The main thing for Sunderland fans this week must be the cancellation of Adam Johnson’s contract. The club has said it will make no further statement and nor will we. Instead, you can have my ramblings and a mini-tour of the NorthWest.
For Salut Sunderland it was business as usual during what turned out to be a full week.
We had not only Pete Sixsmith’s post match report, we also had the second installment of Martin Bates’s trilogy, with the final part due after the Man Utd game. Colin’s away and Malcolm will be there so I’ll have my phone turned on ready for Pete’s post match Sevens and hope the Mrs. doesn’t drag me off to the shops. Beckham I ain’t! Don’t forget there’s no pay on the door and it’s an early kick off.
The Man United game was prefaced by the usual Guess the score competition – you can’t win a prize but what the hell – and an excellent Who are you, where our guest, Chas Banks, gave us his opinion of American Owners. Not once, but twice, after Smoggie had pointed out some inconsistencies in our editing while passing on his best wishes for the future.
In between all of this I’d put my oar in and given my opinion of another group of owners, who have since dominated the news, at least down here. Following the Liverpool fans’ walkout there was a climbdown over ticket prices. Principal Owner John W Henry, Chairman Tom Werner and President Mike Gordon apologised for upsetting fans because they (the three above, not the fans) didn’t want to be thought of as greedy:
“…The three of us have been particularly troubled by the perception that we don’t care about our supporters, that we are greedy, and that we are attempting to extract personal profits at the club’s expense. Quite the opposite is true…”
And so it went on, and on.
Prices will be frozen for a couple of seasons, there will be £9 tickets, lots of good things for Liverpool fans. Well done Spirit of Shankly and hopefully it will be a wake-up call for the Premier League but, with no mention of prices for away supporters reflecting the horror that is the Anfield Road corner, I’ve no reason to change my opinion. I’ll continue to believe FSG are greedy and, whatever they think about Liverpool supporters, that they don’t care one bit about those from Sunderland, Stoke, Spurs Southampton, anyone else beginning with S, or even Everton. If there’s no change, and if we stay up, I think this is one ground I’ll avoid next season.
Tony Fay (one of last year’s WAY contributors) was one of the Liverpool supporters who walked out. I‘d been looking for him in the pub before the game but hadn’t been able to find him, so I sent him an e-mail afterwards. His reply:
“I was in the back room, not sure how you missed us. I was also back there 20 mins early after the game so as far as I am concerned we won 2 0 “.
I just thought you’d appreciate this helping of Scouse humour.
Other news came from Bolton, who announced the death of their Chairman, Phil Gartside. It was under Gartside’s chairmanship that Sam Allerdyce took Bolton into the premiership, to a League Cup final and into Europe. You probably didn’t see it but Big Sam was on the late North West News offering his condolences:
“My memories are great. Later on we may not have seen eye to eye but, certainly, the journey we took from 1999 to 2007 was magical..”
I don’t remember seeing Sam play for us but I have an abiding memory of watching Bolton play Blackpool at Bloomfield Road, when he made one of the best sliding tackles I’ve ever seen (the others were from Charlie Hurley, Len Ashurst and Jimmy McNab, of course). Flat out, leg extended, he won the ball cleanly and perfectly. What a great pity that aspect of the game has disappeared. What a pity, also, that my memory can’t be true, the chronology’s wrong. Perhaps it wasn’t Bolton and I was there when he was playing for us. Time to visit the Statcat, perhaps?
Having mentioned Blackpool I have to go on to say that they’re another club where relations between owner and fans are strained, which some might say is putting it mildly. There’s hope of a rapprochement, however, as Karl Oyston, who has since broken a year-long silence to say he had no intention of selling the club, has invited fans’ groups to a meeting in March. We’ll be watching that one.
And having mentioned Europe, I can let you know that Enterprise, the car hire firm who are new sponsors of the Europa League, have started off their sponsorship with a competition for a VIP experience for a quarter final match, and I think you could go all the way to the final if you’re lucky. Check it out at: www.enterprise.co.uk/en/about/sponsorships/uefa/europa-league-promotion.html, it’s not a bad competition. (The Enterprise one, not the Europa League).
Finally, there’s a new star at Goodison but you won’t have seen him mentioned during the transfer window. Nine year old George Shaw, who has cerebral palsy, took a penalty during half time in the Everton-Swansea game. Fans voted it goal of the month and he was presented with a trophy by Roberto Martinez after being rung up at home by some of the players to be told he’d won.
Sometimes, football leaves you feeling good. Well done, George, well done Everton fans, well done Everton FC.
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I’ve been having trouble with links to the website of our pals at Classic Football Shirts. They’re not only rather chuffed with their range of Sunderland away tops from recent years, they also have shirts from other clubs and can boast a huge range from all around the world, starting at £10. I was trying to get to some of these and I couldn’t but I think you should be able to link to their site from https://www.classicfootballshirts.co.uk/ rather than from the link I was originally given, which I’ve now removed.
They’ve also started doing a ‘Football Shirt Friday’ video
Maybe you’ll be able to follow that link and get to the site. If not let me know.