Pete Sixsmith set out his stall with his ‘sorry guys, you’re being a bit harsh on Kyrgiakos’ message after Man City. Here, he reinforces his cry for rather more fairness and a greater sense of proportion …
There was a heavy fall of April snow last night, leaving parts of County Durham looking like a very late Christmas card. Local games were off and the Chester-le-Street Town v Whitehaven game was abandoned in blizzard conditions. No doubt, training at Cleadon will be interesting this morning, seeing as we don’t yet have the indoor training barn.
Tomorrow, the County Cricket season starts. Durham don’t play until next week although the fixture planners seem to think that Headingley and Derby’s Racecourse Ground will be ideal places to sit with your thermos and sandwiches for four days, as players struggle with umpteen sweaters and Thinsulate sales go through the roof.
It takes me back to Tuesday 13th. April 1999 when I was looking for a notable double; the opening of the cricket season at The Riverside and a promotion party at Gigg Lane. I got 50% of it.
The cricket was snowed off after a heavy fall the night before. Durham were due to take on Worcestershire and welcomed hard drinking Aussie, David Boon as captain. He was the man who held the record for the most tinnies on a flight from Oz to the UK and had been tempted over to Durham by the promise of good cricket, excellent ale and fine weather. He may have got one of them.
I drove up to the ground on that morning just to say that I had been to a game where it said; No play today due to snow. Not quite as bleak as Buxton in June 1975, where the Derbyshire v Lancashire game was called off due to a blizzard and Farokh Engineer and Clive Lloyd had a snowball fight, but still pretty impressive for collectors of sporting oddities.
Then, after a quick dash home to warm up, it was back in the car and over the M62 to Gigg Lane, Bury, to celebrate a well deserved promotion. I got that part right, as we won 5-2, with Kevin Phillips banging in four and Quinny getting the other on one of the most enjoyable evenings I have had following Sunderland.
That was a night where congas were danced on the terracing, the Paint Your Wagon song surfaced and there was a feeling that we would never again suffer the ignominies of relegation. The future looked bright. The team that clinched promotion that night was Sorenson; Makin, Butler, Melville, Gray; Summerbee, Ball, Clark, Johnson; Phillips, Quinn. Subs; Dichio, Williams, Holloway
Not a bad line up and one that, with the exceptions of Clark (for wearing an idiotic Tshirt) and Johnson (for being badly advised by idiotic agent) went on to do very well in the Premier League.
However, there were players in that line up who incurred the wrath of some of our support and were hardly given the lickings of a dog. Danny Dichio was one; never the most graceful of players, but one who always gave of his best and if his best wasn’t good enough, that was hardly his fault. Another was Paul Butler, a limited central defender, but one who never went out there to lose a game on purpose and who tightened up our back four and stopped us giving away daft goals.
Unfortunately, we have some fans that are never happy unless they can find one of our players to slag off. It spreads like a virus and I am sure that there are folks who read it and take it as fact. Kyrgiakos comes on at Eastlands when we are 3-1 up, we concede two late goals, ergo Kyrgiakos is to blame.
Come here on Sunday for the Everton v SAFC “Who are You?”. Sample BlueView: “Nothing bitter about us. at Analfied they just don’t like us taking the p*** out of them, their Yank owners, their loony unsuccessful spending and their Norwegian ‘fans’ … When they do it, it’s banter.”
The RTG message board, which sometimes resembles a home for the terminally insane, had a far too high number of correspondents who made this assumption. Quite simply, it wasn’t true, but because Kyrgiakos was on the pitch, it must be his fault. So far he has been blamed for defeat at Blackburn, our exit from the FA Cup, losing two goals to the leagues highest scorers, failing to have the Elgin Marbles returned, the collapse of the Greek economy and the failure of Leonidas to hold out long enough against the bloody Persians.
In short, he is the perfect scapegoat. The fact that he looks a wee bit like Andy Carrol can’t help him, but to listen to some people, you would think that he would struggle to play a part in The Dog and Duck Team in the Chipping Camden Sunday League. He is not the best player I have ever seen, but he surely does not deserve the opprobrium that is thrown at him.
And remember, he doesn’t pick himself and nor did he sign himself – that is down to Martin O’Neill. He is entirely responsible for signing him on loan, picking him against Everton and sending him on to replace an utterly exhausted Kilgallon on Saturday. Surely it is the manager who should be criticised and not the player.
Many years ago, stood in the Clock Stand Paddock, I was giving a young Colin West some stick for not yet being a mature centre forward. A wise old head stood behind tapped me on the shoulder and said, “He didn’t ask to play you know. The manager picked him. If Durban sees something in him that you don’t, I would back Durban’s judgement against yours. Keep off his back, it won’t make him a better player”.
Since then, I have seen Sunderland fans take against the likes of Kevin Kilbane, Darryl Murphy, Gareth Hall and Carl Robinson and more or less force them out of the club. I would not expect to see Sotirios Kyrgiakos in a Sunderland shirt next season, but I would hope that some of our support would be a little less quick to condemn and a little more quick to support.
Good looking game on Saturday and it would be grand to roll over Good ol’ ‘Arry. Ha’way The Lads!!!