Chelsea blues and the decline and fall of Sunderland-Newcastle bragging rights

Jake: 'skiving again, Sixer?'
Jake: ‘skiving again, Sixer?’

Pete Sixsmith awarded himself another day off from actually travelling to an expensive away game, settling for Barnes and Benno and updates from around the country on Premier League’s final day. The big question remains: is this as well as a Chapman Report from Stamford Bridge or instead of one? …

I wasn’t there and I didn’t go round to Horan Grange to watch it on Sky. I settled for an afternoon of Barnes and Benno on BBC Newcastle and a catch up on Match of the Day – although I haven’t got round to that yet, being tucked up in bed at 10.30 on Sunday night.

The commentary sounded ok. We were not overwhelmed and there was a whoop of delight when Norman Stanley headed in. Could it be that Mourinho’s big day was going to be spoiled by a side who were destined to finish in the bottom third of the table?

No. A penalty given away by John O’Shea and some sloppy goalkeeping by Vito Mannone on what will almost certainly be his last Sunderland appearance, and it was us that were singing the blues, while the Blues were singing a no doubt carefully orchestrated pack of ditties, specially prepared for them by some PR Company in Fulham.

As season endings go it was as flat as last year’s when we “celebrated” finishing out of the bottom three by allowing Swansea City to walk all over us. I am sure that those who travelled down from the North East and those who assembled from all over the South East were just relieved that we did not need a point to make sure. Had we needed one, mobile phone company profits would have been boosted as Sunderland fans kept looking to see what was happening on Tyneside and Humberside.

I had a radio on and kept up with the teletext on BBC. When Ceefax first burst on to the scene in the late 80s it was a boon. You could flick through and pick up all the scores rather than waiting for Grandstand to update them or waiting for local radio to pass them on. Granted it took an age for the pages to turn and if you wanted to see how York were doing at home to whomever, you had to wait nearly the length of the first half, but it seemed a technological miracle. Didn’t Gary Lineker once say that Watching Wimbledon was even more boring than waiting for Ceefax pages to turn?

And so, I sat there with a glass of Pimms, beautifully prepared by the new butler, Rodgers (just released from a contract on Merseyside) and a plate of hors d’oeuvres (or Horses Doofers as we said in the school dining hall as Mrs Littlefair served her delicious angels on horseback and chorizo bites) while I waited for the scores to come up.

I was hoping for something like this; Brady 34 mins; Nolan 37 mins; Cole 42 mins; Quinn 67 mins; Cisse 85 mins; Colback 88 mins; Cresswell 90+4 mins. That would have capped a satisfactory end of season and would have meant another trip to the fine old city of Hull, starting off point for Robinson Crusoe’s great adventure and home of William Wilberforce, Philip Larkin and John Prescott.

Alas, it was not to be. Nick Barnes, as cool and detached as ever (I swear his voice never altered when Norman Stanley headed in) announced that Sissoko had put them ahead and the dream was over. Rodgers was sitting in the butler’s pantry with his head in his hands as his beloved Liverpool were losing rather heavily at Stoke, while our much revered pastry chef Mrs Miggins was sitting in The Orangery listening to Stokes destroy New Zealand.

“Gosh,” I thought, “sixes for Stokes and six for Stoke. What a pity there isn’t a cricketer called Sunderland.”

And so the afternoon ambled on. Remy rattled in a couple, Drogba took his leave as if he was Meadowlark Lemon leaving the Harlem Globetrotters, flags were waved by the awful Chelsea fans and another season gently faded away.

As expected, Hull failed to either beat Manchester United or win a Premier League game in May and Gutierrez added to Sissoko’s goal to wrap it up for the Geordie Nation, prompting wild celebrations at the prospect of finishing one point and one place above Sunderland. In 15th. With 38 points. Speaks volumes for the quality of North East football.

The question that we were asking was “Will Dick Advocaat stay?”. A conversation between Nick Barnes and Chris Young of the Sunderland Echo was not hopeful. This morning’s Northern Echo is also suggesting that Mrs Advocaat will be seeing plenty of her husband next year – and not because she will be living in Grangetown. We can but hope that the papers are wrong again.

Season 50 over. Our final game in 1964-65 was a meaningless home game against Sheffield Wednesday on a Wednesday night which we won 3-1 in front of 22,467. Mel Slack, from Close House and a good friend of Billy Reilly’s (he ran the bus that Monsieur Salut and I travelled to Roker Park on) made his home debut and his final appearance. I can’t remember if the referee allowed the game to be stopped so he could be chaired off by Harry Hood, Jimmy McNab and Billy Campbell.

The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.

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