It was January 2017 when I last reported on this side of the Pennines, which is not surprising, given the season(s) – and close seasons – we’ve had recently. it’s a bit quieter now, so I thought it a good time to revisit before things get lively again. Some of the clubs I visited have improved their circumstances, others have seen their situations worsen and quite a few of them are now sharing a division with us, not all in the best of circumstances.
Indeed, some will make you wonder why all the fuss about us finishing fifth and missing out on promotion against Charlton, who themselves are not in the best of circumstances, given the owner is looking to sell and appears to have already given up on promotion, although he hadn’t ruled it out completely yesterday.
Charlton fans are welcome to post their thoughts but Charlton are not the issue today, the focus is firmly on the historic County of Lancashire…
It’s that time of year again and Monsieur Salut unveils the Salut! Sunderland equivalent of the Oscars …
Salut! Sunderland is delighted to bring you the results of our annual awards for the best interviews of the season with fans of opposing clubs. We call the award the Haways – the Highly Articulate Who are You? (s).
One of the few bright spots of the season was the continuing high standard of responses from our interviewees. Remember, people have to be found, they have to agree to do it and they must then answer a lot of questions (maybe too many; if the series continues into League One, that may change).
With nominations about to close in Salut! Sunderland’s annual HAWAY awards – the prizes offered for best interviews with opposing fans over the season just ended – there is a clear front runner.
Since judging is not quite complete, and readers may still take part as previously invited simply by adding their choices in order of first-second-third in the Comments below, it would be premature to give away more.
Nominations close at midnight UK time so there is not much time left for stragglers, and we do have a quorum with votes already cast by several contributors.
John McCormick, associate editor, writes in the latest of Salut! Sunderland’s end-of-season reviews (see all contributions here):
I only made it to three games.
The first saw us exit the League Cup at Goodison, where a weaker than usual team in a struggling club had no trouble in dispatching us. Rodwell played that evening, in what I think was his last game for us (other than as an unused sub at Brentford), but other than that there was nothing of note in the game and it has no bearing on the rest of the season, so I’ll ignore it.
Most weeks, readers of Salut! Sunderland drop by on Friday morning to catch the latest instalment in Pete Sixsmith’s twin series, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Ground (if the game in question is away), Team (if it’s at the Stadium of Light).
This week, the Millwall edition was posted earlier than usual – namely at this link.
By now you’ll have read Pete Sixsmith’s report from Bolton. I can’t find fault with it and there’s no point in my writing something similar, not that I could. It has been almost six months since I saw Sunderland play live, during which time they have changed manager and a host of players. Instant recognition of most is lacking and the contrast is so poor on our away shirts that I couldn’t read numbers and names from my seat …
Nor can I instantly identify a playing formation, assuming we have one.
So I’m trying to give you something different…
John McCormick writes: the only pleasure associated with last night was that I met up with Pete Sixsmith and Pete Horan prior to the game. Not over a pint, of course, given that the only pub nearby wouldn’t let me (and by extension us) in. We weren’t together at the ground so my view of the game, which I’ll give you some time in the next 24 hours, might be different from his.
Do you really think it will be? Here’s a clue – look what I put on the SAFC facebook page when I got in last night.
The latest defeat in a sorry season does not, of course, send us down again just yet. It does put us bottom as Burton won and it does make relegation even more probable than it was. Sunderland appear from messages seen from the Macron stadium to have put in plenty of bustle but with the usual lack of skill and penetration, Fletcher missing and missing badly with the chance that fell to him.
Pete Sixsmith met our associate editor John McCormick for the visit to Bolton, a longer trip for Sixer than Liverpool-based John. And what a long trip home it will seem …
Scroll down for a Bolton Q+A session – Gabe John from the Burnden Aces fan site seeking answers from Monsieur Salut – ahead of tonight’s game. But first a little history about our long-running feature in which opposing supporters talk about forthcoming games against Sunderland and anything else that takes their fancy …
Salut! Sunderland‘s “Who are You? series drew its first breath 10 years ago.
The site was a year old and constantly on the look-out for new features. Interviewing fans of Sunderland’s next opponents ahead of each game was hardly an original idea but we did come up with one refinement: they were invited to write pieces of their own, with questions following.
The first Who are You? – we called it “Who are They?” back then, in January 2008 – was from a Spurs fan ( a pal of mine, David Sapsted) – and the series instantly became a regular, in time changing to a purely Q+A format though interviewees who want to write articles are welcome to do so.
Michael Gething is the chairman of London Whites, the London branch of the Bolton Wanderers supporters’ club. He knows people involved with the SAFCSA equivalent, is friendly through work in the music business with our one-word ratings man Rob Hutchison and fondly remembers better times for train travel when the two branches could pool resources and get their members to different games.
He’s as down-to-earth as you might expect, a true fan of his club who appreciates the company of true fans of other clubs. He has a good idea of one of the reasons we’re in such a pickle just now (see headline, scroll down for his response to the ‘did you see Sunderland’s catastrophe coming?’ question) and, sadly for us, he expects a Bolton win on Tuesday …