From West Ham, Bournemouth, Spurs to Wearside: Defoe, Player of the Year

Arise Sir Jermain, Player of SAFC's Season
Jake: ‘arise Sir Jermain, Player of SAFC’s Year’

We had a reference to Shakespearian tragedies last week and now Pete Sixsmith quotes the Bard in an appreciation of Jermain Defoe, who has been named Sunderland’s player of the year as voted by supporters. Come what may, the striker has done his job in style. Even the Londoncentric pundits are forever reminding us of the extraordinary achievement of scoring so freely for a team that’s been in trouble all season. All at Salut! Sunderland salute his efforts for the club and welcome the award …

A Snapper-up of Unconsidered Trifles.

Not a description of Billy Bunter, the Fat Owl of the Remove (and a boy one would not associate with the beautiful game), but a Shakespearean twist on Jermain Defoe, our latest Player of the Year.

The Bard of Avon used this phrase when describing Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale, but it perfectly sums up Defoe, a man who has, in the course of 594 games has scored 247 goals, which is not at all a bad record and far better than anything Bunter could have come up with in his XXXXL Red and White shirt.

Jermain won the SAFCSA Player of the Year Award last night, following in the footsteps of the likes of Niall Quinn, Kevin Phillips and the admirable Nyron Nosworthy.

The award has been running since 1977 when local lad Joe Bolton won it, beating off opposition from the likes of Bob Lee, Mel Holden and Mick Docherty as we slid back into the Second Division courtesy of Jimmy Hill and his Amazing Electronic Score Board.

Of the players who started the season, Jermain was the only sensible choice. Some have left, hopefully never to return and few would have considered Billy Jones or Jack Rodwell as likely candidates.

The new players who arrived in January have impressed, none more than Jan Kirchhoff, but have not been here long enough to win such a title.

Martin Bates TFC season ticket holder and SAFC fan with ex Toronto and now SAFC man Jermain Defoe
Martin Bates TFC season ticket holder and SAFC fan with ex Toronto and now SAFC man Jermain Defoe

Defoe may well go down as one of the best signings in the clubs recent history. He arrived 15 months ago after a disappointing spell in MSL with Toronto and was seemingly very keen to get back to the UK. That we were able to exchange him for the somewhat less prolific Jozy Altidore, made the signing even sweeter.

He scored goals last season that helped to keep us up, none sweeter than the one that beat Newcastle at the SoL in April. None who were there will ever forget that screamer that whizzed past Tim Krul and it can be enjoyed every Saturday night in the Match of the Day opening credits.

He has scored regularly throughout his career at various Southern based clubs. He found the net in 10 consecutive games while on loan at Bournemouth, almost kept West Ham in the Premier League and made a controversial move across London to play for Tottenham Hotspur, a club which he is probably most closely associated with.

He spent a year at Fratton Park before moving back to the Lane and then heading west to Toronto before landing on Wearside. Wherever he has gone he has scored goals and he has continued to do so for Sunderland. We need him to continue in the final four games; if he scores, we stay up, it’s as simple as that.

He is one of the most selfish players I have seen in a red and white shirt. If he has half a chance of scoring, he goes for it. The pass to a colleague is not an option; put him near the goal and the only thing he is interested in is scoring.

But did Brian Clough look to knock the ball to George Mulhall? Was Kevin Phillips looking for Allan Johnston as he bore down on the goal? No. A true goalscorer looks to himself and himself alone. They have the knack of turning up in the right place at the right time and of finishing even the most difficult of chances.

His finest goal (so far) is the one that did for the Mags, but I loved the one he got at Norwich. Sure, it was a tap in at the far post, but look at the run he made and the space he created. Borini’s wonderful pass was right on his foot and he made no mistake.

How often has Borini been able to make a pass like that? Not very often. Would Steven Fletcher have been there? Danny Graham? Joey Altidore (the hapless American would have put it over the bar)?

Congratulations also to Duncan Watmore, Young Player of the Year and someone who could do very well for us in the next few years. He impressed at the start of the season, faded away a bit and then suffered a nasty injury. But he came back well and scored at Norwich – and could have scored and set up another one only for enthusiasm to get the better of him.

That enthusiasm was tempered when he replaced Borini on Sunday. His running was far more controlled and he caused their defenders a couple of nervy moments.

A welcome return
Jake: ‘a welcome return, a deserved honour’

It would be grand to see him pick up Player of the Year in the future as his goals and pace lead us to a Premier League title charge a la Jamie Vardy and Leicester City although Defoe likens him to Gareth Bale. He already has a clutch of awards, being voted Altrincham’s Player of the Year in 2013, Barclays Under 21 Player of the Year in 2015 and Revelation of the Tournament at Toulon in the same year. He may well need a bigger mantlepiece before his career is over.

As the Bard of Avon said:

Youth is full of sport,
Age’s breath is short
Youth is nimble.

Let’s hope that Ryan Shawcross finds that out on Saturday.

Beth Mead, the Kevin Phillips of Sunderland women's football*
Beth Mead, the Kevin Phillips of Sunderland women’s football*
*** See what the official club site made of the awards, not forgetting that the Sunderland Ladies’ Beth Mead and Abbey Joice took Player and Young Player of the Year awards in their section. Beth has also been named the PFA’s Young (woman) Player of the Year. Photos courtesy the SAFC Ladies website, from which permission to reproduce has previously been granted, at
Abbey Joice: great prospect
Abbey Joice: great prospect

1 thought on “From West Ham, Bournemouth, Spurs to Wearside: Defoe, Player of the Year”

  1. Apologies to Beth Mead who I stupidly missed out. She is an excellent player and has the great, good fortune to come from Whitby, one of the finest towns in the whole wide world. I shall be cheering her on on Friday night at Eppleton.

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