Colin Randall writes: Malcolm Dawson has been my trusted deputy editor throughout the best years of Salut! Sunderland. He explains below how we came together for site duty and I am deeply grateful that Joan, his sister, suggested he’d be an ideal right hand man. Malcolm is a demanding editor, demanding of himself and of others. He is as fussy as I can be on questions of grammar and taste. And he also happens to write like a dream, as anyone who has seen his reports from games, and his more general thoughts, can testify.
It has been a privilege to work with him and, sadly only occasionally because of geographical distance, enjoy his company before, at or after matches. Thanks, Malcolm, The site could not be in such good order to hand on to new ownership and editorship without all you have done …
It will soon be a quarter of a century since Bob Murray’s vision for the future of SAFC took the club from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light. My sister was living in London at the time and involved in the editing of the London Branch’s newsletter 5/5/73 which was later to be renamed Wear Down South. It was through that involvement that she met Colin Randall and his mate Pete Sixsmith and was asked by Colin to help with his new website when it was up and running some years later.
John McCormick’s contributions to Salut! Sunderland have been immense, as writer and editor. Despite the serious health issues that have confronted him, he has continued in his tireless way to post articles and research and write his own exemplary work, often analytical and backed by meticulous statistical date, all presented with far more technological nous than I can muster. He has been a great mainstay of this site and deserves the rest he has now prescribed for himself.
John McCormick introduces his own farewell: regular readers will know I was told I had a malignant tumour in December last year and was given a scan to see if I had secondaries just before Christmas 2018. That scan revealed a lesion on my liver but couldn’t determine whether it was malign or not. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I received final confirmation that it wasn’t, which closed a sequence of tests – all clear – and ensured that this Christmas would be merrier, and this New Year happier, than the last.
Colin Randall writes: I always worried about images for this site. Without access to professional databases, without – mostly – the nerve to grab photographs from elsewhere unless we had permission or a good excuse – the arrival of Jake was manna from heaven. For eight or nine of our 13 years, Jake – John Clark, a solid Sunderland lad exiled in Spain – has supplied a . wonderful stream of illustrations to preview a match, or record its result, or often enough just to capture a moment, a mood. Salut! Sunderland has been greatly enriched by his presence and I cannot find truly adequate words to express my admiration and appreciation.
Now – though not for the first time as he reminded me this morning (see this) – John/Jake finds words of his own that are not just the witty captions to his own images and banners and those priceless comments he’d sometimes post…
John McCormick writes: I started to put this up not long after Pete Sixsmith sent it, then had to switch off and do other stuff before I could add an introduction. In between I put some music on, courtesy of a USB stick I think my brother-in-law Ed must have left behind.
First up came The Small Faces and “Sha La La La Lala Lee”, which was released in 1966 and echoed round our World Cup venue in honour of the goalkeeper who had helped us gain promotion and who would go on to help us win the cup. Ed, currently a season-ticket holder in the North Stand, Pete, Jake, Malcolm and Colin will no doubt fondly remember those days, as do I and probably many of our readers.
Second up on Ed’s playlist came something from 1982. We were still a first division club then, and would shortly revisit Wembley before enduring a single season in the Third Division. But endure we did.
Now, perhaps, that song is more appropriate. The name of the group -The Jam. The title of the song – “The bitterest pill (I ever had to swallow)”. Step forward one last time, Pete.
Monsieur Salut writes: even in these grim times for Sunderland AFC, it is always a pleasure to be able to present the writing of Pete Sixsmith to a wider audience. In the dying days of Salut! Sunderland in its present form, we have lost our newsnow link, severely curtailing our reach and readership. That appears to be an unintended by-product of the transition to safc.blog so this piece from Sixer may attract a smaller audiece than in the past. It deserves better, as do all SAFC fans..
For however many still see it, here are Pete’s gloomy thoughts from the last home game he will cover for our site …
THE LAST POST
Well, that’s it. Twelve years of writing about Sunderland AFC [nearer 13 – Ed] which have included ups, downs and okays and, for my last game, I get an absolute shocker.
This was a game between two clubs that have had far, far better days and that both seem in permanent decline, never to reach the top echelon of the game while I am still on this mortal coil.
John McCormick writes: if anyone asked what my worst Sunderland game ever was I’d have to say it was the 1-0 loss at Bolton when we were last in the championship.
Pete Sixsmith was there, so he’ll know how bad it was, but judging from a text sent just before the ed of today’s game he appears to have found this one even worse, although we did manage to keep a clean sheet this time. In his judgement today’s game was “undoubtedly the worst game of the decade”
That wasn’t his final word, though. Pete looks forward just as much as he looks backward and his post match seven words send a January message to our owners, our new directors and our rapidly-ageing manager.
Monsieur Salut adds: listening to Barnes and Benno describe what seems to have been an apology for a football match, it was impossible to miss the loud and edgy singing of songs about Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn. This was not because Super Phil Parkinson doesn’t scan very well however you compress the syllables.
I used to love attending Boxing Day games. Ones like the debacle at Bramall Lane two years ago, which I watched with Sixer, and today’s, to which I effortlessly gave a miss, make me grateful Dec 26 offers options. Salut! Sunderland‘s days are numbered as we prepare to hand over to the new regime on New Year’s Day. We’d rather hoped the last Sixer’s Seven from the Stadium of Light would not coincide with SAFC’s descent to another low point in the 140-history of the club: an unthinkable 15th place in the third tier …
John McCormick writes: outside the clouds have rolled in and the rain is sheeting down. It’s a grey day. Inside only the heating system is keeping the cold out. Normally an e-mail from Pete Sixsmith would mean a post bringing cheer and warmth, good feeling and heartiness. So the one that arrived but a few minutes ago was more than welcome.
Alas, some times it’s better to travel than to arrive:
Forget the headline instantly, says its author, Monsieur Salut. Whatever you think of the song, it’s a seriously bad film. Or is it? Is Salut! Sunderland any better as an independent fan site?
All these things are matters of personal taste and judgement.
Doubtless loads of cinema-goers have loved Last Christmas. Some people, I know, will say Salut! Sunderland has been consistently half-decent, sometimes decent.
We’ve made mistakes, backed wrong horses and been generally lousy at technology, even worse at making the site viable. But those involved with it since the beginnings at the very start of 2007, and those who have come aboard since, have had lots of good times presenting their thoughts and (Jake) illustrations about the football club we all love.
It’s almost time to go. The successor safc.blog is already out there, the new owner Dean Cruddace having cloned Salut! Sunderland to preserve the massive 13-year archive as he prepares to launch on New Year’s Day. Eve Sayers replaces Monsieur Salut as editor. Both carry our hearty good wishes.
There’ll be more farewells in the few days that remain of Salut!. But for now, let us just wish all readers, contributors and occasional sponsors and advertisers a very merry Christmas and a happy new year, preferably with wins replacing draws and defeats for Sunderland AFC.