Away the Lads. Far away.

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Sunderland have already organised a pre-season programme that will take in the sunshine of Portugal and – who knows? – the sunshine of SundIreland. So this is just for fun.

There is no prize, but tell me this: how could Sunderland play an overseas friendly and still be at home?

The picture gives no real clue, beyond the fact that it was clearly not taken anywhere near the Stadium of Light.

It comes to Salut! Sunderland courtesy of my colleague, Matt Slater (a Man Utd fan who, incidentally, not only knows where Manchester is but actually comes from the place).

Matt was surprised, during a recent holiday in Mauritius, to come across the island’s own Sunderland FC.

“Here is the Sunderland pic from Mauritius,” he tells me in an e-mail forwarding the photograph. “This building is the official home of the team who are, in the words of our guide, ‘mired in mid table mediocrity’. They play in division two. This is where they meet before games and also watch matches on TV. There are about 350 members of the supporters club and the ground – used by about six teams – is a short walk from here.”

While dreaming of an appetising Sunderland v Sunderland clash before the start of the 2009/10 Premier League (we hope) season, a quick check on the internet brought some extra snippets about the Lads out there in the Indian Ocean.

One reference I came across notes that the club changed its name to Sunderland Black River. Another link took me to a list of cup winners and another of league champions, but I fear Sunderland’s name did not leap from either. But then, nor did Arsenal Wanderers, proof that adopting a big English club’s name (Arsenal aren’t a patch on SAFC, of course, but they’re biggish in north London).

Useful teams over the past dozen years have included Sunrise Flacq United, Fire Brigade SC (Beau Bassin-Rose Hill), AS Port-Louis 2000 and Curepipe Starlight SC. But I am sure that in their own way, the Lads maintain their consectatio excellentiae or pursuit of excellence,

But who is the T D Douce whose name appears below the crest? The club secretary, perhaps, or the founder? No, it seems that this is Trou D’Eau Douce, or Trou D’Aux Douce, the part of Mauritius where Sunderland or Sunderland Black River play. If I am right, that would make T D Douce an area of Bambous, described by Wikipedia as “a town in the Black River district of Mauritius, on the road from Tamarin to the capital of Port Louis”.

More useless information for the silly season: this, I am sorry to say, is how the league table looked table after”our” first nine games of the 1998/99 campaign:

1 Century (Port Louis) 11 11 0 0 29- 6 33
2 St. Benoit (Tamarin) 11 7 0 4 18-13 21
3 Young Eagles (Cap Malheureux) 10 5 1 4 23-17 16
4 Curepipe Cosmos 10 4 2 4 11-11 14
5 Mahebourg United 9 4 1 4 12-14 13
6 St. Brigitte (Palma) 10 3 3 4 11-14 12
7 CNFF (Beau Bassin-Rose Hill) 7 2 1 4 9-12 7
8 Preston (Grande Rivière Noire) 9 2 1 6 12-18 7
9 Sunderland (Bambous) 9 0 1 8 6-26 1

…though the good news is that the season appears to have been abandoned at that point (we could have done with that sort of thing in the Premier League in 2003 and 2006.

Now, if anyone comes up with some interesting additional gen, that would be worth a prize of some kind….

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