For the first of two Sunderland vs Leeds United ‘Who are You?’ interviews,, we turn to Susan Gutteridge*, who has always been Salut! Sunderland’s link to the SAFC Ladies Team, for which she is official (voluntary) photographer and the mother of team member Natalie. She happens to support Leeds, despite being a County Durham girl (if only just), and remembers feeling just a little lonely at school in Bishop Auckland in the aftermath of May 5 1973. I am delighted to introduce Susan to this series – she is absolutely committed to the women’s team, proud of their sensational exploits and more than a little fond of Sunderland AFC …
Salut! Sunderland: As a Leeds supporter deeply embedded in the Sunderland football culture, through your links with SAFC Ladies, is the FA Cup 3rd round tie a special occasion for you?
Yes, the game will be a special occasion for me. Although I have been a Leeds supporter for as long as I can remember, I have a soft spot for Sunderland and you could probably say they are my second team. Natalie my daughter, started playing for Sunderland Ladies back in 2006 and I suppose the interest started then. I bet there are not many houses in the North East where a Leeds and Sunderland shirt are drying side by side on the washing line!
You know what May 5 1973 means for Sunderland supporters; what is it like for Leeds fans to be reminded of it every time someone mentions great FA Cup finals?
With an interest in both camps, it does get mentioned quite a bit. But the tables have turned now, so maybe it’s time for Leeds to get their own back!
If this is not indelicate, are you old enough to recall the day, and the sensation of being part of only two groups of football supporters (Leeds and Newcastle) not to be delighted at the outcome?
I was at secondary school in Bishop Auckland at the time of the final and was the only Leeds supporter in the class. Having won the cup the previous year against Arsenal and being favourites, I was quite confident. When Ian Porterfield scored for Sunderland, it was safe to say I was reluctant to go to school that Monday morning. I got some stick that day!
How good do you think Leeds were in those far-off glory days? And how bad has it been in recent times? Do you see a way back or has greatness gone for good?
Leeds were very good in the glory days of Bremner, Hunter, Lorimer, Gray and Clarke (Sniffer my favourite player), but the last 12 years haven’t been good for Leeds. Despite the ups and downs at the Club, they still manage to bring in excellent crowds, especially on away trips.
Looking back, there were all those jibes about “dirty Leeds” and some suspicion about the way Don Revie went about his job. Have you ever felt unloved as a club or do you put it down (historically at least) to jealousy anyway?
Leeds in the past had an aggressive style of play and to this day still get taunted with “dirty Leeds” by most teams. I think most of the fans quite enjoy the banter with oppositions fans over this on match days.
Did the word “revenge” enter your head when our teams came out of the hat together for this season’s FA Cup?
No, revenge didn’t enter my head, I was quite excited at the fixture, I think the last time I saw a Sunderland v Leeds game was Boxing Day 2006. Hope the game isn’t as one sided as it was that day!
You’re deeply involved in the Sunderland women’s football team, as official and mother of Natalie, a team member. Do you feel any affinity with the men’s team? And any particular thoughts on the fans, the city, the region, Poyet?
Although from the North East, born in Middleton in Teesdale which is close to the Yorkshire border, I suppose I do qualify as a Leeds fan and not just a glory supporter back in the day. Having a close link with Sunderland through Natalie playing on the Ladies team, I have become quite attached to SAFC We usually go up to the Stadium of Light when Leeds aren’t playing and if Leeds are playing I will keep checking twitter to see how they are doing. I really like Gus Poyet especially after he did well as assistant manager at Elland Road.
Tell us a little about your association with the women and your thoughts on their remarkable achievements
I joined Sunderland Ladies Committee when Natalie started to play for the team back in 2006. As they had no website I volunteered to build one which led to me being their official photographer, covering both home and away games and travelling with the team.
The girls are a great bunch of lasses, so much so that they are known as the Sunderland Family and I think this is one of the reasons why they have done so well over the years. They reached the FA Cup final in 2009, became National Premier League Champions for three consecutive years and last season were promoted into the top tier of the FA Women’s Super League. A fantastic achievement especially as the girls are mostly students or have full time jobs – their reward being formally integrated into the SAFC structure in 2013.
And your views on the development of the women’s game (a subject close to Monsieur Salut’s heart as the father of a player, also called Nat(h)alie?
The development and interest of the women’s game in the last few years has been great especially with the introduction of the Women’s Super League and games being televised to give more coverage. With SAFC Ladies getting promotion into the top tier of the FA Women’s Super League last season, this is fantastic for the female game in the North East, especially with the amount of Sunderland girls currently in the England Senior Team.
SAFC vs Leeds United: Guess the Score at https://safc.blog/category/fa-cup/may-5-1973/
Back to Leeds: do you feel strongly about the way the club is run – in particular the Massimo Cellino/ Neil Redfearn pairing?
Don’t really have any strong views on the way the club is run, although its good to see Neil Redfearn getting his chance after doing so well with the Academy and bringing the youngsters through to the first team.
Best and worst moments as a Leeds supporter?
Best – Reaching the semi-final of the UEFA Cup (1999/2000) and Champions League (2000/2001)
Worst – being relegated to League One
Best and worst players you’ve seen in Leeds colours?
Best – Clarke, Batty, Radabe, Kewell, Smith
Worst – too many to mention!
Leeds are currently just above the relegation zone, as Sunderland are in the Premier. Where do you expect each club to finish?
Both teams are very inconsistent at the moment, but hopefully if they can put a run together we should see them both safe.
And who will win the FA Cup?
Think I will go for Man City.
Diving: so prevalent we may as well give up and put it in the coaching manuals, or still worth tackling?
Needs to be tackled, spoils the game. Don’t see it much in the women’s game.
I bet you’ll be at the game. Would you hazard a guess at the score?
Yes, hoping to be at the game. I think Sunderland will just clinch it, so going for 2-1.
* Susan Gutteridge on herself: I live in Bishop Auckland, work as an IT Support Officer for the Diocese of Durham. Official photographer for SAFC Ladies on a voluntary basis, covering all home and away games.
Started supporting Leeds about the age of 11. Usually go to all home and some away games when they don’t clash with SAFC Ladies matches. Check out the team’s site at http://sunderland.fawsl.com/index.html
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