Cup wishlist: Man United, Man City out. Arsenal or Reading’s trophy

Bob Stokoe statue, Stadium of Light, SunderlandImage: Mrs Logic

Salut! Sunderland has absolutely nothing against the city of Manchester. We hold no grudges against Stoke or Bolton.

But choices have to be made. Sunderland’s humiliating exit at the earliest possible stage of the FA Cup means we have been able to pick our runners at will in subsequent rounds.

So to do our bit to restore interest in the ailing old competition, colours will now be nailed to the FA Cup mast.

Read moreCup wishlist: Man United, Man City out. Arsenal or Reading’s trophy

1970 and Pele: World Cup memories (2)


For his second look back on the past 11 World Cups, Pete Sixsmith recalls the one that gave him most pleasure, offers a one-word explanation of his withdrawal of support from England and reflects on the greatness of Pele

The 1970 tournament is seen by many, including me, as the finest of all. It was the first one where colour TV was the rule rather than the exception, it had some brilliant football, capped by the greatest ever goal in a World Cup Final by a Brazilian full back after a pass by Pele – and it marked the end of my support for England.

Read more1970 and Pele: World Cup memories (2)

Soapbox: when West Ham should have been one under the eight


Gnome’s had his say – not for the first time. Now it’s the turn of Pete Sixsmith to recall his relief that paper round money didn’t stretch to a particular football outing to London in the year of the Prague Spring, Martin Luther King’s assassination, student and worker revolt in France – and West Ham 8 Sunderland 0 …

Once upon a time, I considered living and working in London. In the 1970s, the leftward leaning ILEA was offering houses, cars and probably caviar and champagne for any teachers brave enough to face the capital’s schools.

I seriously considered it and decided that if I did take the plunge, I would watch West Ham as my “London” team. They were similar to Sunderland – a working class club, although without the history and tradition that attached itself to Roker Park.

Read moreSoapbox: when West Ham should have been one under the eight

SAFC 3 Birmingham 1: is Craig Gordon the new Monty?


SEE ALSO: guess-who-was-our-star

In praise of a footballer who has had to triumph over doubt – and done so in style …

More years ago than Salut! Sunderland would willingly own up to to remembering, an away game took us to Huddersfield, where Sunderland won 3-0 in a game that began with a blitz on our goal.

The reason we weren’t left with an uphill struggle before scoring ourselves was simple: Jimmy Montgomery’s form that day was not so much outstanding as extraordinary.

Read moreSAFC 3 Birmingham 1: is Craig Gordon the new Monty?

Who are you? We’re Birmingham (and out of Villa’s shadow)

Me at 50

We’re on a mini-run, they’ve never had it so good in living memory. Saturday sees Sunderland v Birmingham City, and only a home win would have us seriously believing in revivalist terms. Leigh Bosworth*, pictured with a spoof front page presented to him on his recent 50th birthday, is co-founder of the newly relaunched Yorkshire Bluenoses (a branch of the BCFC supporters’ club until now divided into parts of the county) and rises to the Salut! Sunderland challenge with some great thoughts on Monty, SuperKev, money, cheating, Wayne Bridge v John Terry and his “best season” as a Bluenose …

Salut! Sunderland: So, completely useless against us in the Carling Cup and you haven’t looked back much since. Even Villa fans must be taking you seriously. Explain your great season so far …

The Carling Cup was not going to be a serious competition for us this season and even the £10 a head entry that night was too much for the lack of spectacle dished up by both teams. At least it was easy to get a beer or two beforehand and to get away from the ground afterwards.

As for our journey this season, we’ve had many a regaled cliché (no, not Gael Cliché) with the ‘professional’ pundits: we have had the expected struggle because we were simply not good enough without any proven players, then punched above our weight, dug in and ground out results, ridden our luck, been over the moon, this season’s surprise package and so on…

In brief though, it has been achieved without so-called megastars – who can be quite divisive – but rather with a bunch of honest players, a collective desire that is greater when they are thrown together, giving a fairly formidable team spirit, plus improving football as they have got used to each other, though without the goals the build up play has deserved at times. All in all, a cohesive group of technically competent footballers playing as a TEAM. Johnson & Dann, as the new central defensive partnership have been a wonder to behold, as they were untried at Premier league level, although Big Eck (Alex McLeish) as a former central defender himself, is a good judge of a stopper – possibly better than the fella we used to have at the managerial helm.

Interestingly, a month after we capitulated at the Stadium of Light in the Carling Cup, we beat you comfortably at our place and that was the first in our 15 game unbeaten run that took us into the top half of the table. This coincided with the new owners taking full control of the club and settling things down, which has helped enormously.

Read moreWho are you? We’re Birmingham (and out of Villa’s shadow)