Andy Caulton was seen on the pages of Salut! Sunderland before the game between Sunderland and his team, West Brom, at the Stadium of Light on October 1, a afternoon marked by a traditionally bad SAFC start, an second-half recovery and a late equaliser from our joint second-top scorer, Patrick van Aanholt. He did the “Who are You?” interview in which he revealed a soft spot for Sunderland – and a fleeting memory of his dad mending Brian Clough’s car*.
Now PvA looks likely to desert Wearside for a reunion with Big Sam at Crystal Palace. On the face of it, it’s another of those rash gambles Sunderland have a habit of taking (Bent and Kaboul out, Graham in are examples that spring to mind) , unless there is someone better lined up to take his place. Time will tell whether Joleon Lescott is that player; the money is on him joining on a short-term deal. [UPDATE: signed as a free agent until the end of the season].
Andy, whose affection for SAFC dates from the 1973 march to FA Cup glory, offers a mixed but partly hopeful view …
“Lescott was superb for us, player of the year two seasons ago by far. Rolls-Royce of a defender; many, many Baggies questioned Pulis’s logic/sanity, in selling him to Villa of all teams……actually was a masterstroke, as Pulis orchestrated the massive upgrade who is Jonny Evans, and Lescott came to be labelled ‘agent Lescott’ due to a rapid decline in performance, [mischievously suggesting] he had infiltrated Villa by skullduggery and deception
“Still think there is a player in there. His pace disappeared incredibly rapidly but no one knows him better than Moyes..”
Back to Saturday’s miserable game, for us, at the Hawthorns. Andy is exiled in New Hampshire, from where he watched in delight as his team comfortably beat ours.
“My dream, as a kid was to be a sports journalist,” he tells me. “And out of the blue, last week I was approached to write about West Brom.”
Andy approached the task with, as he puts it, ‘the innocence and raw enthusiasm of your debutant, George Honeyman, a player I imagine will be a fans’ favourite for some time’. It is not too long and can be read in full at the Premier League Panel site.
Here’s an extract of relevance to Sunderland supporters:
It must be poetic justice then, that on Chris Brunt’s 300th game, he and Fletcher should score, both British players in a very British team.
It’s been just 11 months since Brunt was dealing with a coin thrown at him from his own fans during a particularly acrimonious defeat vs Reading. And it’s been just eight months ago since he had to deal with an ACL injury ruining his deserved day in the sun, missing the Euros playing for his beloved Northern Ireland.
Typical of him though, that this injury was not going to deny his commitment; he thus visited France as a fan, joining Northern Ireland’s incredibly passionate supporters. It speaks volumes of Brunt’s character, and as the Baggies build on and offer Sunderland a blueprint of the type of required team ethic they’ll need in this relegation battle, it was fitting that two stalwarts had their place in the sun today.
* PS: Andy “loved the commitment of Sunderland fans on Saturday, says an awful lot”.
And this is a sample of that Who are You? interview from late September:
Salut! Sunderland: you are a curious mix of really liking Mackems but being a Baggie. Explain how you could almost be on here as a Sunderland fan
I’ve had a soft spot for Sunderland since about, well it was 1973. I was at a schoolboy international at Wembley [still got the splinters from the wooden benches!]. It was the cup semi, [think you were playing City (no, it was Arsenal, City were 5th round) – Ed) and were winning at half time. I recall a frisson of pleasure over that. Then of course the final v Revie’s simply machine-like and hated Leeds was incredible. If you weren’t around then, and also if you were 11 like I was, this seemed the impossible match of mismatch. Even the traditional TV cup final coverage, from 8.30am, showed the differences. Leeds were manically serious, scary even but Sunderland, particularly Billy Hughes, even pre-game, were all about fun. The game needs no comment to Mackems!
My personal connection with Sunderland, was during Ricky Sbragia’s days. You were struggling, looked like relegation fodder, then Sbragia signed a lad called Calum Davenport on loan to shore up the defence. I coached Calum for four years, have always been very close to him, so I know how much he got from this loan spell and how much you guys got back in return. Sunderland stayed up; sadly, Calum’s career didn’t stay up – you’ll remember he was later the victim of a knife attack. Also my dad used to mend Cloughie’s car, but that’s another tale and was in Derby.