OK Father Christmas, père Noël, Papá Noel, ??????????, ????? ??????? – this completes Salut! Sunderland’s Christmas wishlist. We’ll leave your usual bottle of beer and cigar by the Christmas tree …
R is for Roker Park. We wake from the dream to find ourselves back on/in the (much modernised) Fulwell, Clock Stand Paddock, Roker End, wherever it was we used to stand (or, for those who already did in those days, sit). The Stadium of Light’s great and all that, but can you actually fall in love with the East Stand?
S is for Salut! Sunderland which reveals, in late January, that a consortium including Sir Tim Rice, Lord Puttnam, Gina McKee, Alan Price, Steve Cram and Kate Adie has purchased the site. Press speculation suggests a selling price of at least £1.99. “It won’t change our lives,” says Mr Sixsmith.
T is for the trophy we’d all like Sunderland to win (haven’t decided which one; Barrow (h) is too close to call to allow us to count just yet on it being the FA Cup)
U is for the unbridled joy we feel on winning that trophy (see T); seeing Steve Bruce win three manager-of-the-month awards in a row (see B); finishing sixth (also see B) and watching Bordeaux and Newcastle’s promising seasons fall apart (see L and G).
V is for a collective V-sign to the Football Data Co for its preposterous denial of the freedom of fanzines to say who their teams may be playing on coming matchdays.
W is for the World Cup. Paulo César da Silva started the thought process, the red and white stripes clinched it. Santa should note that our team for South Africa is Paraguay. Let England do well, of course, but that’s too easy; Salut! Sunderland backs Paraguay unless and until they come up against England.
X is for The X Factor. X being for draws, we’d like an x or better from Man United (h), Chelsea (a), Arsenal (a), Man City (h), Liverpool (a), Aston Villa (a), Spurs (h) – plus lots of 1s flor home wins begtween now and May.
Y is for a memorial to Lev Yashin, one of the best goalkeepers in football history. The 20th anniversary of his death falls on March 20 but his soul won’t mind another burst of the song that starts: “Aye, aye. aye aye, Monty is better than Yashin …..”
Z is for the zoology department of Cambridge University, which announces in February that it is to conduct a comprehensive study of supporters of a certain London football club. Footage from events during a game at Upton Park will assist in the research. The press says there is only a remote chance of the scientists detecting human life.
* With thanks to Alex McGibbon and his pages at Flickr for the photo of our fellow Paraguay fans.