Monsieur Salut writes: Phil Corbett* is one of Blackpool’s seriously disgruntled supporters, left frustrated and worn-out by the ‘calamitous’ ownership of Owen Oyston. But it doesn’t stop him being a fan. As he explains ahead of Sunderland’s home game against his side on Tuesday night, this means avoiding home games so as not to spend money on the club. Away games are considered OK provided fans can pay on the gate and not have to purchase tickets via Blackpool FC.
It is a wretched state off affairs that makes Newcastle fans’ loathing for Mike Ashley seem more like a passionate if occasionally turbulent romance. Let Phil, chairman of the wrong-side-of-the-Pennines Blackpool supporters’ group known and the Yorkshire Seasiders, take up the story, recall an unpleasant encounter with Roker Park (and the much later compensation of a winning day out at the SoL) and offer an unwelcome scoreline prediction …
Monsieur Salut adds some belated lines in homage to Jimmy Armfield – footballer, manager, sports reporter, NUJ member, broadcaster, church organ player, absolute gent …
The two news items seemed unseemly if read one after the other. Sanchez moved from Arsenal to Man Utd on a new weekly pay rate of hundreds of thousands. And word reached us of the death of Jimmy Armfield, whose biggest pay packet was £70 a week, as he told Salut! Sunderland back in 2011 (see the interview here).
What does Bobby Gurney have in common with Tony Adams, Jimmy Armfield, Billy Liddell, Matt Le Tissier, Sam Bartram, Packie Bonner, Jamie Carragher and Jack Charlton? All were one-club players, each clocking up hundreds of games without ever leaving for bigger, better, richer or more fashionable teams.
Silksworth-born and starting at Bishop Auckland, Gurney scored 228 goals in league and cup, the highest tally in Sunderland’s history, in 390 games for what was his only professional club in a career stretching from 1926 to 1944. See Stat Cat site for all the fascinating detail.
Will we ever see his like, their likes, again in an age when players and managers seem to regard clubs as mere stepping stones and football owners, in common with most employers, give the impression they would struggle to spell loyalty let alone demonstrate it?
Close season seems a good time to be dipping gratefully into the archive. Here is a gem you may have missed, or rather the story surrounding it and the additional reminiscences it inspired. There are one or two links to follow but it is worth the effort …
It is not often that comments keep trickling in long after a posting has all but been forgotten, buried in the archives and popping up again only when someone does a specific Google search.
But there will be no surprise that it has happened with an article that appeared here last year, since the article was about Len Shackleton and was published not before the 10th anniversary of his death. The reason for returning to the Shack theme is simple: among the comments that were posted were three or four that added superbly to the fund of knowledge we have about one of the most gifted and also most eccentric players to grace the English game, better still in Sunderland colours.
It required a hasty rewriting of Salut! Sunderland‘s rulebook, and comes a little late.
But the latest of our equivalent of the manager-of-the month awards – the Who are You? volunteer for December – goes to Jimmy Armfield, Blackpool legend and one of football’s most revered figures.
Time to stop worrying about failing to beat the Mags and losing Darren Bent? The season resumes and there’s a lot of work our players need to do between now and May. Cast your minds back to last May, though. When Blackpool faced Cardiff in the Wembley playoffs, Salut! Sunderland supported the Tangerines, partly for the romance of it and partly because of two men: Jimmy Armfield, for obvious reasons, and an old pal from Belfast, the writer, broadcaster and (see footnote) occasional lyricist Neil Johnston*, who has always supported them. Jimmy did the first Who are You? – a gem: click here to see it. Now Neil, a respected figure in Irish music and deeply involved in the annual Ballyshannon Folk Festival, does the honours before the return game at Bloomfield Road, which his affinity is necessarily a distant emotion …
Salut! Sunderland: Success story of the Premier’s promoted clubs – or a Hull city disaster waiting to happen – can Blackpool keep going without a calamitous collapse in the second half of the season?
I think they can stay up providing they don’t lose key players like Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell. But their tendency to concede late goals is a worry (NB: question posed and answered before any dealings in the transfer market – ed).
As the hoo hah dies down after the derby game and Darren Bent’s move to the Midlands, we have a very important game at Blackpool on Saturday. Our current form is not brilliant; since two hard fought consecutive wins, we have crashed out of the cup and almost allowed the Mags to claim undisputable bragging rights for the rest of the season So, let’s wallow in a little bit of nostalgia as Pete Sixsmith reminisces about three visits to the seaside town that is noted for fresh air and fun, one in the 60s, one in the 70s and – to follow later in the week – one in the 80s.
My first visit to Bloomfield Road was in September 1964 in a proper First Division game. I was 13, Colin was 15 and he played a major part in persuading my reluctant father that I be allowed to go to the game on Billy Reilly’s bus. Colin convinced him that we would be ok and that no drinking would take place on the Central Coaches flyer and that after the game we would go to Woolworths for a meal before taking a tram (probably in the shape of a Mississippi river boat) see the illuminations.
Well, the first part was wrong with a capital W. The bus was full of Shildon’s finest drinkers, including Michael Jones and his somewhat overweight brother who rejoiced in the nickname of Jasper. He was a drinking legend in the town and he took up two seats on the coach because of his mighty girth.
We were picked up at The King William and the bus meandered down to Close House, where the adults got off and shot into the Royal Hotel for a couple of pints while Billy Reilly and Kenny Snowdon loaded the bus up with crate upon crate of Newcastle Brown Ale.
Just a few words on how yesterday’s interview with Jimmy Armfield ahead of today’s big game at the Stadium of Light got people talking about Blackpool’s exemplary man of football …
It is not often that we get 3,500 visitors in a day. Newcastle going down (us gloating) and the 5-1 drubbing at St James’ Park (much of it them gloating) did it, and so did our famous victory at Stamford Bridge.
But here, for what it is worth, is this week’s edition of the billet doux I get after each game from Steve Bruce. Others may have received something remarkably similar so no pretence here that we’re really on first name terms.
Jimmy Armfield*. Placed together in that order, they are two of my favourite words in the English language. There have been better footballers and managers, though he wasn’t bad himself, acclaimed during the 1962 World Cup in Chile as “the best right-back in the world” and later doing good work in charge of Bolton and Leeds. There have been better sports commentators. But he has a depth of knowledge and utterly dependable expressive qualities that most of them must envy. We desperately hope the result from the Stadium of Light tomorrow comes as a bitter disappointment to him – a robust comeback after the also-ran display at Old Trafford is a must – but we salute Jimmy Armfield all the same and offer our warmest best wishes to a wonderful voice of the game who played his entire Football League career for one club: tomorrow’s opponents Blackpool …
Salut! Sunderland: What a fabulous time for Blackpool!
Well, the fabulous time really was Wembley. We thought last season was case of trying to stay in the Championship and then suddenly we had this run at the end of the season and ended up in the playoffs and thought “Blimey! they’ve got there. How did we manage that?” And then won it: how did we ever do that that?
Then we thought “OK it will probably turn round” and we all prayed about the first game at Wigan – and ended up winning 4-0.