Tonight we play Chelsea and the players will commemorate the day 75 years ago that a Sunderland goalkeeper took a kick to the face that did not just end his career but cost him his life. Luke Harvey insisted that Salut! Sunderland should mark the anniversary and he was right …
As the transfer window slammed shut with an almighty bang, and you can’t deny it did, p eople up and down the country are analysing the effects of their teams’ transfer dealings. Not to mention the fact that someone is trying to surgically remove the grin from David Craig’s face after he got to spend the entire evening discussing his favourite subject: Newcastle United.
Elsewhere Brian Swanson will undoubtedly be inconsolable after seeing his giant transfer monitor device wheeled away and locked up until at least August, and a cleaner is wiping their brow having narrowly missed cleaning up Jim White’s brain matter as the broadcaster managed not to have his explode at the climax of the window.
For me, as a Sunderland fan, the transfer window was a pretty low-key affair. I never really expected Bruce to be bringing anyone in as the last of the embers went out, he isn’t Harry Redknapp.
I wasn’t expecting the last minute spending like we saw under Roy Keane a couple of years ago when a lot of average players were brought in on extortionate wages. Nor the panic buying we even witnessed last night as Fernando Torres ditched his loyal fans, and Andy Carroll somehow commanded a £35m transfer fee.
Sunderland, in hindsight, seemed to have the right strategy for the deadline day. No incoming transfers, they were all done and dusted at the weekend with the acquisitions of Sulley Muntari from Inter Milan and Stephane Sessegnon from Paris St Germain. And there were a few departures – Andy Reid moving to Blackpool, David Healy to Rangers and Paulo da Silva to Real Zaragoza.
However as everyone else surveys the damage done by the transfer windows climatic hours, the inflated prices and insane speculation, fans can turn their attentions to the 75th anniversary of the death of a Sunderland goalkeeper Jimmy Thorpe.
It’s 75 years to the day since Sunderland and Chelsea played out a 3-3 draw, a match in which Thorpe received a kick to the face. Later that day he collapsed and spent the following Monday in hospital, he eventually succumbed to his injuries and passed away.
In a mark of respect to the 22-year-old player, both starting goalkeepers Craig Gordon and Peter Cech will tonight wear black armbands. Furthermore, Simon Minoglet and goalkeeping coach Nigel Spink will repeat the gesture for the match.
Petr Cech, surely, should know the importance of Thorpe’s death, as his passing ushered the football world into a new era of goalkeeper safety.
Before the new rules, goalkeepers were often subject to large amounts of brutality. Having the ball in your hands didn’t mean an opposing player wasn’t going to charge in with his leg aloft.
So Cech, who suffered a near career threatening injury at the hands of Nicky Hunt several seasons ago, may well be the most fitting goalkeeper for Chelsea in this fixture to remember the goalkeeper who helped Sunderland to what remains their last top flight league title.