Salut! Sunderland bows out, breezes in

Colin Randall, as once captured by the star cartoonist Matt and enhanced by Jake

On January 16 2007, Salut! Sunderland drew its first breath, writes Monsieur Salut, aka Colin Randall.

Almost 13 years later, today is the last day of the site in its present form as I relinquish ownership and editorship.

The metamorphosis into is well advanced. Although it technically replaces Salut! Sunderland from tomorrow, it is already accessible as a “clone” of this site.

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Malcolm Dawson: the final view from the West Stand


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.

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Salut! Sunderland’s farewells: Jake the illustrator on Monty, Toddo and doing his bit

The man himself
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…

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In praise of Sir Bob Murray: Sunderland’s helping hand to Wearhead United recalled

From Sir Bob Murray’s own website, reproduced with his consent

The ownership of Sunderland AFC has been the subject of much debate and handwringing in recent times. Owners always attract controversy at some stage during their stewardship of football clubs and Sir Bob Murray was no exception. But as someone writing about him at Wikipedia put it, the second half of his 20-year reign was noticeably more successful than the first (‘never finished below third place in the league’s second tier’) and we’d settle for something like that now. He still chairs the award-winning club charity, the Foundation of Light.

Here, Andrew Curry, an occasional contributor to Salut! Sunderland, recalls a small but admirable gesture from Sir Bob’s era …

A while back I drove west out of Durham into Weardale, whose villages field their teams in the Durham League.

During the foot and mouth outbreak, in 2001, with much of the countryside closed off, even under military supervision, it looked as if Wearhead United would be unable to fulfil their fixture against their local rivals, Stanhope.

So the chairman of Wearhead did what any other chairman of a Durham League football club might have done in the circumstances. He wrote to the then chairman of Sunderland AFC, Bob Murray, to ask if Sunderland would host the game at the Stadium of Light.

And Murray said yes.

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Salut! Sunderland’s Mark Twain moment. Not dying but in reanimation as the site lives on

Jake: ‘It’s what we’re about’

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 …

Technical hitches prevent us from posting your comments. If you wish to add a comment or make contact for any reason please use this e-mail address or visit our Facebook group at this link . It is open to all; if you receive a prompt asking you to join, be assured that it is a simple process and approval is very quick.

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.

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Charlie Methven exits right. But beware of suggestions he’s a (far) Right Charlie

                      Rallying the troops
Technical hitches prevent us from posting your comments. If you wish to add a comment or make contact for any reason please use this e-mail address or visit our Facebook group at this link . It is open to all; if you receive a prompt asking you to join, be assured that it is a simple process and approval is very quick.

Charlie Methven, the Old Etonian, Oxford-educated “farmer’s lad” who divides opinion on Wearside, has left his role as executive director of SAFC “for family and work-related reasons” though he will retain his minority stake in the club, writes Monsieur Salut.

The news prompted a flurry of social media comment, a little in praise, a lot of bile and some downright nonsense. In the latter category was the suggestion that he had been on the general election campaign trail with Nigel Farage and that the future “political consultancy” work mentioned in his statement below would involve working with the Brexit Party leader.

It will surprise no Salut! Sunderland readers to hear that I regard Farage as a far-right ogre intent on imposing a hard, no-deal Brexit that would devastate Wearside (and the country) and tap into the worst and most snarling, anti-foreigner instincts of society. There, said it.

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Salut! Sunderland’s 13 years, SAFC’s 13 managers. A Sixer series: (1) Roy Keane

Roy Keane, as portrayed by Owen Lennox
Roy Keane, as portrayed by Sunderland artist Owen Lennox

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 …

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Salut! Sunderland’s 13 years and Sunderland’s 13 managers: (1) Keano

Roy Keane, as portrayed by Owen Lennox
Roy Keane, as portrayed by Sunderland artist Owen Lennox

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 …

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Not quite viral (2): a small world mourns Salut! Sunderland’s demise

       M Salut always liked this Jake banner

Monsieur Salut writes: as the world now knows, Salut! Sunderland’s days are numbered. If you missed the news, it’s here: (and no, I didn’t say Brexit was the reason, just that it was one reason – as you’ll see if you read the piece at that link).

The tributes and regrets continue to flow in via their various routes e-mails, Twitter, facebook and probably others I haven’t thought of.

Since we cannot publish comments, for reasons we have not been able to identify and correct, I shall use these pages to reproduce some of those we have received. There will undoubtedly be more …

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