Sixer’s Soapbox gets Pete Sixsmith instead of the usual illustration today in honour of a big event: his retirement after serving nobly as a teacher (bring on the chalkface, blackboard jungle cliches) for something approaching 40 years. He wished the occasion to go unnoticed but it cannot. Ferryhill Business and Enterprise College is an odd name for a secondary school but that is where Pete has done his teaching, and there will successive generations of past pupils to testify to his skills. M Salut’s bet is that there are plenty of people out there who have done better in life than would have been the case had they not encountered Pete as Sir.
And the “horror show” has more to do with frustrating attempts, as described by Pete, to keep track of events in Hannover than with any serious failings on the playing front: this was useful opposition, significantly ahead of Steve Bruce’s squad in the pre-season build-up, and we still gave them a decent fight for it in the second half …
It doesn’t sound the greatest of scores, a 3-1 defeat to Hannover 96, and so far the results on the German trip have been a tad disappointing.
The draw on Sunday was against the equivalent of Scunthorpe United, relegated from the second tier to the third and now we have what looks like a comprehensive defeat, admittedly against a much stronger BundesLiga 1 outfit.
Unfortunately, Horan/Sixsmith Tours is not functioning this year, due to the school I work at not breaking up for the summer holidays until today (Thursday). It means I have had to forego at least three new grounds, some exciting German train travel and copious amounts of fine German beer.
It also means that I am reliant on the internet link on safc.com for scores and updates and it gives me an idea of how M Salut must suffer every week as he desperately tries to find links that will give him instant news of games that are far more important than this German jaunt.
I clicked in at 6.15 and followed the text for 30 minutes while listening to the six o’clock news and a repeat of an episode of the wonderfully curmudgeonly Ed Reardon’s Week on Radio 4. Boy was it painful, waiting for the next bit of text to come up and wondering what was happening. It was made even worse when Hannover scored twice in quick succession before half time..
It took me back many years, in the days when local radio did not exist and we had to wait for scores to come in via the Grandstand teleprinter or over the Light Programme/Radio 2 Commentaries or Sports Report. That really was painful.
If you were in Division Two you rarely got anything more than a half time and a full time score. In the First Division, the likes of Bill Bothwell and Bryon Butler would cover four or five games but the others would have agency reports sent into the studio where Eamonn Andrews or some other link man would read the vital information out. If you were away to West Bromwich Albion or West Ham United, you had to wait until the last report, unless it was a particularly noteworthy game.
BBC local radio changed all that. Radio Durham and then Radio Newcastle began to cover all of the games and with the advent of local commercial stations like Metro, it was possible to pick up commentary on most games – if you could locate the correct wavelength.
I remember one Wednesday night game at St Andrew’s in the late 70s where the Metro Radio signal was being swamped by Radio Moscow with its reports on the grain harvest in Ukraine and the opening of a new dam on the Dneiper. Not even a mention of a coaching crisis at Spartak Moscow or a new winger at Dinamo Tbilisi, which would at least have made the blocking a wee bit interesting for us football fans.
Over the years, there have been some interesting commentators on the local stations. Metro had the urbane and sharp Charles Harrison, while his BBC shadow was the excitable and rather unreliable Scot, John Cairns, a man for whom the action was secondary to his increasingly bizarre observations on football and life in general.
Match of the Day’s Guy Mowbray cut his teeth at Radio Newcastle, and the current incumbent, Nick Barnes, does an excellent job alongside Gary Bennett. I rarely listen to commercial stations now, but I did used to like Simon Crabtree on Metro and will always remember his “Bobby Robson, your guys took one hell of a pasting” rant, after the Sorensen game at SJP.
I left the computer at the start of the second half to mooch up to Dean Street to watch an enjoyable and competitive friendly between Shildon and Northallerton Town (3-2 to The Railwaymen), returning to see that Sessegnon had pulled one back, before Hannover wrapped it up late on.
At this stage of pre-season results are not vital, although we do want to win games against good opposition. There are five warm up games left including a newly arranged game against Kilmarnock next Wednesday, which should put us in the right frame of mind for the visit to Anfield in a little over 3 weeks time.
Bring on the Reds.