Sixer Says: torn between two loves as Sunderland Under 23s visit Shildon

Monsieur Salut says:

Shildon is where Pete Sixsmith and I grew up after unpromising starts to life (me in Hove, Pete in Leeds). My dad was secretary of the Northern League side for several years despite his funny Cockney accent. Pete still turns out to watch them as often as he can and lives close enough to the ground to walk there and back in about half an hour. Here he describes a pre-season friendly bringing together his two great footballing passions …

Pete Sixsmith
This World Cup is playing havoc with pre-season friendlies. Our game at Darlington has been brought forward a day to next Tuesday just in case the national team (featuring two graduates of the Academy of Light) are involved in a semi-final on the Wednesday, the original date.

This week, a very young Under 23 side played at Dean Street, Shildon, 24 hours later than they were supposed to after the game was switched so that the population could marvel at Jordan Pickford’s two wonderful saves and sob at the other Jordan’s miss.

It was a game that put me in a dilemma, somewhat akin to that of Mary McGregor in her hit platter Torn Between Two Lovers, a ditty penned by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary.

I chose to wear my Sunderland track suit top and my Shildon baseball cap to show that I had split loyalties.

However, the track suit top is bigger than the cap, so it was abundantly clear where my loyalties lay.

It was a gorgeous evening and Dean Street sparkled. Monsieur Salut’s late father would see a few changes from his days as secretary of Shildon AFC.

The huge main stand is still there, albeit closed to spectators due to structural faults. The tea hut, fashioned out of an old railway carriage as many communal buildings in Shildon were, has long gone and the appalling open toilets on the corner of Brown Street and Dean Street were condemned relatively recently.

I hope that he would be pleased with the new stand that has appeared on the Brown Street side of the pitch and I am sure he would have enjoyed the view from my named seat at the back of that structure, particularly on such a wonderful summer evening.

The New Stand at Shildon

Shildon turned a full side out. They finished a good 3rd in the EBAC Northern League last season and had hoped that they might be invited to move up to the Northern Premier League. As is common in Step 5 football, players come and go and there were three new ones on show last night, including the prolific goal scorer Danny Earl, who has moved from champions Marske United.

Most of our players are away in Portugal training and playing a game of Hunt the Ndong and Papy, so this was really an Under 19 outfit. I would not be in the least bit surprised to see most of these players turning out regularly at Hetton next season when we start our Premier League 2 Division Two fixtures.

We lined up thus:

Trialist; Owen Gamble, Brandon Taylor, Alex Storey, Williams Kokolo; Jack Diamond, Adam Bale, Jack Connolly, Jake Hackett; Conner Shields, Benji Kimpioka. Subs; Jacob Young, Anthony Patterson (g/k), Robbie Dunne, Kane Evans, Lee Connelly, Jordan Hunter, Sam Brotherton

There were some impressive performances in the opening period. Kimpioka ran well and caused problems for the defenders; Bale was industrious in the centre of midfield, Taylor and Storey looked comfortable and Shields offered some physical presence through the middle.

It was Jack Diamond who really caught the eye, though. Puns about his sparkling runs, his 24-carat passing and whether he was or wasn’t a girl’s best friend, were passed along the back row of the stand, but all were impressed with him.

He came along well last year in a poor Under 23 side and he looks a real prospect. He is strong, has a real eye for a pass and can score. He opened the scoring with a deft flick after 14 minutes. When Alex Storey doubled the scoring fifteen minutes later, it was beginning to look a little like a romp in the sun.

Two goal Billy Greulich-Smith. Pic courtesy of SAFC – that’s Shildon AFC
The second half brought the usual myriad of changes, with Shildon’s being the stronger. Club stalwart and keen Sunderland fan, Billy Greulich-Smith (he usually plays wearing spats and a silk scarf) pulled one back with his first touch. He then converted a penalty after a foul that even the worst ref at the World Cup would have awarded and that was the scoring for the evening.

Jordan Hunter, freshly signed from Liverpool’s academy, played for the last quarter of the game and showed some neat touches. He is only 17 but may well turn out to be one to watch as they say.

Shildon’s next game is at home to York City, a game arranged long before anybody considered that the national side would be playing for a place in the last four of the World Cup. Kick off time is 12.30 and there is a large screen in the cosy club house should you want to watch it in company afterwards.

Your correspondent will be at Blackwell Meadows to welcome Jack Ross and his first team squad back on Tuesday – not that I will be able to recognise many of the players.

Oh, and Jordan Pickford – he’s one of our own, ya knaa.

McLaughlin and Maguire: the Jack Ross revolution is taking shape

Maguire, Chris

Our purpose in such articles as this is no more than to welcome new players. We needed, desperately, a good new keeper. we needed new defenders. And we needed people to do what Eric Gates and Marco Gabbiadini did back in the late 80s, score goals to make the third tier look simple.

And we have three new boys who seem to fit the bill …

Read moreMcLaughlin and Maguire: the Jack Ross revolution is taking shape

Sixer’s Soapbox: Moyes stews as Sunderland get burned by Middlesbrough

Malcolm Dawson writes…..I nearly didn’t go today. I’ve got a bad back. But my lift arrived early so I struggled into my socks and shoes and did what Lamine Kone didn’t do and trekked along to the Stadium of Light. I’ve moved a row back this season but the faces from last year were all there and we spent the pre-match minutes inevitably talking about how the events of the close season have put us back into a familiar frame of mind for our first home game of the season. Of the starting XI only Don Vito, PvA and Defoe were left from the line up which had put Norwich, Chelsea and Everton to the sword and ensured another season of Premiership struggle. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were supposed to be consolidating ourselves as a top half side. Instead we lined up with kids and other clubs’ reserve team cast offs. My GP has ordered a whole set of blood tests, I’m due an X-Ray in the week to see if he can determine the cause of my pain and has threatened me with a prostate examination if nothing is forthcoming from those. (I think he’s a closet Mag!) In the meantime I’ll let Pete Sixsmith describe his own painful experience (and I don’t mean getting through the multiple roadworks on the A690.)


Read moreSixer’s Soapbox: Moyes stews as Sunderland get burned by Middlesbrough

Sixer’s Newcastle United Soapbox: we let this one slip – again!

Jake: 'nerve-shredding'
Jake: ‘nerve-shredding’
Malcolm Dawson writes………the fact that those supporters in black and white were euphoric at the end, whilst those in red and white (or their free green) appeared dejected said it all really. Both sides picked up a point in the chase to catch Norwich but while we saw it as two points dropped, they celebrated like they had won the Cup. Not for the first time we started off much the better side but once again after a bright start, where we pressed high up the pitch and restricted our opponents to a few ineffective attacks, a combination of tiring legs and a nervous desire to cling on to the lead saw us drop much deeper and allow a side we had dominated to get back into the game. Van Aanholt might have had a good effort saved but don’t forget M’Vila’s goal line clearance. We could just as easily have lost this one. Pete Sixsmith was there and reports on events in his customary style.



At half time, I was considering which photograph to put on my Facebook page. Would it be Messrs. Brynner, Vaughn (Robert not David), Coburn, Bronson, Dexter (Brad, not Ted), McQueen and Bucholz? Would it be those forerunners of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band – The Temperance Seven with their wonderful singer “Whispering Paul McDowell” or would it be the cover of the Enid Blyton book, “Well Done Secret Seven”?

As it happened, Aleksander Mitrovic, with a little help from Gini Wijnaldum, Dame N’Doye and De Andre Yedlin (fine English names there), made the choice unnecessary as he headed home his first goal since Tito led Yugoslavia, to give the Mags a point that they probably just about deserved but which we should never have allowed them. Forget the errors leading up to their equaliser (although it will be a long time before I can cast Yedlin’s abysmal foul throw that led to them moving forward to the memory banks) and think about the amount of play that we had in the first half and the opening 15 minutes of the second. For all that control and possession, we only scored once and as we all know, that is not enough for a team who cannot keep the proverbial clean sheet.

The first half was a non-contest as we played some crisp, clear and convincing football. The defenders never looked threatened by a feeble Newcastle attack and we controlled the midfield with consummate ease. Kirchhoff turned in another outstanding 70 minutes, breaking up the opposition attacks and moving the ball on to Rodwell, M’Vila, Khazri and Borini, who used it very effectively.

Rodwell had another quietly efficient game and looked a far, far better player than Shelvey. Where Shelvey tried to boom the ball around the pitch, occasionally hitting a black and white shirt, Rodwell looked for the simple pass and made sure that it went to a Sunderland player. He could have scored early on, but Elliott made a fine save from a header that, had it been placed a yard either side of the keeper, would have put us ahead.

Borini was another who had an excellent first half and tortured Colback, who was very fortunate to stay on the field. Both he and Janmaat were booked for crashing tackles on our wide players as they skipped past them almost at will.

The goal came from poor defending as Elliott pushed out a shot from Borini and Mbemba (also booked – 3 out of 4 in the defence saw yellow which tells you how much we were in control) headed it to Defoe who volleyed it in. Cue for great celebrations on Level 7 as we went in for the break. The feeling was that one more goal would see the home crowd turn on their team and we could pick them off at will.

We nearly got it when Van Aanholt forced an excellent save from Elliott, who was by far the busier keeper, but it seemed to stir the black and whites and they dragged themselves into the game. They pushed us back, Shelvey sat deeper and tried to pick us off and they took both full backs off and replaced them with midfielders.

Unfortunately, we were pushed back too far and it began to look as if we were under pressure.

The equaliser came when Yeltsin produced a throw in that Brandon and Byshottles Under 8s would have been ashamed of and from the Newcastle throw, they moved forward. The hitherto anonymous Wijnaldum skipped past a static N’Doye and produced an exquisite chip that Mitrovic headed in at the far post. He then made an arse of himself by ripping off his shirt and tripping over the obligatory portly pitch invader as the home crowd stopped thinking about how they were going to explain this one away and made a noise for the first time in the game.

So, why did we fail to win this one? Some on the bus home pointed the finger at the manager for his substitutions. Kaboul, who had had an excellent game alongside Kone, had taken a knock and seeing he is as robust as Private Godfrey in Dad’s Army, he was replaced by O’Shea, who did not bring the same authority to the game. Maybe Kaboul would have challenged Mitrovic for the header and not Yedlin, a player not noted for his heading ability. Cattermole came on for an exhausted Kirchhoff, which also made sense, but the contentious one was N’Doye on for Khazri.

Jake - quality
Jake – quality

Khazri is another player who has found the mental intensity of the Premier League difficult. Every game is played at a ferocious pace and there is little time to think. Ligue 1 is not at all like that and that is why some French players struggle. By all means replace him but by someone with pace, not a rather lumbering centre forward. Lens might have been a better swap here or even Toivonen. But Sam likes N’Doye and on he went. He should/could have tackled Wijnaldum but didn’t and the rest, as they say, is history. The former Hull man did carry the ball out well a couple of times after that, but the damage had been done.

The result makes a Wear-Tyne derby in the Championship more, rather than less likely. Norwich winning at West Brom was not a good thing and although Palace continue to be in free fall, they will still take a lot of catching. We have the players to do it and for much of this game we looked organised and played well. But our inability to go through 90+ minutes without conceding is going to drag us down. The next two games (West Brom at home, Norwich away) are vital and a minimum of 4 points is required from them. We need to either score six in the first half or the only goal of the game in the 97th minute and even then I would be worrying that it could all go wrong.

We have a free week again next week and then the real stuff starts as the ever popular Tony Pulis brings Messrs Gardner, Sessegnon and McClean back to the Stadium of Light. That’ll be two respectful rounds of applause and a Colback like reception for one of them then.

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!

Read moreWho are you? We’re Portsmouth