Monsieur Salut writes: Ian Moore* came our way thanks to Matt Blanchard from the Scunthorpe Iron-Bru fan site and podcast (Matt answered our questions in superb style before the first game, which Sunderland won 3-0). It’s another fine addition to the best Who are You? series I can recall in Salut! Sunderland‘s 12 years of existence. But I fear his plea to away supporters to think of something new rather than trotting out My Garden Shed will fall on deaf ears, especially when they find out Alan Shearer is among his sporting heroes (I made up the bit about our fans’ musical tribute to him) …
Salut! Sunderland: three wins on the trot as I write [now four]. What has started going right for Scunthorpe?
Ian Moore: the turning point was actually our last defeat, against an in form Luton side, our effort and work rate has gone up and the rate at which we make mind boggling defensive errors that led to goals has dropped.
Despite that Luton loss and another goal riddled with comedic errors, there were signs of improvement in our organisation and subsequently we ground out the win against Wycombe with a huge slice of luck in the next game.
The Peterborough result was deserved and much more impressive and the Coventry win a mixture of the two. I don’t think there was much in the Walsall game but to make it four on the bounce with two moments of real quality will build confidence even more. As confidence builds I’m hoping the football is easier on the eye, it’s not been pretty at times but to win four in a row after the run we’d been on is impressive however we get the points.
Well, we’ve reached the point of the season where Rod Liddle’s Sunday Times jibe about Sunderland – ‘Let’s see how these overpaid moppets cope on a cold January afternoon at Scunny’ – is put to the test. What can we expect?
Before the four wins I would have been dreading this fixture, however, I think we can give you a tough game. We’ve added five in January, only one of whom started against Cov and Walsall, I expect to be unchanged for a 3rd game in a row so I don’t think there will be any surprises on that front.
Off the pitch, enter the ground with a full stomach as there won’t be any hot food available by half time, and if there is, it’s not very good! We are reminded bi-weekly by bragging away fans about their big garden sheds and they all seem desperate to get home to them very early on so any original chants will be much appreciated.
What is your assessment of how Stuart McCall has done since taking over as manager at the end of August? Was Nick Daws rightly sacked, was McCall the right appointment and, if you rate him, how far can he and the boss, Peter Swann, take you?
I’ve felt pretty sorry for him, we were woefully under prepared going into the season, Mr Swann recently admitted to the Iron-Bru Scunny fan site (on their fantastic podcast) he had major concerns about Daws as early as pre-season so with what McCall has had to work with, he’s done as much as can be expected, and the fact we’ve managed to turn around the form even before the new signings have been integrated is even more impressive.
I really like McCall’s honest views, he likes to attack and once he’s got his own squad together I think we will see entertaining football on a regular basis.
Matt Blanchard from Iron-Bru Scunny suggested before the first game that you’d be expecting decent contributions from Ryan Colclough, James Perch and some exciting young talent (he mentioned Steve Humphrys and Andy Dales). Who in the event has been doing the business for you?
Colclough was our most consistent attacking player before his season-ending injury back in November.
Of the others mentioned by Matt, Perch is the only one worth commenting on at the moment who is now showing his experience in recent weeks, sitting at the base of a diamond in midfield. Our best player Funso Ojo was finding it difficult to adapt to playing the left side of the diamond but by all accounts had one of his best games against Walsall and scored a tidy volley, he’s a class act. George Thomas has caught the eye in recent weeks (season long loan from Leicester) showing why Ryan Giggs has called him up a couple of times to his Wales squad. Accademy graduates Levi Sutton and Kyle Wootton have earned praise recently as well and are showing signs of real quality along with their tireless efforts.
Perhaps too late to mount a playoff push (Matt already thought it too ambitious a thought back in August). Or is it?
Like Matt I never had us down as a playoff side, it was always a case of rebuilding after losing talented players in the summer. That process only really started in the new year so playoffs are out of the question but if the season started again now I’d expect us to be up there come May, a top half finish is a realistic target.
Tell us about your club’s part in the community and the extent to which local pride overcomes the temptation, especially among the young, to indulge in glory seeking
The short answer is that it probably doesn’t, you’ll still see youngsters sporting the regular Premier League shirts around town, and even at games when they do attend. In all fairness though, the club does a good job with the youngsters, free tickets to under 12s and good discounts for teenagers.
The overall presence in the community needs to be bigger, and the conundrum of attracting stay away fans back to the ground has been unsolved for years now, many regulars, as well as the stay always, criticising the club’s efforts with regards to match day experience, food, merchandise, shoddy replica shirts and the like.
What about us? How surprised were you by own sharp fall and do you feel we’ll have to settle for the playoffs?
Maybe surprising isn’t the right word as it’s a familiar tale, but it certainly is strange. At first I thought you’d find this season extremely difficult, adapting to the level but you’re still up there and I can’t see that changing after only losing two and scoring in every game.
I wasn’t too impressed with Luton a few weeks back to say they are second, but they must be a decent side, It will be interesting to see how they cope with the loss of Jones. I don’t think automatic is out of question for yourselves, two defeats all season, but maybe a few too many draws.
Any other thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city and region, Jack Ross? We’ve had overwhelmingly friendly exchanges on here but I noticed that we get some stick on at least one League One forum
My memories of Sunderland are of Kevin Phillips banging in the goals and finishing high up in the prem under Peter Reid although that is probably longer ago than I realise. My family lived in Newcastle for a while before I was born, and my Dad took me to see Newcastle a few times when I was younger, Shearer is a footballing hero of mine so I’m sure that will go down well with your readers.
Best players you’ve seen in Scunthorpe colours? I bet you’ll mention Peter Beagrie, who even had a few games with us.
You can’t talk about best players to have played in claret and blue without mentioning Beags, some of the things he did with the ball and the defenders he was twisting inside out four times before whipping in a cross or banging one in the top corner was a joy to behold.
From more recent years during our promotions to the championship we were lucky to have some great strikers, Paul Hayes, Gary Hooper and my favourite Billy Sharp who’s still going strong up there now.
But my favourite of the lot is a Spanish midfielder not many of your fans will have heard of, Alex Calvo Garcia, Sir Alex, we fell in love with him, he fell in love with us and the town. Scoring the winner in the ‘99 play-off final to secure promotion from Div 3 certainly helped things along, you don’t really get that relationship between players and fans anymore.
And those you wish had come nowhere near Glanford Park?
There are a lot, Iron-Bru recently had a feature about our weirdest signings, which contained the aforementioned Alex Calvo Garcia, but also a familiar name to Sunderland fans, Ameobi (sorry) but it wasn’t Shola, we signed Tomi. He was bloody awful, his last club in English football was Whitley Bay.
And your own highs and lows as a fan?
I was born in ‘88, so my life of supporting The Iron has coincided with what you might call “The Glory Years”, two promotions from Div 3/League 2, two from League One including three trips to Wembley (four in my lifetime, but I was too young for the ‘92 play-off defeat to Blackpool) and the relegations in between.
The high would have to be the 2007 promotion, winning the League One title ahead of Bristol City and the likes of Nottingham Forest, Swansea, Huddersfield and Brighton. Nigel Adkins took over in November, promoted from club physio and we never looked back, playing some, quite frankly, ridiculous attacking football to secure the title.
Surviving in the Championship in 2010-11 after winning at Wembley the year before is also up there, we played some great football that season including bloodying a few noses, the most notable a 2-1 home win against Newcastle (you’re welcome).
Hand on heart, the finishing positions of our two clubs this season?
Sunderland – 3rd
Scunthorpe – 10th
Diving: has it become impossible to stamp out or can more be done?
It’s not impossible to stamp out. VAR will help at the highest level but it is still a problem at our level, more and more teams seem to becoming very “clever” with how and when they go down, the standard of refereeing in the lower leagues doesn’t help, as you’ve probably noticed, it’s terrible.
Will you be at our game? What will be the score?
I’ll be at the game, sitting in what I call the Scunny Telegraph stand, it’s probably called something different now but despite being a season ticket holder and going every week I don’t know what that is. Looking at your form I think it will be a tight game, one goal either way. I’ll go for 2-1 to the mighty Iron.
* Ian Moore on himself: I’m 30, grew up away from Scunthorpe in East Yorkshire but always had family ties with the town and now live closer and have been a season ticket holder for about 20 years.My dad is football and sport mad, watched Scunthorpe as a lad with his dad, he went to college in London and watched Chelsea a lot home and away, watched Newcastle when they lived up there so football was always in the blood, and after flirtations with a couple of clubs when I was a kid, Scunthorpe has always been in the heart and it’s been a great period for the club in the last 15 years or so.
Unless you’re a fan of a top six Premier league club, football is about a whole lot more than trophies and Scunthorpe are the epitome of that, sometimes we’re not very good, but when we are good we’re brilliant. In the 90s the idea of us being an established League One club was a dream, so what’s happened since has been incredible. We’ll probably end up back in League Two one day, and maybe even make it back up to the Championship at some point but it will be entertaining either way.
Currently I am a delivery driver for a well known supermarket chain, recently married, sport mad but mainly boxing and football and I try to be a keen runner! UTI.
Interview: Colin Randall