The First Time Ever I Saw Your Team: Charlton Athletic

League One fans probably don’t know that Pete Sixsmith is a member of the 92 club, or whatever it’s called. In fact, given his proclivity for non-league and his propensity for travel he’s probably a member of the 192 club, and for many seasons he has regaled us with tales from around the country and beyond. Last season he stepped it up and provided an account of recalling the first time he saw every club we played against at home and his first visit to every ground  we were due to play at in the lead up to match.

It was a tremendous series and we didn’t think he’d be able to keep it up. But he reckons he can and here’s the first effort. Charlton fans in particular, League One fans in general, I suggest you bookmark the page. After you’ve read it you’ll appreciate why.

Read moreThe First Time Ever I Saw Your Team: Charlton Athletic

Manchester City ‘Who are You?’: Roker Park veteran says our time’s up

Craig McGinty: fond memories of Benno and Marco

Where would Sunderland fit into a spoof list of films that have won or been nominated for Oscars?

Some fun has been had on this very subject by the people at enhancedbets.com: Leicester’s Gone With the Wins (sadly for us, a sequence than came to a halt earlier this week) and poor Bob Bradley remembered as An American in Swansea.

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David Moyes’s Lads might qualify for their own version of this year’s best-film winner  – La La Land, sorry Moonlighting – since they must have been up to something away from work to explain their wretched under-achievement in the day jobs. And then we see that Suicide Squad won best make-up and hair styling (you honestly couldn’t make up some of our play, or Ndong’s hair for that matter).

Which leads us to Craig McGinty*, a Sunderland-educated Manchester City fan without whose expertise on websites Salut! Sunderland would never have been created. Back in 2008, Craig was the fist City supporter to grace our Who are You? series. It seemed about time to ask him back …

Read moreManchester City ‘Who are You?’: Roker Park veteran says our time’s up

Sixer observes – what the new season has in store for Sunderland AFC

Certain events mark the progress of the year. For instance you know it’s August Bank holiday when Selfridges show off their Christmas display. You know it’s Boxing Day when the TV is swamped with adverts for travel agents and in Peter Sixsmith‘s case he knows it’s only a week or two before the Premier League kicks off when The Observer asks him for his thoughts on the upcoming season. Now that their edited version has been published (you can it read here) we can release his original set of responses, written before the game against Dortmund, before the new change strip was revealed and before we dipped our toes into the transfer market. (You can probably work out their questions.)

Sixer by Jake
Sixer by Jake
OBSERVER SEASON PREVIEW 2016-17 SUNDERLAND AFC

We start the season with a new manager who has done good work with a club that is similar to ours. We have the core of the team that stood up to be counted last season. We are able to look down on our closest rivals as they go to Burton Albion, Barnsley and Brentford.

But we are playing catch up after the FA messed up our pre-season by taking an age to appoint Sam Allardyce. I think that David Moyes is a good fit for the club and I am optimistic that he can drag us into the sanctity of mid table obscurity. But it depends on bolstering a wafer thin squad, keeping influential players fit and hoping that some of our youngsters can push on this season. Tom Robson looks a prospect at left back and Joel Asoro impressed in France.

There are no new faces at the time of writing but it is clear that we need a right back, centre half, forward and wide midfield player – not much to ask there then. We are desperate to sign the outstanding Yann M’Vila on a permanent contract after his successful loan spell last year. The lack of depth and cover is worrying but we have until the end of the month to sort something out.

At the moment the first X1 looks like Mannone; Jones, Kaboul, Kone, Van Aanholt: Lens, Kirchoff, Cattermole, Khazri: Borini: Defoe.

I am looking for a 12th/13th place finish and I suspect that Leicester City will be just above that.

Johnny Crossan - with our usual thanks to www.therokerend.com
Johnny Crossan – with our usual thanks to www.therokerend.com

The best away ground to visit will be Turf Moor – a proper football town with proper fans and a very good pub ten minutes’ walk away. Stamford Bridge is awful – the complete antithesis of Burnley.

I would love to have Johnny Crossan back – he was a wonderful inside forward who could score goals from nowhere. And Dave Watson wouldn’t go amiss either.

Top 4; 1. Manchester City. 2. Liverpool. 3. Manchester United. 4. Chelsea.
Bottom 3; 20.Hull City 19.Swansea City 18.Watford
Promoted from the Championship; Derby County; Sheffield Wednesday; Newcastle United.

First Premier League Manager sacked; whoever has the misfortune to take over at Hull City.

The Johnny Crossan story revisited: (3) what Brian Clough told him

Only tiny glimpses of Johnny Crossan, from after his SAFC days, in this clip of a 4-1 home defeat of Man City by Chelsea. In one of them he acts as peacemaker after Mike Summerbee appears to stamp on Eddie McCreadie. But it has been a privilege to run the interview with him, not least because although Johnny played with Colin Bell, Mike Doyle, Summerbee and other City stars, it is his time at Sunderland that he remembers most fondly …

Just about time to wrap up the three-part interview with Johnny Crossan, reproduced from four years ago for the benefit of readers of Salut! Sunderland who missed it back then.

My thanks to the many people, including those too young to have seen him play, who have visited the site – or revisited it – to read about him. This was the final instalment as published in 2011.

Read moreThe Johnny Crossan story revisited: (3) what Brian Clough told him

The Johnny Crossan story revisited: (2) a rebel in Sunderland’s cause

Spot and click to magnify Roker Park. And then read on for the next part of a SAFC story from just a few years before that photograph was taken (1970).

The reproduction, with barely any updating, of the first part of Salut! Sunderland‘s 2011 interview with a charismatic Roker Park hero, Johnny Crossan, was well received, with positive comments here and on social media. Nick Barnes, who does such a good job with Gary Bennett of bringing matchdays to absentees and exiles with his BBC Radio Newcastle commentary – available everywhere via safc.com – liked it and so did one of his predecessors, the same station’s expert on all matters Durham County Cricket (and more besides), Martin Emmerson.

So here is Part Two (of three); remember the interview was conducted – from Ramside Hall before a retirement shindig for the Northern Echo’s Mike Amos – at the back end of Steve Bruce’s reign, before James McClean had been given his first taste of action by Martin O’Neill. There is a third, which will come soon, and I have written to Johnny in the hope of bringing the story bang up to date.

The amount of time Johnny was willing to give up for a piddling little fan site was quite astonishing. But before we resume the full sequence of questions and answers, I have something that needs a special mention.
Towards the end of a long telephone conversation from Sedgefield to Derry, I said:

I have a boyhood memory of playing in the park after school and stopping outside my own penalty box to turn and shoot a spectacular own goal high past our goalie (maybe Pete Sixsmith was there, too). At the time I imagined it as my Johnny Crossan moment. Can you see why a young boy would identify you with rebelliousness?

Johnny’s response was to laugh. And continue to laugh for some seconds before giving the answer you find below. For an old codger able to look back on a few decades, it was priceless …

Read moreThe Johnny Crossan story revisited: (2) a rebel in Sunderland’s cause

The Johnny Crossan story revisited: (1) Sunderland, not Manchester City, in his heart

With out usual thanks to www.therokerend.com
With our usual thanks to www.therokerend.com

For Sunderland supporters of a certain age, and others with a finely developed sense of the club’s history, Johnny Crossan is something of a legend.

Crossan played 82 times for us between 1962 and 1965, scoring 39 times but – as memory plays its customary tricks – it sometimes seems as if the record was three times as long, the goalscoring three times more prolific. “Before him, all my heroes were those of my dad,” Pete Sixsmith recalls being told by another fan, Keith Scott, a few years ago. “Johnny Crossan was the first who was my own.”

The idea of tracking down Johnny for a Salut! Sunderland interview was formed very early in the site’s seven-year existence but did not materialise until 2011. Too late for the Summer Gold series, but at the suggestion of one of our older readers, it seemed worth repeating for the many new readers who have come this way since then. Here, with very nearly half a century gone since he last played for us, is the first part. We may try to locate Johnny again for an update before the process of reproducing that interview is complete …

Read moreThe Johnny Crossan story revisited: (1) Sunderland, not Manchester City, in his heart

James McClean: Derry City, Sunderland and ‘a language we all understand’

The quote is adapted from Phil Coulter’s song about Derry and the Troubles, The Town I Love So Well (he also co-wrote Puppet on a String but we bear no grudges). The language supporters of SAFC and Derry City understand is football, played in red and white stripes …

When Steve Bruce brought James McClean from Derry City for the the amount of money top players earn in a fortnight, our own Pete Sixsmith posed the question in an article at Salut! Sunderland: “Is he our new Johnny Crossan?”

Read moreJames McClean: Derry City, Sunderland and ‘a language we all understand’

Salut!’s Week: Liverpool greed, Crossan gold, Arsenal groans

The second week of a non-football fortnight, as it has been for those who care little for internationals, has been a busy old time at Salut! Sunderland. Here is a resume for readers who do not visit the site every day, starting with something that isn’t in the headline but should be …

Jonathan Wilson is widely acclaimed as one of the best football writers around. You can read him in The Guardian, in his own books (his Brian Clough biography is due out soon) and, as of this week, Salut! Sunderland.

A truly magical piece of writing, about an unbreakable attachment to Sunderland AFC passed down from one generation to the next, appeared first at the SB Info Plus website but was reproduced here with the permission both the writer and the site. Several people who read it were, like me, deeply moved by Jonathan’s words.

Read moreSalut!’s Week: Liverpool greed, Crossan gold, Arsenal groans

The Johnny Crossan Story (3): who was ‘brilliant’, who was ‘priceless’?

Only tiny glimpses of Johnny Crossan, from after his SAFC days, in this clip of a 4-1 home defeat of Man City by Chelsea. In one of them he acts as peacemaker after Mike Summerbee appears to stamp on Eddie McCreadie. But it has been a privilege to run the interview with him, not least because although Johnny played with Colin Bell, Mike Doyle, Summerbee and other City stars, it is his time at Sunderland that he remembers most fondly …

A great pleasure it has been to bring the thoughts of Johnny Crossan to readers of Salut! Sunderland. My thanks to the many people, including those too young to have seen him play, who have visited the site to read about him. This is the final instalment.

Read moreThe Johnny Crossan Story (3): who was ‘brilliant’, who was ‘priceless’?

The Johnny Crossan Story (2): hero with ‘a wee bit venom’

With thanks to www.therokerend.com


Where were we? This is the second part of the Johnny Crossan interview. There will be a third, coming soon, and the first can be seen here.

The amount of time Johnny was willing to give up for a piddling little fan site was quite astonishing. But before we resume the full sequence of questions and answers, I have something that needs a special mention up high.

Read moreThe Johnny Crossan Story (2): hero with ‘a wee bit venom’