Pete Sixsmith, George Honeyman, wonderstrikes, and many points to ponder

Pete Sixsmith writes: I have been dormant since that gut wrenching, heart breaking, anger inducing last minute defeat to Charlton, a game which showed that we were not good enough over 46 league games or over 90 minutes, two observations that were as worrying as they were disappointing.

Subsequently, I paid little attention to and took little interest in what was going on in the football world, a world that for many seems only to exist at Eastlands, Old Trafford, Anfield, Stamford Bridge, Ashburton Grove and White Hart Lane. Or, if you are a Newcastle United supporter, outside of a Sports Direct shop where you can shout rude things about the owner.

The Women’s World Cup passed me by although I did enjoy the bits I saw, as I was beavering away assessing the nation’s gilded youth’s knowledge and understanding of America 1920-73 for one of the examination boards and trying not to chuckle at a very earnest candidate who thought that there was a famous jazz musician called Neil Armstrong – presumably he was playing Everyone’s Gone To The Moon.

I spent a very enjoyable day in York with eight old (and we are) school friends, supping a few pints, having a good meal and falling asleep on a train and once the marking had been completed and Satchmo had taken off his space suit and moon boots, I spent a lovely week in Herefordshire (just), walking the Malvern Hills.

There was some football involved. I visited Edgar Street, a place forever fondly remembered by those of the red and white persuasion for THAT day in 1972 when John Tudor lost the ball and Ronnie Radford crashed home the most splendid of goals.

Hereford FC’s (United went bust) ground has changed not a jot since that day, although the trees that people sat in to avoid the 30p admission are gone. I saw an enjoyable 2-2 draw with Cheltenham and, if Tony Coton reads this, I would urge him to have a look at a young Cheltenham forward called George Lloyd.

The day after, I paid a visit to Droitwich Spa to see the home team fight back from 1-3 down to draw with Malvern Town, the big boys from down the road, and sky a last-minute penalty into the bushes, thereby failing to put the proverbial icing on the proverbial cake.

Other than that, I have despaired about the state of the world, the nation, the English Cricket Board, Leeds RLFC and the attitude of some of my fellow supporters to George Honeyman. We’ll leave Trump, Johnson, The Hundred and the prospect of my “first love” having to play Batley, Dewsbury and Swinton next season and concentrate on the latter.

I have been watching Sunderland regularly since 1964. In that time, I have seen a host of charlatans, fakes, idlers and ne’er do wells don the red and white stripes. Some of them managed to fool large areas of the support into believing that they were dedicated and committed to Sunderland and that all they wanted to do was to run out at Roker Park or The Stadium of Light and that they were as much in love with the club as we, the fans, were.

I’ve also seen some hard working, committed players who may lack the explosive talent of those in the previous category, but actually were dedicated to SAFC and who wanted nothing more than to don those stripes and give their best. That might not always be of the highest quality but as Argus used to say about Bobby Kerr, “he could not be faulted on the score of effort”.

George Honeyman falls into that category. He has been at the club a long time. He worked his way up through the Under everythings to the fringe of the first team, making his debut when he replaced the wretched fraud aka Ricky Alvarez as we crashed out of the FA Cup at Bradford City. After the nightmare known as The Moyes Period, he was selected regularly by Simon Grayson and Chris Coleman and, when Jack Ross came in to try to revive the (ahem) sleeping giant he was made captain. A local lad who had come up through the ranks, made captain. What’s not to like about that?

Unfortunately, there are a number of people who don’t. On the odd occasion that I can be bothered to look at the SMB message board, the amount of vituperative comments about Honeyman sickens me. Some of them are plain offensive while the “s***e” word is frequently used to describe all that he does. Here we have a youngish man who has worked hard at his profession and made he most of his abilities. He has stuck with the club in its darkest days, has chipped in with some valuable goals and is clearly well liked by his bosses and peers.

But, because he is not up to the standard of player that some of the posters think we should be employing, he is lambasted for whatever he does. This is a club that spent a record fee on Ndong, a club that wasted money on Alvarez and signed a player in McNair whose concept of loyalty was to bunk off at the earliest opportunity.

It’s not just Honeyman. The owners have had a rough time on social media. The manager has been torn apart. Other players have been condemned by those who seek to prolong the negativity that can often descend over The Stadium whenever anything goes wrong.

At one stage I seriously thought about surrendering my season ticket and not bothering any more. The relentless carping and criticism had worn me down, so much so that I stopped looking online and relied on newspapers for information and observations. A return to SMB has seen a small change in how players are treated but too many posters seem to forget that footballers are human beings and deserve some consideration; criticism yes, insults no.

As for the year ahead, we know what needs to be done. The squad is smaller, less well paid and hopefully, hungrier. The new players brought in seem more energetic and there are home produced players like Robson, Embleton and Hume staking a claim to a place in the squad.

Let’s hope that they are given a fairer crack of the whip than Honeyman has been by some of the support…


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16 thoughts on “Pete Sixsmith, George Honeyman, wonderstrikes, and many points to ponder”

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments on Honeyman. Like Jordan Henderson, his ability to move the ball forward quickly with only 1-2 touches impressed me.
    Before the start of last season, I came across SMB and was disillusioned by the many critics dominating its threads. It also took away much of my enthusiasm for the start of last season. I simply didn’t recognise these fans as Sunderland supporters, by which I mean fans who know we never have the best players, but will support those who give their best.
    The saving grace for me was two-fold. Firstly, that my mates at the match shared my views and had never visited SMB. Secondly that my only subsequent visit to SMB was last month to check comments on Steve Bruce’s new job No plans to return to that site this season!

    • Paul, I’m going to have to go back to SMB as I seem to agree with everyone on SALUT.
      SMB used to be a good forum a few years ago but as you say, now it’s totally depressing. I wonder if there are actually any SAFC supporters on that site or at least those who attend games.
      Agree, Honeyman always gave his best and I support him for that. Compare Rodwell, who has more natural talent but treat the club & supporters with disdain.

  2. Talking about numpties, another favourite story is being trapped next to this big guy who obviously hated Marcus Stewart and he spent the 1st half berating him every time he got the ball, loudly. I’d like to say that I had a word with him and asked him to refrain, but fortunately this p**s head cleared off to the pub and didn’t come back for the 2nd half.

    The lack of abuse seemed to work for Marcus as he went on to score a brace 2nd half and win the game for SAFC.

    I guess there is a moral in that story somewhere.

  3. Dave / Malcolm, kindred spirits, your comments are spot-on. I like Chris Maguire but some games he does disappear yet doesn’t get the Honeyman stick(and he shouldn’t). Ozturk, I said elsewhere he was obviously unfit at season start but from his Hearts days this was powerful centre back who isn’t shy going forward and so it proved, despite the SAFC numpties comments.

  4. Regarding Honeyman, the received wisdom about the ‘great’ Sunderland fans is that if you try your hardest in every game they will accept that and treat you well. What garbage that is in respect of the keyboard warriors and some of those at games. I cannot think of a single game where he did not try his hardest. Sometimes he was superb, particularly in covering back on quick breaks (Rochdale, for example) and sometimes he was poor. Surely that applies to every human being in their workplace, and it certainly applies to, for example, Chris Maguire who is either terrible or brilliant with seemingly no middle ground but doesn’t get any of the abuse aimed at Honeyman. Is it because he is local, in which case even more shame on these ‘great’ fans?
    I agree that he would not have been a first choice in the team this year but he would have been an able and competent replacement AND would, without doubt, have tired his heart out.
    I wish him nothing but good luck in his future career.

    • Agreed Dave. I avoid social media and sites such as HITC who seem to have an agenda which involves reporting negative Twitter comments. Many of what you term the keyboard warriors lack consistency and objectivity. At the start of last season, Baldwin was apparently the best thing since King Charlie going by all the Jackenbaur references, while Ozturk was a waste of space who wasn’t good enough to wear the shirt but by the end of the season those same posters were asking why he hadn’t been first choice as Baldwin fell out of favour. Lee Cattermole went through the same.

      The attitude of one man, wrapped in a Sunderland flag at Fleetwood summed those types up for me as he stood berating Jimmy Dunne at full time, presumably because he hadn’t put enough effort in his warm up as he never even got on the field.

      Honeyman or N’dong? Cattermole or Rodwell? Nosworthy or Stubbs? I know which ones I preferred in a Sunderland shirt.

  5. The treatment of George reminds me of Jordan Henderson.
    After Bruce changed his team role he received abuse because he no longer bombed down the wing and put in pinpoint crosses.
    My favourite story is going to the match with a JH hater and focusing on his performance in the game. He was everywhere, breaking down attacks, holding the midfield together, creating, even in the refs face supporting his team mates, my MOTM.
    Afterwards the JH hater turned round said “Henderson was absolutely sh*te”. I was gobsmacked. Sorry, but some SAFC supporters & particularly those on SMB are not the full shilling. Hope George goes on to be as crap as Jordan.

  6. Totally agree about Honeyman & also the staggering grief sent Donald’s way. Even JR!
    Is this peculiar to Sunderland? I know the Mags have similar but they have good reason. Re Honeyman, Ross & our Board, we don’t and, in fact, we have everything to be thankful for.
    PS. You actually swayed out of that pub in York. Like a tanker on choppy seas.

  7. It’s being reported that Hull City have had a bid for Honeyman accepted. This would make sense as we are overloaded with midfield players at the moment and with Power, Embleton, Maguire, Dobson, Gooch, Robson, Mumba and O’Nien, Ross will not be short of options for that number 10 spot.

    It would also free up space on the wage bill for another left sided defender. Like Pete I have always been impressed with Honeyman’s attitude and commitment but if he doesn’t leave it may funnily enough make team selection more difficult as presumably McGeouch, Embleton and Dobson have all been assured they will get game time.

    • George isn’t just a lad who tries his best, he bleeds as a supporter like us all. It seems that the shriekers who find something wrong in all the club does gives them something to live for. I have written many times in defence of the poor recipients. They claim their opinion is valid, but they seem to have little respect for decent people (like George), or probably themselves. Maybe 100 points may alter their vitriol, but don’t hold your breath.
      Ha’way the Lads!
      PS I still have my Sunderland rattle my grandad made me in 1959 for my first visit to Roker Park.

  8. I have just seen that he is on his way to Hull City. I wish him all the best and I hope that he gets a warm welcome when he returns to the Stadium for his new employers.
    Thanks George.

  9. Totally agree about the SMB which is depressing and seemingly taken over by folk who enjoy criticising every aspect of the club. A recent poster scattermole 89 seems to be our very own Brian of ill-repute. What is it that motivates these dystopians?

    • I wonder what they’ll say when he turns out to be good enough for a championship team? We could find out very soon.

    • Well said, sir.
      I note that Hull City are rumoured to be taking George Honeyman off our hands.
      Our loss, their gain without a shadow of doubt in my opinion.

      I despair about so many things in the modern game including agents; and it has to be said, George Honeyman’s agent has made some very poor statements which have not been helpful to her client(s) or the club.

      But I wholeheartedly agree that this young lad gives his best for the club and deserves a decent career even if he is not quite Lionel Messi.

      I also share your hopes for the up and coming youngsters and for the club in general. Keep up the excellent reporting.

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