You’ll need to scroll down now if you want to know Kevin Ayscough‘s* link to Salut! Sunderland and why he thinks a certain Sunderland fan ought really be supporting Leeds.
Kevin is a down-to-earth United supporter who sees no point in harking back to his club’s glory days, though he says he still cannot work out how we made his trip home to Leeds such a miserable one on May 5 1973. He rates Simon Grayson highly and, even before this week’s results put us 6th and Leeds 7th, saw both clubs finishing in the top six – a re-run of 1963-64 would suit him and most of us, even if we’d want the positions reversed ….
Salut! Sunderland: your chairman Andrea Radrizzani says nothing less than top six will do. Is there a buzz about the place for this season?
Kevin Ayscough: yes, definitely a buzz of expectancy with a new unproven manager at this level. Top 6 finish is a minimum but most are hoping for automatic promotion, just like a dozen others I guess. Failing promotion we would have to settle for finishing above Middlesbrough.
How do you rate him and your manager Thomas Christiansen? Do they have the blend of commitment and ability to get you back up and keep you there?
I rate Radrizzani highly. He seems to quitely go about his business, unlike his predecessor Massimo Cellino who was a bit of a madman to say the least. He has bought back Elland Road and wants to build a new training complex next to the ground. I’m not sure about this as the reason for going to Thorp Arch was to escape the pressures of being around the ground. We shall see.
With regard to the head coach I think he is unproven at this level but it looks as though he is confident he can make a success of it and has had the investment of around 10 new players this season.
Chris Wood, Robert Green and Hadi Sacko are impressive enough names – who else could do the business for you and where do you still need strengthening?
We seem to have decent cover now all over but maybe another centre back would be a bonus as one of last seasons stalwarts, Kyle Bartley has signed a new four-year deal with Swansea. It looks as though we have plenty of cover in midfield with new arrivals Saiz & Klich. We are excited about Alioski.
Is Liam Bridcutt – a great disappointment for us – likely to feature much?
It looks like club captain Bridcutt has been pushed down the order somewhat and maybe he will have to be happy with a place on the bench. It’s amazing how things can change when a new coach arrives as he was a regular for Garry Monk.
How hard is to take that a club with such a mighty tradition, and so recently a force still in the top flight, has had to settle for life some way short of the top for several seasons?
We can’t keep going back to the glory days, we just have to get on with it. Although each new season brings another wave of expectancy I don’t agree that we belong in the Premier League. We are where we are.
Who are the players you did see or wish you’d been around to see, and who made the greatest impression on you from the glory years?
I started supporting Leeds back in ’62 when I was 10 and my first memory was losing the 65 Cup Final to Liverpool, so over the years I’ve seen the great Leeds teams but it would have been good to see the great John Charles in action.
Does anyone from recent times hold a candle to Bremner, Charlton, Giles, Gray etc and later Cantona?
Don’t think we actually saw the best of Cantona but in recent times Jermaine Beckford, Andy Hughes and Luciano Becchio come closest to cult heroes.
And who have been the serious duds?
The serious duds have been Thomas Brolin, Roque Junior and Ross Barclay
Best moments and worst as a Leeds supporter?
Best moments, those Cup wins in 69 & 72. Worst, obviously 73 and losing to Chelsea in the Old Trafford replay of 1970
What is your personal take on May 5 1973?
Unbelievable, still can’t believe we lost, 44 years on I still remember Bob Stokoe running around in that silly hat and the long coach ride home in complete silence for over 200 miles.
And the sometimes bitter rivalry between the two sets of supporters – honest banter or a bit posionous?
I think it’s honest banter really, the posionous stuff is reserved for Man Utd, Chelsea and our local rivals Wednesday, Huddersfield and Hull City
What other thoughts to you have on Sunderland – club, fans, city, region and of course your former manager Simon Grayson?
We would have taken Simon Grayson back and most still would. He built a very good team back in 2008 with the likes of Gradel, Schmeichel, Snodgrass, Howson, Becchio, Beckford, McCormack etc. Your fans have suffered a lot in recent years so it’s time to settle down and build for the future. I hope SG is the man to do it. I like the North East it’s very friendly. The family have a bit of a soft spot for Sunderland for obvious reasons.
What should we expect in the Championship in terms of style and quality?
Although it’s early days I think the preferred style is 4-2-3-1. Quality looks good I think we can score goals from anywhere to help out Chris Wood (although sadly not against Preston)
Is cheating as much an issue as in the Premier League?
I don’t think so but the Premier League has a much higher profile so you see more of it. The one thing that needs attention is the obstructing and shirt pulling in the box at corners.
Best ref, worst ref you’ve seen in Championship games?
Just like other leagues the best ones are the ones you don’t really notice. The worst ones seem to be the Premier League refs.
Hand on heart, where will our two teams finish?
I honestly think both will finish top six. It’s a bit early to say which order yet but hopefully both get auto promotion. A tough ask these days but the playoffs are best avoided.
Will you be at the game? What will be the score?
Yes I’ll be there, we struggle to keep clean sheets so I’ll go for 2-1 Leeds. I’m sure SG will get a good reception.
The final question put to each Who are You? interviewee asks for a potted personal history. In Kevin’s case, this was particularly interesting because he is the husband of our own Pete Sixsmith’s cousin (ie not aunt as incorrectly stated – Ed). So did Kevin have any mischievous/salacious/affectionate lowdown on Pete? Read on …
Kevin Ayscough on himself: I was born near Leeds so for me you should support the team where you were born. I didn’t make Wembley in 65 but enjoyed the League Cup final in 69 with Terry Cooper scoring the only goal against Arsenal. As young lads I remember going to Leeds Bradford airport to see the team returning from their early European exploits with players like Bobby Collins and youngsters Norman Hunter, Billy Bremner & Gary Sprake etc. You could see Don Revie was building for the future. I remember we were supposed to buy Alan Ball from Everton but Arsenal hijacked that one.So on to the glory years even though we seemed to be involved in almost everything there was a feeling that we were cursed, always the bridesmaid, losing battles when we couldn’t get it over the line. I remember when referee Ray Tinkler cost us a game at Elland Road with that infamous offside goal, so we never reproduced the glory years and went downhill trying the find the magic formula with ex players. I suppose we found it with Howard Wiilko, George Graham and David O’Leary for a while who chased the dream and nearly made it,
Since then under the ‘guidance’ of Ken Bates & Cellino we have suffered a great deal but things now look good with increased crowds of 28000 average.
I have seen most of it along the way with the latest playoff defeats against Watford and Doncaster Rovers but hope that I see us make the top grade in the next few years. I am doing my bit in educating grandson Charlie who is a Leeds United nut.
With regard to Pete, did you know he and brothers Michael & Philip were actually born in Leeds, so by my reckoning that makes him a closet Leeds fan!!!