We’ve done the Bury buildup.
So let’s veer slight off-piste and talk Scrabble.
Everyone has been saying how nice it was to see happy, smiling, approachable Olympics competitors instead of those surly, monosyllabic footballers. Without quite suggesting sainthoods for best fan-avoidance technique – hoods, Ipods, earphones, shades, lowered heads – Stephen Goldsmith offers some balancing thoughts …
Fascism is on the rise again in Europe as far-right parties take electoral advantage of widespread disillusion with mainstream politicans. Witness the skip-a-generation election of wicked old Jean-Marie Le Pen’s granddaughter, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (just a rank, I know, but what an evocatively Pétainist name!) while his daughter demands a recount after failing to win a seat by just 118 votes. Where does football come into any of this? Salut! Sunderland’s John McCormick has a scholarly reply, with inevitable reference to Paolo Di Canio, who has just led Swindon Town to League One …
Pete Sixsmith has been back at the chalk face, enriching young lives and earning the means to enable him to attend Premier League games again next season. Or will he forsake round footballs for the squashed variety? Ask him at the wrong moment, when he’s just been thinking about Joey Barton or recapturing his Rugby League youth, and you risk hearing a disturbing response …
With the season over, not a huge interest in the playoffs and even less in England’s fortunes, anoraks like myself desperately search for a weekend fix.
Luke Harvey, another of our regular writers, offers a hardcore enthusiast’s welcome to the return – gormless rioters permitting – of the football season …
You’ll have heard the rumours: football is back.
It doesn’t feel like very long since the season ended. For Manchester United fans I’m sure the defeat at the hands of Barcelona is still providing a dull ache somewhere within, despite the FA Community Shield victory over Man City.
But the football league is definitely back, and it will surely provide the thrills and spills as well as plenty of other assorted clichés along the way.
The exchange covered cheating, money, arrogance, role models and recent controversies concerning Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney.
Andy Gray can wait. First the good news: Salut! Sunderland has two free tickets for SAFC v Tottenham Hotspur on Feb 12 up for grabs. Who knows? It could be a game that enables us to rise above Spurs in the top six.
Now the better news: all you need to do to have a chance of winning them is to post a comment to Salut! Sunderland. Since I am about to remind readers of a fine initiative in which 16-25 year olds are encouraged to give up a small amount of their time in a good cause, I would prefer the tickets to go to younger readers. But that is not a condition of entry: I will award them to the writer of what I judge to be the best comment posted ON ANY SUBJECT, here or at the foot on another Salut! Sunderland article, between now and 9am GMT on Saturday Feb 5.
Just when everyone has knives out for Andy Gray, it is worth reminding ourselves that beyond this essentially pathetic little row, arguably less important a broadcasting issue than the lamentable BBC cuts, Gray is not an irredeemable monster.
If you had the misfortune to be anywhere near Molineux as an away fan for our last game of the 2009-2010 season, you could be forgiven for hoping a blast of snow will force the postponement of Saturday’s match. Not only were we rubbish on the field; West Midlands police combined with the city’s licensed trade to make it a snarling, unwelcoming experience for anyone in red and white or sounding as if they might be shouting for Sunderland. The Wolves fans are different, though, and many sympathised (as well as suggesting the few pubs we could head for). We extend an unsnarling welcome back to Andy Nicholls*, from the Molineuxmix fan site. Andy, an award-winner in last season’s Who Are You? series, is a man with serious Mackem connections …
Salut! Sunderland: Too close to the bottom for comfort, I imagine. A long way to go but how disappointed are you with the start
In a word – very. However, I am a Wolves fan and nothing surprises me any more! Money was spent before the season started- most fans would have agreed that at the time all buys seemed like good ones but for what ever reason not all of them have worked out. Now be that MM panic buying or not and then not liking what he sees – I’m not sure but something has gone wrong and it’s time to put it right – I still believe that we can but it needs to be some sooner rather than later.
Here is a chance for Salut! Sunderland readers to get themselves, or younger relatives/acquaintances, involved in an project that could see them coaching kids, running teams for youngsters with learning disabilities … and maybe getting free Premier tickets from a prize draw. The Sky Sports commentators Chris Kamara – seen in the clip – Martin Taylor and Andy Gray, along with football figures such as Kieran Gibbs, Stuart Pearce and David Seaman, have given their blessing to the idea. Read on …
Almost every week, Salut! Sunderland is asked to plug something. The list ranges from football-related social networking sites to betting organisations.
If there is clear mutual benefit, which often there is not, no objection is raised here.
And when charities and other good causes – the Billingham SAFC fans’ sponsored walks are a great example – come calling, we’re pretty much an open door provided there is some relevance to what this site is about.
Salut! Sunderland readers produced a healthy response to my account of the French Football Federation’s individual punishments for four of the five players called before a disciplinary commission.
One, presumably Irish reader still hadn’t forgotten the Hand of Henry; someone else considered it a mark of arrogance to have a point of view at all. And two Sunderland fans in Canada – both regular contributors to these pages – described events in terms suggesting a struggle between downtrodden labour and ruthless capitalism.