Arsenal: ‘go on – would you rather watch us, or Stoke?’

Our second Gooner to preview SAFC v Arsenal, Jon Ryan*, had an enviable journalistic career, mixing business and pleasure by becoming sports editor of the Mail on Sunday and The Sunday Telegraph. A racing man, too, he rounded it off by cantering into a top job at the British Horseracing Authority, which oddly enough brought him into contact with Niall Quinn. No hardship for a big Quinny fan. Jon is pictured with his daughter Jemma “on a disastrous night in Munich – we lost 3-1 in a snowstorm but at least witnessed the world’s biggest snowball fight in the Olympic stadium and had a mean knuckle of ham”. Bet he was happier last night …

Read moreArsenal: ‘go on – would you rather watch us, or Stoke?’

That first game of the season: Roker Park or SoL


Great minds … small minds … think alike … never differ. Colin Randall and Pete Sixsmith both thought of writing about the opening game and both found themselves wallowing in memories of long ago. Colin has a nicer pic to go with his than Pete’s old Soapbox image – but come back in a couple of hours for the essential Sixsmith preview …

Every so often
, a comment attributed to a female SAFC fan appears in the sadly neglected Salut! Smiles slot where you currently find Danny Dichio down the left-hand column. Those comments are usually from the lips, or keyboard, of Claire Reidlinger, from the only Washington the world needs to know about. A lovely e-mail offering this pic – “me and the bairn and Filbert the Fox at the Leicester friendly for yer nice Salut thingy” – inspired these thoughts about opening games …

Read moreThat first game of the season: Roker Park or SoL

Iceman’s floe of information is pure football class

readytogoCredit to the popular Sunderland fans’ site Ready To Go and one of its Pure Football forum contributors, Iceman, for providing the discussion of the day for Sunderland fans.

Iceman was present at an illuminating social evening in the Sports Bar at the Stadium of Light and duly reported, with one bite-sized chunk after the other, the warm, witty or wise words uttered by Niall Quinn, Steve Bruce and some of the players in attandance – Craig Gordon, John Mensah, Kenwyne Jones, Michael Turner, Anton Ferdinand, Darren Bent and Lorik Cana.

Read moreIceman’s floe of information is pure football class

Who are you? We’re Man City and over the Blue Moon


It was in Tian’anmen Square or on the Great Wall that the seeds of the latest contribution to Who Are You? were sown. The Thomas Cook top sort of gave it away that Dan Wild* was a Manchester City fan. He may be the first classics and ancient history graduate to visit China with a tour group and leave without seeing the terracotta warriors (it was an additional part of the itinerary, not included in the holiday he and his wife, Lesley-Ann, had won). Dan offers a bowdlerised version of
Niall Quinn’s Disco Pants, thinks it’ll be 2-1 to City or 4-0 to us on Sunday and welcomes the Eastlands revolution and all those dirhams …

So, are Citeh the truly Manchester club or does everyone overdo the idea that most United fans couldn’t even place it on a map?  

I don’t think people overdo the idea. There are, obviously, a heck of a lot of United fans in Manchester, but (owing, alas, to their success) the vast majority of fans come from far and wide and most of whom without a doubt will never have seen a live game, many of whom probably won’t even have been to England! City lack the global fan base, hence us regarding ourselves as the ‘local club’ where most fans will have been to games live close to the city. 

Read moreWho are you? We’re Man City and over the Blue Moon

Bruce in

Back to normal business – ie worrying about our own problems – we question the wisdom of clamouring for Steve Bruce’s dismissal but caution Sunderland AFC against taking future support for granted …

The man behind me, in row 31 of the East Stand, was calling for Steve Bruce’s head before the first half was over against Fulham.

In the second half, I heard – well, couldn’t fail to hear – him shout: “You’ve half an hour to save your job, Bruce.”

Read moreBruce in

Soapbox: where do we go from here?


Pete Sixsmith looked for something positive to say about the excruciating bore draw against Fulham. He looked, you will not be surprised to hear, in vain. You would do your own looking in vain if you wanted sharper analysis of our present malaise …

The gents’ toilets in the East Stand is a pretty good place to test the post match feelings of those refined and cultured Red and Whites who frequent that august structure. After a famous victory, it is buzzing with laughter and joy. After a humiliating defeat it is a place of doom and gloom. After horrible games like Sundays, it is a place of almost sepulchral quiet.

Read moreSoapbox: where do we go from here?

Gloom descends over the post-Arsenal dinner party


Arsenal fans** will probably not care a hoot, but this part of Salut! Sunderland hopes they have a championship to toast at the end of the season. As for us, the next few games, mostly at home, will define our season, admits Steve Bruce. In how many recent years have we heard a similar refrain? Is it time for Sunderland AFC – and perhaps especially Niall Quinn – to realise the extent to which our collective patience is being tested? …

Whatever they are not, Sunderland fans are realists.

No one looked at the arrival of Ellis Short as owner, or Steve Bruce as manager, and thought: “That’s it. A top four place is there for the taking. This season.”

Read moreGloom descends over the post-Arsenal dinner party

Portsmouth 1 Sunderland 1: sorry Niall, sorry Steve

Another game against lowly opposition, another failure to show ourselves to be in a different class. Colin Randall endures last-ditch heartbreak – and a missed golden opportunity to win for a change – at Fratton Park

Sorry Niall, sorry Steve: if only you had taken the players on a pre-match inspection of the away end at Portsmouth last night: primitive toilets and catering, narrow steps and a shockingly congested exit path at the top of the stand …

It might have stopped them putting in another ultimately inadequate performance of the kind that threatens to lead us back to the Championship – where such conditions are the norm.

Read morePortsmouth 1 Sunderland 1: sorry Niall, sorry Steve

A tricky visit to Fratton Park, but time to deliver


An 11-hour flight from Beijing gave Colin Randall plenty of time to ponder gloomily on Sunderland’s present predicament …

Niall Quinn
has reason to remember Nov 20 1997. It was, if my memory is correct, the last time Sunderland managed to win at Portsmouth and his was the first of four goals in a superb 4-1 victory.

Thirteen years on, Niall has asked fans to show patience and support despite – or perhaps because of – the present appalling run of defeats and draws. And he cannot be faulted for doing so: booing the team as they leave the field after a rotten display is one thing, getting on players’ back from the first misplaced pass is another (especially in our case, given how many misplaced passes we have come to expect).

Read moreA tricky visit to Fratton Park, but time to deliver