate indeed, hopefully success will follow.

      Fat Mike’s latest escapades are at worst his usual incompetence in the football world or a cynical attempt to get Pardew to resign, he may well be regretting tieing him to such a long contract.

      • Good points. With Sir Niall at the club, the community link was always going to be there and his efforts with Drumaville and Short kept that going.

        But when he ceased to be Chairman and was given the dubious Overseas role I began to fear that maybe a cynical business attitude was being adopted at the expense of a club rooted in the area. After all in the USA clubs are franchises which move around at will. Oakland Raiders to LA then back again, LA Rams to St Louis, St Louis Cardinals to Arizona etc. in the NFL.

        But if you are correct and he has been bitten by the bug (and I can’t believe that someone at the club didn’t tell him the significance of his FTM badge) we’ll be OK. But on the flipside, if no-one at the club realised the significance of the FTM badge things may not be as rosy as you think?

        Come on Margaret Byrne – I know you read this – what’s the inside gen?

  7. As abhorrent as Drummers observation is regarding the 6 elite PL sides and the rest is, the current football financial situation shows no signs of abaiting.

    This depressingly means we are destined to always be the bridesmaid but never the bride. This is not the game that I learned to love but rather some corporate monolith where the the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, a static arena where the same old sides win everything and dominate the domestic and European competitions…….but this season we have seen Wigan win the cup and two German sides contest the European final,

    Admittedly so Bayern have European pedigree, but I’m not against that just so long as the mix keeps changing. As it is I rarely bother to watch either European competition, time constraints mostly but also a large helping of disinterest in watching the same old teams and an unwillingness to line Sky’s coffers.

    If SAFC were there I would make the time.

    As far as the PL goes if we’re in it I’ll watch it and continue to hope that maybe one day that we can realistically challenge the ‘elite’ sides together with the other supposed also rans because the majority of the football world is not included in the elite’s club.

  8. Happy 2,000,000th to all at Salut! It is a truly a unique site. All contributors from those listed above to the “who are you” to readers who post comments like myself all seem to try to post in a manner that maintains the Salut! way. Lighthearted when allowed or serious when required but never abusive and always with SAFC’s best interests at heart. Great to see Kevin Maguire contributing, I remember reading an article that listed Safc supporting journalists and political types and was pleasantly surprised by the number and Kevin included the influence they had. A welcome antidote to the Mag edia that seems to be determined to over hype the importance and achievements of the Kinnearites up the road .
    Back to the reason we’re all here, our team. It’s pointed out in the article that we’re about to continue our longest run in the top flight since 58. While that’s a huge achievement for us given our recent history, the nature of the premier league gravy train makes it a necessity to be there, no option for a club our size. I’ll contest though that we’re further away from actually competing in the upper echelons than we were when we were yo-yo ing for all those years. The gap between the 5 or 6 ” elite” and the rest is now light years and even a Clough like genius couldn’t take a championship team to anywhere near Derby or Forest like heights these days.The romance is dead,sadly.

  9. Sixer may appreciate an additional comment made by Kevin in e-mail exchanges: “Pete could’ve been a hack. Not sure I could’ve taught.”

    But will everyone please note: the heroes of Salut! Sunderland do not begin and end with the man on the Soapbox. He’s been in on the act from pretty much day one – Jan 16 2007 – but this rolling stone has gathered all manner of moss since then.

    Thanks are also due to – no special order and a variety of services and/or kindnesses – John McCormick, Stephen Goldsmith, Jake, Jeremy Robson, Malcolm Dawson, Joan Dawson, Ken Gambles, Bill Taylor, Lars Knutsen, Gareth Barker, Bob Chapman, John Penman, Robert Simmons, Mick Goulding, Ian Todd, Sam Hasletine, Craig McGinty, Birflatt Boy, Martyn McFadden, Luke Harvey, Eric Sweeney, Mrs Logis and Addick-tedKevin at Flickr, (nearly) every Who are You? volunteer, all fair-minded readers and others I may well have overlooked and to whom I apologise.

Comments are closed.

Next Post