Sixer’s Carlisle United Soapbox: is this the beginning of a great adventure?

Pete Sixsmith: witnesses three wins on the trot

Malcolm Dawson writes………I am otherwise engaged in the wilds of West Lancashire this week, or I would have made it last night to bulk up the crowd and get another loyalty point on my season card. I’m betting there’ll be more than 7,800 Sunderland followers looking for Wembley tickets, should last night prove to be the beginning of a great adventure and we make it all the way to the final. (I’m not making any assumptions here – Lou Reed fans will understand.)

Still I should be able to get to Morecambe for the next, most likely irrelevant, instalment as it looks like we could be through to the next round anyway. But I’m sure Jack Ross will take nothing for granted and will do his best to ensure we can get a victory, whilst giving some of our fringe players valuable game time.

With the number of injuries and suspensions we’ve had many of those we may currently class as fringe players, could actually soon become more valuable squad members.

Pete Sixsmith of course was there and after Bradford on Saturday and the U23s at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground on Monday it was three Sunderland wins in four days for our man on the spot. Here’s his report of last night’s Checkatrade Trophy run out.

Pete Sixsmith, Hangin’ Round


Lou Reed would have loved Tuesday October 9th. The wizened (and dead) U.S rocker and iconoclast was not noted for his love of football and he was rarely seen on the terraces at Roker Park and even less so in the expensive seats at The Stadium of Light, but he did know a perfect day when he saw one. Yesterday I had one.

Sixer took a walk on the wild side (of Shildon) to begin his perfect day.

The papers arrived on time so work was over by 7.30. After breakfast, I caught the bus to Darlington and thence on to Richmond, where I took a leisurely stroll along the banks of the babbling River Swale, so beloved by that other musical icon, Jake Thackeray and then back along the old railway line to the Station Cinema and Arts Centre.

After a rather good Americano and a cheese scone I then entered the cinema and watched “The Wife” which I thought might have been a remake of the Thora Hird/ Freddie Frinton classic “Meet The Wife” but turned out to be a story about a Nobel Prize winning author played by Jonathan Pryce and the woman behind his success, played by the superb Glenn Close, who does not have to boil a bunny to show how good an actor she is.

Jonathan Pryce and Glenn Close in 60’s TV gold

The day was concluded with a comfortable 3-1 win over Carlisle United in the EFL Trophy which virtually guaranteed our place in the knock out stages of this much maligned but extremely useful competition, one which allows clubs with large squads to give all their players a game that has at least a twinge of competitiveness about it and also gives us an opportunity to go where we have never been before e.g. The Globe Arena, Morecambe on November 20th.

Much was made of the lack of 14 first team players but such is the depth and strength of the current squad that the only first time starter was Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka, the young Swedish forward who joined at the same time as Joel Asoro and Oscar Krusnell, both now former Sunderland players.

He is as raw as they come, but he has done well in a struggling Under 23 team and came on last Tuesday against Peterborough, almost scoring in the last minute. Had he done so it may well have led to the spontaneous combustion of Steve Evans and the eternal thanks of all sensible football followers.

It took him three minutes to score here when the impressive Aiden McGeady set him up with a perfect cross and he planted a firm header beyond Adam Collin and into the Cumbrians’ net. Being Sunderland, we allowed a well taken equaliser from Ashley Nadesan after Jack Baldwin lost him completely.

BMK almost scored after two minutes of his debut. Did score after two minutes of his first start.

But we bounced back in some style as Ethan Robson scored a very good goal in the 36th minute, rifling home a shot from the edge of the box and we went into the break a goal ahead, although we lost Robson to a knock and saw Luke O’Nien replace him.

The former Wycombe player has been a bit of a forgotten man so far. He was clearly brought in to replace Lee Cattermole when it looked as if he would be leaving but as Cattermole cemented his place and Max Power was signed, O’Nien has been squeezed out. Injuries and illness have affected him but it was good to see him back and he looks a useful player to have in the squad.

Luke O’Nien – courtesy of

As does Dylan McGeouch who impresses me as a real fetch and carry man. He is always there to help out in defence and to move the ball on and as the season progresses, he will prove to be a very important player for us, slowing the game down when we need to re-establish control and moving us forward when that is required.

There were no weak links in this team. After the blip in the first half, Baldwin worked well with Ozturk while Matthews got forward at every opportunity and has established a good link with Maguire. It was the full back’s splendid pass that rounded off a long sequence of them and it allowed Honeyman to put the game to bed in the 62nd minute.

Other chances were spurned. Kimpioka had another strong header turned away by Collin and some of the shooting would not have looked out of place in the RL Grand Final on Saturday, but we saw the game out and gave brief cameos to two of our other academy products in Jack Diamond (12 minutes) and Lee Connelly (5 minutes). Both did enough to book their places for Morecambe next month.

Sixer travelling on his out of date bus pass!

I sat in the front row for this one which was good because;

1). I could stretch my legs out.

2). I could hear the players – Maguire swears a bit.

3). I noted that few of ours are tattooed as if they were Maoris – Maguire is.

4). I realised how small Reece James is and how solid Adam Matthews is.

5). I had a perfect view of Ethan Robson’s goal.

In fact, even though I didn’t drink Sangria in the park or feed animals in the zoo, it was just a perfect day and I got free bus travel, reduced prices at the cinema and the match.

There are benefits to getting older…..

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Sunderland opponents and their grounds: Sixer’s series as good as it gets

Sleek Sixer now …



Put it this way. Pete Sixsmith gives a lot more to the football-supporting public than he gets back.

He collects bits and bobs of beer money, the odd mug or print or match ticket paid for,  but nothing that remotely reflects all he does, mostly for Salut! Sunderland but also in unpaid appearances on radio, in books and on other people’s websites. And he’s Father Christmas to boot – look out for him ho-ho-hoing his way through County Durham and Tyne and Wear in December.

We’re accustomed to the analysis, the seven-word instant verdict (Sixer’s Sevens) and the post-match Soapbox reports. But have you noticed how he also comes up with great ideas for series? “Sunderland’s 10 relegations”,  “Sunderland’s Twelve Days of Christmas” and now “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Ground” (or team if a home game).

Pete Sixsmith then (not so long ago)


This is the story so far for those who have missed it:






Please have a look. Next stop – a good sports publishers who may see the merit in this series, if only Sixer can keep it up.

Great series begins at Derby, Bury, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Carlisle, Leeds and Barnsley

Monsieur Salut writes: when Pete Sixsmith suggested a series looking at his first encounters with Sunderland’s opposing teams or their grounds, I had minor doubts. That’s 46 articles plus the cup games – assuming he does each team for home games, each ground for away ties – on top of all else he contributes to Salut! Sunderland.

It’s fair to say the first fruits of Sixer’s latest endeavours are making me eat my thoughts. It is proving a fabulous series, much admired here but also by supporters of the clubs he writes about. Eric Bowers recently described Sixer as a national institution … you decide



The story so far is enough to persuade me that he should really be talking to book publishers. Here’s a flavour (click the team name to see the full piece in each case):

Read moreGreat series begins at Derby, Bury, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Carlisle, Leeds and Barnsley

Sixer’s Carlisle Soapbox: At least our name’s in the douli for the next round

Malcolm Dawson writes……….Pete Sixsmith made the trip across the Pennines to Brunton Park last night and saw us win our way through to the next round of the competition which I still call the League Cup. We got through but was it a comfortable victory or a fortunate one? Here’s what Pete thinks.

Carlisle United (away) Caraboa Cup

Tomorrow is the day when the English Football League draws the next round of this competition that has been ticking over since the 1960-61 season.

Our first game in it was at Griffin Park, Brentford on the 26th October. We lost 4-3 after having been 3-1 up at half time thanks to goals from Ian Lawther, Willie McPheat and Amby Fogarty. Later that week, the draw for the next round was made at the Football League headquarters in Lytham St Annes, at the posh end of Blackpool and I presume that the Football League panjandrums who drew it included Alan Hardaker, the formidable secretary of the League and Barnsley Chairman Joe Richards who was the President of the League at the time.

Read moreSixer’s Carlisle Soapbox: At least our name’s in the douli for the next round

Sixer’s Sevens: Carlisle 1-2 Sunderland. Bill Green honoured, our job done

Jake: ‘it won’t always be pretty’

Beating Carlisle in the league cup, or what is now correctly called the Caraboa Cup (what, you may ask but I looked it up and they produce ‘energy drinks’), has a sting in the tail. We did our bit, winning 2-1. But you have to get up at some idiotic hour on Thursday morning to find out who Sunderland will play in the third  round.


The second round took us to Brunton Park, where supporters of both sides joined in one minute of applause for Bill Green, the Newcastle-born former captain of Carlisle United and scorer of their first goal in the 2-0 win at Chelsea that was followed by two more victories putting them briefly top of the First Division (sad to relate, they went down in bottom place!).

Pete Sixsmith drove west for this one. He was not greatly impressed, spotting more missed chances for Carlisle than us and feeling Lynden Gooch’s winner – a finish he described as ‘classy’, to Gooch’s delight (he ‘liked’ the relevant tweet) – effectively ‘got us out of the s***’.

Read moreSixer’s Sevens: Carlisle 1-2 Sunderland. Bill Green honoured, our job done

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Ground (with or without Sunderland): Carlisle United

The newly slimline Sixer …

Brunton Park is the latest stop in Pete Sixsmith‘s series* looking at his own earliest experiences of the teams Sunderland play and the grounds they call or called home. Carlise United can claim a fascinating club history, the remoteness of its location making gloryseeking support for bigger clubs less of a problem than elsewhere. Sixer’s introduction to the ground coincided with the appearance of a Sunderland hero but not a Sunderland team …

Brunton Park is one of the few grounds
that I first went to without seeing Sunderland – although there was a Sunderland connection and that connection was the great Charlie Hurley.

Read moreThe First Time Ever I Saw Your Ground (with or without Sunderland): Carlisle United

Carlisle Who are You? ‘when Shankly said ours was football’s greatest achievement’


Colin Randall writes: our Carlisle United interviewee Mike Booth, a moderator at the Carlisle fans’ forum, says most people have a soft spot for Sunderland because watching Newcastle struggle – he’ll have enjoyed their first two results – is such fun. I only just suppressed the temptation to make that the headline.

Mike is too young to remember Carlisle’s season of glory, promoted to the top flight and top of the league after three games (but relegated all the same), but says people still talk about it …

Salut! Sunderland: What were your thoughts when you came out of the hat against us – ‘that’s a great draw ‘ or ‘not them again’?

Mike Booth: yeah I thought it was a good draw. Potential for a good crowd, and I’ve seen Sunderland have quite a few games in a short space of time, so this game might be seen as one where they can rest a few players, which could potentially lead to an upset.

Read moreCarlisle Who are You? ‘when Shankly said ours was football’s greatest achievement’

Carlisle United vs SAFC Guess the Score: a winning bounceback after Leeds?

Jake says: ‘have a go – but no prize this time’:

Monsieur Salut confesses: thank heavens no one went for Sunderland 0-2 Leeds. There are quite enough people who could tell you I already owe them mugs. They will come, I promise.

Pete Sixsmith, Leeds-born but SAFC through and through though he also loves the Rhinos, has written superbly, and without partisan bile, about the disappointing defeat on Saturday evening. See if you have not already.

Read moreCarlisle United vs SAFC Guess the Score: a winning bounceback after Leeds?

Barnes and Benno: eloquence meets passion, football inspires art

All roads lead to the Nick Barnes Matchbook
Nick Barnes and his Matchbook

We have been wanting a chat with Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett for a while. In some ways an unlikely pair, the tweed-loving culture vulture with a passion for the countryside and a former player and manager, fondly remembered for the sheer commitment he gave in red and white, who eschews tweeds in favour of the heart he wears on his sleeve …

Read moreBarnes and Benno: eloquence meets passion, football inspires art

Sixer’s Carlisle Soapbox: the splendour of England, the torpor of friendly football

From the lads at**
From the lads at**

Pete Sixsmith ought to have been a professional football writer, as his priceless accounts at Salut! Sunderland demonstrate season after season. He could have had travel writing as a sideline, as this description of a grand day out on the trains of northern England also shows. Mind, he isn’t a bad teacher by all accounts so society probably feels it is getting the best of all worlds from the sum of his contributions. Back to that day out: there’s always something waiting to spoil life’s pleasures and Pete ran into it at Brunton Park (there’s a clip of the goals at Darlington to make up for it) …

Read moreSixer’s Carlisle Soapbox: the splendour of England, the torpor of friendly football