Great series begins at Derby, Bury, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Carlisle, Leeds and Barnsley

Monsieur Salut writes: when Pete Sixsmith suggested a series looking at his first encounters with Sunderland’s opposing teams or their grounds, I had minor doubts. That’s 46 articles plus the cup games – assuming he does each team for home games, each ground for away ties – on top of all else he contributes to Salut! Sunderland.

It’s fair to say the first fruits of Sixer’s latest endeavours are making me eat my thoughts. It is proving a fabulous series, much admired here but also by supporters of the clubs he writes about. Eric Bowers recently described Sixer as a national institution … you decide

 

 

The story so far is enough to persuade me that he should really be talking to book publishers. Here’s a flavour (click the team name to see the full piece in each case):

Read moreGreat series begins at Derby, Bury, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Carlisle, Leeds and Barnsley

Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Fulham, Sheff Wed, Leeds and Sunderland – the ones to watch

not long now.

As foretold, the poll we’ve been running slipped down the front page and then off it so, although it remained – indeed remains – live, it no-one has visited recently. Before it disappeared from view we’d had over 7,000 votes cast, with well over 1,200 people taking part, from all parts of the UK and beyond.

That’s enough to provide me with a guide as to which clubs we’ll report on as we try to get an idea of who’s heading out of the Championship in the right direction.

As the headline says, Sunderland’s in the mix, probably only because  of the loyalty of diehard fans.

Has that loyalty been strained too much by recent events? Or did they, perhaps, inject a dose of realism? The poll’s still open, perhaps Norwich will make that jump from seventh before the season starts.

Read moreMiddlesbrough, Aston Villa, Fulham, Sheff Wed, Leeds and Sunderland – the ones to watch

A strange feeling, from a stalwart supporter

Ian Todd (source: www.weardownsouth.com)

John McCormick writes: many of you will know at first glance that the photo on the left is of Ian Todd. Others may not and, perhaps, would appreciate some kind of introduction.

I’m not sure I’m equipped to provide one, other than to say this man is the kind of Sunderland supporter I’d like to think  I am, and I’ve been to daft and distant places like Norwich, Bristol, Oxford and Leyton Orient, not to mention those most hostile of venues, Old Trafford and Millwall’s old Den.

Ian has been much further, much more often, and done so much more wherever he went. And he still keeps going.

Over to Ian:

Read moreA strange feeling, from a stalwart supporter

Birmingham, Wolves, Brentford, Forest, Cardiff, Preston, QPR and Ipswich go missing from our poll

John McCormick, seeking the truth

I have to say I’m a bit surprised by the poll results to date.

‘Boro being top is reasonable. They have proved they are capable of handling the Championship, have money coming and have a decent manager.

Sunderland in the top six is understandable. It’s a Sunderland site, and no matter how jaundiced the fans are, no matter how concerned over the owner, there will always be a loyal following willing to vote for them.

But last season’s form has gone out of the window with this poll. Villa, who finished bang in the middle of the championship, are up there in second place, while Hull and Derby are out of the running. What’s going on?

Read moreBirmingham, Wolves, Brentford, Forest, Cardiff, Preston, QPR and Ipswich go missing from our poll

Middlesbrough, Fulham, Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds head the poll. Norwich, Reading and Derby slip down

with an increasing feeling of optimism…

The poll I set up a couple of weeks ago is still running and you’ll find it below, so you can still vote if you have a mind to. (If you’re new to the site and want to see what it’s about follow this link.)

At the time of writing we have had some 3,818 votes cast, with Middlesbrough leading the pack. Sunderland crept up a couple of places and edged Norwich out of the top six by two votes. Given this is a Sunderland fans’ site we could be expected to do well so I’m taking that as a vote of confidence in Norwich. I’m a little surprised by Fulham, who have exceeded my expectations, and by Derby and Reading, who haven’t done as well as expected and at the moment aren’t going to make the cut.

“What cut?” You may be thinking. Well, read on, and all will be revealed

Read moreMiddlesbrough, Fulham, Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds head the poll. Norwich, Reading and Derby slip down

Middlesbrough, Villa, Fulham, Sheffield Wed, Leeds, Norwich top six. Bristol and Burton Albion – ‘nul points’

John McCormick: We're not bottom, so is it a Happy Christmas?
John McCormick. Going for a Burton

Should I be disappointed? Not with the goings-on at the offices and by the officers of Sunderland Football Club but with the response to my “who’ll be the top six” poll. In 2015 our “who’s going down” poll had over 7,000 votes cast, last year we had over 2,500.

This year it wasn’t until events at the club brought in new readers that we got past 1,000 votes. To date we have had perhaps 200-300 readers bothering to take part. What’s more, whereas in the past we have had interesting and entertaining comments from fans from other clubs this year we had had nothing. Is this what the championship’s like? Or is it the Ellis Short effect? I don’t know.

Read moreMiddlesbrough, Villa, Fulham, Sheffield Wed, Leeds, Norwich top six. Bristol and Burton Albion – ‘nul points’

Reading at last? Norwich perhaps, or Derby, Leeds, ‘Boro and Sheffield? What’s your fancy?

John McCormick:
John McCormick. Here we go again – but this time it’s different

I was away last week and didn’t log on much, on account of having a temperamental handheld device (a tip – don’t drop your computer onto a tiled surface) and iffy connections courtesy of a not-so-local bar.

But log on I did, twice.

The first time, it was to find three quarters of our readers thought our chances of immediate promotion were scuppered.

On my second log-in Colin’s poll had closed and the number had dropped to 70%. That’s still quite a damning figure.

Me, I’m not so pessimistic.

Read moreReading at last? Norwich perhaps, or Derby, Leeds, ‘Boro and Sheffield? What’s your fancy?

Relegation watch revisited (2): It was the draws wot done it

John McCormick:
John McCormick
number crunching

The season before last we won only 7 games and we stayed up. We even finished above Aston Villa, who won 10, as well as QPR and Hull City, whose 8 wins each could not stave off relegation. The other relegated team, Burnley, had 7 wins, the same as us.

The difference between us and Burnley was that we achieved 17 draws, and lost only (only??) 14 games. They could manage only 12 draws, and their five fewer points meant they finished second bottom, three places below us.

And thinking about that got me started on the notion of win-loss ratios, which became the tool I used to track clubs in last season’s relegation watch.

Read moreRelegation watch revisited (2): It was the draws wot done it

Relegation watch revisted (1): admit it, we fans know nowt about football*

John McCormick:
John McCormick
having a rest between graphs

Regular visitors will know I’ve been in the habit of looking at the relegation spots for the last couple of years. I haven’t wanted to, it’s just that I’m not sure where the top half of the table is.

So, about a year ago, instead of making my own predictions, I asked readers which clubs were going down, with the aim of tracking these clubs as the season progressed.

The poll ran from June until the end of the transfer season. Initially it was more or less confined to SAFC fans then others  came on board, and some of them weren’t complimentary about us.

Read moreRelegation watch revisted (1): admit it, we fans know nowt about football*

The Norwich ‘Who are You?’: Canaries as nervous as Black Cats

Gary Gowers at Wembley
Gary Gowers at Wembley

This, redirected from the original and now abbreviated version for a boring technical reason, is the full interview with Gary Gowers, a Carrow Road regular since the age of six, editor of NorwichCity.MyFootballwriter.com and the Norwich City voice at the Metro newspaper. Thanks, Gary, for some great answers …

Read moreThe Norwich ‘Who are You?’: Canaries as nervous as Black Cats