Season reviews (6): one bound and free

Malcolm Dawson writes… the sixth of our end of season reviews Ken Gambles brings back memories of Saturday mornings at the Houghton Essoldo, when no matter which end of the packet of Smith’s crisps you opened, the little blue bag was always at the other and you had to rummage through the contents before you could sprinkle the salt and enjoy your savoury treat. Bit like watching Sunderland these past few years where patience eventually sees frustration turn to pleasure.

Ken Gambles: bringing more positivity to the SoL
Ken Gambles: bringing more positivity to the SoL


This season has once again been like at a Saturday matinee at the local flea-pit, where however precarious a situation the hero finds himself in, he manages to escape and lives to have further adventures….. and thank goodness for that.

The Saturday of the Chelsea game was one of those wonderful days where if you’d scripted it yourself it could hardly have been better,except of course for the total relief when Everton were vanquished 3-0 and we were safe – not that I relaxed until the final ten minutes or so.
The biggest irony this season would have been if we had been relegated for to me this seems the best side we’ve had for years who play entertaining football (we’ve not seen that in a long while ) and who have escaped the drop by consistently good performances in the second half of the season, albeit playing catch-up.

Hindsight is a marvellous thing and clearly Dick shouldn’t have come back, although I was delighted at the time. I was wrong too about Kaboul and Kirchhoff who have both been immense and at long last I actually LIKE the players again. They play as a team, constantly encouraging each other and appear genuinely fond of the club seeming to have bought in to what Sunderland AFC is all about and what Allardyce is trying to achieve. It’s invidious really to name individuals as each of the settled squad has made excellent contributions towards survival, but Kone is a new Charlie Hurley, Defoe has been a striker par excellence and Vito despite his many detractors has been a major part in our gaining of points.

Jake - Kone simply a rock
Jake – Kone simply a rock

I’m still ecstatic and as someone else observed, it’s like having Tourette’s for whenever I think of staying up I clench my fist and go ‘Yeeessss! Get in!’ The big question now of course is can we consolidate and become at least a strong mid-table side? I feel optimistic (always a dangerous feeling) for Sam won’t settle for coasting and is ambitious for the club to kick on.

Two final points:

1) How amazing is it that we constantly average over 40,000 on the back of so little success yet none of the pundits ever mentions it? Is there a club in Europe with such big gates and so little to cheer about?

2) I believe I also heard something about the Mags as well. What was it now?

4 thoughts on “Season reviews (6): one bound and free”

  1. I agree we have assembled the best bunch of players since Reids time. Can we keep them. It seems Yedlin is positive about stayindM’vila seems to be a problem having a huge wage. We need him he was solid and gets through loads of work. The players we bring in will decide where we end up, although without additions I don’t thinkvwe would struggle next season. The youth players on show seem impressive but we need a creative midfielder and a top striker can we get them?

    • Not just the best bunch of players since Reid’s time but also the fittest and with the best work ethic.

      What impressed me most in the latest escape was how hard the players worked, how together they were and how much better they knew their roles.

      It was the attitude on the field that made it easy for the crowd to be as vocal as it was in those games. When the fans see those on the field showing the same passion as they feel it raises everything a notch.

      This bunch of players seem to identify with the supporters.

      I hate this optimism.

  2. I take your point Malcolm but they have finished in the top four more than once and played in Europe . By comparison our efforts have been pretty poor with two seventh places and one tenth.( Yes, Steve we were tenth) And despite their lack of trophies the Mags fans haven’t had to endure 15 and 19 point seasons. I’ll stick by my observation that we have had it worse than anyone with comparable crowds.

  3. “Is there a club in Europe with such big gates and so little to cheer about?”

    Hate to say it Ken but I can think of one club which has had even less success than we have had over the past 45 years and did even worse than we did this season and who still average gates of over 40,000.

    Now who could that be? Answers on a police horse please.

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