Soapbox on tour: from Baden-Wurtemberg to bad and worse


It seems an awful long way to go to see the Lads comfortably beaten in a friendly, depressing everyone about the start of the real season. Pete Sixsmith endured the awfulness of Sunderland’s performance and took consolation in being able to see parts of Europe where, on this evidence, SAFC are unlikely to be called upon for competitive football any time soon …

The trip is over. We are back in County Durham, tired and worn out, after a 70km detour through northern France, because the bloody navigator in the car thought Ghent was to the east of Brussels and not to the west.

Read moreSoapbox on tour: from Baden-Wurtemberg to bad and worse

Defeat in Hoffenheim and the return of Sixer’s Sevens


Steve Bruce loathes friendlies anyway and “can’t wait for the real ball to come out”. When it does, Salut! Sunderland will be ready …

You can bet your life we have not heard the last from Pete Sixsmith – lost in Belgium, when last heard of, on his way home from Germany – on the disturbing scoreline from our final pre-season friendly: Hoffenheim 3 Sunderland 1.

Read moreDefeat in Hoffenheim and the return of Sixer’s Sevens

Soapboax on tour: hello from Hoffenheim


Or, more truthfully, from Heidelberg. A first dispatch from Pete Sixsmith, who is on the pre-season trail with Sunderland – except when getting hopelessly lost – and gagging for the game against Hoffenheim …

Well we arrived. It took longer than we thought, but we made it to Heidelberg after a long, long journey that tested the Mazda 6 and its passengers, but by 8pm on Thursday the four of us were sampling our first German beers in a small corner bar midway between the hotel and the town centre.

The trip was going well until we decided to drop into the riverside town of Boppard for a rest, a meal and a shufty at the River Rhine. All three were accomplished and we followed the scenic route down the river gorge to Bingen – and then missed a sign.

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Soapbox: following Sunderland on the road to Hoffenheim


School’s out for summer, and Pete Sixsmith is off to Germany, following Sunderland on the last part of our build-up to the 2010-2011 Premier League season. He also looks back on pre-season jaunts of the past…

Tonight we set off on a mission to the German city of Heidelberg. Sounds like the opening line from a 50s war movie, so I should reassure the good burghers of that famed university city that we come in peace, searching for nothing more than beer, bratwurst and Big John Mensah.

This is the sixth time that Mr Horan has abandoned his fair wife and I have abandoned Samson the Cat to take off to foreign climes in support of SAFC. Torquay (ok, not really foreign), Seville, Dublin, Cork, Galway, Athlone and Amsterdam have all featured on the itinerary.

Friends have been made, ale has been supped and we have been able to get a good idea of what was in store for the coming season.

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Soapbox: season to start minus Craig Gordon


Pete Sixsmith is in pre-season training, too, after marking enough exam papers to pay for trips to Darlington (eight miles on the No 1 bus) and Hoffenheim (change at Darlo) …

After the “delights” of Spain v The Netherlands, we are back to normal – ie thinking and writing about the football that really MEANS something for us.

As the first domestic friendly looms into view at Darlington we can begin to anticipate the opening game of our fourth successive season as a Premier League club, against the might of Birmingham City.

Read moreSoapbox: season to start minus Craig Gordon