Sixer’s Accrington Stanley Soapbox: You’ve got to eliminate the negative

Easy Peasy says Jake

Malcolm Dawson writes……like a lot of us Pete Sixsmith was underwhelmed by our performance against Oxford and after the Ipswich game he e-mailed me to say that he was becoming disillusioned with SAFC and the game in general. It’s a phase many of us have been through and while I was disappointed by yet another two draws, as I see it, it is better than being disappointed by yet another two defeats and I remain convinced that we have owners who have the best interests of the club and supporters at heart, and a manager and players who are striving for success and never give less than 100%. Disappointment I can deal with if I can see commitment. Despite the disappointment, for me the football at League 1 and Championship level is closer to the game I have followed for nigh on 60 years, whilst the top half of Premiership with its ridiculous transfer fees, wages and player power is now so far removed from the game that was created for the working man and it is there I lose interest.

It was the nature of our performance against Oxford and in the first half of the game at Portman Road that was so frustrating. Last night’s game, as reported by Barnes and Benno, sounded much more open and whilst there were still some defensive lapses was, by all accounts, a much more impressive and attacking display by our boys in blue, with the first shot on target coming in the first minute thus immediately equaling the total for the entire 90 minutes last Saturday.

Pete Sixsmith was there and having instructed his manservant Bruce to retrieve the soapbox from below stairs, then to give it a good wax and polish, is now ready to climb back on it for the first time this season. Was he more inspired by last night’s performance in hilly east Lancs? Let’s find out………


What’s not to enjoy about a Tuesday night visit to Accrington?

It’s a pleasant run over the A59, down to Skipton and then along to Colne for a pre-match pint in Boyce’s Barrel, a pleasant micro pub complete with Sam, the Golden Retriever who will turn on his sad eye look in return for a crisp or two.

Boyce’s Barrel and dog

The beer’s not bad either. The Robbie’s Porter from Ayr was a welcome change from all the hopped pales and bitters that seem to be in favour at the moment.

The Crown Ground is neat and tidy (although it would benefit from a cover on the away end) and the stewarding is friendly but effective. Once through the portals, there is a pleasant alfresco bar area with relatively cheap beer and a splendid selection of Clayton’s Pies for those who are hungry.

Being a Tuesday night League Cup tie after a rather underwhelming start, the turn out was less than it would be for a league game, but 41%of the crowd of 2343 stood in the uncovered end or sat down the side, which is not a bad turn out at all – just under 1,000 made it.

Of that 1,000 (959 to be precise), the vast majority were non beer chuckers, non singers of songs about players they never saw and non-moaners, so that made for a pleasant evening as well.

The other thing I like about Accrington is that Aiden McGeady does something special there. In March, he opened the scoring with a fantastic strike from the edge of the box. Here, five months after the crushing disappointment of last season, he opened his account by scoring an even better one.

He arrived to replace an ineffective Will Grigg in the 69th minute, nine minutes after Stanley had levelled. Within two minutes, he had played a killer ball to McNulty, whose shot hit the bar and bounced out and then five minutes later, along came a wonderful goal to restore the lead.

He picked up a loose ball just outside the centre circle and bore down on the Accrington defenders as if he were a lion attacking a herd of frightened wildebeest. As they backed off, the McGeady twinkle toes took him into the box, from where he placed a superb shot beyond Dimitar Evtimov and into the net, to prompt wild celebrations amongst the faithful 959 who had made the trip.

Oooh that McGeady!

It also prompted one elderly female Accrington supporters to say to her friend, “That’s why I said s*** when he came on,” a comment that was picked up by Barnsey and Benno’s mike and faithfully relayed by Malcolm in his fine introduction to the 7. The ghosts of Cissie and Ada stalk the Crown Ground. I wonder if they heaved their bosoms up as effectively as Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough did…..

Enough of large knockers – there are a few of them that sit near me. Let’s do what Bing Crosby said and “Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative.”

There were first outings for Lee Burge, Alim Ozturk, Max Power and Grant Leadbitter. All did well, encouraging us to follow The Ole Groaner’s advice.

Decent return to the starting line up for Alim

Burge was a bit shaky at the start and was well away from a ball across the box that could have led to an equaliser, but as the game went on, he grew in confidence and showed that John McLaughlin has genuine competition for the goalkeeping spot this season. His distribution was excellent, if not quite Pickfordian.

Lee Burge – competition between the sticks

Alim Ozturk also did well as the second central defender in a back four. He looked fit and capable of forming a partnership with Willis. Both are strong in the tackle, neither gets pushed about and Ozturk clears his lines. He’ll probably have a stinker against Portsmouth (Remember – Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative).

The midfield duo of Grant Leadbitter and Max Power gelled nicely. This looks like a good pairing, as effective as the pairing between Bluetooth and the various devices that run off it. It will do its job for most of the time but will occasionally need a reboot – or whatever computers call it.

Leadbitter was competitive and sat a bit deeper than Max, who showed why we were all raving about him this time last year. The ball he played for Maguire to set up McNulty’s opener was excellent and he continued in that vein until he tired near the end. On this performance, Dobson and McGeouch will find it difficult to get into the starting XI.

They were aided by Maguire and Gooch, both effective at times. Gooch still seems to need an extra touch on the ball and Maguire is reluctant to go into a hard challenge after his broken leg last year, but both did well.

Up front, Will Grigg had a decent first half and could (should?) have opened his account for the season. In the second half, his game collapsed and once again, he was hauled off to be replaced by the man himself, Aiden McGeady. I’m afraid the sands of time are running out for Grigg with the support and maybe the manager as well. He seems a decent guy so let’s hope he can turn it round.

Mark McNulty looks a completely different type of player. He is physical, puts genuine pressure on defenders and seems very keen to show that his season at Reading was a waste of a year. Having to play at the dreary Majedski Stadium in front of dreary supporters and live in a dreary town must have taken its toll, although you would have thought he should have been used to it having joined Reading from Coventry City.

At The Crown Ground, he showed exactly why Ross brought him in. He scored an excellent opening goal, rounding off a fine move started by Power and extended by Maguire and finished off the game by bullying a Stanley defender off the ball, going to the by-line and giving Charlie Wyke a gilt-edged chance that he took gleefully to make it 3-1. Effective running from a Sunderland forward in the 90th minute is as rare as a thoughtful intervention into the national debate from Nigel Farage.

Poor Conor McLaughlin drew the short straw and had to play at left back. No doubt there will be some on social media lambasting Ross, Donald, Methven and the tea lady for letting Donald Love go, but we do need to bring someone in PDQ. The Ulsterman was bombarded with long balls behind him at the start of the second half and when Jordan Clark got in front of him, a needless penalty was given away. He may struggle to get his place back on the right as Luke O’Nien was his usual chirpy self on that side. We shall see….

Stanley were ok. A bit niggly at times, but no time wasting and for a team that is always being rebuilt, showed some cohesion. I liked the look of former Leamington forward Colby Bishop who converted the penalty with some power and Sean McConville was tidy and organised. With only two relegation places available, they should be fine. The league game in four weeks’ time will give a clearer indication.

On the way out, I dropped some coins into the bucket of a Bury supporter who was collecting to try and save The Shakers from oblivion. He was pessimistic about their chances of survival. In a world where huge amounts of money are paid out for decent but not outstanding players, the £3.5m that the Gigg Lane club need is a relatively insignificant sum.

Brian Clough

There is no chance of them getting any aid from a league where clubs have just spent £1.4bn in the summer. And you wonder why I am becoming disillusioned with a game I fell in love with when people gasped at the £42,500 we paid for Cloughie?

Let’s hope that we can continue the good work on Saturday and see off Portsmouth and some of the moaners and groaners. Remember what the oldest one of the latter said….

You gotta accentuate the positive

Eliminate the negative

Latch on to the affirmative

Don’t mess with Mister In Between.

Ha’way the Lads


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Sixer’s Burton Albion Soapbox: back in the box seat despite the disappointing result

Malcolm Dawson writes…..with a little more luck we could have had all three points but in truth we were fortunate to come away with a draw. If that sounds more than a little contradictory there’s more to come.

We hit the woodwork twice, had a goal disallowed (correctly in my view), theirs came about after an attempted pass inside took a wicked deflection off Flanagan’s outstretched leg and I thought we had the better side. But we surrendered possession far too easily, left big open spaces in midfield and at the back (which the Brewers exploited) rarely won a second ball and more than once needed Jon McLaughlin to be on top form to keep us in the game.  All that and a ref who once again failed to impress.

We might have had the better side but in my eyes Jack Ross’s boys only performed at about 40 per cent of their ability whilst the visitors were closer to 90. I left the ground knowing that an automatic promotion spot will be ours if we can match Barnsley’s and Portsmouth’s results over the remaining games but also a little concerned that three of our remaining six games are at home, where we might be undefeated in the league, but where we have also dropped a lot of points in games we might have expected to win.

I’m writing this intro before receiving Pete Sixsmith‘s match report and wonder whether his view of the game and his assessment of our current position matches my own.

Well it’s here now and you, no doubt like me, will be eager to read his thoughts.

Read moreSixer’s Burton Albion Soapbox: back in the box seat despite the disappointing result

The First Time Ever We Played Your Team: Walsall meet a legend

John McCormick writes: Pete Sixsmith takes us back to the time when I was just getting into football. Some of the players below became very familiar to me as I saw them play at Roker many times. Others, Peter Wakeham and Jack Overfield, for example, are nowhere in my memory bank though Ambrose Fogarty is and I don’t think I ever saw him play.

Nor did I ever see Brian Clough, though I followed his story as he ran up and down the Fulwell End steps to no avail, and at some point in the mid sixties I chanted his name on the terracing when we needed a new manager. I’d love to have seen him play.

A bit of a variation here, as we return to the home of saddles, Jerome K Jerome and pork scratchings. Fellows Park and The Bescot were dealt with last week so let’s have a look at the first time we ever played The Saddlers – who knows, this could become a feature for next season.

Walsall were one of those yo-yo clubs who alternated between Third Division (North) and (South) throughout their time as a Football League club. They were in the Northern section when they beat the Arsenal in the FA Cup in 1933, the year that The Gunners won the First Division and we finished sixth. It was a good season to be a Sunderland supporter as Newcastle were relegated……

In 1961, Walsall finished second in Division Three and were promoted to Division Two for the first time in their history. Their fellow second level teams that season included Liverpool and Newcastle United as well as ourselves and the man who worked out the fixtures at Lytham St Anne’s using a pencil and a piece of paper, gave the Saddlers a fascinating start to their new life in the second tier by sending us to play them at Fellows Park.

The game took place on the 19th August 1961, a Saturday afternoon and Fellows Park saw a crowd of 18,420 squeeze in to see a classic. Many of those would be wearing Sunderland scarves and rosettes as they came to see their new centre forward Brian Clough, in competitive action for the first time.

He had already played in two home friendlies against Danish clubs Odense and Aarhus, scoring in both and he was well known to his new audience from his time down the A19 at Middlesbrough. Alan Brown saw him as a vital part of the new team that he was building and paid the then astronomical price of £55,000 for a player who was a proven goalscorer at this level, but who was also seen as a disruptive influence at Ayresome Park.

He was a Boro lad, born in a newly built council house in Grove Hill in 1935. He was the sixth of nine children and showed a talent for both football and cricket as a schoolboy. He admitted that he enjoyed cricket more than football and both sports more than lessons and he left school in 1949 with no qualifications. Like many, he went to work at ICI and played for their works team, Billingham Synthonia.

Middlesbrough offered him a contract after he had completed his National Service and he took his first steps on the road to becoming the most prolific striker in Football League history. In the 222 games he played, he scored 203 times and that in a side that was becalmed in the middle of Division Two for much of the time.

To say that he was outspoken is akin to saying that Jacob Rees-Mogg is a fine representative of C19th paternalism. After he had scored a hat trick in the 6-6 draw with Charlton Athletic at The Valley, he asked his team mates how many he needed to score the next week in order to claim his win bonus and he publicly accused some of his colleagues of taking bribes to throw games.

By 1961, the Ayresome hierarchy had had enough of him and this alerted Alan Brown to his availability. Unlike Boro manager Bob Dennison, Brown was sure that he could handle Clough and he proved to be right. The Bomber’s brand of paternalistic tough love appealed to a man who had been brought up in an environment where tough love and strict discipline were paramount and Clough always saw Brown as his mentor and guiding spirit.

He scored our equaliser at Fellows Park. Tony Richards had opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 13th minute and Clough responded nine minutes later with the first of the 63 goals that he scored for us in the one and a half seasons that he had before the injury that wrecked his career.

Tommy Wilson restored the Saddlers lead before we appeared to take control. Scottish international, George Herd, making his second first team appearance levelled before outside right Harry Hooper put us ahead from the spot. It looked as if we were home and dry but the large crowd witnessed The Tony Richards Show, Parts 2 and 3 as goals in the 68th and 75th minute gave Walsall the points and sent the home fans away happy to talk of the game over pints of Banks’s Bitter in the pubs and clubs of Walsall.

What went through Clough’s mind as he sat in the dressing room, only he would know. He must have thought that this lot were no better than the losers he had just left, but there was no way that he was going to say anything in a dressing room run by Alan Brown.

                 George Herd

The team that day was;

Peter Wakeham; Colin Nelson, Len Ashurst; Stan Anderson, Charlie Hurley, Jimmy McNab; Harry Hooper, George Herd, Brian Clough, Ambrose Fogarty, Jack Overfield.

There were five internationals in that team, almost unknown for a second level team at that time. Hurley and Fogarty were regulars for the Republic of Ireland team, Herd had won two caps for Scotland while with Clyde and Anderson would go to the World Cup in Chile at the end of the season. Clough had two England caps to his name but did not get on particularly well with the cerebral and remote team coach, Walter Winterbottom. He got on even less well with the blazers from the FA who actually selected the players….

By the end of the season, he had scored 29 goals but we finished third and missed out on promotion by a point. The next year, he had scored 28 by Boxing Day when he was seriously injured in a clash with Bury keeper Chris Harker at Roker Park. He made an abortive comeback in 1964, playing three games and scoring once, his only experience of the top flight.

His tale is well told after that. Youth team coaching at Roker and then a managerial career that took him to Hartlepools United, Derby County, Brighton and Hove Albion, The Damned United and Nottingham Forest, but the two jobs he wanted more than anything – England and Sunderland – never came.

He typified the area that he came from. He did not care who he upset and had his own way of doing things. As a 12 year old taking his first steps as a Sunderland supporter (such folly, Pip, such folly) I idolised him and followed his career until the end. I have seen his statues in Albert Park, Middlesbrough (my favourite), outside Pride Park in Derby (with Peter Taylor) and in The Old Market Square in Nottingham (in his pomp) and I can’t think of any other player/manager who has a statue in three different locations.
My neighbour, Carmel, knew him and attended his wedding in the 50s.

“He was a lovely lad, always polite to me and he adored Barbara,” she said as I door stepped her the other day. “I never saw him after he went to Sunderland and he upset a lot of people in the Boro because of things he said. But, at the end of the day, we came to love him, because he’s one of our own and that’s very important for us. He liked a drink when I knew him, as well.”

Brian Clough video posted on Youtube by Middlesbrough FC Video Vault, 14 Apr 2017. If there is any copyright claim, not answered by “fair comment” on the video or pictures used in this report please advise us and we will add credits or remove as requested.

Post-Bolton thoughts: as Brian Clough said…

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…

Read morePost-Bolton thoughts: as Brian Clough said…

Who are You?: Nottingham Forest and the Art of Football

Malcolm Dawson writes……….the games are coming thick and fast. Today the Who are You? series reaches Sunderland v Forest ahead of Tuesday’s game and we have turned to “Art of Football”, Forest fans all and sponsors and providers of some great prizes that we on Salut! Sunderland have been able to award. I have two of their tee shirts, Jermain Defoe crashing in that brilliant effort against the Mags a couple of seasons back to make it 5 in a row and Super Kev’s equally brilliant stunner against Chelsea, and fine products they are too. I have to emphasise that David Cuthbert, the father of  the founders made no request that we advertise his sons’ business but answered the questions that M Salut put to him with grace and as a favour. Nevertheless with Christmas not that far off here’s a link to their homepage and Sunderland stuff.

Now on to David’s responses.

Interview Colin Randall

Jake wants answers …

A solid enough start, certainly compared with ours. Have you high hopes for this season?

It has been a few years since such a wave of optimism has swept the City Ground (apart from the first few weeks of the Stuart Pearce era). We are not expecting to reach the Premier League this season but will definitely be disappointed if we are not challenging for the play-offs.

The ownership – Evangelos Marinakis and Sokratis Kominakis – may not mean much to most people but Mark Warburton made a name for himself at Brentford, did pretty well at in the revival of Rangers and is now your boss. What do you make of him and the owners?

Really like the football that Brentford played under Warburton and we are starting to see better football at Forest already. As a manager he knows what he wants, the players respect him and want to play for him and there is definitely a sense of team spirit. He seems a good tactician and wants to entertain. He has also been good at bringing in a few home grown youngsters who are Forest through and through as well as making a few astute signings. Whilst he is not another Clough he seems to have the same core values and believes in “a better way to play football”.

If not covered in that answer, are they the right combination to restore something of the past glories of Forest?

The takeover was a long running affair as it took 2 attempts during which time Marianakis was getting a bit of bad press about allegations of corruption in Greek football. So we were all a bit concerned that we were jumping from frying pan to fire, as Fawaz had been an absolute disaster. But so far they have been doing and saying all the right things. There is a determined effort to look after fans and local businesses a bit better. And at least they know how football works given what they have achieved at Olympiakos (so many foreign owners don’t seem to have a clue about the game). Don’t think we will ever see the European glory days again but the owners, manager and the team on and off the field that they are putting together should see us competing properly in the top division.

Liam Bridcutt was poor for us, Daryl Murphy patchy (though he did score a wonder goal against Wigan). How do you see their Forest careers developing?

Bridcott had barely trained with the squad when he made his only appearance in the last game against Leeds so it’s too early to make a judgement on him. Murphy has been surprisingly impressive. He is strong, holds the ball up well and is scoring. His experience should help the rest of the strike force who are all young players.

And who else will be important to you this season?

Barry McKay looks the buy of the season at £500k from Rangers. He is quick, two footed, has scored a couple of really good goals and can pick out an intelligent pass.

Old Big ‘Ead in his Sun’lan days

You are probably far too young to have seen anything of the great Forest era. Any handed down thoughts on Clough and the team he created?

Watched the ‘Miracle Men’ film by Jonny Owen which was a reminder of what a fabulous team Cloughie built which played some amazing football on mud baths of pitches. Whilst it will never be repeated there are definitely echoes of that era in the current situation. Manager that likes to play on the floor, starting from a low position in the second tier, little right footed Scottish left winger, strong journeyman centre forward etc. etc. Dream on.

What about your own high points as a Forest supporter?

Was too young and too poor to see much of the European years but the highlights for me were the League Cup wins with Pearce, Des Walker, Nigel Clough etc. You can’t beat a day out at Wembley and you bring the cup home.

And the lows?

Relegation to Division 3 and then taking three seasons to get back up.

Best players you’ve seen in your colours or wish you were old enough to have seen?

John Robertson did it all. Stan Collymore was absolutely superb but we only had him for 2 seasons. He could have been the best centre forward England ever had if he had got his head together

Who should have been allowed nowhere near the City Ground?

Justin Fashanu – Clough bought him for £1m from Norwich (a lot of money at the time) after he scored a wonder goal against Liverpool. It turned out to be a fluke!

What are your thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city and region, Simon Grayson?

Have always had a soft spot for Sunderland ever since they rolled over Leeds in 73. Loved it when Roy Keane had success there (ex Forest) and after what I read about the way Niall Quinn was connecting with the fans

Is there anyone in our squad you’d like to see at Forest?

Can’t really comment as I haven’t seen enough of the present team.

Hand on heart, where will our clubs finish this season?

Unfortunately I think Sunderland are going to find it tough and will finish mid-table. I see Forest as pushing for a play-off place but can’t see them in the top two spots.

We’ve already had a rude awakening to life in the Championship. What is your assessment of the difference in quality and style with the Premier League?

I think there has been a big improvement in the standard of football in the Championship in the last few years with some good footballing sides. The division gets more competitive each year and I don’t feel there is a big gap between the top third of the Championship and the bottom third of the Premiership. Look at how small clubs like Bournemouth, Burnley, Southampton have been able to hang in there whilst bigger clubs like Villa and Wolves are struggling to get back.

Will we see as much cheating as happens almost routinely in the top.

Unfortunately yes. Simulation, feigned injury, time wasting and arguing with the ref are just as prevalent.

Best ref, worst ref at this level?

Can’t really comment. All I know is I wouldn’t do it no matter how much they paid me.

JD – Mag slayer
Detail from my tee shirt

Tell us about Art of Football, valued sponsors of Salut! Sunderland competitions and awards.

My two youngest sons Gabe and Luke started the business 4 years ago from their bedroom. (They have 3 older brothers and we all love football.). Gabe is the artist and had the idea whilst watching Aguero score the goal to win the Premier League. He jumped out of his chair with excitement and love for the beautiful game. So Art of Football is about capturing those moments and players that make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Sunderland have a special place for us as their win at Old Trafford in the League Cup semi-final was the first design to really catch on and helped us realise that the business could work. Believe me, we so wanted you to beat Man City in the Final.

One step the authorities should take to improve the lot of the ordinary fan?

Safe standing areas.

Will you be at our game and what will be the score?

I can’t get to the game sadly. Forest have been travelling well but I expect this to be a 1-1 draw.

Finally, a paragraph or two or who you are, what you do, your history of supporting Forest.

My name is David Cuthbert. I am 63 years old and a life long Forest supporter. As mentioned above I have 5 sons and we are all season ticket holders and my grandson now comes as well. My own father wasn’t interested in football and never took me to a game. He missed out because going with my sons is the highlight of the week. COYR


Clough, Monty, trouncing Chelsea … Salut! Sunderland shares memories with Football Friends

Jake flies the flag

Monsieur Salut writes: Why does Salut! Sunderland exist? What prompted its creation? What was my first game? What have been my highs and lows of supporting Sunderland? All the kind of questions we regularly ask Who are You? candidates. This time the boot was on the other foot. The newish Football Friends site wanted answers from me. Here they are – and do check out the site for chats with those responsible for other club blogs …

Read moreClough, Monty, trouncing Chelsea … Salut! Sunderland shares memories with Football Friends

The Robson Report: Sir Alex Ferguson had millions, Clough charisma and brilliance

Jonathan Wilosn's book on a Sunderland great
Jonathan Wilson’s book on a Sunderland great

NB: COMMENT ON: A technical blip prevented them until now

Jeremy Robson pays a grand tribute to Brian Clough to mark the imminent 10th anniversary of his death (aged 69, on September 20 2004). Sunderland fan and top writer Jonathan Wilson’s book, Nobody Ever Says Thank You, is available at very decent prices at Salut! Sunderland’s Amazon link:

It’s hard to believe
that ten years have lapsed since the passing of the great Brian Clough. Arguably, the finest manager of all time, he didn’t have to spend millions or be in charge at clubs with the deepest pockets to win trophies. He did it on the strength of team work, charisma and sheer brilliance.

Read moreThe Robson Report: Sir Alex Ferguson had millions, Clough charisma and brilliance

Sixer’s Sentiments: Pete meets a Sunderland legend – again!

After swapping the chalk face for a school reunion just off Junction 13 of the M1, Pete Sixsmith battled the floods and took in a Northern League game which gave him the opportunity to renew acquaintances with one of his boyhood (and adulthood) heroes. Frankly, after the amount of rain that hit the North East, cutting off the village of West Auckland, carrying off cars in the city of Durham and washing away the foundations of a whole apartment block in the suburbs of Newcastle, it was amazing that any games took place at all. The rain that fell over the previous two days certainly rivalled that which had caused the Reading game’s cancellation. We must hope there’ll be no repeat on Saturday and we can witness a first league victory since March.

Read moreSixer’s Sentiments: Pete meets a Sunderland legend – again!

Derby draw: Sunderland slowly getting better but lacking that Cloughie killer punch

Sixer: a glum look we made earlier

While Sunderland supporters generally await, with some impatience and not a little concern, significant developments on the transfer front, the pre-season build-up goes on. Stuttering is the adjective that springs to mind when reflecting on the results so far. Last night, at Derby County, Pete Sixsmith saw Martin O’Neill’s team get close, but not close enough, to clocking up another morale-boosting win …

Read moreDerby draw: Sunderland slowly getting better but lacking that Cloughie killer punch

Soapbox: goodbye Jordan, give us a wave at Liverpool

Niall Quinn describes the deal as right for the club, says what no one denies, that Jordan Henderson “is a credit to himself, his family and Sunderland’s Academy”, and promises that work is in hand to strengthen areas that need it. Pete Sixsmith takes it philosophically, recalls another momentous transfer and adds his own tribute …

See also: Liverpool lullabies: Jordan Henderson, David Ngog and the wicked media

I remember where I was when news came through that Colin Todd had been sold. I was having a lunchtime pint in the Continental in Athaneum Street when someone came in and quoted from the Echo billboard outside: “Roker star leaves.”

This was long before the internet, mobile phones, Sky Sports News etc. In those days, that kind of headline usually meant someone like Colin Symm had gone to Lincoln City or Ralph Brand had signed for Invercockieleekie Wanderers. But we knew what this one was.

Read moreSoapbox: goodbye Jordan, give us a wave at Liverpool