Week in week out, supporters from the teams Sunderland are next due to play rise to the occasion and take part in our ”Who are You?” series.
And once a year, we return the favour and come up with awards for the best sets of replies.
In a fair world, every one of them would win something. An author might get a plug, fan site owners will be given prominent links but it is essentially a labour-of-love exercise.
The US sportswear people http://www.soccerpro.com/ kindly agreed to stump up $200 worth of gear as the first prize and the excellent folk at When Saturday Comes chipped in again with further prizes, a subscription to the magazine and one of the Euro 2012 tops they’re selling this summer. To both sponsors go our warmest thanks.
We had eight judges – the line-up was described at this link – and I am equally grateful to them for agreeeing to plough through my non-binding shortlist and in at least one case, possibly more, go beyond it when choosing their nominations.
The winners have been chosen but, as with the Premier title, it went to the wire with the final nominations making all the difference. So before announcing the honours, I will introduce a little suspense and take you through each judge’s verdicts, bearing in mind that I awarded five, three and two points respectively for first, second and third places:
Tom Lynn, writer on SAFC affairs, former editor of The Wearside Roar:
1 Aston Villa … Stuart Jinks (aka Jinksy):
Villa fan on Darren Bent, Martin O’Neill and who supports the bigger club). Brutal honesty, heartfelt passion, comments on MON sum up the way he seemingly polarised their supporters who seem to really rate/really hate him.
2 Newcastle United … Michael Hudson (Salut! Sunderland tracks down a commonsense Newcastle interviewee). Interesting read, some good points made that turned out to be true, eg effectiveness of Cabaye/Tioté partnership and of Ba and Ben Arfa (although the latter’s impact has come late on, but at the right time for them unfortunately; his form and Cissé’s goals have set them alight). God, that’s hard to say.
3 Wolverhampton Wanderers … Andy and Jo Nicholls (Wolves: farewell to the Premier). Proving that football can unite families (he supports Wolves, she’s one of us) and an interesting observation of our old gaffer Mick McCarthy, a real fighter, but who hits a glass ceiling when he reaches the top flight.
Part two has now been published. Read it by clicking here
Bill Taylor, Bishop lad, freelance writer, photographer, exiled in Canada:
1 Swansea City … Jim White (Swansea, in search of a second Premier season). As I commented after his piece appeared, an ‘honest, well-balanced and good-humoured assessment. Jim would be a good guy to have a pint with, before and after the game, even if we didn’t sit together at the match’.
2 Stoke City … Richard Hulme (Stoke City and a certain swagger). Passionate, without being ridiculous about it; partisan, without being a bigot; and a nice writer, too.
3 Newcastle United … Michael Hudson. That rare specimen, a non-rabid Magpie, even where Sunderland are concerned. You have to love someone whose attitude (having suffered the worst excesses of Mike Ashley) toward suddenly acquiring ‘fabulously rich owners’ is: ‘A shudder of despair, definitely. I really don’t see how Manchester City or Chelsea fans can take a genuine delight in their achievements.’
** Unsolicited honourable mention to Steve Bishop, Wolves ( Putting a name and face to the description ”long-suffering fan”): a super-fan with a 35-year record of attendance so he knows his team as well as anyone and better than most. Loves them, good or bad, but is also a realist.
Martin Emmerson, Sunderland fan and BBC Radio Newcastle host/cricket commentator:
Quite funny that fans of clubs like Arsenal and Liverpool find time to whinge about how bad life is. Imagine if they really had struggled over the years and not simply missed out on the odd cup here and there and a year in Europe?
1 Aston Villa … Jinksy. ‘I think the Villa fan who made the calendar and mug of Bent deserves first spot for his inventive ways of trying to wind up his boss. Even though Bent went to a smaller club and Sunderland have struggled in his absence!’
2 Arsenal … Clemency Burton-Hill (A Wenger-lover who insisted ”Arsène must go”)’who described in great detail the arrival of the unknown Frenchman as manager from Grampus 8 – took me back to the days when Gary Lineker played there’.
3 Liverpool … Keith Conneely ( Liverpool and ”the debt we owe Sunderland fans”); A ‘Liverpool fan in Ireland. Some funny stuff there’.
** I liked the write-up from Wolves (Steve Bishop) but since I’ve never enjoyed a trip there and find the place extremely hostile I just couldn’t find it in myself to vote for him!
So after what we could call round one, the scoring looks like this: Jinksy (Villa) 10pts; Michael Hudson (Newcastle) and Jim White (Swansea) five; Richard Hulme and Clemency Burton-Hill three and Mr and Mrs Nicholls (Wolves) and Keith Conneely (Liverpool) two.
Part two coming soon …
The 2012 awards process was introduced at this posting: https://safc.blog/2012/04/winners-from-the-other-side-swansea-arsenal-and-newcastle-shortlisted/
. There you can see mention of the prizes and links to all the shortlisted interviews.