Consider the mess we’re in and you could come up with a decent argument in favour of delaying making the player-of-the-season award until our fate is clear.
Stay up, especially if we can somehow manage to do so in style, and enough people will stop behind at teatime on Sunday to make Danny Collins feel special as he collects his totally deserved honour, matched by a similar award – for the second consecutive season – in the supporters’ poll. Go down and a discreet handover – and handshakes – in the players’ bar would probably suffice.
But no, it will happen before the Chelsea game kicks off. It is not a huge misjudgement, but it seems like a misjudgement all the same.
Danny, pictured by our brilliant snapper Peadar O’Sullivan, will get his warm response from the crowd, but it would have been an awful lot warmer if it were happening in the knowledge that we were safe. The state of everyone’s nerves as 4pm approaches on Sunday will not be compatible with a cosy award ceremony; while we’re on, we might as well do the Salut! Sunderland presentation to winners of the Who Are They? awards at the same time.
Without doubt, Danny recognises this. Delighted as he is to see his sterling efforts rewarded, he makes his mixed feelings well known to safc.com: “It’s nice to get personal awards and it’s an achievement in itself, but with the situation the team are in at the moment, I’ve got to put all that stuff on the back burner and focus on our game. It’s certainly bigger than any other game I’ve played in for the club.”
Among the 10,000 votes cast, Danny – a player in the Joe Bolton, Kevin Ball mould with few airs and graces but never anything short of 100 percent commitment and courage, finished ahead of Kieran Richardson (second) and Anton Ferdinand in third place. Jordan Henderson, Sunderland-born, was Young Player of the Year.
Well done to both. We’d be a lot more effusive if we were writing this on Sunday night after a combination of results that kept us up.