Soapbox: York looms as Sky makes life tough for Swansea (and us)

Pete Sixsmith takes up where M Salut left off, a much-deserved dig at the TV people and Premier League for their utterly inconsiderate fixture changes. All the same, a spot of non-league action plus Steve Bruce’s transfer dealings have properly whetted Mr Sixsmith’s appetite for the coming season …

Ticked off my first game on Saturday; an enjoyable friendly between Northern League Division One Shildon and Teesside League regulars, Richmond Town. It ended up in a 2-0 win for the Railwaymen and a chance to see some of the new player who have arrived at Dean Street.

Like Sunderland, they have recruited heavily in the close season and several new players have arrived, while some old favourites have left. The general consensus amongst the regulars who turned up was that the manager had brought in a mixture of experience and potential and that the outlook for the season was positive.

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Danny Murphy and football’s dirty brigade

Image: Shaun Elliott by A Love Supreme

Danny Murphy caused a few feathers to fly when he stuck his boot into dirty play and its causes. Did anyone else find themselves thinking about pots and kettles? …

Back in the days when I started watching football, it was amateur stuff in the Northern League.

My dad was secretary of Shildon AFC. His duties went beyond clerical/organisational necessities, though I do not think he was responsible for “pumping up” players to get stuck in to opponents.

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Soapbox: Fratton Park or Roker Park – where’s the glory?

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Three hundred miles or so each way for a match that – allowing for hindsight – had cup exit written all over it. Or a day out to another Roker Park than the one we remember to see the other SAFC, mighty Shildon, in another cup competition. That was the choice confronting Pete Sixsmith. No contest. And be warned, Steve Bruce, this is the scale of the crisis of confidence engulfing Sunderland: Pete may even prefer Shildon away in the next round to Wigan at home in the Premier …

Commiserations to Malcolm Dawson, who got the short straw and had to pay £20 to watch defending that would have been seen as risible in a Northern League Division two game. I pulled the plum out of the basket and saw a stirring FA Vase tie at Roker Park, Stotfold.

Read moreSoapbox: Fratton Park or Roker Park – where’s the glory?