Sunderland vs West Bromwich Albion: save our Sixer

Sixer, incongruously in green, and Sobs  endure yet another gormless away performance. Guess which one and you may win a mug (usual exemptions)
Sixer, incongruously in green, and Sobs endure yet another gormless away performance. Guess which one and you may win a mug (usual exemptions)

How many times over recent seasons have we talked about a forthcoming game as one that defines the season?

It has been often, and always because Sunderland have been in dire trouble or on the edge of it. So the matches in question have tended to be at home, either clear six-pointers or against teams we just have to beat to get points on the board before tougher tests ahead.

WBA on Saturday is another such tie. Losing it will not send us down, just make it seem less likely that we will once again drag ourselves clear of the mire. No one should rely on sensational displays of the kind we saw last season at Manchester United (next game up after the Baggies) and Chelsea. Winning would not necessarily keep us up.

But we all know what important factors are at stake. Three points, won convincingly, would ease the pressure on Gus Poyet and his players after the lamentable performances at Bradford and in the last home game, versus QPR.

Such a victory would not mean Poyet is suddenly the manager of all our dreams, or that serious deficiencies did not exist in the squad; it would just make us feel better. There have been precious few feelgood games this season, or indeed in many recent seasons, and a good win would do wonders for morale, especially if followed by a heartwarming resistance at Old Trafford.

So just for now, I refuse to dwell on the other distinct possibility, yet one more dismal home surrender, or two squandered points, and a tonking from Man Utd.

Sixer Must Stay, cried Bob Chapman on these pages the other day. Our acclaimed scribe, Pete Sixsmith, is making worrying noises about his future commitment to the club. This season’s dross, coming after 50 years of much more dross than the average man should be obliged to take (punctuated by a few moments bright enough to foster dangerous hope), has taken its toll.

“Lose on Saturday and it won’t just be Poyet leaving SAFC,” Sixer exclaimed in his report from Valley Parade. “I’ll be joining him.”

This prompted Bob’s comment urging Salut! Sunderland to launch a campaign to make him think again. Bob even invoked his own stamina, or gluttony for punishment, by talking about his own boyish sense of excitement about the WBA game, despite it meaning for him the same 480-mile round trip he must make for every home game. What a shame that Bob had to add: “Can anybody help me?”

I am hoping the campaign will not be necessary. The best outcome would be that our woeful under-achievers, perhaps chastened by the odd post-Bradford encounter with fans in the supermarket or leisure centre, start playing out of their skins and charge up the league. Six for Sixer would be a good start, with a 6-1 home win against WBA to match the scoreline on another occasion Sunderland were in peril, Feb 22 1977, provided the season ended more happily (we went down anyway).

Otherwise, you may just have to take my word for it that we have been here before, that Pete tends to have these dark “never again” moments at about this stage of every three seasons out of four. Then a bit of examination marking or supply teaching comes in and the season tickets for SAFC and Durham County Cricket Club are duly renewed, for whichever division.

I have done my bit, mending the 50p wooden Che Guevara trinket I brought him back from Cuba, but which snapped during the flight home, so maybe that will be the bribe to make him change his mind if only it can survive the journey north intact.

And one of Pete’s former pupils, Carl Hawman, tweeted this when he saw the “enough’s enough” quote: “Ha, knowing Peter since the early 90s at Ferryhill Comp, I know tongue is placed firmly in cheek. He used to say the same to me as a kid. I love the bloke, to me he is the level above uber fan.”


See also:

* Pulis and hoofball, Ideye on fire, Speedy Sess and fine Sunderland sausages: the SAFC vs WBA ‘Who are You?’ at


Q: Do you have any thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city, the region, Poyet, Billy Jones?

Kev Candon: My first visit to Sunderland was in the FA Youth Cup final 2nd leg in 1969/69 we lost 6-0 after being 3-0 up from the first leg. My father words not mine (the only good thing about Sunderland was the Sausages he had on his breakfast). I have been many times since and have always found the fans and the place friendly enough. I was there last season and we had a great time with your lot even after the game and a good night was had by all.

** An appeal to Sunderland supporters – – to join WBA fans in their minute’s applause (the 9th minute) in the Justice for Jeff campaign (I have promised Jeff Astle’s daughter Claire that my participation is assured).

Otherwise, just Ha’way the Lads – and thanks for the bumper entries in Guess the Score (see

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake
M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

21 thoughts on “Sunderland vs West Bromwich Albion: save our Sixer”

  1. Peter can be somewhat spontaneous in his decision making, but I can understand what he is saying. Add up the amount of money paid out over the years- it’s staggering! The Cortina was dark blue and the registration was RUP 655D bought from Alan Dent. Say good night to the folks Gracie!

  2. I don’t know Pete personally,but he’s post match reports are always very entertaining and hit the nail on the head in a gallows way that most Sunderland fans can sympathise with . Maybe Pete’s retirement threat could be E mailed to Gus as Saluts response to he’s open letter . This is the reality of life as a Safc supporter sir , can you all try a little harder to make it more bareable ?

    • Hi Smoggie. Boro are my second team. Apologies if I offended you previously. I think I spoke out about Newcastle, so likely no offense. I spent a lot of my young days at Ayresome Park whilst my mum and dad shopped in Middlesbrough. So, I have a functioning love that is primary for Sunderland, secondary for Middlesbrough, and finally fr Newcastle. I mean, I want us all in the Premier Division.

  3. I’ve know Pete Sixsmith for about 35 years which doesn’t even come close to the length of time that some contributors have been acquainted.

    Let me say this. If Pete wants to pack the whole lot in, then just leave the man in peace to do just that. If he thinks it’s time to throw the towel in with this lot, then nobody can blame him, and I for one would probably be one of the first to follow suit. When people who’ve got 50 + years of loyal support behind them, and the feel as disillusioned and fed up with the club, then who could possibly blame them having to suffer the inane nonsense of the manager and the ineptitude of most of these primadonas?

    I know that regardless of what insistence you might place on trying persuade Peter to stay, that he’s his own man and regardless of how persuasive your arguments might be, he will make his own decisions. That is just one of the many reasons why Peter is so well liked by so many people. It is also why his prose is so well received and so thought provoking.

    Reading and contributing to the many articles of this forum. Not just Pete’s but everyone’s is what makes following Sunderland tolerable, as most other experiences are rotten. That’s it. Rant over.

  4. Sixer lives on! He will never pack up watching. People of our age are used to watching this rubbish year after year – why should we be happy more than once or twice a year?

    It’s the friendship and the craic that is part of our lives that we all enjoy and if we get the odd win, well happy day.

    I’ve seen worse Reading 0-4 was a shocker, the Crystal Palace play off defeat too – I was distraught missing out on trip to Cardiff off final. Stay with it Sixer!

    PS Is Jones the worst full back you’ve ever seen? Yes is the answer.

    • Nope, I’m not joining the keep sixer going’ campaiagn! No one person is bigger than the club! It’s sad that good fans have to put up with the crap… But no one wrenches their arm up their backs to force them whilst emptying their pockets as they scramble through those hallowed gates…. Thee will be more like Sixer, fed up and ‘never goin back’. I don’t have a problem with anyone goin shopping with mrs every Saturday and contenting themselves moaning at match of the day and coming on here filling the pages with apathy!
      When it gets better times they will all wander back AGAIN! But,hey ho, nothing gonna stop me SUPPORTING my club, each to their own tho’

      • David’s point has plenty of merit. No one, he rightly says, is bigger than the club that everyone on here loves. But Pete’s pedigree as a supporter, and as a brilliant chronicler of the club’s ups and downs (no prizes for guessing the ratio), should make SAFC stop and think hard if he is seriously tempted to vote with his feet.

      • Well, I hope that Gus’s letter to the Fans changes Sixer’s mind, we all want the same thing and hopefully Poyet is now realising that we are ALL in this together for the long haul.

        On ward’s and upwards, keep the faith, cos there’s bugger all else.

      • What people tend to forget that English is Gus’s second language and that things he has said may not always be exactly what he meant. This is what his letter I think is trying to say. However, disappointed as I have been at the last couple of performances I will never boo my team off the pitch and I can’t understand how those who do think it can have anything but a negative effect.

  5. There is enough grief riding on the WBA game without adding Sixer into the mix.
    I remember driving to games from Bish in the back end of the ’60’s with him in his parent’s Cortina hearing the same threats.
    Incidentally, worrying article in today’s Mirror where a Brighton player was pretty scathing about Gus. Probably someone Gus dropped (easy to make enemies in football as a manager) – but not great reading. However, who else would come here. Let’s see how the players respond on Saturday. I’m sure they will put the extra in for Pete to say nice things about them.

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