Great draws yesterday – for us at Old Trafford and, er, Bristol City at St James’ Park. Stand by for Pete Sixsmith’s verdict on our cruelly denied win over Man Utd. First, there’s some unfinished business for
Colin Randallto attend to …
Len Shackleton had the measure of Newcastle United. When it comes the Mags, he said, “I’m not biased; I don’t mind who beats them.”
On that basis, Kevin Keegan will do. Shack’s soul can take mischievous pleasure in Keegan’s £2m victory at the Premier League arbitration panel over Mike Ashley’s ducking-and-diving regime of questionable taste and morality.
Shack also, of course, had the measure of football boards generally, with the chapter of his book devoted to everything the average director knows about football but taking up only a full blank page. If Ashley and his team are any guide, they know little about football but an awful lot about hoodwinking the public and making a supposedly beloved manager’s position untenable.
For Sunderland fans, the correct response to yet more evidence of the shambles that is Newcastle United should probably be laughter. But there is something so seedy and cynical about the conduct exposed by the panel that you begin to worry about the state of the game, since NUFC cannot be the only club stooping to such levels.
Fortunately, there are still heartening examples of decency at the highest reaches of football.
Niall Quinn is not, contrary to belief on Wearside, a saint. But he has some near-saintly moments. When Stephen “Squinny” Wilson, a Sunderland supporter, was killed in an attack outside a public hosue in Bishop Auckland, Salut! Sunderland suggested that a letter of condolences from Niall would bring a little solace to the family.
Whether it was as a result of our request, or purely Niall’s initiative having heard of the tragedy (he may have recalled once losing an arm-wrestling contest to Squinny), a letter was sent, and it was handwritten. The family, I am told, was deeply grateful.
No strict linkage can be made between Newcastle’s shoddy attitude towards its public, and Niall’s kindness towards his. Except that perhaps Mr Ashley and his cohorts might usefully learn something from the latter, and resort less to the former.