John McCormick writes: asPete Sixsmith notes, I’m making a long awaited trip up to the NorthEast this weekend where, instead of my customary seat behind the north end goal, I’ll be joining him in the East Stand. After the Bolton debacle I was wondering about the trip and how the team would fare. Last night’s result – on away turf and against a Premier League side – has nicely set up my visit and the anticipation that goes with it.
As has this report, another gem from Pete:
Stop Press: and it’s another away game in the next round: hardly a glamour tie but at Oxford United, once again testing our (present) owners’ loyalties
Monsieur Salut writes: bravo Max Power, bravo the Lads.
It’s one of the traditions of Salut! Sunderland that Pete Sixsmith supplies a seven-word instant verdict – hence Sixer’s Sevens – after each SAFC game. If he doesn’t attend the match himself, someone else steps in. Tonight, he was indeed present (I have happy memories of meeting up with Pete before Bramall Lane on Boxing Day 2017; it was happy until 3pm since the Blades hammered us 3-0 and we were probably lucky to get nil).
Tonight started better and stayed better. Having barely seen the ball, we went ahead early with a wonder strike from Max Power (‘a beauty’, said Pete’s text message) after nine minutes. At half time, he was applauding an ‘inspired’ first 45 minutes. The Lads saw out the game in reasonable comfort and might have scored again; the super-critical Gary Bennett spoke of how well Sunderland had for once managed a lead.
And see how Sixer summed up the game with two versions of his seven allotted words (to be followed by his customary full analysis tomorrow) …
John McCormick writes: I’m trying to remember what I was doing 25 years ago. I think I was looking around for a new job, having been knocked back in my career for being a narky get. I wasn’t really a narky get, I’d just reached the stage of having lost respect for a lot of managerial types and not caring who knew it. I could have been wrong about the year, though I did get a new job not much later.
No such doubts about what Pete Sixsmith was doing – both his daytime job and his other one as a Sunderland stalwart.
Monsieur Salut writes: Pete Sixsmith‘s habit of suggesting all manner of Sunderland-related series has been as beneficial to Salut! Sunderland as it has been exhausting for him. This is another rod he made for his own back, a look at playoff joys and sorrows of the past. The first instalment covering the opening act of a dramatic tragedy – when we had to beat Gillingham to avoid dropping to the third tier in 1987 – and the home leg of an exhilarating tussle with the Mags three years later can be found here.
I have patchily vivid memories of both the 1998 semi-final legs against Sheffield United (and, of course, the final). At Bramall Lane, I remember Kevin Ball’s goal putting us ahead to the accompaniment of a short but nasty outbreak of bother up in or near one of the hospitality boxes, United yobs reacting violently to the cheers of a few Sunderland supporters – an incident I was reminded of when I condemned an attack on a Pompey fan in a SoL home section recently.
Pete will now take you back 21 years to the first act in a gripping drama. There’ll be more next week, including video footage of the second leg, one of my own and Pete’s greatest nights at any Sunderland game (I couldn’t locate a clip from the Bramall Lane match though one must exist; Pete’s mention refers to a full review of the Blades’ 1997-98 season which includes highlights of both games; it cannot be embedded but is seen here). Meanwhile, don’t look at this season’s final tables (Championship and League One unless you want an annoying reality check …
By now you should have read part one of this series, the preview of the Christmas period which I wrote for the SAFC programme. You might even remember some of the words I wrote, especially the conclusion:
“Christmas and early January remain crucial, which for us means holding our own away and completing doubles over Bradford and Shrewsbury at home. I’m not one for predicting results or tempting fate, and am all too aware there are no easy games in this league but I think we can do that, and I can see us still being in contention when the decorations come down.”
Regular readers will know that the Salut team make occasional appearances in the official matchday programme. Recent visitors will know that my last contribution came at the end of 2018, when I wrote about my take on the year before the Shrewsbury game.
However, that piece only came about after Sunderland had to fit in an extra cup game following our draw at Walsall.
I was originally asked to do something for the Bristol Rovers programme, with a focus on League One’s promotion challengers over the Christmas/New Year period. The extra game forced a change to the timetable and then other events took over, with the result that the piece I duly sent off never made it into print.
This will be my final dodgy numbers post of the season. (If you haven’t seen the previous ones you can follow the link above, and/or those below). There is still a game to go, and two questions remain unanswered, but we can now look at the league table and judge how well our start of season pundits did. Their choices for the top six spots, in order of popularity were: Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Fulham, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland.
Three out of six, and wrong about the top two. Is that a “not bad” verdict or something worse?
Yesterday you might have seen how I – or rather our readers – came to select a number of clubs to follow over the course of the season. They were originally Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Fulham, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland; Wolves, Bristol City, Cardiff, Derby and Sheffield United joined them at the end of the January transfer window.
Let’s go back to the start of the season (and don’t we wish we could).
I polled our readers as to who would make the top six. These clubs came up favourite ( in the order given) and I began tracking them and reporting on their progress from time to time:
By Christmas, if not earlier, it was obvious some changes were needed.
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.