The Birmingham City fan topping our Pretend Fair Play league


Arsenal fans will pounce on the irony of a Birmingham fan winning something to do with fair play and inspired by Eduardo. But the issues are separate, and Kevin Ball is a deserving winner …


We’re open to accusations of cheating ourselves, that we manipulated the result to ensure yet another Mackem connection to Salut! Sunderland competition prizewinners, if only in name.

But look at the replies people gave and Kevin Ball, who runs the Birmingham fan site Joys and Sorrows fully merits his selection as winner of our Pretend Fair Play league, inspired by rival fans’ responses to the Eduardo question: would you take – gladly or guiltily – or almost wish you could decline a trophy/title/survival won by a penalty scored after a blatant dive?

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The Eduardo survey, without apology to Arsenal

One last pop at Eduardo for that extraordinary dive against Celtic and then all will be forgiven. The unfinished business is that we have one more prize to award, for the winner of our Pretend Fair Play league. The prize itself falls below Euromillions levels …

All season long, since Mr Eduardo’s bid for Olympic glory, but in a sport other than football, against Celtic in the Champions’ League, Salut! Sunderland has posed the same question to virtually every fan of a rival club who has taken part in our Who Are You? series.

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Soapbox: Hammers wanted it more than we did

soapboxYet another failure to build on a good home performance as we visit the tackiest stadium in the Premier League – at least until SJP makes an unwelcome return. Pete Sixsmith accepts that Zola’s Boys wanted it more than we did and is entertained by Neil Warnock on a long journey home.

The old maxim goes “After the Lord Mayor’s Show comes the dustcarts”. Presumably the dustcarts are there to pick up the rubbish left – and there was plenty to pick up after this apology of a Premier League game.

Last Saturday, we warmed to two teams who appeared to be able to make passes, create chances and right royally entertain a big crowd.

This Saturday we had to endure two teams who had difficulty in making accurate passes, created a handful of chances and drove a full house at Mockney Castle Park to frustration and boredom.

West Ham deserved to win the game because they wanted it a lot more than we did. Never mind the fact that Sunderland had sold their ticket allocation and that fans had had to make early starts to get there, there was the feeling amongst the travelling support that our players knew they were safe from relegation and that the gravy train would continue to call at their stations next year.

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Supporting Arsène, Arsenal and Aaron. And, a little bit, Ryan.

On the Ramsey/Shawcross affair, we still await the thoughts of Monty and Rupert, names that somehow seemed to personify posh London football support when they were announced on tannoy at Arsenal v Sunderland. Lots of others, notably Gooners, have had their say, however, and not least at Salut! Sunderland …

Just before the kickoff of Stoke v Arsenal, the TV screen (sound down) showed Arsène Wenger and my football-loathing wife started on about how much better dressed, better spoken, more intelligent, better everything he was than your usual football character.

She’s French so would say as much. But it’s a view that I happen, up to point, to share.

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Who are you? We’re Chelsea – and feel sorry for Newcastle


Since I do know Chelsea season ticket holders who never go to an away Premier game but consider themselves proper fans, Gill Brown* must be ultraproper. Saturday found her in Hull, ready for the game that was sure to be played – but wasn’t. Gill, who is also a useful badminton player (well, a lot more useful than me), offers refreshingly honest answers on Toon Doon (oddly sympathetic), cheating (oddly sympathetic), club & country (tightlipped but gives it away) and Gareth Hall (“who?”). Can she be serious in thinking we might get a draw at Stamford Bridge this weekend? …

Salut! Sunderland: Top of the Premier with many people tipping you for the title, winning in the Champions League, likely to put in a strong FA Cup challenge and yet still some Chelsea fans complain. What more do the boo boys – minority though they may be – want?

I think perhaps some of the fans get very frustrated by the style of football being played and the way we tend to grind out results. I hate the “boo” culture, I don’t see any point in booing your own team, it is totally counter-productive. I would never ever boo my team no matter what and it makes me feel sad to hear it.

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Eduardo, Ngog and an everyday saga of Bent penalties


The issue of cheating in football won’t go away. Is it a price worth paying for the cut and thrust of post-match debate? Colin Randall gets stuck in traffic long enough to hear a range of views …

If we are honest, most of us love the controversy that football provokes.

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Salut! Sunderland AFC (Against Football Cheats)


“Old bald headed bloke” * – see comments – considers the response from Wearside, the East End and beyond to the Jones/Ilunga incident during the 2-2 draw between SAFC and West Ham …

West Ham supporters have rallied gamely to the cause of their side following events at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

They have done it with a mixture of solid defensive work and aggressive counter-attack (there have also been a couple of more cretinous offerings, but the ratio of joined-up thinking to no thinking at all has been high).

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The diver turning in his grave


Colin Randall kills time with a quick rant about diving …

When I was a lad and couldn’t afford a Subbuteo set, I devised a makeshift version using various toys – toy soldiers, toy cops, whatever came to hand – and a marble for the ball. The floor or table provided the pitch.

My star player was a toy frogman. I called him Diver. I could make the marble ricochet off his almost mermaid-style form and sometimes sneak into the goal.

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