Branch Lines: sharing the ‘ecstasy and misery’ of Sunderland fans down south

Ian Todd

In the second item in our new series of SAFC Supporters’ Association branches, this is an introduction – for those who need it; Monsieur Salut is aware that many readers, himself included, are members – to an essential part of the Sunderland-supporting family that clocked up 50 years of existence last year. It should be read in conjunction with the piece about that anniversary, reproduced below, and written by Ian Todd, co-founder of the branch …

Read moreBranch Lines: sharing the ‘ecstasy and misery’ of Sunderland fans down south

A strange feeling, from a stalwart supporter

Ian Todd (source: www.weardownsouth.com)

John McCormick writes: many of you will know at first glance that the photo on the left is of Ian Todd. Others may not and, perhaps, would appreciate some kind of introduction.

I’m not sure I’m equipped to provide one, other than to say this man is the kind of Sunderland supporter I’d like to think  I am, and I’ve been to daft and distant places like Norwich, Bristol, Oxford and Leyton Orient, not to mention those most hostile of venues, Old Trafford and Millwall’s old Den.

Ian has been much further, much more often, and done so much more wherever he went. And he still keeps going.

Over to Ian:

Read moreA strange feeling, from a stalwart supporter

Why one lifelong SAFC supporter stays away. Not the reason you’d expect

Ian Todd (source: www.weardownsouth.com)
Ian Todd (source: www.weardownsouth.com)

Ian Todd, a lifelong Sunderland supporter who moved away for university and has spent his adult life in London, has graced these pages intermittently throughout Salut! Sunderland’s nine-year life. He is the man without whom the London and SE branch of the SAFC Supporters’ Association wouldn’t have been created, or at least not as early (1967) or successfully as it was. It was, until this season, unthinkable that he’d be absent from more than a handful of games. In fact, while he continues to attend home games and has already renewed his season ticket, his presence on Sunderland’s travels has become a rarity.

Here is how he explains his decision in the new edition of Wear Down South, the branch newsletter, with a footnote* from the Blackcats e-mail loop on why he gave the derby a miss. Taken together, it’s a mix of the reason you perhaps wouldn’t expect, and one you would …

Read moreWhy one lifelong SAFC supporter stays away. Not the reason you’d expect

Reviews of the Season: would a short extension suit Mrs Advocaat (and us)?

Jake: 'the supporters have their say'
Jake: ‘the supporters have their say’

Think of the London and Southern England branch of the SAFC Supporters’ Association and it is impossible not to think of its co-founder, Ian Todd, an exile in the capital since the 1960s and a man who has invested frightening amounts of time, effort and money into supporting Sunderland and helping others do so. It was fitting that Salut! Sunderland should turn to such a home-and-away regular to contribute to this series of reviews of the season just ended …

Read moreReviews of the Season: would a short extension suit Mrs Advocaat (and us)?

The switched Southampton game. When fans come last

The long road. By Jake
The long road. By Jake

The dimmest pupil in geography classes could probably tell you Southampton to Sunderland is a fair old slog, a trip to be planned with care as far in advance as possible to keep costs down and bosses happy.

The people who sit on the safety advisory group for Sunderland AFC – representatives from the club, Northumbria police, the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue, the North East Ambulance Service, the Sports Grounds Safety Authority and the local authority – are not dim.

Read moreThe switched Southampton game. When fans come last

Salut! Sunderland’s end-of-season reviews: (5) stuck at the bottom with bucketloads of shame

Jake dreams of better school reports a year from now
Jake dreams of better school reports a year from now

Ian Todd,* co-founder of the London and Southern England branch of the Sunderland AFC Supporters’ Association, probably gets to as many games as anyone. Once or twice in the past season, he wondered whether he’d have been better off going to watch the inspirational Sunderland women’s team instead. Ian’s comprehensive review of the season identifies the heroes – unsung Jack Colback notable among them – and the villains …

Read moreSalut! Sunderland’s end-of-season reviews: (5) stuck at the bottom with bucketloads of shame

At Huddersfield/Hull as at West Brom/SAFC, police score same own goals

John McCormick: reading the rules
John McCormick: reading the rules

Twenty+ years after a pertinent observation – by a Sunderland supporter – was quoted in a book on football, 30+ after the quoted words were uttered, John McCormick is moved to ask: “Coincidence and cops: 30 years on, what’s new?” …

Read moreAt Huddersfield/Hull as at West Brom/SAFC, police score same own goals

A year in Sunderland’s life: things we may never know

Jake as Tony Roffe's caption writer

Something I had no reason to expect plopped on the doormat during my fleeting visit to London to visit my brother Phil (much, much better; even out of hospital since the weekend). It was a copy of that lesser spotted creature Wear Down South, newsletter of the London and SE branch of the SAFC Supporters’ Association. Ian Todd’s review of events during the many months that had passed since the last edition made the wait worthwhile. Ian, co-founder and mainstay of the branch, tells the story of an important year in SAFC’s recent history with exemplary attention to detail …

Read moreA year in Sunderland’s life: things we may never know

Another Sunderland young blood tastes glory as Wimbledon defeat Macclesfield

Billy Knott, wearing No 30 (courtesy of Vagueonthehow'*)

Hot on the heels of our Sixer’s dispatches from Sunderland’s reserve games, Ian Todd, co-founder and mainstay of the London and SE branch of the SAFCSA, reports on a man-of-the-match outing for one of our loaned players, Billy Knott. Here, Knott knitted together, are Ian’s comments and a couple of others …

Couldn’t be much better really!

Billy Knott – *thanks Rach, or “Vagueonthehow”, for the photo – was already a crowd favourite (not least with the girls, who like his cherub appearance) and had them salivating at some excellent control and perceptive passing in the first 10 minutes.

“Blimey,” said a voice behind me, “we’re not used to seeing passing like that here!”

And so it continued, though there were occasional misplaced passes and the three right-wing corners he was entrusted with were of a pre-Larsson Sunderland standard.

But the crowning glory was Knott’s equalising goal for the Wombles, a rasping Vaughan-type shot from outside the box. This, in particular, but underpinned by a solid performance overall, brought Billy the “Man of the Match” award.

I had a word afterwards with his mum and dad, with whom he’s living at present in Canvey Island (so life isn’t a complete rose garden – ed) and enjoying home cooking.

To which Jeremy Robson, of this parish as well as the Blackcats list where Ian’s thought appeared, responded:

Great stuff Ian. This early there’s evidence of the growing effect of MON. Out the lad goes on loan and is pulling up trees. Excellent that players are getting the chance to play first team football somewhere else. There was not much chance of him getting a game for us under Bruce, but that’s unlikely to be the case with MON for Knott and all the other lads. The times have changed for the better and this is another indication of that.

Even if the above clip – see that celebration – didn’t already confirm Ian’s doubly partisan view (he has long had a soft spot for one or other of the Wimbledons****), this BBC report shows he got it spot-on:

** The Dons controlled much of the game but fell behind just after the break when Shaun Brisley teed up Dwayne Mattis to slot home.

However, the hosts drew level almost immediately when Billy Knott’s superb long-range effort found the net.

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But just how many Sunderland supporters went along to see the game? At least two is the answer, since Mike Tivnen has now added his own match report:

*** I was there, too. Very impressed with Knott. There’s something a bit Alf Tupper about his build: shorts so long and baggy they almost reach the top of his pulled up socks.

It was a fabulous shot for the goal, a real welly of a left-foot volley that curved into the top left corner. He celebrated by high or low fiving just about everyone on the pitch in a royal blue shirt as well as the dug out and the crowd. As you say, he’s clearly very popular with the fans.

Still very raw, but I think he’ll be a real asset in the future – I could see him in the Magic Johnson role.


**** Ian Todd
corrects Salut!’s impertinent reference to “one or other of the Wimbledons” thus:
One or other???? Absolutely only AFCW!!!! Brought about by their inspirational reaction to the injustice served on the “old” Wimbledon, who now masquerading distastefully by another name in Bletchley (N.B. not even in MK!)

***** from Wikipedia (edited extracts):

Billy Knott (born 28 November 1992) joined West Ham United in 2003 at the age of 11. He left the club at 14 to join Chelsea, where he Billy the Under 16s team to second place in the 2008 Cobham Cup and was an inspirational leader throughout – he loves to have a pop at goal and is an infectious player, with enthusiasm rubbing off on others – before a cruciate ligament injury ended any hopes of him playing for the Under 18 team. To instill some defensive work ethic in his game, the club coaches started to use him at left-back, where he was still able to get forward effectively, whilst improving his all-round ability. Despite playing further back he went on a six game goalscoring run and looks as at home in the back four as he has in attack … Before he was signed by Sunderland Knott had a trial at Newcastle United.