Salut!s week: Man City moans, Gooner whines, Argyle anguish, Baggie bravado

It was the week that started badly, with a thumping at Eastlands, and could therefore hardly get worse. Salut! Sunderland got its hand-wringing out of the way as early and as best it could before moving on to other things …

One day soon, a mug like that could be yours. Well, we’ll still designing it but the idea is to make a modest start to Salut! Sunderland merchandising.

The text sizes obviously need adjustment. You might even suggest a better slogan: “Salut! Sunderland – not as bad as you thought” springs to mind. “Buy a mug? You’re having a laugh”? “M Salut! & Sixer; two prize mugs”? There could even be a Newcastle version with the handle inside the mug.

So what, if you haven’t been paying proper attention has been going on here this week? Click on any sub-heading to see the full item …

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Soapbox: Peter Reid cheering up Plymouth Argyle

It is baffling how some people manage to look back on Peter Reid’s time at Sunderland and remember only the atrocious slump that brought his reign to an end. Inspired by a excellent Louise Taylor article on the fight Reid has on his hands at Plymouth Argyle, Pete Sixsmith applies some balance – and wishes Reid well in the uphill struggle he’s taken on …

Louise Taylor wrote a super piece in yesterday’s Guardian about Peter Reid and his travails at Plymouth Argyle. The gist was that Reidy was the guy who was holding Argyle together as their financial crisis reached Irish government proportions. No owners, no money, a points deduction and almost certain relegation to the bottom division – and the very clear possibility of liquidation.

It was a very affectionate article from someone who probably had dealings with Reid when he was in his pomp at Sunderland. He was not universally popular amongst the press corps. Apparently, he could be witty and amusing but also rude and boorish and I am sure that Louise witnessed both sides of his character.

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Salut!’s week: Liverpool’s lost mojo, winning lasses and scattered Mackems

Image: Mrs Logic

Last weekend was another one without football, at any rate for Sunderland supporters. But there have still been plenty of talking points, plus the build-up to tomorrow’s Sunderland v Liverpool match, to keep Salut! Sunderland busy, as the latest digest of the past week shows …

The Lads had a break but the Lasses had work to do. Sunderland Women’s Football Club produced a strong second-half performance to beat Lincoln City, from the Super League to which Sunderland were disgracefully denied entry, for a place if the FA Women’s Cup quarter-finals.

They face an even tougher task in the 6th round a week tomorrow – Arsenal at home – and possibly a tougher one still in persuading the official SAFC website to take a blind bit of notice in their admirable achievements. Perhaps someone can explain why studiously ignores the girls, or direct us to some well-hidden corner of the site, overlooked by me, where their cup and Premier League progress is properly recorded.

For those who missed our week, or parts of it, here is a quick guide to what we’ve been doing. If anything takes your fancy, click on the sub-heading to see the item in full:

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Cheer up Peter Reid – but don’t forget when it was gloomy

Image: A Love Supreme

Peter Reid presided over great escape, glorious triumph and terrible misery in his seven-and-a-half years in charge at Roker Park and then the Stadium of Light. Let us honour the heady heights of his reign while not overlooking the troughs …

Sad to say
, the official Sunderland AFC club site played a stinker in ignoring a tremendous victory for Sunderland Women’s FC as they reached the quarter-finals of the FA Women’s Cup.

But it was smart enough to take advantage of the club’s admirable decision to make training facilities available to Peter Reid’s Plymouth Argyle during his relegation-haunted, liquidation-threatened team’s trip up north. Argyle went home with a point out of six; grabbed an interview.

Freed of the waffle, this is what Reid said of his time in charge at SAFC:

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Arsenal’s 12th man: Danson in the dark at Highbury

Source: Rankopedia

My first notion was to direct visiting Arsenal supporters immediately to Tom Watt’s great interview. On second thoughts, they should go there only after a quick look at Pete Sixsmith‘s amusing reminiscences on a past Arsenal v SAFC encounter enlivened – even if Pete’s detail may be open to question – by a man for whom the chant “You Don’t Know What You’re Doing” may well have been composed …

Paul Danson. Remember him? Premier League referee from the mid 90s. Came from Leicester; refereed the game at Highbury in September 1996.

That’s the one. Useless little sod who sent off Martin Scott and Paul Stewart before half time for absolutely nothing and left us trying to defend as best we could with nine men. A game never to be forgotten in the annals of Great Crimes Perpetrated on Sunderland AFC.

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SAFC v Chelsea: from gloom to boom in under two years

Tuesday’s match still seems ages away, so stand by for a long buildup.

At the end of the season before last, we faced Chelsea at home on the last day, threatened with relegation if we lost and both Newcastle United and Hull won. Luckily, and it was luck since we predictably lost our game (3-2), they both lost and it was a case of Toon Doon. Ahead of next week’s game at the Stadium of Light, which finds SAFC in hugely different spirits, we reproduce from May 2009 this article looking back at Lads v Chelsea encounters of the Peter Reid era …

Salut! Sunderland: May 2009

So we saved the biggest, scariest matchday of the season for last. The performance at Portsmouth (defeated 3-1) reinforced doubts about our ability to claw our own way out of trouble. We approached the Chelsea game with justified trepidation. Yet it hadn’t been so long since we’d seemed to be beating them for fun.

The Salut! Sunderland headline back then was: Lads v Chelsea: what’s the likeliest outcome – 0-4, 4-1, 1-0, 4-2?

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Soapbox update: the Keane era and its ripple effect

This posting has been affected by technical problems but has still managed to inspire some lively responses comparing the Roy Keane and Peter Reid eras of the recent history of Sunderland AFC. The comments have also been re-posted (though the little thumbs-up marks already awarded are, sadly, missing!).
It is now four years ago – give or take a couple of weeks – since Keano signed his contract at the Stadium of Light. He took over a squad of misfits and underachievers who had lost their first five games, including a league cup game at Bury, then the lowest of all Football League clubs. No wonder that after being talked through the players’ strengths and weaknesses, he joked that he should have held out for twice as much money -and set about replacing as many as he could. Pete Sixsmith looks back on the appointment as right decision, right time …

Niall Quinn and the Drumaville consortium took over, we were promised a “magic carpet ride”.
After dispiriting defeats at Southend and Bury, the magic carpet was distinctly threadbare and we looked like a team heading for the third level of English football.

Quinny then decided that managing footballers was not as easy as breeding racehorses and decided to appoint a world class manger”. We now know that O’Neill had been indecisive (I believe SAFC had something like seven meetings with him – ed) and Allardyce had bottled out of leaving his comfort zone at the Reebok.

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A challenge to the boo boys who sully SAFC’s name

albufeiraImage; Bill Lapp

So the season’s a third over, we’ve struggled at home and failed to win away. Steve Bruce’s new signings have proved deeply disappointing and the quality of play is generally abysmal.

Then, you might argue, would be the time for the boo boys to vent their anger at the manager and his team. If they thought it would do the least bit of good.

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1986 and handing it to Maradona: World Cup memories (6)


Pete Sixsmith dips into his rich memory bank once again and finds himself back in Mexico, for the 1986 World Cup. Read on to discover how one legacy of the tournament had Mr Sixsmith, as teacher turned goalkeeper, picking a World Cup ball out of the net four times …

Twenty years on from the triumph at Wembley, England set off for Mexico thinking that they had a half decent chance. Bryan Robson’s shoulder and Diego Armando Maradona’s hand put an end to that.

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Melanie Hill: flirting on the Fulwell


When I thank you for the stream of visits to Salut! Sunderland that has sent us rocketing up the Soccerlinks hit parade to the dizzy heights of the mid-40s, “you” includes the away fans attracted by the Who Are You? feature and such controversies as the Ilunga/Jones affair. While I stand by for an invasion by Spurs fans later in the week, ahead of Saturday’s game at White Hart Lane, I will give another airing to an interview from the Celebrity Supporters series that began with 5573 (later renamed Wear Down South), the magazine of the Sunderland supporters’ association London branch, and continued at the old site.

Melanie Hill, whom I described as a “smashing actress known from Bread, Brassed Off and much more” was easily one of the nicest interviewees in the series. She agreed to an interview two days before the fateful Arsenal match in Oct 2002, Peter Reid’s last in charge, and rang again just before kick-off to fix a time. The interview took place the day after Reid’s sacking. As I said at the time, it felt like a whirlwind telephone romance.

Here, for those who missed the interview when it first appeared (and apologies to those for whom it is just a repeat), is one of the stars of our wider support base …

This starts as a tale of two celebrities with strong Sunderland links, of one door opening while the echo of another slamming shut is ringing in the ears.

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