Sunderland and Playoffs. Part 4: Newcastle and a memory to savour

What are your best memories as a Sunderland supporter? As an exile I haven’t been to the SOL many times but I did see us win three and six times in a row, and though I was at Wembley in 1973 the semifinal is more lodged in my memory. That’s four games, to which I can add a win against the odds at Goodison when Danny bloody Graham scored.

Pete Sixsmith has been to so many more games he must have so many more good memories. Today he focuses on one game that really mattered:

Read moreSunderland and Playoffs. Part 4: Newcastle and a memory to savour

Test Matches and Sunderland playoffs. Part one: Gillingham and Newcastle United

Jake prepares for the play offs

John McCormick writes: I had a taxi booked for this morning. It arrived late. Apparently, there were fewer on the road than usual and those that were there were being driven by Evertonians. It would have been a fine night in the city centre.

All this season and last, Pete Sixsmith has brought us his twin series of reminiscences recalling the first time he visited the homes of upcoming opponents or the first time he saw them on be that on Wearside at Roker Park or the Stadium of Light, or occasionally at places like Darlington or Hartlepool.

Before he started on this epistle from the past he had this to say on last night’s game at Anfield.

My seven-word verdict on last night’s Champions League turnaround would have been: Bottled it and beaten by Farringdon’s finest.

I rarely watch games on television – and never when Robbie Savage is “summarising”- but I did watch this one and revelled in a wonderful team performance by Liverpool. At the head of it was our former player, Jordan Henderson, who never stopped running and tackling, who set up the opening goal for Origi and who was a fine captain deserving of all the success that is coming his way. I’m not a great lover of the club or some of its self-satisfied fans, but I do like Jurgen Klopp.

Read moreTest Matches and Sunderland playoffs. Part one: Gillingham and Newcastle United

Sunderland 4 Newcastle U21s 0: experienced Black Cats polish off young Magpies


I switched on Radio Newcastle’s Total Sport as I set off for this Checkatrade Trophy game just in time to hear an interview with the young Dane, Elias Sorensen who yesterday signed a new contract with our friends up the road. Those of you old enough to remember Jan Molby will recall how perfect his Scouse English is. The Danes must have a good ear and an ability to reproduce the intonations they hear, as Sorensen spoke with an impeccable Geordie twang and littered his responses with the phrase “and stuff”.

Sorensen has scored 19 goals for the young Magpies this season, prompting calls for his inclusion in the first team from some supporters of the black and whites, much to the disdain of John Anderson who pointed out, that whenever he had asked those doing so how often they had seen him play, invariably received the response “never but he scores goals”.

One of the reasons I can rarely listen to more than 10 minutes of Total Sport before either shouting at the radio or switching off, is the number of “experts” who know exactly what the manager should do who never even go to games. As it was Sorensen was more or less invisible and was subbed after 56 minutes or so. Maybe Rafa wants him in the first team after all.

Our own “boy wonder” Duncan Watmore started and was made captain for the night but was on the pitch for even less time than Sorensen, not returning for the second half. Jack Ross said afterwards that he had a slight groin strain but although he had shown flashes of his pace and ability, he too had had a quiet half. With his absence from the starting 11 at Charlton and the squad at Blackpool, I wonder if he is finding the return to first team action after two bad injuries more of a psychological hurdle than a physical one. Jack Ross seems to be taking no chances with him, showing perhaps a more considered approach to the way he handles his players than some of our more recent managers.

In fact the whole of the first half was fairly low key with few chances. As you would expect from a side comprising regular first team players, playing a young, inexperienced team, our boys controlled the game without really looking threatening. Indeed the best chance of the half fell to the visitors when Callum Roberts drove the ball across the face of goal from the right hand side of the penalty area, but there was no-one in pale blue near enough to get the decisive touch.

Bali Mumba so nearly on the scoresheet

We thought we’d scored when Bali Mumba (younger than all of the Mags of course) found the net but the assistant on the far side had raised his flag deeming that Chris Maguire had taken the ball out of play and signalled a goal kick. It was close.

The same official was also quick to raise his flag when he thought an attacker had come back from an offside position to collect the ball. It used to be that you could tell how well someone knew the game by their understanding of the offside law, but these days I don’t even think the officials can be sure. There was one occasion where Maguire, received a pass from Ruiter while in his own half but was flagged for offside with the linesman indicating that he had previously been ahead of the Newcastle defence, even though that had been some seconds before and there were at least four blue shirts between him and the goal when the ball eventually got to him.

It was a quiet first half on the pitch but less so in the stands. Before the game I had feared that there might be a few idiots there to see if they could cause a bit of bother but as it turned out I saw nothing untoward. There was a massive police presence for a crowd which numbered less than 17,000 and they were obvious both inside and outside of the ground. A couple of fireworks were set off in the North Stand Upper and the expected disparaging chants came from both sets of supporters. But in between the unsavoury references to paedophilia and sexual proclivities, there were some quite witty exchanges too. It was noisy but never intimidating.

Beforehand I was of the opinion that we would have to win at least 3-0 to come out of the game with any sense of achievement. I still thought, as the teams came out after the break, that was within our grasp but although Charlie Wyke and Tom Flanagan had chances Mumba’s disallowed goal had been the only time we had looked like scoring in the first forty five. Despite the persistent drizzle, the sprinklers were employed during the interval.

The second half kicked off with just the one change and it didn’t take long to break the deadlock. Sinclair had been playing in a much more right sided position than he has recently and hit the post almost immediately after the restart, the ball eventually going for a corner. Maguire took it from our side of the pitch and from where I was sitting it was difficult to be sure what happened next. It looked to me as if it had bounced off a defender’s leg and into the net. The bloke next to me thought Maguire had scored direct and though the scoreboard changed to show 1-0 the stadium announcer said nothing and no goalscorer’s name was flashed up. Turns out my eyes hadn’t deceived me and the goal was credited to Kelland Watts. Sighs of relief around the East Stand and what is now The Roker End.

Ruiter was called into action shortly afterwards as Roberts got a shot on target for the Magpies, but the Dutchman made himself big and got enough of a leg in the way to preserve the lead and soon after Charlie Wyke got a welcome second. Some neat, if somewhat over intricate build up play, saw Wyke set up Maguire when an earlier shot might have been a better option, and his shot was blocked. Maguire took the resulting corner and Wyke rose above the crowd to head home to double the lead with just over 50 minutes on the clock.

From then on the home team’s experience really denied the bairns from Tyneside any chance of getting back into the game.

Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka

I’ve said this before and last night confirmed my impression. Benji Kimpioka is ungainly but deceptively skilful in a Peter Crouch sort of way. He often appears to trip himself up yet somehow keeps control of the ball and he’s got pace and enthusiasm. Having replaced Watmore, he was creating confusion whenever he got the ball. I’m not sure the Mags’ defence knew what to make of him. I’m not sure Jack Ross knows either.

With 15 minutes left the gaffer obviously decided that two goals was a big enough cushion and 75 minutes was a good enough run out for Charlie Wyke as he was replaced by Bishop Auckland born Luke Molyneux who Sixer tells me is a polite, well mannered lad and Kevin Ball thinks needs to find a bit more aggression in his play. But then Bally would say that.

Another inspired substitution? Not really but a goal followed almost immediately when Chris Maguire collected the ball on the right and we could all see that he only had one thought. His well hit curling effort beat the keeper all ends up. Hopefully getting another crackerjack under his belt will reignite the man who some have dubbed king, as he seems to have gone off the boil a bit in recent games. I feel we’ll need his flair and commitment in the second half of the promotion push.

“We always win 3-0” was the song from the home fans now as Maguire cupped his hands to his ears in the direction of the North Stand Upper.

Another cracker

With ten minutes to go Kimpioka added a fourth with a scrappy header. The visitor’s goalkeeping coach might well be reviewing that with young Nathan Harper today, as he probably could have been more positive in his attempt to clear the ball. But credit young Benji for his desire and commitment. He enjoyed his moment – quite rightly.

And so 4-0 it finished. A result which means that even though we can expect any local Mags to remind us we were only playing their bairns, the margin of victory is such we can be smugly satisfied and Wembley is a step closer.

And as far as I’m aware, no police horses were harmed in the process.

Ha’way the Lads.

Match highlights available via

Sixer’s Checkatrade Sevens: cruise to victory puts SAFC-Newcastle U21 out of way

Ye olde days

Pete Sixsmith is recovering after his recent op but felt it wiser to give a miss to SAFC vs whoever might be representing the Mags. In his place, possibly in his actual place at the SoL, Salut! Sunderland‘s Malcolm Dawson took the armband for the seven word verdict.

Read moreSixer’s Checkatrade Sevens: cruise to victory puts SAFC-Newcastle U21 out of way

View from the North West Corner: Black Cats on a hiding to nothing in Checkatrade

Except the view will be from the East Stand for this game.


This was the tie few people wanted.

Certainly not Northumbria Police, who will have to divert considerable resources away from other areas, because of a game of football that will attract a far bigger crowd than any other fixture in the competition to date and has the potential for disorder.

Certainly not SAFC, who have to meet the cost of staging the fixture whilst trying to ensure the tie passes off peacefully. In a tournament where so far a ticket has cost me £3, this one has seen me fork out £15 reflecting the extra resources required. They have naturally been liaising with the police and to try and see that things pass off peacefully have issued the following announcement for fans attending the game.

Jake’s stern view of the game

In a competition which normally attracts (if attracts is the right word) minimal attendances, our visitors quickly sold out their allocation of 2,800 tickets and wanted double that. For their solitary home tie with Macclesfield the attendance was 1,126 and a couple of hundred of those would have been supporting the Cheshire side. I can’t see them getting many more for any other team this round and I’m sure they wouldn’t outnumber the home fans like we did at Morecambe. Had they not been drawn against us I doubt whether more than few hundred would have travelled. Many of those making the trip to Wearside will of course simply be going in the hope of witnessing an upset, but I can’t help but think that there will be more than a few idiots who will have more dubious intentions.

From my seat at Morecambe – there were more of us!

In comparison we had around 7,000 home fans for Stoke U21s, just under 8,000 when Carlisle came and 8,500+ home fans for the visit of Notts County last round, but we can expect a few more tomorrow and likewise I can see some who weren’t at those earlier games hoping for some not so friendly interaction with “our friends from the north”.

Following the behaviour of Stoke City supporters at their local derby with Port Vale and the damage caused to facilities at Vale Park, there must be concerns about possible copy cat actions at the Stadium of Light.

Damage after a reserve match

It’s not as if they have no previous. Seats were ripped up last season by some Mag fans and that was just for an Under 23 game. I would think that Newcastle United have had to make some contingency plans in case they have to meet the costs of any acts of vandalism and as it’s the Checkatrade Trophy, the Sunderland board will have a vetted list of plumbers, carpenters, electricians and seat fitters ready to leap into action.

While I still believe that by far the majority of football fans are decent people, whoever they support, this is a game where the idiots will come out of the woodwork. I hope I’m wrong but presumably the Football League share my concerns by not enforcing their own rules (which were probably drawn up when the original idea was to have a trophy for lower league clubs with small grounds) regarding ticket allocations.

Whatever the result, this is a match where Sunderland Football Club and its supporters are on a hiding to nothing. We are expected to win and win comfortably at that. Those of us who live or work alongside those of a black and white persuasion will have no bragging rights whatsoever, whatever the outcome.

Anything less than a three goal victory in normal time will be seen as a moral victory for the Mags and they have a ready made response of, “you were only playing our kids”, should we win comfortably. To only draw or, heaven forbid lose, doesn’t bear thinking about.

We have players who could do with a rest before the visit of second placed Luton on Saturday which leaves Jack Ross with a bit of a dilemma. The squad was threadbare at Charlton with only 6 players on the subs’ bench but to weaken the side too much will leave him open to much more criticism, should we fail to win, than had it been any other side still in the competition. That said we should still be able to put out a team of fringe players to beat an U21 side, and there are still rules regarding the make up of our team to adhere to, but remember Rafa is allowed to include some overage players. Whether he chooses to do so remains to be seen. The Mags also need a fit squad to contest league games and there is less pressure on them to go out and win the game.

Bali Mumba – time for another run out?

If I were to predict the team and assuming these players are all available and I’ve got the injury situation right, I’d go with something like Ruiter (or Stryjek) O’Nien, Ozturk, Baldwin, Oviedo, Mumba, McGeouch, Watmore, Maguire, Sinclair and Wyke with the other keeper, Power, Flanagan, James, McGeady, Kimpioka and Bainbridge on the bench. That should surely be good enough to see us progress.

Pete Sixsmith won’t be there. He has a ticket, but post op he has wisely decided to give it a miss.

Come back on Wednesday for my report on a game which could take us one step closer to Wembley or could see me locked in a darkened room until the weekend when the Soapbox will hopefully be brought to you by its usual occupant.

Ha’way the Lads

Update: the game will be accessible via safsee at a cost of £10 for UK viewers and £5 for those living overseas.

Who Sixer met in Cornwall: likeable Newcastle fans, Cardiff minus Lee Camp

Sixer keeping cool

Yes, if you were thinking this has already appeared, you were right. Monsieur Salut identified a technical issue with the original and decided to republish … this therefore supersedes the first one, and any Comments should be posted here

Pete Sixsmith missed a Sunderland game. Not an important one, and he does have more than one valid reason. So he compares very favourably to some of SAFC’s players, and I bet they haven’t taken in as many games as Pete while they have been skiving off.

And I bet they won’t tell us what they were up too, either. But Pete, being Pete, is more than willing to share his experiences – of decent pubs and beer, trains, art, eye candy and of course football. Plus something a little more exotic that you’re not likely to find near Roker beach

Read moreWho Sixer met in Cornwall: likeable Newcastle fans, Cardiff minus Lee Camp

The great debate: Newcastle-SAFC is a derby, Middlesbrough’s not’. You decide

[polldaddy poll=9867201]

Is Middlesbrough vs Sunderland a derby or just a match between teams not that far apart geographically?

Monsieur Salut writes: it is a simple enough if inconsequential issue. I think it is a derby, Bill Harris – an SAFC stalwart, Salut! Sunderland reader and occasional Guess the Score winner – is adamant it is not.

Read moreThe great debate: Newcastle-SAFC is a derby, Middlesbrough’s not’. You decide

Defoe vs Newcastle: a moment to remember

Jermain Defoe’s superstrike vs the Mags: see Art of Football’s Sunderland range at

Monsieur Salut writes:
masquerading, until it’s corrected, as one Pete Smith, our own Pete Sixsmith was invited by our friends at Art of Football (OK I told them to sign him up) to write about the Jermain Defoe goal captured in that splendid print of theirs, the one you see above. Check it out at Art of Football’s own site

Read moreDefoe vs Newcastle: a moment to remember

Past glories: priceless American description of Tommy’s penalty save versus Newcastle’s Shearer

Ye olde days, even before Tommy secured our 2-1 win at SJP

Monsieur Salut writes: people sometimes tell me, whoever they support, that they like Salut! Sunderland because it tries to bring smiles to people’s faces. No matter what! There is no football, apart from Sunderland’s Ladies Team in their SSE Women’s FA Cup semi-final cup game against Chelsea on Sunday, between now and Watford away.

So, hardly Ten Years After, rather 17, but will this cheer us up a little?

Between Facebook chats about good and bad referees and other things, an old Newcastle-supporting journalistic acquaintance, Terry Pattinson, and I found ourselves briefly discussing the Tyne-Wear derby of 2000. The context was my assertion that players make many more mistakes at work than refs. I couldn’t resist mention of the Alan Shearer penalty saved by Tommy Sorensen to ensure our three points. And nor could I ever forget the way an American friend, who attended the match with me, later explained the key moment to his equally American girlfriend.

Since we won’t be playing Newcastle next season – and feel free to interpret that as us somehow staying up, them somehow missing out – it seems worth another outing. It originally appeared at ESPN in 2013, just ahead of the Di Canio 3-0 win at St James’ Park in April 2013. Please bear in mind it was written for a largely neutral readership …

If there are sufficient responses to this article, on any related topic, the best – chosen arbitrarily will get a mini-version of the Nick Barnes Matchbook, whose publishers will pay £5 of the price into the Bradley Lowery fund. A winning Newcastle-supporting contributor will be offered a NUFC-themed mug instead, with Salut! Sunderland paying the fiver into Bradley’s fund)

Read morePast glories: priceless American description of Tommy’s penalty save versus Newcastle’s Shearer

Barnes and Benno: eloquence meets passion, football inspires art

All roads lead to the Nick Barnes Matchbook
Nick Barnes and his Matchbook

We have been wanting a chat with Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett for a while. In some ways an unlikely pair, the tweed-loving culture vulture with a passion for the countryside and a former player and manager, fondly remembered for the sheer commitment he gave in red and white, who eschews tweeds in favour of the heart he wears on his sleeve …

Read moreBarnes and Benno: eloquence meets passion, football inspires art