Monsieur Salut writes: what an enjoyable series Who are You? is to edit this season. I am not suggesting we should therefore remain contentedly in League One, but if you’ve been following the interviews we’ve published so far, you’ll know what I mean.
Lucy Dawn* – who makes point of not giving her age, though we are far to gentlemanly to ask in any case – comes up with another fine set of answers to our questions. The game itself, which she hopes to attend, is as important as they get at this stage of the season – we’re on a 13-game unbeaten run, they’d won six on the trot until Saturday’s home draw with Doncaster …
Salut!: welcome, Lucy, to the small but beautifully formed world of Salut! Sunderland. We’re both up there challenging for promotion. Enjoying League One – as many of our fans are – or cannot wait to get out of it?
Lucy Dawn: so far, League One has proven to be interesting, and I’m actually enjoying seeing Barnsley play good football and win games. It has also provided opportunity to visit “new” grounds such as Accrington. It’s nice to think that we are promotion contenders in this league rather than relegation fodder in the Championship, though being back up there would be great! I do miss some of the games from the Championship.
You beat us twice last season. Were you surprised at how bad we were – and how well we’ve bounced back (so far) this season?
To be fair, I was fairly surprised as I’d have expected Sunderland to have been pushing for promotion back to the Premier League. It seemed unfortunate and sad that the turn of events for Sunderland were for the worst which led to their ultimate relegation. Sadly though, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for us either and here we both are in League One, both doing really well. I’m not overly surprised at Sunderland’s bounce-back so far! They are doing well for themselves. It will make for an interesting season with a few of us fighting to be promoted back to where we “belong”.
You started as if you’d walk away with the League One title before faltering a little. Is Daniel Stendel the right man to get you back up, keep you there and maybe even have another bash at the Premier League? Do you miss Paul Heckinbottom, surely something of a local hero but later ‘let go’, and what do you make of the ownership?
I really do believe in Daniel Stendel. He’s definitely brought a fresh approach of football to Oakwell, and all the players seem to be onboard too, which is great! I think towards last season’s end, Morais [who replaced Heckinbottom] alienated the players and the fans.
Perhaps Stendel could be the man we were looking for to push us on, and maybe even look towards the Premier League! That’s an exciting thought! Hecky was a hero for a “period of time”, you could say. I don’t miss him particularly. I’m thankful for the memories that he left us with;of course in reference to two Wembley wins.
We don’t often hear too much from our new ownership, but I’m satisfied with it, and it seems right for us. I’m thankful that the late Patrick Cryne took some thought over it and got the club the right deal.
Who is really buzzing in your squad and where are there weaknesses?
4-4-2 with Pottsy on the wing! Brad Potts is having quite a season so far. I really enjoy seeing Potts play. Alex Mowatt is another player that has come on loads and he’s shown his commitment through the recent signing of a new deal.
When Kieffer Moore is on form, he also has a good game, and with Woodrow recently returning from injury, the partnership up front works! Some of our fans might not agree as we all have our least favourite players, and although I’ve just named two midfielders as stronger players, I also think there are a couple of weak links in the midfield. Occasionally you can see a weakness in defence, but players like Ethan Pinnock tend to have consistently good games.
Tell us about Barnsley. It has produced Sir Michael Parkinson, Arthur Scargill, Dickie Bird and – as folkies like me tend to know – Kate Rusby and Dave Burland. Dan Tate, answering these questions last season, said forget Parky, forget Darren Gough but respect the actor Shaun Dooley, “very proud to be from Barnsley”. Do any of those names mean something to you?
I won’t talk about Dickie Bird… many Barnsley fans will understand why [wasn’t that just a storm in a Sheffield United teacup – Ed?]! The other names are of course names that I’ve heard of, but they don’t overly mean anything to me as such. We, as a town, have produced some good people though, and it is something we should be proud of. Everyone should be proud of where they’re from, shouldn’t they? [if you’d like to hear the Kate Rusby track – she makes ‘Our Town’ sounds as if she’s singing about Barnsley rather than the American Midwest, as its writer Iris Dement intended – you’ll need to follow the YouTube link below- Ed]
Tell us about your highs and lows of being a fan
I guess this looks back to past seasons for me. The best season for me personally has to be the 2015/16 season. Not only did I get to watch my team twice at Wembley, I got to see them win on both occasions. I don’t think anything compares to the euphoria you feel after seeing your team win there.
Another favourite moment of mine was when we played against Huddersfield and I’m sure fans would know immediately which game I’m referring to. Seeing us stay up on the last game of the season and the atmosphere of a Yorkshire derby just made for an incredible day! Lows for me are seeing us get relegated. Witnessed it a few times, and it just breaks your heart. More so when
there’s still a slim chance of staying up.
Which player or players have most impressed you playing for Barnsley?
Adam Hammill. He made a sterling return to Oakwell and quickly became a fan favourite.
Everything about Adam Hammill impressed me during his second spell with us, although like a lot
of players he did have off days too. Looking back a fair few seasons ago, Luke Steele is another
player who made a brilliant impression. He came in on loan and his first game was away against
Liverpool at Anfield. That was a storming game!!
And who should have been allowed nowhere near Oakwell?
Mido! What was that all about?!? There’s probably a few others to name too, but Mido was the first name to mind. Most random signing I’ve ever seen in my time at Oakwell.
Half repeats question one, but were you surprised at our sharp decline?
As I mentioned earlier, I was fairly surprised. I expected Sunderland to have been pushing to go
back to the Premier League. Relegation never helps any team though as it can lead to the loss of
your good players and so sometimes you’re back at square one.
Any other thoughts on Sunderland – the club the fans, the city and region, Jack Ross?
I visited Sunderland last season and it seemed a lovely club. It was on my “must visit” list of grounds after their relegation from the Premier League. Every football club has its “idiot” fans, but I managed to avoid these on my previous visit to Sunderland. Most fans are great though, and I do enjoy engaging with them before and after the game. Didn’t get much chance to see any of the city, so maybe one day I can plan a day out to visit. I don’t know an awful lot about Jack Ross, but he’s doing something right at the moment at Sunderland and keeping them up there as promotion contenders.
Hand on heart, where will our two clubs finish this season?
Still difficult to predict exactly, but I definitely would not expect anything less than both our teams finishing within the top six. One of us could certainly snatch second place. I guess that could depend on who claims six points!
What did the World Cup mean to you? Are you looking forward to the next one?
The World Cup this year was brilliant! I followed England every step of the way. I managed to make it into the pub for every game! I suppose for me, as a lass from Barnsley, it meant quite a little bit more too! Two words…John Stones! What a player he’s turned out to be. His first World Cup and he even managed to score. A product of Barnsley and we are all quite proud of him! The next World Cup should be interesting, but it’s too far away for me to start getting excited for it just yet!
Your thoughts on the standard of refereeing in League One, and on whether we’ll ever eradicate cheating.
Honest thoughts? Garbage and inconsistent! Very rarely there’s a good referee. I don’t think cheating will ever be eradicated. If there’s always going to be an inconsistency in refereeing standards, then it will never be stamped out. Some players will get away with it and others won’t.
Will you get to the game? What will be the score?
I’m totally hoping I can be at the game on Tuesday evening! I’ll just remember to pack an oxygen tank! Have to stay loyal to my team and I’m going to go for a Barnsley win 2-1. Think Moore and Woodrow will score.
* Lucy Dawn on herself: so a little about me… I won’t tell you my age, though if you saw me, you’d say I was younger than what I am. I’ve always been a fan of Barnsley FC but only had my season ticket since the 2015/16 season after winning a competition. My first ever experience of a Barnsley game was way back in the 90s when tickets were given to schools. By qualification, I am an Early Years Practitioner, although currently having some time off work. I love to be creative in my spare time and this includes blogging and match reporting! I’m currently seeking a name for a fansite/blog name/twitter page name… so feel free to throw some ideas at me! You can catch me @LucyDawn89 on Twitter for now though! When I do blog, I’ll share them on here!
Interview: Colin Randall