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 …

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The ‘Who are You?’ Awards frontrunners: West Brom, Tottenham … and Exeter

Jake: 'with thanks to all opposing fans who participate'
Jake: ‘with thanks to all opposing fans who participate’

It is that time of year. Salut! Sunderland is preparing to make its annual HAWAY awards, honouring the best of our “Who are You?” interviewees among opposing supporters. The interviews ahead of each match often reach the highest standards (the answers, I mean with due modesty, not the questions) and we are delighted to offer awards to the best as voted by our panel of judges.

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Sixer’s 6-3 Soapbox: pain and pleasure in beating Exeter. Bring on Manchester City

Jake: 'I make that one goal for every 1,596 fans present'
Jake: ‘I make that one goal for every 1,596 fans present’

The defeat of Exeter City, with a quirky scoreline, had Salut! Sunderland delving into murky territory. The introduction to Sixer’s Sevens wondered whether Pete Sixsmith ‘enjoyed a nine-goal thriller, in a sadomasochistic sort of way’ and his e-mail this morning talked of the ‘pain and pleasure’ of the occasion. Let Sixer, aka Mr Whiplash, explain …

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Sixer’s Sevens: SAFC 6 Exeter City 3. Discuss …

Jake: catch Sixer's instant seven-word verdicts throughout the season
Jake: catch Sixer’s instant seven-word verdicts throughout the season

There are different ways of looking at this. Good news: we’re through to the next round, we scored six, Defoe grabbed a slick hat-trick, Watmore and Gooch got most of a half each and were bursting with enthusiasm, Exeter fans had a great night out.

Then there was the bad news. The half time verdicts of Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett were not heartening to those listening on the radio or via the club website. Indispensable to the absent fan – absent as in everyone except just under 14,000 home supporters, since Exeter took 495 seats – B&B were unimpressed. A HT scoreline starting Sunderland 3 is excellent, says Barnes, except that Exeter had 3 as well. ‘You think the defending sounds grim,’ said one of the 14,000-, Pete Sixsmith . ‘It looks even worse. Three times in our box, three goals.’ Then the second half came, Rodwell nodded home strongly from Larsson’s corner, Watmore’s sheer persistence brought a fifth and the game was surely won. B&B were not so convinced, but Jermain’s third came and won it was. We’ll learn in more detail whether Sixer enjoyed a nine-goal thriller, in a sadomasochistic sort of way, or went to bed facing a nightmare about our defence.

‘The score sounds like a thrashing but Exeter made a real game of it,’ Barnes. ‘Until Watmore came on,’ Benno. …

Jake: 'gorging on goals'
Jake: ‘gorging on goals’

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SAFC vs Exeter City Guess the Score: smooth progress or cup upset?

Jake: 'can this be true?'
Jake: ‘can this be true?’

Will Sunderland get a first win of the season, boosting morale with any luck ahead of the trip to Villa? Or will Exeter City slip banana skins under our feet?

Fans of the Devon side, including the 300-500 expected to travel up for the game, are welcome to join in Guess the Score though it will probably be a just-for-fun comp. On the basis that no prize is only marginally worse than a coffee mug, have a go anyway.

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SAFC vs Exeter City ‘Who are You?’: red stripes, SJP, playing Brazil

Jake: 'back on the Wembley trial?'
Jake: ‘back on the Wembley trial?’

Exeter City and York City drew in their League Two game on Saturday as did Sunderland and Swansea, the Premier teams some might expect to waltz past them in the League Cup. Whatever happens in Swansea-York, however, we know better than to count chickens, though it’s a fair bet the travelling Exeter fans will be counting empty home seats at the SoL. We found two fans of the Grecians willing to contribute to the Who are You! series – Paul Sussex*, who runs the Exeweb site (@exemsg at Twitter) and Neil Le Milliere** – and promised to use both sets of replies. Both will be at the game and here they give refreshing accounts of life beyond the Premier …

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