It may go without saying that Joan Dawson has done, as ever, a great job in the absence of M Salut on a cheap(ish) and cheerful holiday in the Mexican sun, and a bit of its rain, of keeping Salut! Sunderland up and running. But I’ll say it anyway: the demands of a busy football site, coupled with the needs to earn a living and have a life, are immense and Joan never fails to rise magnificently to the challenge.
When times are good, as they have been since Martin O’Neill became manager, the demands seem easier to juggle. Whatever the outcome of a really tough test at Stamford Bridge today, let us hope the wave of optimism that has swept the club loses none of its force.
This week even produced that lesser spotted variety of football supporter: the Mag who wishes Sunderland well, unless of course we happen to be playing his team. Almost as interesting as this breath of fresh air, found on the Newcastle fan site nufcblog.com, was the reaction to it. This is how we reported it: New Wonder of the World: Newcastle supporter wants SAFC success.
And before that? For once, I will stretch a point and make this a glance back at the past week and a half. The glorious win over Man City came before my departure and had been fully covered by the time we had other heartening victories to record: 4-1 at Wigan and 2-0 at Peterborough in the FA Cup.
This is how Pete Sixsmith saw those games (click on the sub-heading for each full article):
Last night, with a patched up and tired team, we crushed Wigan 4-1. Yes, we carried some luck, yes, we had spells where we were defending as grimly as we had to on Sunday, but we scored four goals away from home to lift us to tenth and to put us a mere 6 points behind Our Friends From Up The Road.
The fact that we won this one at a canter shows the change in attitude and approach since the change of manager. When things were going badly for Bruce, he stood there with his arms folded, unwilling or unable to implement a change. With O’Neill, there is an alert footballing brain on the sidelines, looking all the time at the state of the game and passing instructions on to enthusiastic players who had looked jaded and bored under the previous regime.
Sadly, there was bad and sad news, too. George Summerside, who travelled the world with the Barmy Army, Durham County Cricket Club and – of course – Sunderland (the world travel in our case restricted to pre-season tours), died at the early age of 53. Martin Emmerson, from BBC Radio Newcastle, remembered “Podgy” … and the flag he invariably took with him:
One of the game’s characters gone. A great bloke with a big heart.
Martin’s piece drew some grand reminiscences of Podgy from readers and it is worth looking back on it – and a follow-up piece posted here yesterday – for that reason alone.
There was, as usual, plenty more, including the Peterborough United and Chelsea “Who are You?” interviews. The Chelsea one was especially striking: all clubs have supporters who try to get to just about every game but not all those fans have to cross the sea each time, which is the experience of our Belgian blues supporter in the hot seat.
Try bookmarking the Salut! Sunderland home page and you will get much more of a feel for just how much is covered here than by following a link to a single article.
And Ha’way the Lads at the Bridge …