In which Monsieur Salut salutes all those who have sustained Salut! Sunderland and announces a splendid little prize competition …
Take a grizzled old Sunderland supporter, a much younger Newcastle fan and the Shotton-born midfielder Tommy Miller. What do they have in common?
Ten years ago this week, Salut! Sunderland was born. And the image you see above was the very first to appear on these pages, in the earliest proper posting on January 16 2007.
There have since been 4,852 further postings (though this would include some unpublished drafts) and as of about 11am today, the site had been visited 3,315,800 times, As I have explained previously, this does not equate to the number of our readers since the total would still be the same if we had only one reader who had been here that often.
Along the way we have added a Facebook group, which has nearly 700 members and I have more than 2,000 followers at Twitter (see links in the following caption).
That first image was found at Flickr, where the subscriber who had taken it, a Newcastle supporter, turned out to be a friend of Tommy Miller, who played for Sunderland between 2005 and 2007. The top had something to do with “a charity thing another friend was doing”.
If John McCormick, our associate editor, had not mentioned it at Facebook, Salut! Sunderland‘s anniversary would have passed without me realising it.
But since it is a bit of a milestone, I will invite comments from readers on what they think of the site, what they recall of the time when it first appeared (midway through the Roy Keane promotion season) and what they make or our current familiar predicament.
Bear in mind that Salut! Sunderland was launched in the year that our current Premier League sequence began, its anniversary falling just as it seems highly likely to end. But choose any roughly related topic you like and offload your thoughts, long or short.
If there is a decent response, I will draw up a shortlist from which a few Salut! Sunderland bods will be asked to select a winner, who shall receive a copy of the work of genius that is Nick Barnes’ Matchbook, his collection of meticulous matchday notes from just one season of commentating on SAFC for BBC Radio Newcastle.
Thanks to everyone connected with the site, whether as fellow editors, contributors, readers or advertisers for helping to make it, for good or bad, what it has become. There are too many individuals to list all by name but Salut! Sunderland would not exist had it not been for Joan Dawson and Craig McGinty and their help in the early days, Pete Sixsmith throughout, the above-mentioned John McCormick and deputy editor Malcolm Dawson (Joan’s brother), a Hammers-supporting web guru Sam and, of course, our illustrator Jake.
And here (with updating notes), is how Salut! Sunderland introduced itself 10 years ago:
Welcome to Salut! Sunderland, a new blog giving news and views about Sunderland AFC from a supporter living far from the Stadium of Light in the south of France. The site is an offshoot of Salut!, a personal blog I created after being made redundant – amid just a little controversy – as The Daily Telegraph‘s Paris correspondent.
Since its launch last October, Salut! has attracted more than 26,000 visits. It concerns itself mainly with things French and Anglo-French, though it has been known to stray into unrelated territory, not least football territory.
With Salut! Sunderland, I am not trying to set myself up as a rival to the Sunderland Echo, Ready to Go, A Love Supreme or any other print or electronic part of the media as a whole.
I may be a season ticket holder, and I may even have a press card, but I am too far from the North East of my childhood to pretend to be a SAFC news service or commentary box.
But I will offer assorted features, recollections and bits and bobs that I hope will be of interest to fellow supporters and perhaps of passing interest to anyone fond of football.
Who knows who might turn up here? Even Lilian Laslandes and Eric Roy, two of our French former players, could take a look inside from time to time……(Monsieur Roy, introduced as l’ancien chat noir (ex-Black Cat) was the studio summariser when French TV screened Boro v Sunderland, our first of precious few victories during the last relegation season).
Please be patient. Development of the site may be slow – even after a year and a bit, what I know about blogging still fits, with space to spare, on the back of an old bus ticket.
There will be trial and error, with the emphasis on error. The scope and nature of coverage will be dictated by my need to earn a living.
After 29 years on the DT, the last two-and-a-half of them in Paris, I have moved to the south – roughly halfway between those well known footballing hotbeds of St Tropez and Toulon – and plan, for now, to work from here as a freelance journalist.
More about me, but especially about Salut! Sunderland, later. Feel free to post thoughts, suggestions, criticisms to which I will reply if response is needed.
And I conclude with the modest hope that Salut! Sunderland grows in tandem with the gradual progress being made by the new-look squad assembled under Niall Quinn and Roy Keane.
* I finally gave up my season ticket because living half the year in London, the other in France, as I now do, restricted visits to the SoL. The outlets I have no wish to compete with have expanded considerably and now include Roker Report, We are Wearside and Sunderland Mad. All that 2007 promise under Niall and Keano has evaporated even if we have clung to Premier League status since going up. Eric Roy has indeed been interviewed. And I still know next to nowt about website technology.