Slightly earlier than expected, Salut! Sunderland can announce the final verdicts of our judges in the annual Haways – awarded to the supporters of other clubs deemed to have given the best Who are you? interviews of the season just ended.
And amid much gnashing of teeth and general anguish, the judges – Sunderland fans one and all – have resoundingly plumped for an entry from Newcastle United, OK an entry from a NUFC supporter.
Step forward not Mike Ashley – we’re never sure how much of a fan he really is so have not yet got round to inviting him into the WAY hot seat – but Nick Donaldson. Mike can content himself with the knowledge that Newcastle have at least won a trophy, the point at which he said the other day he would finally sell the club.
Nick fled to Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago, either for a great new job or to escape the end-of-the-season run-in of his low-flying, wing-damaged Magpies.
He will quickly have found you can watch each and every Premier game live, even if it means – as it sometimes did when Monsieur Salut lived there – finding they’ve run out of sports options and shifted your team’s game to the comedy channel.
Either way, there’s no escape and Nick’s blunt assessment of our respective seasons, in a comment at Facebook, was along the lines “Let’s face it, we’re both sh***”.
But at least he’s a winner.
With five points for first place, three for second, two for third and one for any honourable mentions, the five judges made the following choices:
1: Nick Donaldson, interviewed before the December game at SJP: The Newcastle v SAFC Who are You?: ‘never met a Mackem I disliked’ … 22 points (four firsts, one third place)
Joint 2: Hannah Myers, Everton, from before the Goodison game in May Everton ‘Who are You?’: Moyes, Martinez, Rooney, Rodwell and Sunderland’s survival bid … seven points
Joint 2: Denis Smith, Stoke City (an ex-SAFC manager), before April’s game at the Britannia Stoke City Who are You?: Denis Smith ‘proud to have managed SAFC’ … seven points
Editor’s special prize for non-placed candidate: Duncan Sutcliffe, Burnley before our 2-0 win at the SoL in January Burnley Who are you?: ‘We have a better team than last time. Duncan was one point behind joint second, including a first-placed mark from Pete Sixsmith.
Here are snatches of the judges’ verdicts on Nick’s interview:
* ‘it pains me to say this – the most balanced of the lot … managed to be just sentimental enough to catch the imagination’ – Paul ‘Sobs’ Dobson, ALS assistant editor
* ‘best WAY by a country mile. This guy understands what makes supporters tick. He is just like us, just wears a different shirt’ – Eric Bowers, Sunderland supporter, regular Comments/Guess the Score contributor at Salut! Sunderland
* ‘excellent read … some splendid analysis of the plight of the Mags at the time, Pardew as a manager and Ashley, Kinnear and Owen as people’ – Malcolm Dawson, deputy editor, Salut! Sunderland
* ‘liked his take on never having met a Sunderland fan until he was 16 – part of the disadvantages of growing up in Benwell – and also the mental picture of him running through gardens in the genteel suburb of Seaburn on his way to Roker Park’ – Sixer, Salut Sunderland writer extraordinaire (awarding Nick third place)
Come back tomorrow for a full read of the judges’ pronouncements, including what they said about our second and third-placed candidates.
Thanks to all the judges, to the prize sponsors and especially to all those supporters who, for more than 40 league and cup games, gave their time and thoughts so freely.
Nick will be invited to choose between the following three prizes, Hannah – lady comes first – gets second bite and Denis will receive the remaining item.
AND the prize options are:
* Personalised Football Gifts
A framed matchday programme featuring the winner’s team (or something else if not available)
* Campo Retro
A gift of the winner’s choice with £50 to spend on or towards it
A year’s subscription to the top footie magazine
* Details of the additional prize, for Duncan Sutcliffe, have still to be finalised. It will be supplied by our regular prize sponsors at Philosophy Football