Monsieur Salut writes: Pete Sixsmith won’t mind Michael Goulding, a more occasional contributor, intruding on his new series about Sunderland’s 10 relegations. After Sixer’s priceless if detached reminiscences of the time our club lost its proud record of having played only in the top flight, Mick posted this as a comment. It cried out to be elevated to a proper part of the series even though he, like Sixer, has no direct memories of that first experience of dropping a division.In fact, Mick’s story is about supporting the club rather than seeing it suffer the humiliation of relegation …
Sixer’s was a good piece full of engaging memories (even if they aren’t all mine). I was too young, aged five, to remember that first relegation.
Five-year-olds then were very different from five-year-olds now. We lived in blissful ignorance. Nothing was on the telly, which was just as well cos we didn’t have one, and the only other media outlet that I engaged with was in comic form (Dandy, Beano, Topper etc).
In addition, I had nobody to rouse my interest or take me to the match (dad was from Lancashire and not interested).
I saw my first game in April 1962 (3-0 home win over the Mags!), aged nine. Just to echo Pete’s “past is a foreign country” image, me and my older brother (he was 11)) started going on our own, on the bus from Chester-le-Street.
We left the house about 10am on a Saturday and got home about 6-6.30pm (dark in the winter) having walked back and forth between Park Lane bus station and Roker Park. We hung around outside the ground, pre-match, getting players’ autographs. If I’d let my kids do that nowadays I’d be arrested (for travelling alone – not the autograph bit).
We finished third in that season, behind Shankly’s up and coming Liverpool and Leyton Orient. Leyton Orient! And we think we have it bad!
So we were a good Second Division team. At the moment I’m not sure we’re even that. Sorry for going on, but these retrospective pieces always bring home to you what supporting Sunderland does/has done to our lives.