***** see also Toon truly Doon *****
AND some restrained, non-gloating images – utterly priceless – at Ready to Go
SUNDERLAND SAFE … TOON DOON with BORO …
… from the SoL and the south of France, both Pete Sixsmith – surely, I thought, that’s him above but it’s not* – and Colin Randall did their bits to keep Salut! Sunderland abreast of momentous events.
But Villa earned our undying affection by sending Newcastle United crashing deservedly out of the Premier League.
Minutes after the final whistles sounded everywhere, Salut! Sunderland passed the 1,000 mark for hits so far today – helped hugely by visits from fans of other clubs after our feature on the Who Are They? awards – and then Niall Quinn announced that Ricky Sbragia had stood down as manager but had a guaranteed future at the Stadium of Light if he wanted it …
Brief resume of our game: we played well but lost 3-2, having clawed our way back after going behind at the start of the second half.
But with things elsewhere staying as at half time, Newcastle and Hull both losing, we were spared relegation, Villa’s 1-0 victory condemning Toon to a character-building spell in the Championship.
SUNDERLAND 2 Chelsea 3
Villa 1 Newcastle 0
Hull 0 Man Utd 1
and, though it didn’t matter, West Ham 2 Boro 1
leaving the final table like this at the bottom:
16 Sunderland 38 6 3 10 21 25 3 6 10 13 29 -20 36
17 Hull 38 3 5 11 18 36 5 6 8 21 28 -25 35
18 Newcastle 38 5 7 7 24 29 2 6 11 16 30 -19 34
19 Middlesbrough 38 5 9 5 17 20 2 2 15 11 37 -29 32
20 West Brom 38 7 3 9 26 33 1 5 13 10 34 -31 32
And here’s how Sixer saw the first half:
10 mins: Outplayed
Next 10: A bit better
Next 10: Much better
HT: Worked hard. Other scores helpful ….
His next texts, with rough times, read simply:
48 mins Anelka
53 mins Kieran
68 mins Matching them
74 mins 1-2
86 mins 1-3 (immediately after) pen turned turned down
90 mins Jones
FULL TIME: Better performance but Villa are the heroes
Watching in my den in France – it has been a beautiful day outside but might as well have be bucketing down for all I care – I took the early surrender of possession, and easy corners given away, as signs that we’d need to rely on elsewhere.
But Sixer was right. We steadied, began to play a lot better and – to mighty relief felt on the shores of the Mediterranean – picked up fantastic news first from Hull, then Villa Park.
The commentator thought it was West Ham’s goal v Boro, as if that mattered to us. The sound of our crowd, even heard on dodgy earphones, told me even before the BBC website confirmed it – and long before the commentator realised – that Toon had gone a goal down.
To cap it all, the bar saved us from going in one down – with the last kick of the first half.
Then it began to go wrong for us. Anelka scored early in the second half and despite Kieran Richardson’s equaliser, we went behind and then further behind before Reid’s great cross was met by a powerful Jones header to give us a little respectability but not the pride of having done it for ourselves.
We have – by default – kept our heads above water and will start next season in a place that will seem, for Newcastle United, like history.
* I was nearly convinced that the first picture was of Pete Sixsmith. But wrong beard, wrong top. Let us know if it is you …