Sixer’s Substitute’s Soapbox: a wet weekend in Accrington

Jake: ‘that wasn’t in the script’

Play this and read on!
LA = Lancashire – Accrington

Malcolm Dawson writes…….there was a gathering of the clans in Accrington on Saturday. A veritable Salut! Sunderland fest before kick off.

Fawlty Towers anyone?

At this time of year Pete Sixsmith is otherwise engaged bringing joy to the young of the North East so I arranged to meet up with associate editor John McCormick (who was making use of Sixer’s ticket) in the Peel Park Hotel, adjacent to where Stanley used to play many years ago. It’s a very cosy boozer with a good selection of real ales and it worked out that John and I found ourselves sitting next to Rob Hutchison and his daughter Olivia, both of whom contribute to the pages of our humble website from time to time.

At the same time as the Accrington branches of Wickes and B&Q were rapidly running out of stocks of gopher wood, Rob was nervously checking his phone to see if the game was still on.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Copper-Dragon-Handpump-e1544317953958.jpg

We decided that if it should be called off before 2.00 p.m. Rob would have a few more pints before making his way back down south and as I had driven there, I would see if the Peel Park Hotel was an actual hotel that did bed and breakfast, so at home did we feel and so quaffable was the Copper Dragon Best Bitter – brewed to suit that special Northern palate according to the tasting notes I read.

But the news came through as the downpour subsided to a drizzle that the game would go ahead so John and I took the car nearer to the Crown Ground (WHAM Stadium) and making the last part of our way there on foot, bumped into one Paul (Sobs) Dobson. Sobsy is better known for his contributions to ALS and seems to be the BBC Look North’s go to guy when they need a vox pop of a Sunderland fan. Sobsy will be contributing something to our advent calendar on Christmas Day, so don’t miss that when it will be a bumper edition. Take a look while the kids are tearing the Christmas wrapping off their prezzies, while the sprouts still need another hour of boiling or when Her Majesty is rabbiting on about Brexit or whatever else is on the agenda this year. Oh and be warned “The Great Escape” is a film with Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and Donald Pleasence and not a biopic about Paulo de Canio, Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat or Sam Allardyce. 

Inside the away section

The rain had subsided briefly but it started again as John and I entered the ground, and got heavier as we passed the double decker bus selling beer and the row of portaloos supplementing the normal facilities. Taking my seat who should I find next door but one? None other than Peter Lynn, “Wrinkly Pete” of this parish. It got even more torrential as the players were trying to warm up and just before kick off Heart of England branch stalwart Terry took his seat next to me, looking like the proverbial drowned rat, took one look at the state of the pitch and predicted there would be some shenanigans in front of goal later. He was remarkably accurate.

I’m finding it difficult to recall a lot of detail about what there was of the game yesterday, partly because of where I was and partly because of the weather. As usual at away games the whole of the away crowd was standing, and despite being in a section of the ground with seating I had to put my arthritic knees to the test, but being almost at the end of the stand, the far nearside corner was completely out of my line of vision and a lot of the play seemed to take place there. 

The conditions were making play difficult. On a couple of occasions a high ball played towards McLaughlin just didn’t bounce. The ball was sticking in the clarts so some short passes were not reaching their intended target, some balls which initially looked to be over hit stopped dead allowing the player to recover and sometimes if McGeady, Gooch or Oviedo went off on a run they would leave the ball behind. 

It looked to me that Stanley had adapted to the conditions better though I don’t remember McLaughlin having to make a save in the first half, whilst Power sent a rasping shot wide and McGeady saw a powerful effort fly over the crossbar after some good work from Maja down the right wing and Oviedo hit a free kick through the legs of the Stanley wall, after Maja had been brought down on the edge of the penalty area, forcing Accy keeper Ripley into low save, which I think was the only shot on target all half. Nil – nil at the break.

The rain really came down second half and at times it was like watching through one of those metal beaded curtains that you see in butchers’ doorways, designed to keep the flies from the dead meat. John’s mobile footage shows just how bad conditions were, but please note, the slope is just from the angle of the camera – the pitch itself does not resemble Lords or the home grounds of Yeovil Town or Tow Law.

We took the lead when Maguire showed his energy and sprinted yards to close down their keeper, who had started off in acres of space controlling a long back pass. As the Scotsman quickly closed him down he went to hoof the ball upfield but Maguire jumped, turned and the ball hit the back of his shoulder. We watched as bounced into the net much to the chagrin of Ripley who tried to convince the ref it had struck Maguire’s arm and to the delight of the Sunderland support. The Accy fans behind the goal, who had been noisy all game with their two drummers leading the way, went silent for a time as Maguire celebrated in front of them before running across and doing the same in front of us. 

We just about deserved the lead I thought, though we by no means were dominating in the Lancashire mud bath. Not so long after Stanley equalised and it could all be put down to the conditions. McLaughlin failed to hold on to a low shot from close range, Flanagan slipped trying to get to the rebound, a third effort was scrambled off the line before the ball was finally bundled into the net with James (or it might have been Gooch) just failing to do enough to prevent the equaliser.

Not long after referee Oliver Langford had a word with both managers and the fourth official before taking the players off. Mixed comments from the Sunderland contingent leaving the ground, most seeing it as a sensible move but some complaining that the ref should have ended the game when we were ahead in the misguided belief that the result would have stood. 

So another rearranged game to fit into a busy programme and a Checkatrade draw that pits us at home to the Mag’s U21s. I bet after what went on at Port Vale in the week, the club and the local police can’t wait for that.

Hutch’s Patch: the despair of one boy’s plea to Moyes after Chelsea

M Salut: two credits to SAFC, Jermain and Rob Hutchison’s daughter Olivia, star of the parachute jump for Bradley

Rob Hutchison is not always restricted to one-word, one-mark ratings after games he’s (mostly) seen us lose. Scenes at Stamford Bridge after Sunday’s thrashing caught his eye …

Young people of today! For Olivia, the sky’s the limit for helping Bradley

Bravo, Olivia

READ OLIVIA’S STORY HERE: https://safc.blog/2017/04/olivias-flying-high-up-in-the-sky-for-bradley-whatever-happens-at-leicester/

Olivia Hutchison no Longer needs to be introduced as the daughter of our regular contributor Rob Hutchison. From now on, he’s just Olivia’s dad.

And from dad came news today that Olivia’s Just Giving fund in aid of Bradley Lowery, following her recent parachute jump in aid of the appeal for the brave little lad in his fight against neuroblastoma, has now closed.

Olivia, given the jump as an 18th birthday present from Rob and his partner Fran, had set herself the modest target of £500. She more than tripled that figure as you can see (below)

“I’m very happy to announce that all donations have successfully gone to Bradley Lowery’s fight with neuroblastoma today,” she says. “Words cannot describe how happy I am with the amount of money I have raised.” She and her dad also extend thanks to all Salut! Sunderland readers who donated.

Well done, Olivia, and to anyone reading this who helped make her gesture so successful.

Olivia’s flying high, up in the sky, for Bradley. Whatever happens at Leicester

Olivia Hutchison

If Sunderland were playing this coming Saturday, it’s a fair bet Olivia Hutchison would be there. Instead she intends to jump out of a plane. No, not in despair but inspired by the plucky fight little Bradley Lowery is mounting against the wretched Neuroblastoma disease that afflicts him. Read Olivia’s story and, if you can, donate …


My name is Olivia Hutchison
(@livvhutchison at Twitter), I’m 18 and I went to my first Sunderland game (thanks to my dad @RobHSafc) when I was seven.

It took me a couple of years to see my first win and, 11 years later, I have generally known nothing but misery.

Living in South Ruislip, we normally get to around 10 away games a season. Highlights have included winning at Chelsea a few years ago during the Great Escape, Palace this season (pinch me, pinch me) and the low points point by a considerable margin, the 8-0 drubbing at Southampton.

I will never forget when the 8th goal went in on 79 minutes and I turned to my dad and asked him if we could go. “Remember when we beat Chelsea and you said it was the best day of your life? Well today you have to take your medicine.” Enough said, I get it.

Bradley: inspirational

I love away games. The craic with the travelling diehards, a nod and a smile to the person in the next row, no idea who he is but we see him at every away game and the feeling of euphoria when we occasionally nick a precious win. There’s nothing better.

That’s what supporting Sunderland is all about. You can change your boyfriend but you can’t change your football team. It’s all dad’s fault of course. Thanks to him this will stay with me for the rest of my life now and I dream for when Saturday comes.

Dad and his better half Fran got me a parachute jump for my 18th birthday and a couple of weeks ago it suddenly occurred to me, let’s do it for Bradley.

His mum was kind enough to give me all the info I needed, I got my page set up and set a conservative target of £500 [Olivia has already comfortably exceeded this figure – Ed]. My love of Sunderland is put into perspective with Bradley in his fight with Neuroblastoma. He has captured the hearts of many – me included and I’m so proud to be doing my jump for him.

Rob:’you can tell she got her looks from me’

My dad occasionally writes one-word player ratings for Salut! Sunderland on match days but I have my own 11 words to sum up Bradley in his fight.

*Inspirational, 10/10

*Humbling, 10

*Courageous,10

*Charismatic, 10

*Brave, 10

*Incredible, 10

*Smiling, 10

*Heroic, 10

*Battling, 10

*Touching, 10

*Emotional, 10

Bradley deserves every chance in life and I am proud to be jumping out of a plane for him to help make that happen.

If you would like to donate to my Just Giving page (even if it’s just a couple of pounds),this is the link.

As soon as this item has been posted, Salut! Sunderland will donate £52, the exact amoiunt needed – as I write – to take her total of pledges to £800.

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

And now, if you’d like to take a look at our Leicester City-SAFC buildup, please use the link below …

Jake: shows you the way to go home