Monsieur Salut writes: a very happy new year to all Salut! Sunderland readers, editors, contributors and advertisers/sponsors. As well as featuring the thoughts of a Barnsley supporter, this is the place for entries in Guess the Score. There’ll be a prize as usual – a book or mug, to be sent to a UK delivery address – and Barnsley supporters are very welcome to have a go.
Thank heavens – though not always – for Twitter. It is, or at least can be, a fruitful place to find supporters of other teams. I was fearing a blank Sunderland -Barnsley ‘Who are You?’ until I found Craig Robinson*.
Craig’s replies, like those of the fan who sat in the same hot seat for the game at their game at Oakwell, are realistic and to the point …
Salut! Sunderland: you slaughtered us at your place. Are you confident you can join the long list of away sides to win at the Stadium of Light?
Craig Robinson: firstly, I was surprised at how bad you were, and didn’t expect to win 3-0. Your lads have picked up a little since Coleman came in, and we have dipped so I’m not very confident of getting a win on current form. I’d take a point before a ball is kicked.
Paul Heckingbottom, great local hero: is he still popular among the fans despite your low position?
Hecky is very well liked & respected by 95 per cent of our fans,. There are the odd few that can’t see further than their noses. He’s worked wonders with hardly any brass to spend & has been pivotal in the development of players like John Stones, Mason Holgate & James Bree.
The Barnsley interviewee for that first game said he’d be happy just to stay up this season. Does the odd new ownership structure – a consortium with interests that include a former US bsseball star but more prominently the NewCity Capital and Pacific Media Group, which already has a high stake in the useful French Ligue 1 club Nice – make you more ambitious now?
I’d agree with the first interviewee; staying up after having all our best players leave for the 2nd time in 18 months is the main goal this season. The new owners will bring in much needed resources & money, meaning we will no longer lose our best players for next to nothing & will be able to up our wage structure which is one of the lowest in the league.
Who is doing well and who isn’t for Barnsley?
A lot of our players that have been brought in this year have no experience in this league, some have done well others havn’t. the one that really stands out for me is Liam Lindsay, brought in from Partick Thistle. He looks as though he’s been playing in this league all his life. we have Joe Williams on loan from Everton who is a fans’ fave already, Gary Gardner from Villa…not so much. The effort from the lads is never questioned; we just lack that bit of quality to put the game to bed, or nick a point when needed.
What have been your highs and lows as a fan?
The best high for me was obviously the year we got to the PL in ’97. Our two wins at Wembley in the ’15-16 season comes pretty close though! The low has to be when we lost the playoff final in 2000 to Ipswich.
And the best – and worst – players you’ve seen in your colours?
I’ve been watching them since ’84 but the best I’ve seen has to be Neil Redfearn, closely followed by Conor Hourihane & John Stones who was still very young when when he was with us before moving to Man City.
We’ve had some stinkers as well, but the worst for me is a tie between Mido & Mounir el Hamour. Terrible.
Any other thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the region, Chris Coleman?
Ironically I have been working in the SR5 area before Xmas (smart meter auditor). Sunderland area has a lot in common with Barnsley, very working class, salt of the earth folk! Your fans seem pretty balanced, too. I also think Coleman will get it going again if he’s given the time.
The Niasse question: are the authorities at last doing what’s needed on diving?
The Niasse punishment is long overdue, the amount of simulation that goes on in all our leagues now is disgusting. (check out Marcus Maddison of Peterborough’s dive).
Hand on heart, where will our clubs finish this season?
I think we will just manage to survive the drop this year; the Jan window will be massive for us this year. I also think that you lads will be the same.
Will you be at the match. What will be the score?
I cannot get to the game, and we have players back from injury so I’m going to back my team to win 0-1 in a scrappy game (sorry!).
Craig on Craig: lifelong Barnsley fan, been involved in the utilities sector since 2005 and am starting a new job on Jan 10 as area manager for an installation company based in Wolverhampton. Married with three kids, live a mile away from Oakwell. the club is my 2nd passion after my family. The photos I have attached are from good times for me, The one with a picture of my lad was the Sunderland game, the other two are from Wembley when we lifted the JPT trophy. I also wanted to use the one with Patrick Cryne (former owner, now terminally ill) in as he is a hero in my eyes. (I’m the one with the blue jeans & Bowie T shirt).