Salut!’s week: relief at Bolton, revenge for Chamakh, respect for Wolves

Salut! Sunderland looks forward in all senses to the last home game of the season, when we expect no slacking despite our affection for Wolverhampton Wanderers and our desire for them to stay up (though 5-2 again would be rubbing it in; 1-0 will do). And we look back over a week that started well. This is the weekly digest of Salut! Sunderland‘s efforts to inform, amuse and inspire …

For once – well, twice or three times in the past four months – we began the week in happy frame of mind.

The last-gasp winner at Bolton was exactly what the doctor ordered and given Sunderland’s appalling run not only of form but of luck, we need apologise to no one about the merits or otherwise, as described by Owen Coyne, of those three priceless points.

There was plenty to read here about that match. And there was, as usual, more to get stuck into as the week went on. Click on the sub-heading for any item that appeals if you want to read more or read again.

Read moreSalut!’s week: relief at Bolton, revenge for Chamakh, respect for Wolves

Sitting on my hands as Whitley Bay beat Coalville to FA Vase

IMG_2718editImage: Jason Bowler

Part Mackem Diaspora, part Cup Final report, this is broadened football writing as compelling as it gets. Malcolm Dawson traces the life journey that took a committed Sunderland supporter from Eppleton to Leicestershire and, implausibly, a seat among the Coalville Town fans (who may like the photo, especially now I’ve changed it to one from Coalville) trying – in vain – to urge their team to victory at Wembley …

See also: Wembley Soapbox: Whitley Bay beat Coalville and I hug a Mag

Back in those pre-Thatcher days of early ’79, my 25th birthday coincided with my first proper full time, permanent job. During what is now called a gap year, I had spent the first 12 months of my graduate status in the long hot summer of 1976, enjoying the views of Eppleton Colliery from the garden of my parents’ house, listening to Steely Dan and the jazz-influenced pre-Born in the USA Springsteen and taking the occasional walk around the Bull Wells, even occasionally going as far as Seaham to get a glimpse of the North Sea.

A temporary job in Sunderland working with young offenders, was followed by a Post Grad teacher training course in the Fylde. (A few years back on an in-service course, we were asked to write down why we had decide to become teachers. Truthfully my response was …”the ratio of women to men at teacher training college was 7:1”.)

I then had another stint, working with the disaffected youth of the North West, before my 149th application for a teaching job bore fruit and I became the youngest member of staff at Ashby de la Zouch CE Primary School. Little did I know that I would still be resident in the East Midlands, 32 years later!

After 18 months in the job I felt secure enough to buy my first house – a terrace in the nearby town of Coalville. I felt sure I would be at home there. As the name suggests the town was built on the extraction of the black diamond. Robert Stevenson (son of George) opened a mine at Snibston, in the 1800s. That was half a mile from my new house and there was another pit in between.

Read moreSitting on my hands as Whitley Bay beat Coalville to FA Vase

Season so far: hope overcomes lingering shame of Newcastle massacre

Craig Gordon

There is no need for anyone to feel left out. The time may yet come for Cristian Riveros, Paulo Da Silva and David Meyler. Our artistic friend at Flickr, addict-tedKevin, is working on completing his set of Sunderland players: not bad for a Charlton supporter. Here is his work in progress – blimey, he’s done some more now so I have had to update it on the hoof (the pictures are no longer in any particular order as they say on X Factor) – to go with a reminder of our trio of mid-term reports on Steve Bruce’s work in progress …

Read moreSeason so far: hope overcomes lingering shame of Newcastle massacre

Mid-term reports (2): on course for seventh

Next up with a midterm report is Malcolm Dawson, a regular name here and chairman of the Heart of England branch of the SAFC Supporters’ Association. Malcolm, pictured at a branch function with Chris Herriott, the founder (right, and the excellent Gary Bennett, presents his Sunderland Christmas shopping list in case Amazon can overcome weather problems and deliver …

So here we are in the run up to Christmas with our club sitting sixth in the Premiership and if the weather around Bloomfield Road had allowed the Seasiders to continue their bright start by beating Tottenham, we could have been fifth.

Of course, had Welbeck’s strike against Bolton hit the inside of the post and gone in, or had Darren Bent found the target with one of three efforts he might have put away on another day, we would have been fifth. But let’s not get greedy. And let’s not get carried away.

Read moreMid-term reports (2): on course for seventh

The Newcastle mauling: it’ll be all right in the morning

After the nightmare, we wake up. Malcolm Dawson, entering the witness box of the Salut! Sunderland inquest, urges caution and a sense of proportion …

OK so the performance at Sid James’ Park was abysmal. We were trounced deservedly by a side that performed much better on the day, that were better prepared, both tactically and mentally and who showed more energy and commitment. In short a team that were up for it.

But this is not the time for overreaction and knee jerk responses in our camp.

Five one defeats are not good. Obviously! Five one defeats should give cause for concern and give rise to time for reflection. Obviously!

Read moreThe Newcastle mauling: it’ll be all right in the morning

Marriner all at sea as Newcastle sink Everton

Mackem favours Toon shock! As if our own game hadn’t produced sufficient controversy – however contrived – Malcolm Dawson found reason for disgruntlement elsewhere in the Premier programme. In particular, he berates Andre Marriner for failing to take decisions that would have made the Mags’ task at Goodison even comfier …

There has been much debate on Salut! Sunderland and elsewhere about the circumstances surrounding Lee Cattermole’s sending off at Wigan.

Read moreMarriner all at sea as Newcastle sink Everton

SAFC 1 Wigan 1: glass half full?


With Pete Sixsmith once again missing the action  (and the chance to appear on MOTD2), Malcolm Dawson takes the positives from our match against Wigan.

The journey to the Stadium of Light from my base in the Midlands had a familiar air about it. I have lost count of the number of times fellow exiles and myself have made the trip with the feeling that here was another crucial game. Three points essential.

There have been seasons when we have been pushing for promotion and even two when we harboured hopes of European qualification, but more often it has been the threat of relegation that has been the dark cloud tracking our progress north, emphasising the importance of the win.

Yesterday was no exception. Fortunately, I had missed Monday’s game. I hadn’t been impressed when I watched our game at the Britannia and had no desire to find a pub with ESPN. Reading Sixer’s summing up I was happy to have made the right choice.

Read moreSAFC 1 Wigan 1: glass half full?

Soapbox: the quality of Mersey leaves me drained

 soapboxI couldn’t bring myself to watch this one, and settled instead for a large glass of red wine and back to back episodes of Brothers and Sisters on catch-up TV.    Even though Rebecca and Justin almost split up, Kitty was diagnosed with a serious illness and Ryan was double-crossing the family business, it was less heart-rending than watching our match.   Malcolm Dawson is made of sterner stuff and reports here on our latest defeat.  

I don’t watch football with the analytical purist’s eye of Pete Sixsmith. I watch it from a purely emotional perspective. Which is not to say that Sixer is the Mr Spock of football supporters.  Anyone who has seen him at footy will have experienced his animated side. But me? I am either jumping up and down or sat back in my seat resigned to 90+ minutes of frustration.

Read moreSoapbox: the quality of Mersey leaves me drained