New man for Sunderland hot seat, an older man on the A list


Colin Randall writes: About the only way I could get through the first half of the Millwall game, even via the Barnes & Benno commentary on the club site, and what Gary Bennett called the worst goalkeeping (Robbin Ruiter) he could recall witnessing, was to read Pete Sixsmith‘s account of a night out with past players. Sadly Tony Coton couldn’t make either the event or the match (he might have got a game on either side as goalkeeping howlers led to a 2-2 that established Sunderland, on one statistical test, as England’s worst home side in history) …


As I walked into Quinns Bar last night for the launch of Tales From The Red and Whites Volume 2, Nick Barnes, the estimable BBC Newcastle commentator shot out and dashed downstairs in a tremendous hurry.

I hoped that it was not bad news for him e.g. the restoration of David Moyes as manager, the sale of the club to Robert and Grace Mugabe, the closure of the Harris Tweed industry and wondered if it could be news on the managerial front. All was about to be revealed……

The evening was arranged by Adam Leventhal and Lance Hardy, publisher and co-ordinator of TFTRW and, as a minor contributor to Volume One, I was asked along as part of the guest list. At 66, I finally made it onto a guest list… bring on the champagne and the dancing girls.

This volume was put together by Lance, Sunderland supporter, freelance TV producer, author of the seminal study of the 1973 FA Cup winning side and all round good egg and he was joined in this one by Graeme Anderson, a latter day Argus in his days at the Sunderland Echo and Rob Mason the much esteemed and much missed SAFC programme editor.

Their task was to choose a team of Sunderland players who might have an interesting and a different story to tell. They got their heads together and picked a team that they considered would be a decent one and an interesting one, all of them with insights into the club and stretching from the days of Shack to the days of Keaneo.

This was what they came up with;

Tony Coton: Darren Holloway, John McPhail, Shaun Elliott, Martin Scott; Tony Towers, Stan Anderson, Stefan Schwarz, Gordon Armstrong; Vic Halom, Stephen Elliott.

Of those, only Tony Coton, Shaun Elliott (just had a hip replacement), Stan Anderson and Stefan Schwarz (on his way to the moon) were unavailable. The Magnificent Seven were and were welcomed by an enthusiastic crowd as they signed books, renewed acquaintances and told tales.

As the evening progressed, the news of Chris Coleman’s resignation and that he was about to be appointed Sunderland manager filtered through. It was met with a general feeling of satisfaction and there were murmurs that perhaps Martin Bain had been playing the long game and did indeed know what he was doing.

All of the players there were adamant that Sunderland were a top notch club and the support was widely praised. Vic Halom had hurt his wrist changing a flat tyre as he drove to the event from home – he lives in Bulgaria. He told stories about smuggling beer into rooms in the cup run and fearing Orient centre half Paul Went.

Stephen Elliott, newly signed by Morpeth Town, told the tale about escorting a newly appointed Roy Keane around the Academy on the manager’s first day as he was the only player Keane knew. He got pelters for that from his team mates.

Martin Scott was the most impassioned and urged the club to allow Kevin Ball a higher profile role at the club, blaming the idiotic De Fanti for moving the club legend sideways. Gordon Armstrong informed us that when he was at school in Gosforth, he was known simply as “Mackem” which explains why he enjoyed the playoff win more than any other player.

All of them were worth listening to and all hoped that the club could get back to the Premier League as soon as possible. The book is as good as, if not better than the Volume One and is a must buy and must read for any Sunderland supporter at home and abroad.

And as for Coleman – here’s hoping he cuts the mustard. I promise never to use that agai

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