The second week of a non-football fortnight, as it has been for those who care little for internationals, has been a busy old time at Salut! Sunderland. Here is a resume for readers who do not visit the site every day, starting with something that isn’t in the headline but should be …
Jonathan Wilson is widely acclaimed as one of the best football writers around. You can read him in The Guardian, in his own books (his Brian Clough biography is due out soon) and, as of this week, Salut! Sunderland.
A truly magical piece of writing, about an unbreakable attachment to Sunderland AFC passed down from one generation to the next, appeared first at the SB Info Plus website but was reproduced here with the permission both the writer and the site. Several people who read it were, like me, deeply moved by Jonathan’s words.
They can be read in full by clicking on the following link: “The Candystripe Passions of Grandfather, Father and Son” or at the SB Info Plus site by clicking here.
The idea of interviewing Johnny Crossan, a superb inside left (who also played inside right) from the end of the Clough era at Sunderland, had been there for a while. It needed something to get it going and one Risteard MacCionnaigh, from the Derry City Chat site, provided the jump leads.
Why not, he asked, give him a ring at his sports shop in Derry? And that is what happened.
Top marks to the Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield, venue of a farewell dinner for the Northern Echo‘s semi-retiring ace columnist Mike Amos. The manager responded to a complaint about dodgy internet access – the hotel offers free wifi – by cancelling the charge of the call. Otherwise, given hotel phone costs and the length of the chat with Johnny, the interview would have broken the bank.
Johnny was great value, with views on the 1960s Sunderland team, memories of Shack and Clough and Hurley, the ugly bustle that goes on in crowded penalty areas these days and much more besides.
He talked fondly of his time on Wearside, where Len Shackleton had beaten down the price of a house he bought near Whitburn from £4,750 to £4,500. In later conversation, he remembered nothing of meeting Gordon Taylor, veteran SAFC fan, when presenting the “Weaver To Wearer” cup to St Greg’s juniors but did recall being given miner’s lamps, twice for some reason, by Lord Lambton.
As for the interview, it was so good, if we say so ourselves, that it was split into three parts. Read the Johnny Crossan Story at the following links:
There was the Salut! Sunderland scoop: Sunderland, the play, currently wowing audiences in a Parisian theatre. The Times, Indie, BBC and TalkSport all jostled to catch up. If you missed it, click on Taking Paris by Storm. The photo at the top of this posting is taken from the play.
And Pete Sixsmith had a richly merited pop at the insufferable arrogance and avarice of Liverpool FC as personified by Ian Ayre, managing director at Anfield, who advocated concentrating TV money on a few top clubs (of which, to be blunt, Liverpool show little sign of automatically being one any more). He has brought his club intro disrepute and I hope he is feeling ashamed of himself, though I somehow doubt it.
That is not all. Like I said, it has been a busy week. Mike Amos’s son Owen, who has followed dad into journalism and works at the Beeb, is also an Arsenal fan and did the honours with the “Who are You?” questionnaire ahead of tomorrow’s game.
Owen was philosophical about Arsenal’s early-season woes, insisted that M Wenger’s position was unassailable (though he might choose to leave, which is different) and thought it unlikely that the Gooners would actually go down.
Mr Sixsmith will be present at the Emirates and duly report, in his Sixer’s Sevens verdict and later from his Soapbox, on whether it turned out to be match to leave us ecstatic or suicidal.
And if you feel like it, have a browse in the Salut! Sunderland Shop …