A harsh reader would say Bob Chapman brings it on himself. A drive up from the Home Counties for the Villa game weould have been enough to put off most people but four days later, he was enduring more dross from the worst Sunderland team he has seen in 54 years of following the club home and away. If only the team could play football as well as the likes of Bob and Pete Sixsmith write, we’d be out of sight at the top of the Championship. But how both of them would love to be able to report on a day out with old friends, supping good ale and recalling bands from the 1960s and 70s, without having to describe how it was all spoilt by SAFC …
Could we have got something from this game? I thought so, but Bob Chapman’s report will give a more accurate picture than the SAFC website and that won’t arrive until tomorrow.
Bob will be reporting in the Place of Pete Sixsmith, who decided against a trip to Loftus Road. Even so, it was Pete who forwarded the seven-word text that summed up a dismal day.
John McCormick writes: I had to check with the Statcat when this one came up – why did I not see us play at QPR when I lived in London? It transpires they were promoted in 1973. I was busy that year and didn’t notice them going up, just before I moved to London, and by the time we joined them in Division One I was on my way to Liverpool.
Did I miss something special by not going to see QPR when I had the chance? In the early 1970s they were quite a team, with the likes of Stan Bowles, Gerry Francis and Rodney Marsh exciting the crowds. However, Rodney Marsh moved on in 1972 and there are those who argue QPR were never the same without him so I probably didn’t.
What about Pete Sixsmith? I rather get the feeling he visited Loftus Road too early and missed QPR at their peak, even though they had recently lifted neutral hearts. It’s possible, though, that more pressing things required attention at the time and the wider world of football had to take a back seat for a while:
Most weeks, readers of Salut! Sunderland drop by on Friday morning to catch the latest instalment in Pete Sixsmith’s twin series, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Ground (if the game in question is away), Team (if it’s at the Stadium of Light).
This week, the Millwall edition was posted earlier than usual – namely at this link.
Pete Sixsmith longs for the day he can write something upbeat about a Sunderland first-team performance. The visit of QPR offered no such opportunity. That he can muster the enthusiasm to write at all is remarkable; that he does it so well, and with a nice line in gallows humour, too – must be a marvel of the modern age …
In the end, I probably made the right choice. I witnessed what, in the words of Simon Grayson, was a small step to success with a lot of positives and where we didn’t get the breaks, rather than watching Shildon crash out of the FA Cup 6-0 at Guiseley. To be honest, an afternoon in a laundrette watching the machines whirl round would have been preferable to either.
Monsieur Salut writes: for much of the match against QPR at the Stadium of Light, the Sunderland nightmare seemed be getting darker and darker. Pete Sixsmith reported that the defending was getting worse by the game as we went one down yet again.
Until the McGeady equaliser, QPR seemed more likely to score again. Gary Bennett was deeply unimpressed, too, describing a side ‘all over the place’, without pattern and devoid of confidence with a number of seriously poor personal displays with Matthews especially culpable. Sixer’s other instant verdict was ‘Another poor performance. Very little encouragement here’. Come back for his full report tomorrow or Monday … …
Monsieur Salut says: stand by for a sharp, literate analysis of all that is wrong and the bits that are right about Saturday’s opponents, QPR, and what has gone awry for Sunderland. At least half a dozen headline-worthy phrases leap from Clive Whittingham‘s* answers. Clive, a business and sports journalist, is the editor of a QPR fan site, Loft For Words. I loved his one-line assessment of his club: ‘not big, or that good, but we’ve had some lovely players’.
Of players linked to both clubs, he admires the current but injured captain, Nedum Onuaha – remembered fondly for his wonder goal vs Chelsea for us but not, apparently, a favourite of all Hoops fans – but came close to adding Anton Ferdinand to his ‘worst players’ answer. As for us, he likes Simon Grayson but suspects we’ll end up firing him as the season progresses. Perhaps the kindest way of interpreting his remarks is that he thinks we’re a basket case …
Of course, Monsieur Salut has no intimate knowledge of the QPR manager’s feelings ahead of Saturday’s game at the Stadium of Light. But if someone calling himself Ian or Holloway, from west London, plumps for an away win in the comments below, you’ll know soon enough.
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?
Salut! Sunderland gets big hits for “Who are You?” interviews, the Q and A sessions with opposing fans that we publish before every game, writes Monsieur Salut.
And at the end of each season, we present the Haways – Highly Articulate Who Are You? awards – to those our judges deem to have been the best.
It is entirely subjective but a spot of fun. If any reader who follows the series wishes to have a say, please just leave a comment (using your correct e-mail address, which is not shown but I can see) and you will be contacted.