Monsieur Salut’s hibernation is nearly over.
It’s back to France at the weekend – with any luck catching Bennett and Barnes in commentary from the Hawthorns – without even the need to plan a return for the 40th anniversary cup final in which we forlornly hoped Sunderland might feature.
There’s lots of riveting nostalgia to come on the essential part of SAFC history that is May 5 1973 and all that preceded it that year. And you can use this posting to guess the West Brom-Sunderland score – I’ll send a mug to the reader who is first to predict the correct outcome, usual rules applying.
But since I am heading across the Channel, it seemed as good a time as any to have a parting blast at the absurd posturing we’ve seen from Arsene, otherwise admired as man and manager by M Salut, and all the Montys and Ruperts and Pierses who support Arsenal. Arsenal? Global brand and never forget it … they expect to win every game and stamp their feet when they don’t.
It appears at our ESPN pages – http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/1116?cc=5739# – and this is a sample that establishes the link between their club and ours:
Arsenal have won the top-flight championship on 13 occasions, the FA Cup 10 times, the league cup twice and the European Cup-winners’ Cup and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup once apiece.
It is true that the last two of these achievements were the 2004 Premier League title and FA Cup in 2005. But it is also true that at the time Sunderland last won the Premier equivalent, in 1936, Arsenal’s league honours record was inferior: four league titles compared with Sunderland’s six.
Successive generations of Sunderland fans have had a long time to live with a dip in fortunes that has produced one FA Cup triumph, in 1973, as the only significant silverware since the same trophy was won in 1937. There isn’t even the compensating hope that this merely reflects cyclical patterns, with seriously good times bound to return soon. Half the league titles were in the century before last …
… Sunderland supporters get their thrills from staying up, pushing at the top 10 now and again, pulling off unexpected victories over the elite. And they turn up in droves because they share a sense of club and community spirit that all the Ruperts and Montys and Pierses can but dream of.
If I ruffle a few feathers, so much the better. If Piers Morgan is indignant, I’ll shout for joy.
Otherwise, I will continue to edit from afar in the knowledge that Pete Sixsmith, Malcolm Dawson, Steve Goldsmith, John McCormick, Ken Gambles and many other Salut! stalwarts – including my fellow exile, Jake – will ensure the site remains essential reading for Sunderland supporters and also for lovers, SAFC-supporting or not, of good writing on football.
So where does folk-rock come into this?
My three final cultural exploits before boarding the ferry at Dover – much cheaper than the Shuttle – have seen me rub shoulders (OK not quite but they were there, too) with Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska at the premiere of Stoker, pay Arsenal-style prices for Carmen at the Royal Albert Hall – thought it might please the missus – and drive from London to Leeds and back for Fairport Convention, which did please the missus.
If you’re old enough to care, my report from the City Varieties is here: http://www.salutlive.com/2013/02/fairprot-convention-theyre-old-enough-they-know-better.html
And as always, Ha’way the Lads. At the Hawthorns and beyond …