A whinge and a prayer. From Blunderland defending to Alice in Sunderland finance

Ken Gambles: ‘can’t bring myself to give up but I understand those who can’

Ken Gambles makes a welcome return to writing action with some thoughts he wish he didn’t feel the need to express …

    Following Saturday’s abject defeat with yet two more worthy entries for the Bumper Book of Comic Defending, a number of questions raised themselves.
 First up
* what is the point of going to watch Sunderland at present? Performances and results are all too predictable and it’s difficult to see where improvement will come from. The press and message boards, even our own stalwart, Pete Sixsmith, are on the verge of finding something preferable to do with their time
* from my own point of view, I’ll no doubt carry on as I admit I’m locked into it and at 68 feel I might as well keep attending. I can’t however criticise anyone who feels the situation at the club has reached such a point that not attending becomes the favoured option
Next question
* what exactly are Ellis Short’s intentions for the club? Plenty of speculation is taking place but from the man himself and his placeman Bain, silence. We all know the debt is huge but how another relegation can ease the position is hard to see and yet with zero money spent on transfers (loans excluded) it would appear that this is what is being accepted.
* The esoteric world of finance is real Alice in Wonderland stuff and I wouldn’t presume to say I fully grasp all the ramifications, but if say the debt is £65m, is it such a huge difference if it were £68 m, which would at least have given Chris Coleman (our only hope) more of a fighting chance than relying on loans of inexperienced players?
Another question
* (something we were forewarned about), why is the refereeing in the Championship so abysmal? I’ve seen 22 league games this season and in the overwhelming majority the referees have been poor, very inconsistent in decision-making and often losing authority. They have been so bad that they almost (yes, almost) make Kevin Friend look competent. Who knows what to expect in Division One?
Here’s another 
* can we do anything to please the gods of football? Would it be worth praying or paying homage as for the past 15 years they have inflicted on us 19 and 15 point seasons, constant relegation struggles, four home wins in the last 30 or so games and now the prospect of successive demotions.
Please, please give us a break.
And finally
*  I could go on but just one last question: Billy Jones? [come back tomorrow morning, Ken, and you’ll see our Billy lauded by the Bristol City “Who are You?” interviewee.
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4 thoughts on “A whinge and a prayer. From Blunderland defending to Alice in Sunderland finance”

  1. I’m not quite as old as some of the posters above. However I have to agree with what Mick says above. This is the worst state, worst team, worst attitude from owner (doesn’t the list go on forever?), that I’ve seen in my life time.

    To get to answer Ken’s question, it seems to me that somewhere in the world, Ellis Short has employed his accountant/actuary or whoever to figure out how he can get as much as possible back in terms of cash.

    Players who have any residual value have been sold or at least loaned out to get them off the wage bill. The end game is to pocket the parachute payments this season and possibly next, because it must make most financial sense to take this cash and run when these legacy monies dry up, irrespective of what the club is worth to any buyer. The value that ES put on it 6 months ago is now a pipe dream. Nobody is going to buy the club for anywhere near figures discussed at that time.

    None of this takes into account the state of the club (if indeed by such time there is anything left of a football club), when this day comes. Short has no interest in anything other than clawing back as much as he can of the money that he has invested/wasted.

    I’m amazed that anyone has the stomach to turn up and watch this dross on a fortnightly basis. I’ve stopped and been stopped a while now. It will take an awful lot for me to even consider going back.

  2. I’m 65 and saw my first game in 1962. Maybe it’s an age thing, but like Ken I’m still going and will probably keep going – because it’s just what I do. It’s my hobby, and the way I spend my Saturday afternoons. Home games at the SoL and away games watching it on the dodgy satellite in the pub. Plus a couple of away trips a season. But (as I keep telling my wife) “Don’t think I’m out enjoying myself!”

    I do the match bit because it has to be done – like it’s a religious observance, or a weird kind of fetish. But I don’t think I could manage it without a good drink. Me and my mates meet up for a few before the match and then a few after the match. Away games in the pub, it’s a few during the match as well. And without wishing to sound like a plonky, I have to say that the drink is always better than the football these days. In fact the match is more likely than not to spoil a canny day out.

    This is absolutely the worst football, and the worst team I’ve ever watched in my life (and we’ve had some rubbish since 1962). It’s worse than the team that went into the Third Division in the 80s, and it’s worse than the 15 point season – which was a poor team but playing against Premier League opposition. This current team is playing against poor teams who often have been as bad as us (almost), except we are the ones who keep losing. I honestly haven’t seen a good team this whole season. The division is full of crap, and we are the crappest.

    I also don’t understand the finance. The club will be worthless soon, so how does Short get his money back? Unless he intends to take all of the parachute payments from this season and next, and then just walk away – leaving us like an asset-stripped, failed business with the windows boarded up and a “Premises To Let” sign.

    It’s enough to drive anybody to drink.

    • I saw my first game in 64 Mick but unlike you I haven’t been a regular for all that time. I went to college in London in the 1970s, had a couple of years back in the North East in the mid 70s then went to college in Lancashire for a PGCE and moved to the Midlands for work in 79 where I lived until 2011.

      For most of that time I was playing sport (footy and cricket) on Saturdays so didn’t get to many games anywhere, but in the mid 90s, when my sporting activity was mainly midweek squash and badminton, I resumed my Sunderland spectating.

      I went home and away to most games, mainly with friends I made through the Heart of England Branch of the SAFCSA and the crack and the social side was as important as the footy on what was usually a good day out, whatever the result. I kept my season ticket through the Peter Reid days, the debacle of the Wilkinson and Cottrell reign, the Howard Wilkinson and interim appointments and was travelling up for home games even midweek when getting home at 2.00 in the morning meant only a brief kip before getting up for work.

      Moving back to the North East made things a bit easier and I stuck with things throughout the consecutive “great escapes.”

      Over that period my siblings had long stopped going. The HoE branch had long since stopped running buses to all home games and I was going straight to the ground, leaving disappointed more often than not and coming straight home afterwards.

      But I still stuck with it throughout the Moyes period, even though to me it was obvious years ago that our “blessed owner,” despite pumping money into the club in the early days, was not improving the state of the club.

      The reasons I am a no longer a regular attender are many and complex, to do just as much with morality, the double standards that the club has shown, especially in regard to the Adam Johnson and Cabral situations, the sheer ineptitude in the running of the club with regard to contract negotiations, player recruitment, the obscenity of the salaries paid to those on and off the field as much as the absolute dross I no longer wish to pay to watch.

      But I outlined the main reason I became disillusioned in an article I wrote at the start of the 2016/17 season, where I felt that under Allardyce at the end of the previous season, we had everything in place to consolidate and progress as a club and it wasn’t taken.


      I continued to go last season as I had bought my season card. I didn’t enjoy many games at the SoL and when I had to miss a couple owing to surgery and the subsequent recovery time, it convinced me that I wouldn’t get withdrawal symptoms if I stopped going and I haven’t.

  3. I feel I must say something in advance of tomorrow’s WAY.
    My nephew wrote his article before Billy Bunter’s latest blunder (more below) and declined my suggestion to change his response once it had happened. Quite brave – or mad!
    I had the misfortune to be there for both this Billy blunder and an identical one v Sanchez, playing for Arsenal, last season. If someone can find you tube clips of the two, we may discover we have been too harsh as there turns out to be a “Bermuda triangle” on that particular square metre of pitch!!

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