World Cup Soapbox: keep your head up, Big John Mensah


John Mensah may have adopted the Mickey Gray approach to penalty taking – I draw the line at saying the “Jeff Whitley approach” – but he played his full, lion-hearted part in a thrilling game, and a team display that will have had most of the world saddened by a cruel defeat. Pete Sixsmith concurs …

What a game between Uruguay and Ghana. I thought it had everything – pace, skill, vision and the most incredible finish I think I have ever seen in a game of such importance.

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Mickey Gray: from SAFC to Sheff Wed, a good ‘un


Following the relegation of Sheffield Wednesday, and the club’s decision not to retain him, Mickey Gray has ended his playing career. He retires from the game with our appreciation and best wishes …

Mickey Gray served his own club of birthright and choice, Sunderland, extremely well.

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West Ham’s pay cut saga: the way forward for us too?


David Sullivan’s warning that everyone at West Ham, the club he now co-owns, faced a 25 per cent pay cut did no harm to the players’ mood, the Hammers dismissing Birmingham City with a minimum of fuss to put more pressure on us at the bottom of the Premier. As our own aversion to winning gathers strength, we wonder whether there might be a lesson in this for Niall Quinn and Ellis Short …

Two stories
about Sunderland and full backs tell us a lot about the nature of football.

Mickey Gray was a decent if unspectacular SAFC player, admired both for being a local lad made good and for the exciting partnership he forged down the left flank with Allan “Magic” Johnston. He is remembered less admiringly for his woeful penalty miss in the Charlton play-off final in 1998, and for a restaurant altercation with Wayne Rooney.

As everyone who supports Sunderland probably knows, he also won a star prize for insensitivity when, on the day several members of the SAFC staff were laid off because of the team’s failures on the field, he arrived for training in his gleaming new Ferrari.

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