Sixer Says: if Leeds Rhinos can rise to the occasion, why not Sunderland too?

Danny Maguire, bowing out on a high. Image: By Fleets (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Pete Sixsmith gets back to roots with a trip to Old Trafford, not to see Seb Larsson score an unlikely winner or Vito Mannone make the penalty shoot out saves from Adnan Januzaj and Rafael to earn a Wembley appearance but to savour a great day out for a man fond of the oval ball as played by 13 men on each side rather than 15. The outcome of the Rugby League Grand Final and the ups and down of his beloved Leeds Rhinos set him wondering about Simon Grayson’s ability to inspire the discipline and commitment needed to move Sunderland up the Championship table.

As always with Pete’s outings, what you are about to read combines incisive sportswriting, travelogue and wit …

They say that your first love is the one that you look back on with the most affection, even though you may have found deep satisfaction or a mutual love-hate relationship with the partner that you eventually settle down with and live all life’s ups and downs. I know these things. I read them on the back of a matchbox.

So it is with the teams that you support. Sunderland AFC and I were manacled together in 1962 and that hardware has stayed securely tied since then, apart from a brief escape in 1998 after a needless relegation which a little investment and some shrewd buying would have prevented.

Before and after that, it’s been like Jack and Vera Duckworth’s marriage – plenty of ups and downs, lots of shouting and cursing and a fair bit of weeping when things went desperately wrong, but a commitment that has stuck through thick and thin, with thin being noticeably more represented than the former.

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Sixer’s Travels: as a postponed trip to Middlesbrough mercifully spares one fate …

But it was still a weekend of pleasure rather than the usual Sunderland-induced pain, according to Pete Sixsmith. He saw some decent non-league football, albeit watching Shildon lose, and some rugby league. He’s already worried about Saturday but put aside such cares to compose another piece of classy writing combining sport, social observation, politics and travel …

Thanks to Middlesbrough for making the quarter finals of the FA Cup. Not only were they brushed aside by Manchester City, their presence in what used to be called the Sixth Round, spared us from having to go there on a Saturday and thereby probably spoiling our weekend.

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Chapman Reports from Aston Villa as Sixer acclaims Lizzie Jones at Wembley

Robert Chapman: 'when does the new season start?'
Jake: bravo to Salut! Sunderland‘s supersub, Robert Chapman

Bob Chapman seems to have had the sort of awayday Monsieur Salut most enjoys (except when there’s the cherry on the cake of a win to make it even better): pre-match pints with John Marshall and the Woods brothers, Mick and Gerard, followed by Sunderland goals to cheer and at least the avoidance of defeat along with the feeling, still weak but growing, that things may indeed be going to get better.

Bob steps up to the Soapbox because Pete Sixsmith took himself off to Wembley for the utterly one-side Leeds Rhinos’ victory over Hull KR (50-0). He draws attention to the highlight of his afternoon, Lizzie Jones’s tearjerking rendition of Abide With Me stirring memories of her husband Danny, the Keighley Cougars and Wales player who died from a heart attack after feeling unwell during a game in May. That was worth reproducing here and I challenge you not to be moved.

Now let Bob describe his day ..

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Sixer Says: oh for Derby or Wigan and not QPR

Sixer, right in Irish green. with the more conventionally attired Sobs
Sixer, right in Irish green. with the more conventionally attired Sobs

One grain of pure white snow, Bert Jansch wrote in his classic song about drug addiction, Needle of Death. It hasn’t yet become quite that bad at Sixsmith Towers. Pete Sixsmith still has a few sporting outlets to get him through the early summer and there is the World Cup to, er, look forward to. Meanwhile, he’s cross about being deprived of fair prices at Fulham, great pies at Wigan and decent beer at the Brunswick in Derby …

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Sixer’s wash-out Saturday: Wembley blues, red faces in Sunderland

Sixer by Jake

So Pete Sixsmith got away with his act of desertion, truanting from the first home game of the season to watch an oval ball at Wembley, and still has the treat of Reading at home to come. Here he offers thoughts on the more than slightly embarrassing postponement – and Warrington’s comfortable victory over Leeds in t’other game …

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Sixer’s Sentiments: Joey Barton, Premier League withdrawal symptoms and Super League allure

Sixer's a real brick, says Jake; all in all, say Class 3C ...

Pete Sixsmith has been back at the chalk face, enriching young lives and earning the means to enable him to attend Premier League games again next season. Or will he forsake round footballs for the squashed variety? Ask him at the wrong moment, when he’s just been thinking about Joey Barton or recapturing his Rugby League youth, and you risk hearing a disturbing response …

With the season
over, not a huge interest in the playoffs and even less in England’s fortunes, anoraks like myself desperately search for a weekend fix.

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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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Soapbox: Old Trafford revisited


No one is quite sure what this is doing here. Has Salut! Sunderland taken leave of its senses? Has Rugby League taken over from football? Let Pete Sixsmith – who went back to Old Trafford one week on, and not to collect his personal copy of Sir Alex’s non-apology to Alan Wiley – explain …

Continuing the theme of Club v Country, I have to say that I couldn’t give a rat’s a*** about the “national team”. Ever since Sir Alf failed to take Monty to Mexico and various idiots refused to pick Kevin Phillips on a regular basis, I have absolutely zero interest in the Ingerland project.

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