Naive, irrational, expectant: summing up Sunderland fans ahead of Goodison?


There may be a Carling Cup match to preoccupy fans of the Manchester clubs and even Surly Alex Ferguson. But for fans of Sunderland AFC, the only match that really matters will be taking place 34 miles or so to the west …

As responses to a shocking FA Cup exit at Portsmouth go, buying a ticket for the next game at Pompey – not even two weeks away – may seem irrational. I have just ordered mine.

As a logical approach to tonight’s Premier League tie against Everton, putting money on anything other than another Sunderland defeat might seem naive. I was toying with the idea of a fiver on the unexpected away win.

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Soapbox: Sunderland expects


As Pete Sixsmith shows a worrying tendency towards part-timism by missing his second Sunderland match in a row (ok, he did report on the Reserves and Under-18s this week), his shoes are ably filled by Malcolm Dawson who enjoys his trip to an old-style ground, but not the reminders of the playground …

For nostalgia buffs such as myself, Portsmouth is a great place to go. You can locate the ground by driving randomly, spotting the floodlights towering above the tightly packed terraced housing and parking a couple of hundred yards away, only a five minute stroll from the turnstiles. The illusion continues inside the ground where the primeval urinals consisting of a concrete trough with no splash backs, necessitate a plodge through an inch or two of undefined liquid to dispose of the pre match Speckled Hen.

Although, like Villa Park and Anfield, ground regulations have meant that plastic seats have been bolted onto the old standing areas, I still half expected to see men in long white coats parading round the pitch with paper bags of monkey nuts and the smell of a hundred pipes full of Ready Rub wafting over the tightly packed hordes.

But the Ford Populars and Singer Vogues have been replaced by people carriers and four wheel drives, every third person seems to be talking into their mobile and the P.A. announcer reminds us that Fratton Park is a no smoking stadium.

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Who are you? We’re Portsmouth


So Equinox makes way for Chix. Another anonymous Pompey fan – though the pictures will give him away to his mates at Fratton Park – but another great set of answers as Sunderland prepare to visit Portsmouth for the relaxing distraction of an FA Cup fourth round tie. Chix*, desrcibed at the Vital Pompey site as “undercover agent and Prof of History”, recalls a hair-raising 600-mile round trip, driven by a man with no arms, to see his team play at Roker Park, wonders where Pompey’s survival points are coming from and has none of that don’t-kick-a-man-when-he’s-down gush to offer Southampton …

Salut! Sunderland: Just how bad are things at Fratton Park, how bad will they get and why are the team not just rolling over in despair whoever they play?

Oh it’s bad! Too much to go into really but basically.. We have an owner nobody has ever seen or met (not even his advisors) with no money. We owe uncle Tom Cobley about £60m and can not afford to live day to day – Oh and we have a transfer embargo and the threat of (not administration) but liquidation looming and as I type a former captain suing us.. Oh did I mention we normally pay our players and backroom staff . late as well! On a scale of 1 to 10 we are currently around the minus 72 mark. So it’s pretty bad.

Why do the players not roll over? Because most of them are Championship players playing above their level trying to prove a point.. but to be honest we ain’t that good. Some will scrap and fight others try but just aren’t up to it, but there is a good team spirit and that might just be the thing that saves us .. well that and the odd 60 million quid of course!

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Soapbox: Pompey pain


What do you do after seeing Sunderland throw away two points against lowly Portsmouth? Go home and kick the cat, start a few rows, reduce yourself to watching Stacey kicked out of the National Karaoke Championships? At least Pete Sixsmith had some musical therapy lined up …

I’m very pleased that I have had 18 hours or so to mull over this , as if I had written it straight after the game, Bill Taylor would have been even more worried about my pessimistic bent, while Jon would have been much happier with the use of short, pithy words like “c***”, “s****” and “r*******”.

Eighteen hours later, after a most enjoyable evening spent in the company of England’s finest folk singer and guitarist Martin Simpson at The Davy Lamp Folk Club in Washington, things look bleak, but not as bleak as they did at 6pm on Saturday.

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Who are you? We’re Portsmouth

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As far as Salut! Sunderland is concerned, the Portsmouth fan known as Equinox* first surfaced in early 2008, when he answered the call via the Pompey online site to preview a game at Fratton Park. All the way from the south coast to a site for fans of a North-eastern club? Not quite. Our guest began: “Equinox lives in East Boldon. Yes that’s right, East Boldon, just a gnat’s wing away from your beloved SoL.” Living in the North East since 1989, he offered a spell prosecuting at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court as a good reason for an alias. Those days are gone, but he feels it is prudent to remain anonymous, the long arm of the outlaw being what it is. So what does Equinox think about the present turmoil at Pompey, and Saturday’s important game at our place? …

Salut! Sunderland: You have said Pompey is not a happy place. Leaving aside the Carling Cup (oops: Villa won 4-2) and last Saturday’s nice easy home game (vs Burnley, 2-0), you had a nightmare start, some green shoots and then another slump. What has gone wrong and has anything started to go right?

I think that it is fair to say that the stuffing has been knocked out of us, you can insert any similar phrase involving kicking and four colours if you want. Imagine being punched really hard in the guts and that’s how we feel. There have been stories, rumours, counter-rumours since Spring of this year and when you add that into actual factual happenings it really does look as if we are almost bankrupt and without a team. And then in steps Paul Hart who builds a team out of nothing, and, to be fair it probably isn’t the worst team tat the Premiership has seen but they had no pre-season and for a time at least, no wages. The past owner young master Gaydamak apparently said to the Chief exec that he didn’t care if we went into administration and then a feud started – Gaydamak ended up selling to the only skint arab in the village whose media pronouncements verged from the ridiculous to the downright mental.

And then we had all the bad luck going. In the first few games, deflected goals, very dodgy decisions, injuries you name it. And through it all Hart had to carry on trying to mould the team out of his rag bag of players. Personally I think he did well but there is no time in this league if your luck runs out…………….ours never ran out, it never actually started.

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Who are you? We’re West Ham


Sam Haseltine* is one of the brains behind Football United, new host for Salut! Sunderland and other sites. He has been solid as a rock in the process of transferring our archive across from its old home at Typepad to WordPress (and cannot be blamed if some text arrived in garbled form and a few pictures don’t look quite right!). He’s also a passionate Hammers fan, runs the fans’ site West Ham Process and is deaf to my request that his club delays its revival until after we play them on Saturday …

Not a great start to the season. Are you beginning to get worried?

You’re right, not the best of starts. I take confidence in knowing we have a whole three more points than Spurs did at this same point last year! I’m not getting worried just yet, feeling a little down as it wasn’t quite what we expected going into the season. After our run of form at the tail end of last year, we were confident that it would continue into this year, hopefully making us serious Europa League place contenders. I would still put my neck on the line and say we will be there or there abouts this year.

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