Soapbox: Liverpool, greed and money for nothing

Just when you thought money in football could hardly be more unfairly distributed as it is, along comes some Anfield suit with plans to make it unfairer still. At least Pete Sixsmith was able to enjoy some non-league fare and Rugby League before a new encounter with the ugly face of corporate football …

What a peaceful weekend away from the noise and commotion of the FA Premier League. I spent my Saturday afternoon watching a thrilling local derby between Shildon and Bishop Auckland, in front of a crowd of about 300, no TV cameras, a smattering of replica shirts and the ability to walk around the ground chatting to various folk while watching the game.

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The Premier League is King? You’re having a laugh

The controversy stirred by Niall Quinn over stayaway, see-it-in-the-pub supporters, quickly followed by his candid admission that Sunderland AFC are not serious Premier title challengers, set Jeremy Robson thinking. Where the thought process led him is not calculated to please those for whom English football sits at the top of the world …

The Emperor’s underpants are looking shabby.

We’ve been told the English Premier League is the best in the world. As much as we all love the league and our teams that participate in it, as well as the premier league betting that comes with it, to call it the very best league in the world may be a slight over-exaggeration at this point.

Commentators and summarisers wax lyrical over games which barely stir the pulse. Millions of pounds are handed over with little thought for not even mediocre players who really couldn’t justify a place in the car park, let alone the starting XI.

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Soapbox: one league where Chelsea and Arsenal are bottom

For he is an Englishman – unless he plays for Arsenal and Chelsea, writes Pete Sixsmith, borrowing from Gilbert and Sullivan (though didn’t Sullivan have a spoonful or two of Italian blood?). Ah, but Pete’s not on about light opera. He’s just been studying the Premier League squad lists, where “homegrown” assumes an elastic definition and Englishmen form an ethnic minority …

Lots of interesting things in the papers today:

* Derbyshire’s improbable win at Gloucestershire after being skittled out for 44 in the first innings

* Real Madrid having the audacity to suggest that Harry Redknapp was being economical with the truth over the Van der Vart transfer by denying that Bayern Munich had ever made a bid for him

* William Hague making it clear that there was nothing untoward in his relationship with his special adviser, even though they did share a hotel room during the election campaign.

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Soapbox: Birmingham, Leicester memories – and here we go again


Pete Sixsmith gets his 2010-2011 Soapbox erected in time for the big kick-off and, like Colin Randall, harks back to when football was really football and men were men (or lads of not quite 16) ….

What do these numbers have in common? 46;10;2?

They are the number of seasons that Colin and me, Niall Quinn and Steve Bruce have been associated with Sunderland AFC.

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Pinned down by Chelsea

chelski1Picture: Mark Freeman

Chelsea. Brings to mind that fabulous Quinn/SuperKev destruction of them in 1999. Sky-high prices for away tickets. Not the cuddliest team or fans in the Premier. But we do know some lovely people who support the Blues and they were utterly deserving of the title last season. AND we ended up top of a very special Chelsea mini-league: ahead, on goal difference, of Villa, Wigan and Stoke among teams they scored seven or eight against. After Man Utd, Chelsea – in the form of Denise, from – came calling for the Salut! Sunderland take on life …

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Sparing Eduardo in our new season of ‘Who are You?’

Three days to go for the first match. And only three hours or so to go for our first Who Are They? questionnaire – minus, to the relief of Gooners and dive enthusiasts everywhere, a certain question …

The dawn of a new season brings the usual mix of excitement, hope and fear. And the return of one of Salut! Sunderland‘s most popular features.

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Our Premier League “who to boo” guide welcomes Peter Crouch

We just about got there. With the help of readers, a couple of emergency nominations and a spectacular own goal from Peter Crouch to fill the last gap (P for Peter), we now have targets for the odd burst of booing for each letter of the alphabet. The posting remains open to improvements suggested by Salut! Sunderland readers …

If you are thinking of nominating your own candidates, bear in mind the basic rules that appear in a footnote**:

* A is for Anyone who played what Johan Cruyff magisterially called anti-football, for the Netherlands versus Spain (see individual entries). And for Nicolas Anelka (see B)

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World Cup Soapbox: time for a fresh start


There’s constructive criticism, there’s the occasional understandable tantrum, and there’s downright cruelty to footballers. I thought Pete Sixsmith had already been as damning as it was possible to be in his assessment of England at group stage. But comparing yesterday to our worst times as Sunderland fans – has the man no heart? …

As Joan Dawson put it when the fourth goal went in: “We’re Sunderland fans, we are used to rubbish like this.” It didn’t make the abysmal performance seem any better, but it did throw things into perspective a wee bit.

Terry and Upson as Breen and Collins; Barry as Shaun Cunnington; Rooney as David Rush; Johnson as Cec Irwin, Steve Whitworth, Bernt Haas and any other ineffectual show pony full back you care to name … this was a performance that had me looking into the past and being able to equate the national team with all the worst things I have seen at Sunderland over the years.

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