Mixed feelings: au revoir Portsmouth, good riddance Coventry

Monsieur Salut, by Matt

Rarely have I felt such mixed feelings about the fate of two clubs whose relegations have been confirmed on the same day. Sad for Pompey, elated at Coventry’s descent.

Too many Coventry City supporters simply cannot get a grasp on how bitter Sunderland fans rightly still feel about the manner of that relegation in 1977.

Yes, we went down principally because we hadn’t been good enough over the season to stay up. That is a circumstance most SAFC fans have known and accepted. I lose count sometimes but have witnessed something like eight Sunderland relegations.

And yes, too, Jimmy Hill and Coventry ought to have been kicked out of the league for their gleeful exploitation of the ”crowd congestion” that gave them a later kickoff on the last night of the season. This allowed the players of both sides, Coventry and Bristol City, the opportunity, duly taken, to keep the score at 2-2 for the remaining 15 minutes in the knowledge that Sunderland’s defeat at Everton meant a draw would keep both up. Miraculously, the result from Goodison had popped up on the electronic scoreboard.

As the A Love Supreme fanzine put it tonight in a Facebook status update: ”Dear Coventry, enjoy League One. Hahahahahahaha. Yours, Sunderland.”

Indeed, no tears will be shed on Wearside, or anywhere Sunderland supporters are exiled.

Pompey is different. I have always enjoyed going to Fratton Park, despite the certainty of heavy rain in the away end, uncovered until recent years, whenever we played there and the feeling that you were gathered on a bomb site.

Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers, which owned the local papers in each city, may have been no more than a business collaboration. But it injected an element of shared identity. And Pompey has always seemed a proper football club supported by proper fans. Shame on the charlatans who have inflicted on such a club its present plight.

When Pompey, on their way out of the Premier, reached the FA Cup Final for the second time in three seasons in 2010 (this reference has been corrected after an error was pointed out by Frattoniser at the PompeyonLine site), my Paris-based pal Peter Allen, a lifelong Portsmouth fan, wrote these words here:

Portsmouth fans have a lot in common with the fabled band of the RMS Titanic at the moment. The icy waters of bankruptcy are lapping in, most of the lifeboats have long since disappeared, and we’re left manning the trumpets and drums for what is potentially our last hurrah.

As a highly improbable Cup Final against Chelsea beckons following the end of seven successive seasons in the Premiership many of us are even prepared to admit that there might be a fun side to financial meltdown. We may be relegated, £120 million in debt and a few ….ahem… “accounting errors” away from liquidation, but when there’s a chance to run through a few versus of Abide with Me while wearing a bright blue Afro wig what’s not to look forward to?

It will be Que Sera Sera after May 15, but the game itself will be the kind of David and Goliath confrontation that helped define Sunderland’s own recent history.

In 1973 it was Jimmy Montgomery’s double save from Peter Lorimer and an Ian Porterfield volley which earned the nominally second division Mackems a legendary triumph against high-flying Leeds United. As with Pompey, a dismal few months in Europe followed (you went out of the UEFA Cup in the second round to Sporting Lisbon) before some distinctly mediocre seasons and some very serious money problems starting in the 1990s, but at least you had your unforgettable day in the north west London sunshine to bask in for decades to come.

… The eight musicians on history’s most famous liner played their hearts out during the tragedy of April 14 1912, even accepting requests like Alexander’s Ragtime Band and In the Shadows as the waves crashed in.

Both songs could not be more appropriate to our rapidly sinking club (think Alex Gaydamak, and the place you end up after falling out of the Premiership) but, win or lose, I can’t help feeling that our second FA Cup Final in as many years might still provide glorious inspiration for one of the greatest re-flotations in both financial and football history.

Monsieur Salut will be chuffed to bits if Pompey romp through League One next season while Coventry City are left come May 2013 contemplating League Two – unless, of course, it’s possible to reach the Conference, rather like going to jail in Monopoly, Without Passing Two.

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53 thoughts on “Mixed feelings: au revoir Portsmouth, good riddance Coventry”

  1. And that’s it. Geordie Boy got his way, just to show him how wrong he was, but what is still trickling in is a heap of puerile abuse from people who cannot find any other way of expressing their views. And I can-t be botbered to edit out the obscenities …Comments closed.

    ps a bizarre comment, from one Moff,at http://www.skybluestalk.co.uk/threads/16500-Another-bitter-Sunderland-fan/page8
    reads:

    I see he has shut his site, due to an amount of criticism!

    What did he expect

    The thing that makes me laugh is that it appears that he got some grief from a Newcastle fan, mocking Sunderland and he threw his dolly out of the pram.

    A pure case of giving it but not being able to take it, or having that huge Wearside chip weighing heavily on his shoulder.

    M Salut invites any fair minded reader of any allegiance to peruse the 50+ comments and decide whether I have discouraged or shown myself to be afraid of critical responses. Moff confuses criticism, loads of which appears above, with abuse, which I simply haven’t the time to edit. Every conceivable, relevant point is covered above. There will be another opportunity, however, when Salut! Sunderland’s review of the week appears but Coventry fans unable to contain their fondness for obscenity shd bear in mind comments will be closed there, too, if I get bored with it.

  2. What is the point of a grudge if we can’t hold on to it and pass it down through the generations?

    I just hope Walsall survive in League 1 so that you can have a local derby, and we can get right behind Walsall.

    There was one of your lot having a pop at our lot because all we’ve ever had to shout about was Quinn & Phillips. He’s right of course. We never had the likes of Roger Van Gool, Tommy English and Paul Dyson. You’ve even got a fat Mag in charge when you went down. Poetry, sheer bloody poetry. Worsworth would have been charmed to verse by it all. Down, down, down you go. Sinking like a stone.

  3. Let’s try to put a different perspective on this. For me, the 1976/77 relegation was the bitterest pill to swallow of all of them – and I’ve seen them all. The real reason was that it was a season of two halves. Half way we were dead and buried without a wing or a pray. We must have been around 10 points adrift at the bottom. And then came Rowell, Arnott, and Elliot – followed by totally unexpected results at the other end of the scale. The real problem is that the team that eventually went down didn’t deserve to. It was the other team that deserved to. Alas, we had to add them together to get a season’s whole.

    But is this the ONLY reason we don’t like Coventry? I don’t think so. I think it’s a bit more subtle than that. Coventry were up in the 1st division for some years, doing nothing in particular, and having more than the odd brush with the drop. Yet they always stayed up – especially one year when they managed to play their last 3-4 games after everyone else had packed up and gone home for the summer.

    There are two subtle reasons we don’t like Coventry. Firstly their relegation battles were sometimes at our expense and in any case always successful. Secondly, we thought they effectively had our rightful place in the 1st division. I would claim therefore that, yes, we hate Coventry but, no it’s nothing personal. And this goes a long way to explaining why we don’t pour the same vitriol on Bristol City (to quote a Coventry reply).

  4. Oh sorry Salutsunderland, lost your sense of humour have you.

    My comments were not intended to be funny, just show how you can give it but cant take it.

    Being a Geordie, with links to Coventry I find your hate filled diatribe at the failings of a club, whose fans had nothing to do with events in 1977, both pathetic and laughable.

    You like other keyboard warriors attack a clubs fans about events so long ago many of those fans were not even born. You seem to revel in it, but yet when a fan of your percieved proper rivals comes on to give you a taste of what you are giving out, ie) laughing at your failures, it is labelled yahboo comments.

    Frankly I expected more from you, or perhaps your mackem tinted glasses miss the irony.

    I appreciate your site is a labour of love, but if you give it, expect to get some back, and i just thought my Sky Blue cosuins would appreciate some support, especially from a mag whose team are riding a lot higher than yours.
    Amen to that!

  5. Coventry fans standing their corner are welcome at this site. SkyBlueNut and Covkid’s comments, among many others, show we have a fairly open policy.Plenty of opposing teams’ fans, and I include Mags, have been published here and will continue to be.

    But we also function as a labour of love and have little time to plough through a million Yah Boo comments from Geordie Boy and others who actually have nothing funny, incisive or – often enough – literate, by way of saving graces, to offer.

  6. Calm down. Guys. Pheugh, the higher Coventry get the better for me, Aston Villa are closest at the moment for me to see Sunderland.
    Leicester would be nice.
    Please do not argue, life is fun.

  7. To all Coventry fans – what happened 35 years ago isn`t something to be forgiven or forgot – ever. It is a part of football history which Coventry City and Jimmy Hill created, to their eternal shame. My dad (deceased) knew the truth, I know the truth, my son knows the truth and my grandson (4yr old next week) will sure as hell knows as he grows up. Believe me – SAFC fans will never forgive or forget.

  8. I have a certain sympathy for Sunderland fans, so many years living in the shadow of the black and white is enough to make anyone bitter and twisted.

    The prospect of Champions league football in the North East next season but not at the Stadium of S**te must be hard to stomach, maybe it will give you something else to cry about instead of an insignificant moment 35 years ago that means nothing to anyone.

  9. There must be thousands of Coventry City fans, well ok hundreds who are very upset at their relegation yesterday. Not one of them recognises the fact that we were relegated that we were cheated into a relegation 35 years ago by their club.

    It feels bad going down now doesn’t it you Sky Blues. It’s worse when you go down as a result of blatant cheating. We haven’t forgotten and we haven’tg forgiven.

    As Eric said above, we are not anywhere near done yet enjoying the demise of your sad club. League 2 in a year’s time and then the Blue Square Premier the year after that.

    Coventry is the epitome of everything that is mediocre in England. Shockingly awful place with a piddling little club which has now almost achieved its rightful place. Another couple of season’s failure will finish the job.

    • Hark at you!!!

      So if Coventry is the ‘epitome of everything that is mediocre in England’, WTF do you think that Sunderland is? Do you see your fair city as the shining light of the North East? Are you a super power of European football?

      What a ridiculous post… Go back to your cave!

  10. I can understand the hatred we would probably feel the same way if the rolls were reversed. So enjoy our demise and i will look forward to next season and watching the Toon inevitably smash you 🙂

  11. It is my fervent wish that a very similar article in 12 months time will mean that Coventry are plying their trade in League 2.

  12. It’s funny really but I’ve never liked Sunderland as a club. I coudn’t put my finger on it. They always have been and always will be a nothing club. Similar to my beloved Sky Blues. They had one season in recent times when they were ok playing route one football with Quinn and Phillips but apart from that I can’t think of anything. It must have been a precognitive flash of the bile and drivel (not a nice combination) spouted by Malcolm et al. So if our relegation gives them a little bit of joy then fair enough. It’s not like there will be any more, unless we get relegated again and then maybe you could organise an open top bus parade around Sunderland. It’s not like there will be any need for one otherwise.

    • “It’s not like there will be any more, unless we get relegated again”.

      Not quite correct (although I live in hope of more than one).

      What, I think, most SAFC fans, of my generation, will relish far more is Administration, followed (hopefully) by liquidation!

      Only then will we see that “karma” can become the reality.

      • Wow! You were relegated because you got less points than we did over the season. Get over it.
        Your team might as well be relegated from the Premier League for all it brings. Sunderland wouldn’t be missed at all.
        As for you wishing admin and liquidation on another team and it’s fans, that shows you to be a rather bitter and sad individual. But hey whatever gets you through a day. Dread to think what you’d do to someone who nicked some sweets from you when you were a kid, hire a hitman perhaps?!
        Just remember what ever happens to CCFC,SAFC will always be irrelevant to most other supporters. It’s obvious that supporting which ever team the Sky Blues play every week is more exciting for you than watching a dire SAFC.

  13. pathetic article, i know people who had young kids who were crying at the game yesterday and grown men absolutely devastated and you bask in it for something that happened nearly 40 years ago, its not as if our fans killed sunderland fans we did what you would have done an any other team, cheating happens on the football pitch every weekend, how sad all you sunderland fans still cling on to it, I used to like your club before I read this now I can understand why the average fan detests your team and much refers newcastles.

  14. As the original article said, they simply have no understanding. I hadn’t realised that they had gone last night. A shame that I didn’t get the chance to enjoy the ecstasy of that moment when they dropped. Horrible club.

    Sympathies with Pompey. Come back stronger and good luck for next seasoon!

  15. Personally I feel sorry for an set of fans being relegated. They have nothing to do with the running of their respective clubs. I’ve been a season ticket holder at Sunderland for 31 years and still feel agreived by what happened that night. But it was 7 or 8 minutes gamesmanship blown out of all proportion over the years. It doesn’t warrant the embarrassment 35 years later of goading supporters who the majority probably weren’t even around. All this talk of karma is nonsense 35 years is not karma especially when the people involved left 30 years ago. Aim the vitriol at Jimmy Hill.

    The game would have probably finished 2-2 anyway. Portsmouth have been cheating for many many years by living so far beyond their means the board and people involved at that club should be ashamed.

    • “The game would have probably finished 2-2 anyway.”

      Don’t you mean “possibly”?

      If JH thought that it “probably” would have ended 2-2 he would not have engaged in the skullduggery that is causing this debate.

      He, didn’t and then had the, brass necked, temerity to sit on the FL committee of enquiry into what happened.

      Let NOBODY forget, CCFC were found guilty (as charged) but then, only, warned not to do it again!!

    • “Aim the vitriol at Jimmy Hill.”

      Don’t worry, He will NEVER be allowed to live down his part in “match fixing”.

      Today, he would receive a lengthy (possibly) a lifetime ban, from the sport AND his club would be deducted points, in addition, to having to pay a LARGE fine.

      He is corrupt and NOBODY, who supports Sunderland will allow that to be forgotten!

  16. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again….. get over the past!
    My mums family were virtually wiped out during the blitz in 1940. My mum and dad survived but only just, but do I hate Germans? Of course not! I carried on with my life throughout the years, the 50’s, the 60’s – right up until now and will STILL carry on with my life without a thought of hate to Germany or its people.
    Why do I talk about the second world war? Because it’s called “moving on”!
    What occurred between Coventry v Bristol happened before most of Sunderland fans were even born, as was the war. Get over it you sad people. I was at that match and it WASN’T rigged. Not that you lot will ever be mature enough to forget it!

    • “I was at that match and it WASN’T rigged”

      I think that all of us will accept that the majority, of it, was not.

      However, considering that many of the players, who took part in it, have admitted that (once our result was known) there was NO attempt made by either side to win the game.

      Indeed, one of the Bristol players recalls an incident when Ferguson was shouted at and then (physically) dragged back, by other Coventry players) when he attempted to go on the attack.

      If you can, somehow, equate that to a match result NOT having being rigged then I can, only, assume that you, also, believe in fairies at the end of the garden and that the moon is made of cheese!

  17. Pompey pure & simple over-reached and have effectively cheated their league position for a few years now. I feel sympathy for the fans but not the board. I feel much more sympathy for clubs trying to compete honestly without incurring debt.They’re the ones being truly cheated.

  18. I think almost every SAFC fan of the time, their children and their grandchildren feel the same way about Coventry (and Jimmy Hill). Granted there may be one or two fairweathers who have got over it, but not many. I was only 13 at the time but have never got over the injustice of the fact that there was no tackling or shooting in the last 15 minutes of THAT match. A chip on my shoulder maybe, but when a club is a major part of the community relagation by proxy is hard to take.
    Pass the ketchup, I can get rid of that chip now!

  19. Hey, nice piece this, opening statement might need re-thinking, City fans more than able to grasp how bitter Sunderland fans are, truth is, we really couldn’t care less.

    Thirty Three years later we took Roy O’Donovan off your hands, let’s call it even.

  20. I would be surprised if real Coventry supporters did anything other than stick up for their club. Leaving aside the childish abuse some have used to compensate for limited powers of expression, and not all of which I have allowed, I have no problem with them doing so.

    Had the boot been on the other foot, and Sunderland resorted to underhand tactics to stay up and send Coventry down, you would also have remembered it or, if yoo young, share the passed-down grievance. I’m still cross about the goal Newcastle scored when we beat them 9-1 at St James’ Park in 1908.

  21. Who cares? As a Coventry fan we deserved to go down this season, we were awful, I accept that,however, a season is defined by the number of games you play not the actions of man At another club i.e. jimmy hill- why don’t you hate bristol city also?

    It’s disappointing to read elated at Coventry, but I accept it and hope my club will return again.

    As for the Pompey issue that’s more frustrating to me, given that they were allowed to sign players when we (Coventry) were forced into our youth team and not afforded the luxury or doing so.

    Everything aside, good luck next season
    Hope to see you in the prem in many years time

  22. It says something that you’d have preferred a club that cheated both football and it’s local community to stay up rather than one that fielded its academy players in an effort to slash the wage bill.

    …And all because of something that happened 36 years ago.

    Very small minded indeed. Not to mention sad.

    • Easy for people to comment on something when they don’t know the hole truth.
      Yes we are relegated with you, but our relegation didn’t take place on the pitch. Rightly or wrongly it was decided by off field pollitics.
      Forest and Barnsley can only get 50 points and have a worst goal difference than us, so the 10 point deduction is a big facter in our relegation.
      It is the fans and the Staff of Portsmouth F.C. who loose out, and situations like this will only make us stronger.
      See you next season.

  23. Yes it may be 53 years since the Dark Blues fixed that game at Lowfield Road, but us Meckams have long memories, and there’s not many here on Teesside that have forgiven you. I for one hope it’s a long, long time before you enjoy any success at your miserable East Midlands club!

  24. Think you’ll find it is the view of every Sunderland fan. I don’t think jimmy hill has forgotten either. He was sat near when we played Fulham a couple of seasons ago. A gent of his age should have shown a little more respect.

  25. Dear Matt / Salut / Sunderland fan…. Hopefully in the minority of a place I actually quite like watching footie…?

    To write such a provocative post in the wake of Coventry’s sad fall to the third tier of English football is actually more pathetic and small minded than your tiny brain can obviously comprehend…

    How can something that happened so long ago and that most current fans of all three teams involved either don’t remember, or don’t actually care about, bother fans of a club that is doing pretty well in the top flight? It leaves me (and I would imagine all other sane people) thinking that you need to seek some kind of mental therapy to sort out your troubled mind.

    Get a grip man! Leave this negative mental baggage behind, cut out the pathetic vitriolic attitude, and be try to be of positive mind! The team you support has a decent financial future, a decent Manager and some half decent players… Sort your attitude out and leave us SkyBlues fans to lick our wounds in peace…

    Who knows? Maybe a positive outlook would help your sex life with your long suffering Mrs Salut?

  26. 34 years of hate, wow that is some chip you carry my friend. Don’t you think its about time you sorted your twisted mind out and have a little forgiveness in your heart. As for Sunderland exiles they are the ones that managed to escape from that s**t pit you call home. Think yourself lucky its not you in Coventry’s shoes – which it may well be in the coming seasons – as I’m sure those beautiful Coventry fans would not take the same sickening attitude you take!!

  27. Sad and pathetic, take the big fat chip off the shoulder and find something else to cry about, like how you are compared to Newcastle

  28. You need to build a bridge a get over it, it was 25 years ago which the current squad and the majority of City fans would not even know about, wishing teams to go down is disicable and just shows how petty minded you are. Anyway, there is only one proper team in Tyneside and that is Newcastle Utd….up the Toon..!!

    • Did you, perchance, have the same maths teacher as “i’m a coventry city fan til i die” OR are you he/her?

    • First of all it was 35 years ago and Sunderland is on Wearside not Tyneside. Obviously this shows how petty minded I really am!

  29. should be ashamed of yourself wishing a club to go under… no one cares about your pathetic veiws and living on something that the current coventry squad had nothing to do with, 35 years ago that happend, im sure this is not the veiw of most sunderland fans and is in a small minority that think this

    • You are wrong – it is the view of most Sunderland fans.

      And once again you fail to read with comprehension what is written. There is no mention of Coventry going under – just going down. Personally it doesn’t bother me if Coventry survive forever as a club but I’d love to see them competing with Luton, Newport, Southport and Bradford Park Avenue for the forseeable future!

      • The issue I have with Coventry City is that they have installed a statue of a man I despise.

        As far as I’m concerned they are tainted by this and they will continue to be tainted as long as it’s there.

  30. John

    As a lifelong Pompey fan, gutted today as you would expect (but getting used to being kicked around after the last couple of years), I thank you for your kind words!

  31. you’re a moron. still bitter after 25 years? [you] support the most boring team in the premiership. i hope you get run over by a bus.

    rest of message too abusive to be allowed – ed

  32. I know what M.Salut means when he writes about the demise of good, solid, regionally rooted teams with grass-roots supporters. My sympathies lie with those supporters. But not with the Board, who need to take a long, hard look at their achievements and where they have left this club.

    I bear in mind a recent comment from a Championship manager to the effect that Portsmouth tried to win promotion by buying players they couldn’t afford with money they didn’t have using the promise of income the club wasn’t generating. If that’s true Portsmouth . don’t deserve any sympathy from the rest of the league.

    But sympathies to the fans; I have no answer to this rich person desire to be a trophy hunter boss. There but for the grace of god and one of his saints (Niall the blessed) go SAFC .

    Finally, I made my feelings about Coventry City known not so long ago and hope to comment on their status, their stature and their statue, not to mention their stasis, before too long.

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