There are not that many Sixsmiths about, but even if you leave aside the one who used to be on telly (Martin?), the surname does not end with our own big Pete. Step forward Phil Sixsmith, his younger brother, who lives in Greece, a place that makes Sunderland (and the UK)’s crises seem positively benign. Phil dearly hoped his latest visit home might offer a rousing afternoon at the SoL …
Certain fish and chip shops in the Wigan area serve a local delicacy that consists of a bread bun cut in two, dipped in the juice from the bubbling mushy peas pan – pea wet as it is rather alarmingly called – with a potato and meat pie between the pieces of bread.
Served with a generous portion of chips, it has a fat and carbohydrate content sufficient to fuel Bradley Wiggins over at least half a dozen Alps.
For the first 40 minutes of the match on Saturday, the Wigan players must have wished they’d gone back for seconds as they were forced to chase a slick, efficient, enterprising Sunderland side all over the pea wet green turf of the Stadium of Light. One goal was poor reward. Brave goalkeeping and a dreadful miss from Bardsley had frozen the scoreboard, but we weren’t worried. Second half would be a breeze.
What followed was 50 minutes of misery.
A brainless penalty. A break which allowed Martinez to reorganise and a Sunderland side rapidly going downhill as confidence deserted the team and we began to rely on speculative balls from pretty well anywhere.
It’s easy to say Wigan defended with gusto but Sunderland made it oh so easy for them. Technically good footballers resorted to the obvious pass time after time as the players around them seemed incapable of getting into positions which challenged the opposition to do something risky and maybe make a mistake. Whenever the ball was crossed from the flanks, it was exactly the same approach, Kick it fairly hard to somewhere around the six yard box and hope for the best.
There may have been some point in this if the penalty area had been full of Sunderland midfielders making speedy and devilish runs onto the ball, but they were marooned 30 yards out, watching and waiting. And that’s exactly what our centre half and goalkeeper ended up doing in that farcical last minute, lying on the ground and watching the simple finish which would make the pie butties taste even better in Scholes.
As to the Bruce Out debate, I don’t see anywhere near enough games to have a valid opinion, and by the time this hits the website, a decision may have been reached anyway.
For what it’s worth, my participatory background is in running and cycling, sports where you take total responsibility for your own performance and don’t have the luxury of blaming people who weren’t directly involved at the time. Ring any bells?