SAFC 2 Stoke City 0: winning points outrageously

Image: addick.tedKevin

On top but wobbly. That was the essence of the text messages from the Stadium of Light. Great to secure three points, but television replays show just how wobbly it was …

Salut! Sunderland rattles on week after week about cheating and is among the first to whinge when appalling decisions cost Sunderland points.

Arsenal fans, some of them, came here in self-righteous indignation when, week after week, we asked opposing fans in our Who Are You? feature the Eduardo Question – essentially are you ashamed when one of yours cheats? Our questionnaire before each game still includes a question on the same subject.

But we cannot have it both ways, and we don’t.

Read moreSAFC 2 Stoke City 0: winning points outrageously

Stoke City’s man of letters: ‘Kenwyne was always one of ours’

Time, as we said, to move on. There’s another important game looming: SAFC v Stoke City on Saturday. Stephen Foster*, the author of two classics among “my club” football books (buy them at the best prices by clicking here), is another great capture for the Who Are You? series. Stoke through and through, he writes with the passion and wit that appeals to fans of other teams: look at the acclaim he won for She Stood There Laughing and the follow-up, on City’s first year back in the top flight, … And She Laughed No More. Welcome to Salut! Sunderland, Stephen (or Steve as he was for the first of those books thanks to a publisher’s error) …

Salut! Sunderland: you wrote our first question for us, Stephen: “What’s it like having half a side made out of Sunderland cast-offs representing Stoke City?” Apart from – or even including – Tommy and Kenwyne, is that how you see them?

No, not really, once you’ve got players they become yours, don’t they (unless you actively loathe them). But sometimes getting on for half our starting eleven have migrated from one set of red and white stripes to another which is a bit much: Tommy, Collins/Higginbotham, Deano, Rory, Kenwyne. The greatest contribution has come from Delap, no question, he was the key unit of the Pulis Method in the first Premier League season, at the outset of which, to be fair, everyone was predicting we’d ‘do a Derby’. The full backs are fine, the ‘keeper is solid, Whitehead is one of those players I just can’t see the point of. I think of Kenwyne a bit more as “one of ours” anyway since we had him on loan (from Southampton) for a couple of months in the Championship. He was the archetypal Bambi on Ice then; living up on Wearside certainly put some beef on him. He’s started off brilliantly, scoring in four consecutive games with his head, though he did have a muted and subdued match against Man United. We’ve been warned about that tendency from both your fans and your manager and I have to say he didn’t look up for it when he was confronted by the best centre back pairing he’s encountered so far in Ferdinand and Vidic. Vidic knocked him about which he didn’t seem to like. I wonder if he’ll do the curse of the ex against you…

Read moreStoke City’s man of letters: ‘Kenwyne was always one of ours’

Life after Stoke-bound Kenwyne?

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So the speculation – now confirmed by the club – is that Kenwyne Jones is on his way out of the Stadium of Light. Good thing, bad thing? We’ve promoted the story back to the top of the site because of the interest it has generated …

Looking back, we can allow ourselves to say what a shame we didn’t accept silly money from Spurs for Kenwyne Jones. The papers said £20m was offered. That may have been an exaggeration but certainly a great deal of money was at stake.

And odd flashes aside, what has he done for us since then?

Read moreLife after Stoke-bound Kenwyne?

Who are you? Calling all Premier League clubs

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Before each Sunderland game, a fan of the opposing side previews the match. Sometimes it is an uphill struggle to find one supporter willing to do it; other weeks we end up with two or three and feel dutybound to use them all. Now for the limited payback: our annual awards for the best of them (and read on if you want to take part in the 2010-11 season) …

Salut! Sunderland announces its second annual Who Are You? competition, in which we honour fans of other clubs who have contributed the best answers to the questions we set ahead of each game.

Read moreWho are you? Calling all Premier League clubs

Sympathy for Aaron Ramsey

Salut! Sunderland joins all real football fans – including the Stoke City supporters who showed their own decency tonight – in wishing Aaron Ramsey the strongest, fullest and fastest recovery possible from the horrible injury he suffered in Arsenal’s victory at the Britannia stadium.

It was a really bad challenge by Ryan Shawcross, who was rightly shown a straight red card.

But I am not convinced there was a shred of malice in that challenge. There was clearly a lot of recklessness, however. Shawcross himself seemed to acknowledge this, pausing on his tearful way from the field to offer apologies to Ramsey.

Read moreSympathy for Aaron Ramsey

Who are you? We’re Stoke City

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Sunderland fans take heart. Since we lost at Stoke – and many, many other places since – Simon Northwood, a City fan also known as Northy* of the Rip Roaring Potters website and lead singer of Sounds of an Asylum, has altered his view of where his club will finish (132th instead of 12th) but still thinks we’ll be 11th. Sorry, pal, but we’ll need to do better than draw with you (your prediction) on Monday if that is still on the cards …

Salut! Sunderland:
You’re having another decent season, better – as I write – than ours. Explain!

It’s funny because there has been plenty of discontent throughout the support regarding the way we have been going at things but as usual Pulis and the lads are doing the business and the table doesn’t lie. I think there is plenty more to come from these boys so I expect a decent run in as well.

Read moreWho are you? We’re Stoke City

As Stoke’s SAFC “rejects” shine, the message is clear: cheer us Stevie Bruce

salutsunderland

Very well, reject is a harsh word.

But take a good look at the line-up fielded by Stoke City yesterday before the excellent 3-1 FA Cup win over Arsenal:

Thomas Sorensen, Danny Higginbotham, Robert Huth, Ryan Shawcross, Danny Collins, Glenn Whelan, Dean Whitehead, Rory Delap (Salif Diao, 85), Matthew Etherington (Danny Pugh, 90), Ricardo Fuller (Sanli Tuncay, 85), Mamady Sidibe

Read moreAs Stoke’s SAFC “rejects” shine, the message is clear: cheer us Stevie Bruce

Who are you? We’re Stoke City (1)

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Red and white stripes – but not ours …
What a difference a new season makes. Last time round, we had a devil of a job persuading any Stoke City fan to contribute a “Who are you?” piece before we played them. This week, we’re spoilt for choice. But since Simon Northwood – also known as Northy*, who runs the Rip Roaring Potters fan site and is pictured above – and Julian Boodell*, the one City fan who did agree to take part last season, answered the same questions, I though it would work to run them together but in two parts. The second will appear overnight …

Stoke City did ever so well last season, winning friends with the exuberance of their home performances in particular. Were you surprised?

Northy: You say we won friends but a lot of the comments I read from other supporters still seem to be very negative, angry even, over our perceived style of play. I think true footy fans developed a fondness for the Potters because of our in your face performances which spoke volumes of pride and passion. I wasn’t surprised that the atmosphere inside the Britannia and also away from it was widely praised because it was red hot 90% of the time. Even away at Blackburn in a shocking performance there was a constant wall of noise from the Stoke end.

Julian: In the main yes I was surprised we were everyone’s favourites to go down, Paddy Power famously paying out on Stoke’s relegation after our first match a 1-3 defeat at Bolton – what do they know. Stoke’s home form kept the side in the Premiership, and the fans were quite rightly lauded as their team’s twelfth man, a fact which hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hull City’s Phil Brown who has put a bid in for him! Phil Brown for the uninitiated is of a tango coloured disposition but more importantly he is linked with every single player that Stoke have been associated with. It got ridiculous when at one point he heard Tony Pulis was in for a penny and in for a pound and made counter bids only to be yet again snubbed, adding them to a list which included Michael Owen and Sunderland’s own recent signing Fraizer Campbell. Sky Sports measured the fans’ singing at all Premiership grounds and Stoke were the loudest, at times it has been quite breathtaking, the hairs on the back of your neck fair stand up! A Boro’ fan even claimed Stoke were using the PA system to boost the noise – a fact which is untrue but goes some way to understanding how loud we really are. Unlike the morgues that are Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and Highbury.


How important were the noise generated at home and the long throws of Rory Delap?

The throws of Delap were massively important for a variety of reasons. Firstly they were reported throughout the world and gave the club a greater exposure. Secondly they produced some important goals and thirdly because the sight of Delap warming up for a rocket basically caused mass panic in opposition defences and that can only be good for Stoke. A lot of the time though nothing came of them apart from wasted attacking opportunities which was the worrying part of the phenomenon. The support as I have said above was vital, who wouldn’t give their all for the shirt in an atmosphere like that.

Julian: The fans support was memorable and definitely played it’s part in Stoke’s home record (we conceeded less goals than Arsenal) and only lost to Man Utd, Chelsea, Everton and West ham, we’ll need that sort of form this season too. Rory Delap was responsible for about a quarter of Stoke’s goals neting versus Spurs (H) and Chelsea (A) but his throws caused havoc up til November, then the better sides sussed how to defend them (wouldn’t like to give anything away here as how to defend them) as he’s already hurled the ball into the net via a Burnley player (who is currently our joint top scorer with defender Ryan Shawcross. The best throw in moment last year was Delap’s hurling of the ball directly into the far side of the net (sadly without the dimunitive Wigan keeper touching the ball) he did his damdest but it sailed over his head)


Despite that spirited support, Salut! Sunderland struggled – as Julian will recall – to find Stoke fans to preview the games, and the rebuffs were sometimes quite sharp. No other Premier or cup opposition club gave us the same problem. Were we just unlucky?

Northy: Unlucky to get me maybe! I’ve no idea, as far as i am aware there is no bad blood between the two clubs so maybe you just picked the wrong folk on a bad day.

Julian:
The fanzine’s forum does have a percentage of younger fans writing on it’s board, but we aren’t all cut from the same cloth – hence this scribe’s willingness to pen some prose.

Grizzled, unorthodox but strangely watchable. That’s how the Sunday Times summed up why, if Stoke City were a movie star it would be Gene Hackman. A compliment or an insult?

Classic question that. It’s a compliment to me although some stokies might see it as an insult. I can’t really argue with it. I love watching our grizzled and unorthadox style but it needs fine tuning this season for sure.

Julian: Having seen all but four of our games last season it’s fair. As someone who was brought up watching the skills of Hudson (in his prime twice capped for England whilst at Stoke – never whilst at Chelsea) Greenhoff, and Chamberlain more latterly, and 24 seasons of mediocity, I was of the opinion that we would never return to the top table, we broke the £1m transfer barrier as recently as Jan 2008! you get what you pay for in life, and we are now able to compete financially and it is starting to show.

Were you surprised at how badly Sunderland fared, desperately lucky to stay up in the end?

Northy:I wasn’t really surprised to be honest, i think there were a few teams last season who were one or two quality players short of concentrating on the top half. I think you have addressed this with the signings of cattermole, bent and the other guy you’ve got who’s name i can’t remember.

Julian: No, I felt Sbragia was never up to to the job as manager, and it gave me hope that The Black Cats would finish beneath Stoke. I appreciate Ricky has other talents and is appreciated by the Sunderland fans and Board and it’s good to see you’ve held onto his services. However you have one of the better English managers now, and your Summer signings have been good, I fancy Sunderland to be in the shake up for a Europa League come the end of the season.

What do you make of each club’s pre-season transfer activity? And Darren Bent’s public snub to Stoke?

Northy: Bent’s snub was a bit disrespectful but that’s the way of the world nowadays, washing your dirty linen in public. As i have just pointed out i think bruce has made some astute signings and he will do well at your place, good manager. Pulis has found this window hard, he’s going after players who probably class themselves as being out of stoke’s league and he’s got to convince them mentally and financially to come to the potteries. I am not happy with the fact that we have made one major signing so far in dean whitehead from your lot, we need more to compete this season, other teams have improved and we need to do so too.

Julian: Chalk and cheese, the only player we’ve signed is Dean Whitehead whom I am told is a box to box player (typical Pulis player) but unable to score, he was also your captain which suggests he is a person of gravitas (again a typical Pulis signing) he goes for positive personaliteis in his dressing room. Dean hasn’t covered himself in glory so here’s hoping he performs against his former employers. Darren Bent is a great signing, he is a proven goalscorer in the Prem, and he’ll get great reception from those vociferous fans of ours who (yes are quite to the contrary) are able to read!

Northy on Northy:
* Born is Stoke and have supported the Potters all my 36 years. I started going in 1980 and throughout the late 80s and the 90s was a regular home and away. I only go when I can now as I work in a concrete factory and have to do some Saturdays but I’ve done my time trawling the country watching Stoke and I bloody miss it to be honest but nevertheless I get to games still. I’m full of passion for the boys which is why I do this site because it’s got to be set free somehow. I live in Nottingham and my other passions are my missus and lad, punk rock, roots reggae and other musical delights.

Julian Boodell on Julian Boodell:

I AM a recruitment consultant and still manage to go to most home games. I once went 16 years without missing a home game and five without missing a home or away game (sadly for me that included watching all 42 games in 84-85 (three wins five draws and 35 defeats!). Gloryhunting is obviously my life. The kids are aware we “always beat West Brom” and we have a good friend who is a London based Mackem who brings tales of Sunderland on a regular basis.

My first game was in 1967, a 3-2 win over Leicester City with Terry Conroy making his debut. I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1977 and seen Stoke on over a 100 different league grounds – a real gloryhunter whose watched Stoke through thin and thinner. Now based in the Cotswolds having moved from Kent via London to be closer to what really matters. We now have a burgeoning Supporters’ Club in the South West so if you would like to join us to follow Stoke home and away just click on the South West Stokies website.