Colin Randall writes (OK, some would say that’s an exaggeration):
Salut! Sunderland had modest beginnings in the New Year of 2007, as an offshoot of Salut!, a post-redundo blog that continued – and maybe even improved – my online work as one of The Daily Telegraph‘s pioneering bloggers, in my case from Paris.
Salut! aimed then, as it does now, to talk about “France, current affairs, travel, the media – and more besides” and you can see how well or badly it fares in meeting that self-imposed challenge at http://francesalut.com.
Salut! Sunderland, like my folk music site Salut! Live, had narrower targets. It was intended as a whimsical site by and for lovers of Sunderland AFC. It had no pretensions about being the new ALS or Ready to Go and that is just as well as both are rightly established at the core of the club’s support.
Pete Sixsmith quickly agreed to jump on board and, as the site steadily grew in readership and ambition, as did Joan Dawson, who had been an absolutely mainstay of the newsletter of the London and SE branch of the SAFCSA before a major career change allowed her to move back north from the capital.
The ambition was easy. We wanted to preview matches and report on them, as well as providing lots of banter and food for thought in between. It was, as it is, essentially a one-club site but we saw no reason to regard the broader issues of football as taboo. We did NOT want to pretend to be a sports news agency, regurgitating what others were reporting.
The readership came more slowly. There are no SEO experts around here. We still haven’t got ourselves listed on Google News a year or two after Steve “Goldy” Goldsmith said it might be a good idea. Goldy used Salut! Sunderland to launch the excellent Wise Men Say podcasts but has now moved on, with our gratitude for past efforts but no longer in a position to push us with mighty Google.
But we reached the second million of “hits” – pageloads – in half the time it took to get the first. This could, of course, mean one person clicking a million times rather than a million coming just the once each. But it’s an achievement all the same and one from which I take pride. When I checked earlier this week, we’d climbed to 2.6 million, the excitement of the weekend giving us a great shot in the arm on Sunday night and Monday.
People say very kind things about us. It is no longer three people but many more who form what is essentially a collective. Jake does the marvellous graphics, Joan’s brother Malcolm followed her as deputy editor, John McCormick is a valued editor and contributor and Nic Wiseman pitches in when he can. But then there is the list of people who, almost always for no reward, write for the site.
Step forward Jeremy Robson, Ken Gambles, Keir Bradwell, the Birflatt Boy, Peter Lynn, Lars Knutsen, Eric Sweeney, Rob Hutchison, Mick Goulding, John Penman, Ian Todd, Robert Simmons, Grant Tunkel, Hilary Fawcett and every last one (OK, maybe not every single last one) of the lads and lasses from opposing clubs who have willingly written for or agreed to be interviewed by us. There will be others I have overlooked, through sheer incompetence or because it’s a while since they last offered anything.
A very merry Christmas to all of you, to all the readers who regularly keep things lively and interesting with their comments, to our Guess the Score sponsors up in Weardale, Personalised Football Gifts and to others people who have advertised, sponsored prizes or generally helped out.
And here’s wishing you all, and the players, staff and legions of supporters of Sunderland AFC, a wonderful 2015. And three points tomorrow …