Chelsea 7 Sunderland 2: an appreciation


Niall Quinn and Steve Bruce are apparently the guests on Goals on Sunday, on Sky tomorrow. How will they explain away this humiliation? Colin Randall is still apoplectic after another shambolic away performance …

“Appreciate,” gloated the lippy teenager in blue as she walked past the Sunderland end on the way back to her front-row seat after a wander into the concourse nearly stopped her seeing the fourth goal.

Read moreChelsea 7 Sunderland 2: an appreciation

Bridging a gap of confidence before Chelsea away


At badminton the other night – I live on the wild side – a Chelsea fan accused me of gamesmanship. He wasn’t suggesting I’d tampered with the shuttle but that I was trying to lull him towards false feelings of security by expressing fears that Sunderland might be facing a cricket score away at Chelsea. I needn’t have worried, if one of these crystal ball gazers turns out to be correct …

Over at the Blackcats e-mail group that provides such wisdom and entertainment, Jeremy, in Ontario, was worried about the shortage of banter. Were we just going to fax Chelsea the points to save having to turn up?

If so, I replied, could someone please save me turning up, too, and let me know in advance what to say when The Observer comes on for the fan’s verdict at 5pm?

Back came two versions of the same game. Take your pick, though Sunderland fans will prefer the offering from the Scottish islands.

Read moreBridging a gap of confidence before Chelsea away

Long ago, when all the world willed us to beat Leeds

There were no neutrals. Everyone outside Leeds wanted Sunderland to win the 1973 FA Cup Final. Continuing our coverage of Lance Hardy’s new book** on the sensational upset our Lads caused at Wembley, Pete Sixsmith wallows in the memory of a quite different world …

Photos from 1973 by kind permission of the Sunderland Echo

Patrick Vieira on £150,000 a week; Kenwyne Jones valued at £40m; Manchester United with debts of £750m and tickets for Saturday at Chelsea at a tad under £50.

Money, money, money. I don’t think the game has ever been so wrapped up in finance and it somewhat dissipates the pleasure of watching a simple football match.

There were days when football, and everything around it, was much more innocent. I was reminded of this as I read Lance Hardy’s excellent book, Stokoe, Sunderland and ’73.

The title tells you everything you need to know; it’s a book about the greatest FA Cup victory in living memory, the manager who engineerd it, the players who delivered it and the fans who witnessed it and who have never quite got over it.

Read moreLong ago, when all the world willed us to beat Leeds

Who are you? We’re Chelsea – and feel sorry for Newcastle


Since I do know Chelsea season ticket holders who never go to an away Premier game but consider themselves proper fans, Gill Brown* must be ultraproper. Saturday found her in Hull, ready for the game that was sure to be played – but wasn’t. Gill, who is also a useful badminton player (well, a lot more useful than me), offers refreshingly honest answers on Toon Doon (oddly sympathetic), cheating (oddly sympathetic), club & country (tightlipped but gives it away) and Gareth Hall (“who?”). Can she be serious in thinking we might get a draw at Stamford Bridge this weekend? …

Salut! Sunderland: Top of the Premier with many people tipping you for the title, winning in the Champions League, likely to put in a strong FA Cup challenge and yet still some Chelsea fans complain. What more do the boo boys – minority though they may be – want?

I think perhaps some of the fans get very frustrated by the style of football being played and the way we tend to grind out results. I hate the “boo” culture, I don’t see any point in booing your own team, it is totally counter-productive. I would never ever boo my team no matter what and it makes me feel sad to hear it.

Read moreWho are you? We’re Chelsea – and feel sorry for Newcastle

This morning’s puzzle: name Kenwyne’s £40m day

Kenwyne CharicatureTransfer windows open out onto a heap of speculation, some of it fuelled by wily agents, some of it appearing to be evidence of – shall we say – the imaginative powers of football reporters. In one window, during Roy Keane’s time, only half a dozen or so of the scores of names in the Sunderland AFC official website’s “rumour mill”, culled from media reports, were remotely in the club’s sights, and several actual targets had not been mentioned at all. What, then, is the truth this time round? …

First, the papers said Steve Bruce was ready to sell Kenwyne Jones.

Then he appeared to heap scorn on the claims. Now, on one interpretation iof his latest remarks, he’s practically launched a public auction.

Read moreThis morning’s puzzle: name Kenwyne’s £40m day

Just the ticket for Chelsea, or lamb to the slaughter (2)

Over the weekend we brought you the happy tale of the Toronto-based Sunderland supporter who travelled all the way from Canada to find “Britain Closed” signs up everywhere. Having missed out on SAFC v Bolton Wanderers, she managed to get a ticket for the sell-out game at Chelsea this Saturday. Here’s a follow-up from the North-eastern press …

Salut! Sunderland is indebted to The Northern Echo‘s Andy Richardson, who has caught up splendidly with our story of the Canadian SAFC fan promised a seat at Stamford Bridge this Saturday after being robbed by the weather of the game she’d planned to attend.

Andy informs us that the supporter is 39-year-old Sarah Harriman and that it was indeed a call to BBC’s Radio 5 Live’s 606 programme that led to the offer of a ticket for the Chelsea match.

Read moreJust the ticket for Chelsea, or lamb to the slaughter (2)

Soapbox: how can a week without football be interesting?


Depriving Pete Sixsmith of a football game on a Saturday – in truth, on any day at all – is a bit like putting a junkie on cold turkey. The withdrawal symptons include harking back nearly half a century to the year when it was really was cold, and some matches were postponed dozens of times before they could be played …

The “Big Freeze”
really hit us badly last week. Try as I did, it just wasn’t possible to get to work on Wednesday and Thursday, and by Friday most of the kids had decided to take the whole week off so we only had about 40 per cent of the little darlings in.

It came as no surprise when the rather Orwellian “Safety Committee” decided that the Stadium of Light surrounds were too dangerous for Sunderland v Bolton to go ahead. I suspect they were also looking at the forecast, which was poor and wondering how on earth people would get tot the stadium and then get home in what was predicted to be a white out.

So, for the first time since the rainstorm at New Mills last March, I was unable to watch a football match on a Saturday afternoon in the season. And it was boring, boring,boring.

Read moreSoapbox: how can a week without football be interesting?

Just the ticket for Chelsea, or lamb to the slaughter


We await news of Pete Sixsmith’s weekend with interest. Did he get to a game, any game? In the meantime here’s a heartwarming tale of human kindness …

When you’ve travelled all the way from Toronto hoping to catch a Sunderland win at home to Bolton Wanderers, it must seem a mixed blessing when the consolation for that game’s postponement is an unexpected ticket for Chelsea away.

Read moreJust the ticket for Chelsea, or lamb to the slaughter

Sunderland up to sixth top? Yes, but only the fans

We promised occasional updates on how Sunderland fans were faring in the Sky Sports 92 Fans’ League. The video tells you all you need to know about it but we’re doing OK: up to sixth now, behind Leeds (top), Norwich, Liverpool, Chelsea and West Ham. Sign up and help us climb even higher. The piece below is a reminder of how it started at Salut! Sunderland – and on this depressingly footie-free – SAFC footie that is – Saturday, have a look round our site if you are new to it (scroll up and down the sidebars for links) …

Imagine it. You support Chelsea, Arsenal, Man United or Liverpool. You’ve followed them for ever, or rather since you were old enough to work out they were quite good and won a lot. You may even have been to the city where they play.

Read moreSunderland up to sixth top? Yes, but only the fans

Match off as Britain closes for January


Sunderland v Bolton is off, the only consolation that it was postponed early enough to stop people travelling. But in times of dire shortages of grit for the roads, are we losing ours as a country? …

The answer
is probably not, at least not on the basis of a football match being called off. We haven’t necessarily become a nation of wannies.

But I cannot help thinking how we managed in the past.

The news came not long after I had written this at the Blackcats list:

But when it was the 60s and I had my paper round in Shildon, it snowed heavily every year and life just went on. I don’t recall schools closing, buses not running, people not getting to work. There were postponements, yes, but games were played on layers of snow.

To which Mick replied:

I remember The Big One in 1963, when the snow lasted for 2 months. I also did a paper round in all weathers (including New Year’s Day, which wasn’t a Bank Holiday until the mid-70’s).

And I also remember seeing games played on snow. It couldn’t have been deep, but they scratched out the markings and played on a white pitch. I’ve seen this at both Roker Park and St. James. I also have a vivid memory of seeing it on telly for a European Cup game between Spurs and (I think) Dukla Prague, which would make it 61-62 season (Spurs were champs in 61). Like with your first memories of games under floodlights, there’s something magic about watching a game on a snow covered pitch. It loooks great in white

Read moreMatch off as Britain closes for January