I was originally against expanding the European Championship. I thought bringing in “small” (in footballing terms, I intend no disrespect) countries would lead to a bloated, overlong tournament. I was right wasn’t I? Having 16 qualifiers from 24 led to stultifying games where the object was not to lose, rather than to play scintillating football, and an extra round that really wasn’t necessary, except for the money merchants and TV companies.
Monsieur Salut writes: it began, so far as Salut! Sunderland was concerned, as a straightforward defence of James McClean’s decision to make himself available for Republic of Ireland selection and not Northern Ireland. It provoked the longest and most animated discussion thread in months. As a gesture of goodwill, I have removed an anecdote from the original article; it dealt with lowlife sectarianism but although the incident occurred at Windsor Park, home of NI football, it concerned a club, not international, game. Otherwise, I stand by the thrust of my article. But I did invite Andrew Rodgers, easily the most rational of my critics from the other side of the Irish Sea, to set out his own views …
There is a good little debate in progress at this site on the rights, as I see it, and wrongs, as supporters of the Northern Ireland team have argued, of James McClean choosing to play senior international football for the Republic of Ireland.
The original article can be seen at this link: https://safc.blog/2012/06/shades-of-green-northern-ireland-should-respect-mccleans-republic-of-ireland-choice/
The people of Northern Ireland, in my own long experience, take unkindly to advice from outside This Wee Country Of Theirs.
To Sunderland supporters of a certain vintage, Johnny Crossan – who scored 39 times for us in 82 games between 1962 and 1965 – is something of a legend.
“Before him, all my heroes were those of my dad,” one fan, Keith Scott, was telling Pete Sixsmith at a recent (Reserves) match. “Johnny Crossan was the first who was my own.”
Salut! Sunderland‘s mission to obtain an interview with the former Northern Ireland inside forward, 46 years after he last kicked a ball at Roker Park, is a legacy of another long-in-the-tooth SAFC follower’s trip to Johnny’s home town, Stroke City (as in Derry-stroke-Londonderry, according to where you fit in the nationalist/loyalust divide).
Pete Horan had been sent to work with people at the local tax office. In his luggage on departure was a book on Crossan that Pete Sixsmith asked him to take to his sports shop and have autographed. Raising the question at work, Pete was told: “You’re in luck: come along for a spot of five-a-side tonight and you’ll meet him.”
An appalling play on words, and surely more than enough to make Peter Cross*. I always thought, because Catholic friends in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry told me so, that Everton was predominantly their club, Liverpool the Protestants’. Peter, who leads Northern Ireland’s branch of the Everton Supporters’ Club, knows better; ahead of Monday’s SAFC v Everton clash at the Stadium of Light, he offers a brief but scholarly history of the two clubs. And yes, talks about football, too …