Colin Randall writes: Malcolm Dawson has been my trusted deputy editor throughout the best years of Salut! Sunderland. He explains below how we came together for site duty and I am deeply grateful that Joan, his sister, suggested he’d be an ideal right hand man. Malcolm is a demanding editor, demanding of himself and of others. He is as fussy as I can be on questions of grammar and taste. And he also happens to write like a dream, as anyone who has seen his reports from games, and his more general thoughts, can testify.
It has been a privilege to work with him and, sadly only occasionally because of geographical distance, enjoy his company before, at or after matches. Thanks, Malcolm, The site could not be in such good order to hand on to new ownership and editorship without all you have done …
It will soon be a quarter of a century since Bob Murray’s vision for the future of SAFC took the club from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light. My sister was living in London at the time and involved in the editing of the London Branch’s newsletter 5/5/73 which was later to be renamed Wear Down South. It was through that involvement that she met Colin Randall and his mate Pete Sixsmith and was asked by Colin to help with his new website when it was up and running some years later.
John McCormick’s contributions to Salut! Sunderland have been immense, as writer and editor. Despite the serious health issues that have confronted him, he has continued in his tireless way to post articles and research and write his own exemplary work, often analytical and backed by meticulous statistical date, all presented with far more technological nous than I can muster. He has been a great mainstay of this site and deserves the rest he has now prescribed for himself.
John McCormick introduces his own farewell: regular readers will know I was told I had a malignant tumour in December last year and was given a scan to see if I had secondaries just before Christmas 2018. That scan revealed a lesion on my liver but couldn’t determine whether it was malign or not. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I received final confirmation that it wasn’t, which closed a sequence of tests – all clear – and ensured that this Christmas would be merrier, and this New Year happier, than the last.
Colin Randall writes: I always worried about images for this site. Without access to professional databases, without – mostly – the nerve to grab photographs from elsewhere unless we had permission or a good excuse – the arrival of Jake was manna from heaven. For eight or nine of our 13 years, Jake – John Clark, a solid Sunderland lad exiled in Spain – has supplied a . wonderful stream of illustrations to preview a match, or record its result, or often enough just to capture a moment, a mood. Salut! Sunderland has been greatly enriched by his presence and I cannot find truly adequate words to express my admiration and appreciation.
Now – though not for the first time as he reminded me this morning (see this) – John/Jake finds words of his own that are not just the witty captions to his own images and banners and those priceless comments he’d sometimes post…
John McCormick writes: I started to put this up not long after Pete Sixsmith sent it, then had to switch off and do other stuff before I could add an introduction. In between I put some music on, courtesy of a USB stick I think my brother-in-law Ed must have left behind.
First up came The Small Faces and “Sha La La La Lala Lee”, which was released in 1966 and echoed round our World Cup venue in honour of the goalkeeper who had helped us gain promotion and who would go on to help us win the cup. Ed, currently a season-ticket holder in the North Stand, Pete, Jake, Malcolm and Colin will no doubt fondly remember those days, as do I and probably many of our readers.
Second up on Ed’s playlist came something from 1982. We were still a first division club then, and would shortly revisit Wembley before enduring a single season in the Third Division. But endure we did.
Now, perhaps, that song is more appropriate. The name of the group -The Jam. The title of the song – “The bitterest pill (I ever had to swallow)”. Step forward one last time, Pete.
Monsieur Salut writes: even in these grim times for Sunderland AFC, it is always a pleasure to be able to present the writing of Pete Sixsmith to a wider audience. In the dying days of Salut! Sunderland in its present form, we have lost our newsnow link, severely curtailing our reach and readership. That appears to be an unintended by-product of the transition to safc.blog so this piece from Sixer may attract a smaller audiece than in the past. It deserves better, as do all SAFC fans..
For however many still see it, here are Pete’s gloomy thoughts from the last home game he will cover for our site …
THE LAST POST
Well, that’s it. Twelve years of writing about Sunderland AFC [nearer 13 – Ed] which have included ups, downs and okays and, for my last game, I get an absolute shocker.
This was a game between two clubs that have had far, far better days and that both seem in permanent decline, never to reach the top echelon of the game while I am still on this mortal coil.
Out with the old, in with the new, says Monsieur Salut as he prepares to hand on the Salut! Sunderland baton to the next runner …
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Whatever Mark Twain really wrote and later said, Salut! Sunderland can adopt the spirit of his much-quoted sentiments. Reports of our death – including our own report – have been grossly exaggerated.
My announcement here, on Nov 8, was headlined: The end of an era. Salut! Sunderland’s journey will soon be over.
I explained that after 13 years, often turbulent but never boring, a mirror image of the club we all support, Salut! Sunderland would cease to function from the end of this year. Visible, yes, for a while, but not animate. And I gave the reasons why.
This is how I described what would happen:
Salut! Sunderland will not be regularly updated after Dec 31 2019 and may not be updated at all. Some time is left in the hosting agreement with GoDaddy and the site will still be visible until that ends. A sleeping but doomed beauty is my fanciful description …
That was precisely our position on Nov 8. Today, I am pleased to report that there has been a development. The site is not dying after all but going into reanimation – and the prognosis is good.
Monsieur Salut writes: no fairy godmother has appeared – though one did briefly hover – and the site is still in winding down mode. Pete Sixsmith, undeterred, presses on with one last series. He is tracing the 13 Sunderland managers who coincide with Salut! Sunderland’s 13-year history.
Elections are a time for presenting old policies as new, re-announcing expenditure plans as if part of a bold, vote-winning new programme. Salut! Sunderland gets in on the act by re-announcing Pete Sixsmith‘s farewell series as the site winds down after very nearly 13 years.
Sixer came up with the idea of describing each of the 13 managers seen at Sunderland since the site first appeared at the beginning of 2007. For the first instalment, he recalled the towering ups and ultimate down of the Roy Keane era.
One of those annoying technical issues that have become so prevalent restricted readership of a typically fine Sixer read. Hence the reproduction of the piece today ahead of the second episode, which will look at Ricky Sbragia’s short spell in charge.
At the time, we longed for better. Keano’s pulsating promotion season was followed by tough struggles in the lower regions of the Premier League fixture. But we survived. And viewed from the closing months of 2019, when the team staggers from bad to worse and manages to exit three cup competitions before a new manager has his feet properly under the table, they were positively golden times.
As we lick our wounds after the latest abysmal performance, beaten 1-0 in the FA Cup first round replay at Gillingham (see Phil Parkinson’s reaction here), let Pete take up the story …
As Salut! Sunderland winds down, Pete Sixsmith comes up with an idea to keep us occupied in our remaining weeks. He will describe each of the 13 managers seen at Sunderland since this site was created at the beginning of 2007.
That means he starts by remembering the short, explosive reign of Roy Keane. It may be recalled that when Keano took over at a salary of £1m-a-year shortly after a calamitous start to the 2006-2007 season, he responded to a warts-and-all, player-by-player appraisal of the squad he was inheriting by saying: ‘Good grief (or similar)? I should have asked for £2m.’ …
Yet for a time, he made it work, a sensational bottom-to-top romp to promotion as champions followed by a hard-fought survival year back in the Premier League. Then it went wrong as Sixer explains …