Wigan or Wembley? A genuine dilemma

After Stoke,we welcome another footballing giant in Wigan Athletic. Pete Sixsmith may well give that one a miss for a ride on a potential Wembley bandwagon..

The ground at St Ives.  Picture courtesy of St Ives Town FC
The ground at St Ives. Picture courtesy of St Ives Town FC


After the display we were  forced to sit through on Monday night, only the most devoted followers of the Marquis de Sade can be looking forward to the visit of the Wigan pie eaters with any enthusiasm or expectation.

Wigan had an even worse result than we did, losing at home to serial bankrupts Notts County in an FA Cup replay, which prised 4,000 Latics out of their armchairs and into the DW stadium to watch open-mouthed as their team were dumped on.

That should reduce the Wigan following from the tiny to the miniscule, and should lead to a huge number of empty seats in the South Stand. Add to that the fact that there may well be an empty seat in the East Stand (Row 34, Seat 404) as I am caught on the horns of a footballing dilemma.

Read moreWigan or Wembley? A genuine dilemma

Melanie Hill: flirting on the Fulwell


When I thank you for the stream of visits to Salut! Sunderland that has sent us rocketing up the Soccerlinks hit parade to the dizzy heights of the mid-40s, “you” includes the away fans attracted by the Who Are You? feature and such controversies as the Ilunga/Jones affair. While I stand by for an invasion by Spurs fans later in the week, ahead of Saturday’s game at White Hart Lane, I will give another airing to an interview from the Celebrity Supporters series that began with 5573 (later renamed Wear Down South), the magazine of the Sunderland supporters’ association London branch, and continued at the old site.

Melanie Hill, whom I described as a “smashing actress known from Bread, Brassed Off and much more” was easily one of the nicest interviewees in the series. She agreed to an interview two days before the fateful Arsenal match in Oct 2002, Peter Reid’s last in charge, and rang again just before kick-off to fix a time. The interview took place the day after Reid’s sacking. As I said at the time, it felt like a whirlwind telephone romance.

Here, for those who missed the interview when it first appeared (and apologies to those for whom it is just a repeat), is one of the stars of our wider support base …

This starts as a tale of two celebrities with strong Sunderland links, of one door opening while the echo of another slamming shut is ringing in the ears.

Read moreMelanie Hill: flirting on the Fulwell

October 1968: hammered, but the injustice still Hurst


Colin Randallremembers highs and lows from 40+ years of games between Sunderland and West Ham …

On the face of it, this does not look the worst line-up the English top flight has seen:

Montgomery; Irwin, Hurley, Palmer, Harvey; Suggett, Porterfield, Herd; Harris, Brand, Hughes

Nor, necessarily, does this have the appearance of a world-beating XI:

Ferguson; Bonds, Stephenson, Moore, Charles; Redknapp, Boyce, Peter; Brooking, Hurst, Sissons

King Charlie & co clearly had an offday.

Read moreOctober 1968: hammered, but the injustice still Hurst

Who are you? We’re Aston Villa


Despite our Brummie blues, is this our Carling Cup year? After an easy passage in the two previous rounds, Sunderland face a potentially far stiffer challenge tomorrow night from Aston Villa. But it’s at the Stadium of Light, we’re in form too – or were – and it still offers a great opportunity to move towards a welcome trophy. Jonathan Fear*, who runs the Vital Football network as well as the Aston Villa part of it, has other ideas …

Good start for Villa, with important wins already. Is this going to be a big season for you?

I’m a Villa fan, I don’t make massive predictions, had too many false dawns to start shouting from the roof tops. However, our defence does now appear to be rock solid (I really should not have said that should I?) and we are picking up some great wins without particularly being on top form (Chelsea game aside, which we won with style and deservedly). We have a few players yet to start as they have no form at all – Ashley Young is only doing things in dribs and drabs, John Carew hasn’t turned up to many games etc. That some might say is a negative but to pick up the points whilst not hitting form is nothing but a positive to me as long as at some stage they do turn it on.

So yes, maybe it will be a top season for us, I’ll just not hold my breath, I’m too long in the tooth to get over excited, I’ll just go with the flow!

Read moreWho are you? We’re Aston Villa

Salut! Sunderland status update: we’re crestfallen


The embryo of this article was a rant, a denunciation of the corporate face of football responsible for the newly shorn look to the header you see above. Has anyone noticed? We’ve lost the Sunderland AFC crest. This is the story of how and why it happened (and why the rant became, we hope, a model of measured reflection) …

For closer to three years than two, it didn’t seem to trouble anyone. On the right of Craig McGinty‘s striking design of the Salut! Sunderland header appeared the club badge. Unobtrusive, we thought, just a detail.

Read moreSalut! Sunderland status update: we’re crestfallen

Sunderland music: from cops and pop to the classics


Anything to fill in time on a football-free Saturday (meaningful football, that is). Colin Randall recalls a few of the musical pieces familiar to fans of Sunderland going back to the 1960s …

Samantha Marie Sprackling is the real name, Saffron the one she’s better known by. It probably won’t offend her to know Salut! Sunderland finds her pleasing on the eye and the ear.

Read moreSunderland music: from cops and pop to the classics

Calling all Sunderland fans who never knew Roker Park


The headline narrows it down a little. But Salut! Sunderland today launches a modest competition*, and only supporters for whom the Stadium of Light has always been our home ground can enter. You may be too young to have visited Roker Park. You may, for whatever reason, have started attending games only after the move to the Stadium of Light. Write about the SoL, what you like about it, what it means to you, the best and worst times you’ve had there, anything you dislike about it. Salut! Sunderland will publish the best entries AND award a first prize to the value to £100 (there may be runners-up awards depending on entries. Send them to colinrandall@hotmail.com … we’re looking for passion and imagination rather than a budding Hemingway or Hornby, but don’t be put off if you have genuine writing talent.


Let’s kick it off with the reminiscences of another old codger from the days before Roker Park was a private housing estate with silly street names evoking the grand old stadium. Jeremy Robsons piece explained why, for a Murton lad exiled in deepest Canada, Roker means so much to him that he cannot even bring himself on trips home to go near what has become of the place. It originally appeared a few months ago but will be new to many of our readers ….

It’s almost 12 years since we left Roker Park.

To this day I’ve never returned to the old site. I remember standing gazing around the wonderful old stadium for as long as the stewards would let us after the Everton game, in a feeble attempt to take in the magnitude of those last few moments in the place where we’d all spent so much of our lives, and where history was written, where reputations were won and lost, but most of all a place where millions of memories were generated amongst countless thousands of us. All different, all shared and yet all unique.

Read moreCalling all Sunderland fans who never knew Roker Park