Pete Sixsmith takes up where M Salut left off, a much-deserved dig at the TV people and Premier League for their utterly inconsiderate fixture changes. All the same, a spot of non-league action plus Steve Bruce’s transfer dealings have properly whetted Mr Sixsmith’s appetite for the coming season …
Ticked off my first game on Saturday; an enjoyable friendly between Northern League Division One Shildon and Teesside League regulars, Richmond Town. It ended up in a 2-0 win for the Railwaymen and a chance to see some of the new player who have arrived at Dean Street.
Like Sunderland, they have recruited heavily in the close season and several new players have arrived, while some old favourites have left. The general consensus amongst the regulars who turned up was that the manager had brought in a mixture of experience and potential and that the outlook for the season was positive.
All of which is remarkably similar to views being expressed about the Brucester’s recruitment policy this summer, in that we have brought in a mix of top level experience, some more than decent Premier League players (albeit with relegated clubs) and a couple of youngsters, one of whom should be the business and the other who might be.
In fact, we have probably been the most active club in the transfer market thus far. We look like an interesting side that could do well. And is that view reflected in the games chosen by the TV companies for the first third of the season? Absolutely not …
In fact, we have been allocated our bare minimum of fixtures – that being a single appearance on a Monday night at Norwich in late September. That is all Sky TV think we are worth. There may be others on ESPN, but, at time of writing, we have that solitary game allocated andnothing, absolutely nothing at the Stadium.
From the point of view of supporters who live a fair distance away, it’s a good thing. They can make travel arrangements and not have them disrupted. But from the point of view of the football club it must be a tad disappointing, especially as our much loved neighbours up the road are on a staggering four times.
Once again, there is great emphasis laid on the top clubs – United, City, Chelsea and Arsenal – with the usual fawning attitude shown to Liverpool. The likes of us, Bolton, Blackburn, Wolves etc are thrown the scraps from the BSkyB table and are expected to be happy with our lot.
Of course, we are better off than Swansea, who have to make a trip to Manchester on a Monday night for their long awaited PL debut. Surely the PL can have some say in the rearranging of fixtures like this. Many Jacks (the Swansea equivalent of Mackem) will have to take at least a day off work for this one and we all know that a Monday night is no substitute for a Saturday or Sunday game. Not much bloody romance in the game is there?
Wednesday night, we make the relatively short trip to York to see “Sunderland” play City. The team we put out will undoubtedly be a mishmash. I fully expect to see Trevor Carson, Jordan Cook, Billy Knott and a few other of the Hetton Irregulars turning out, but we might just get a glimpse of Seb Larsson, Craig Gardner and Connor Wickham.
Whatever, it’s a game of football and, as much as I enjoy the Tour de France and the cricket, there’s nothing to beat it. Oh, and there’s the opportunity to sneak a couple of pints in The Minster – York’s finest pub.
Welcome back – it’s been a long six weeks.