Monsieur Salut writes: Why does Salut! Sunderland exist? What prompted its creation? What was my first game? What have been my highs and lows of supporting Sunderland? All the kind of questions we regularly ask Who are You? candidates. This time the boot was on the other foot. The newish Football Friends site wanted answers from me. Here they are – and do check out the site for chats with those responsible for other club blogs …
Football Friends: What made you start your website?
M Salut: I’d been made redundant after hundreds of years as a journalist, was living in Paris and decided to stay in France. As well as freelancing (but in the south), I decided to launch salutsunderland.com as an offshoot of francesalut.com, my own version of a blog I’d written from Paris for my then employers (The Daily Telegraph).
How long have you been blogging on your website now?
That was the beginning of 2007, so we’ve passed our 10-year milestone. The aggregate of hits – well over 3m – seems impressive but there are days and days!
What are your favourite football topics to blog about?
I am proud of our Who are You? series, interviews with fans of our next opposing teams. I am prouder still of the fabulous contributions made by my lifelong pal Pete Sixsmith [catch the impressively slimline Sixer talking politics on France 24 TV before the general election], whose matchday reports and features combine huge footballing knowledge, warmth and wit. He’s a retired teacher but should have made his living as a writer.
How long have you supported Sunderland and when was your first game?
My first game was Middlesbrough 0-1 Sunderland, taken to Ayresome Park by my dad (a Londoner exiled in County Durham so, while quite liking Sunderland, no partisan interest). Brian Clough scored the winner and it was in March 1962. I was instantly hooked. And yes, that makes me a seriously old git.
Your favourite Sunderland player of all time and why?
I would be torn between Charlie Hurley, a wonderful old-fashioned centre-half, and Kevin Phillips for his extraordinary goalscoring feats, if I hadn’t been a goalie at school and in the park. So I go for Jimmy Montgomery, yes for the Wembley heroics when we won the cup in 1973 but more for his week in/week out 9/10 and 10/10 performances. I treasure the memories.
Your greatest day as a Sunderland fan?
I couldn’t get a ticket for May 5 1973 so great as the day was, it wasn’t completely mine. I think I’d go for when we hammered Chelsea 4-1 (Dec 4 1999). They’d beaten us 4-0 on the first game of the season, prompting colleagues to taunt me with ‘you’re down already’ messages. To see us deservedly four up at half time, with two apiece from Phillips and Niall Quinn, was sensational.
Your worst day as a Sunderland fan?
All confirmed relegations – I’ve known a few – but in terms of humiliation, seeing us lose 8-0 at Southampton on Oct 18 2014, my first game after coming back from France for the English half of my year.
Your thoughts and predictions for next season now you’re in the Championship? Moyes to stay?
Just after I replied to these questions, Sunderland announced he had resigned. I had offered qualified support to Moyes all season, but with increasing reserve. He lost the fans, or a large number of them, and there were players who didn’t even want to turn out for him, crying injury, on the last game of the season (Chelsea). I welcomed his appointment, while wishing Big Sam hadn’t gone, but his departure is frankly best for all concerned – unless he resigned because the club won’t spend money to get back up.