Monsieur Salut writes: by common consent, Richard Hall‘s* interview as a Walsall fan ahead of last week’s league game was as good as these things get. We knew, of course, that an FA Cup tie would follow a week later and, since organising Who are You? features can be time-consuming and frustrating, we cheekily asked Richard to handle questions relating to this Saturday’s game, too.
In fact we may get him to do all the Who are You?s remaining this season, no matter the club. Those who said they were looking forward to this second instalment will not be disappointed …
Another Saturday, another trip to Walsall. After last week’s eventful 2-2 draw in League One, the Lads return to the Bescot for the FA Cup 2nd round.
The Barnsley midweek game produced a Guess the Score winner, the first for a few games. Malcolm Ray, no stranger to prizes from Salut! Sunderland, will soon be the owner of a copy of Managers, Volume III of the Tales From the Red and Whites series, kindly donated by the publishers.
John McCormick writes: There was something from a Port Vale fan on twitter asking why we had only 2000 there yesterday. For my part the move to Sunday scuppered it – no car, and a train service with not only a Sunday timetable but also rail replacement buses left me unable to work out how or when I’d get back.
That said, when the crowd totaled about 7,200 2,000 (officially 1600+)is not a bad away contingent and it gets even better when you realise Pete Sixsmith was one of them:
Pete Sixsmith reckons his match report will arrive at Salut HQ some time around midday. Before then we’ll have another in his “first time” series to set us up for Tuesday’s trip to Morecambe.
And before that we have his immediate post-match seven word text, sent on its way as the whistle blew in Burslem and Sunderland concluded their tenth in a row unbeaten:
Monsieur Salut writes: sometimes, Salut! Sunderland struggles to find anyone supporting an opposing side to do the ‘Who are You?’ interview. Sometimes – not often – we receive a cast-iron promise, send out the questions and wait in vain for responses. And then there are the times we are overwhelmed with offers. Port Vale is one such example. Let’s hear from Ally Simcock*, former chairman [sorry, M Salut is too old to be doing with chairs as people] of the supporters’ club, a prolific writer on all things Vale and now a supporters’ liaison officer with the club. She reveals a Sunderland connection that goes right to the top of her club … and I have promised a third volunteer, Lisa Bowker, that I’ll be back with questions if it goes to the replay Ally predicts …
Monsieur Salut writes: since Rob Fielding was kind enough to answer our Who are You? questions we could hardly say no when he asked for a reciprocal gesture.
Pete Sixsmith knows his Potteries and will be at Sunday’s match so it seemed right for him to do the honours for Rob’s highly professional OneValeFan site, where I noticed one Vale fan describing the likely away contingent of around 2,000 as a ‘poor show really … we’d take more than that if the game was at Sunderland’ …
Monsieur Salut writes: a slightly troubled search for a Port Vale fan for this week’s Who are You? finally led to three offers of help. Rob Fielding*, who runs the onevalefan.co.uk fan site, then turned around the questions as quickly as anyone in the history of the series and we are deeply grateful to him
This is what his fellow-Vale fan Tony Boulton, a Burslem boy in Texas, has to say: ‘Rob is a great bloke. He’s been working on his website for over 20 years, since the emergence of forums. Despite the very nature of fan communication, in the age of social media, he has persevered and kept it under control with an amazing level of integrity. Our history does not bear comparison to Sunderland, but we are two tiers below where we would like to think we can be. Football has changed so much, but the mid 90s was our heyday and if we never see that success again, we did make it to Wembley three times. That was something we could only dream about, when I was a kid …
Oh, the shame of playing in the FA Cup first round. That’s one way of looking at Sunday’s visit to Port Vale. Another is to be philosophical about the chance to test players’ fitness, give lesser-used squad members some game time and maintain the great recent run for Sunderland AFC.
Amid all Sunderland’s more pressing problems, it seems almost incidental to reflect on how old you now have to be to have any dependable first-hand memory of May 5 1973: Porterfield’s goal, Monty’s double save, Stokoe’s sprint and our cup.
Never forget that the London branch of the SAFC Supporters’ Association voted years ago to change the name of its newsletter from 5573 to Wear Down South, an excellent title but the choice reflecting younger – and also some older – members’ reluctance to be reminded quite so regularly of how long had passed since the arrival of serious silverware at Roker Park or the Stadium of Light.
And we all know what has happened to the status and allure of the FA Cup in more recent times. It was different in 1973. And if Monsieur Salut’s younger daughter, Nathalie Randall, were somewhat older, enough to have seen that win against lofty, dirty Leeds, it’s a fair bet that the emotion and glory of that day – and her father’s celebrations – might have have steered her into lifelong support of Sunderland, not Liverpool.
But let Nathalie explain how her own feelings about the competition have been affected by two unexpected results, Wigan’s heartening act of giant-killing and Rochdale’s draw against Spurs to ensure at least one day out at Wembley …
John McCormick writes: As always, we packed out the away end. As almost always, the team conceded early. From then it was the same old story and now our cup run (such as it was) is over.
Pete Sixsmith’s instant seven word text gives us the bones right now; tomorrow his report will tell us just how much Chris Coleman needs a salvation army to arrive in the next 25 days.