Who are you? We’re Bolton Wanderers, minus the diving Diouf

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Just when we needed a meek bunch of surrender monkeys to come to the Stadium of Light, roll over and remind us of what it’s like to win in the Premier, our opponents go and change their new manager. Will Owen Coyle – still to be officially apppointed as we write – apply the well-known clauses of Sod’s Law and galvanise his new team? Or can, for once, Sunderland play to potential and not only score but score at least one more than the other team, thus taking our first double of the season. Or will, indeed, the grim weather force a postponement in any case? Chris Mann*, from the Burnden Aces fan site, is a welcome return visitor to Salut! Sunderland …

Salut! Sunderland Bolton were the last team we managed to beat away in the Premier. That’s pretty much the story of our season but how has it been for you?

Most of us started the season a little optimistic that we could get points on the board early on, then within five minutes of the first game Darren Bent put an end to it all.

We went on a little run in September but since then struggled and it was no surprise that Gary Megson was sacked (unless of course you work for the media and jump on the anti-Bolton bandwagon). We did all right in December, but we need to stop throwing leads away and turn a few of our draws into wins.

Read moreWho are you? We’re Bolton Wanderers, minus the diving Diouf

Recognition for Sunderland’s Spurs reject (and Hull hero)

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Real fans, real opinions. Sounds a bit like us, but it’s footballfancast.com, which lists 10 success stories from the Premier season so far – “men who’ve done a lot better than anticipated and have an enhanced reputation as a result”. We’re happy to pass the news on with due credit to the site in question …

Guess which club has two players in the list. And guess which position in this unofficial mini-league is awarded to one of those players. Think “striker not as good as my missus, says cuddly ‘Arry” and “defender whose departure broke Hull hearts”.

Read moreRecognition for Sunderland’s Spurs reject (and Hull hero)

Darren Bent: the tweet, the drake and ten dot


What do grown men do when snowed in, bored with the new year or just in need of a bit of banter with the next match still days away?

They start trying to translate or analyse footballers’ tweets.

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“Happy New Year folks,” said someone at the Blackcats list this morning as I trudged through snow in Burnley, where I am not among the candidates for interview as replacement for Owen Coyle.

“Could someone please interpret Benty’s latest twitter feed for me?” …

From: @DBTheTruth
Sent: 5 Jan 2010 10:05

On my way to training bumping drake. He is running the place right now

The first reply was short and to the point: “Drake? Everyone’s on the drake in the ten-dot.”

But to what point? I confessed that the explanation left me completely defeated. Out of touch? A function of old age? Or were both the Darren Bent tweet and the Blackcats response pure gibberish?

My fellow Blackcatter filled in half the answer: “Well, I have no idea what drake is. Ten-dot is 2010, yeah.”

Time for an admission that I really should try to get out more. But then, I’m stuck in several inches of snow in Burnley so getting out, for now, has its limitations.

And then a Sunderland supporter from the Western Isles made me feel a great deal better by chipping in with the reasonable question: “How the hell do you get 2010 from 10-dot?”

Across in Canada, Jeremy provided further reassurance, saying no one spoke like that there, either. “I didn’t bump any racoons or skunks on my way to work for nine sharp though, folks, ” he added, keeping a straight face while wondering where Darren’s drake was “a reference to the late great Ted Drake once of Arsenal?”

I knew where to find the answer, though, and hotfooted over to RTG when Downhill Mackem was pointing out in a completely unrelated discussion that “money, cars, clothes and ho*s..i suppose..i just wanna b successful! X”
was a quote from a rap song by Drake ft Trey Songz.

Darren wasn’t bumping into anyone. Bumping was his verb for listening, and Drake ft Trey Songz is currently his listening of choice. I think.


Colin Randall

Soapbox: Barrow boys pushed away

soapboxSurely we couldn’t mess this one up – or could we?  Would it be a repeat of Northwich Victoria in 2006 – or a reprise of that sad day in Somerset 61 years ago when The Bank of England Club were rolled over by Yeovil.  Pete Sixsmith had an awful premonition at 2.20 ……. but it was not to be.

As we entered a cold and rather empty Stadium of Light on Saturday, I noticed the bucket collection was for the Samaritans. Dropping my pound coin into it, I wondered if I would be calling them on Saturday evening.

No need to worry, as we completed a routine, if rather uninspiring win over the plucky part-timers from the Furness Peninsula. Playing at a level way above their normal one, the collection of plasterers, bus drivers, nuclear physicists and opera singers thrilled their magnificent fans and caused the Premier League big boys an afternoon of potential banana skins.

Right, that’s all the patronising drivel out of the way, so let’s deal with the game, which was an entertaining and enjoyable one, for a change.

Read moreSoapbox: Barrow boys pushed away

Another chance to shout about your Sunderland passion


Today – assuming the weather has not affected our part of the fixture list – thousands of Barrow fans, as many as four-and-a-half amore than they draw to home games, will be at the Stadium of Light for their hour-and-a-half of glory. But we know who the best, most passionate supporters in the country are, don’t we? Here’s one of our periodic reminders of the Sky Sports 92 Fans’ League – the video tells you all you need to know about it …


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 moreAnother chance to shout about your Sunderland passion

Happy new year from Salut! Sunderland

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We wish all readers of Salut! Sunderland an excellent 2010.

Our own shortened, sharpened catalogue of wishes for the year is modest in ambition:

* win the FA Cup

* finish higher than Birmingham City’s current position

* cheer on Paraguay, red and white stripes and all, to a good World Cup performance (even if we are perfectly happy for England to win the trophy)

* enjoy a bit of luck in the Champions League draw

* team up with Lorik Cana to give guided tours of Durham Cathedral (above) and his other cultural locations of choice

Anyone else want to add their own wishes and resolutions?

Who are you? We’re Barrow. Who?! You heard, Barrow

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Once he’d left football, Vic Halom, a hero of 1973 and therefore a justifiably revered figure at Sunderland, was involved in a company called, if I recall correctly, something like Disaster Solutions or Disaster Management. It was one of those record-breaking bad Premier seasons of ours when I met him before an obligatory pounding at Old Trafford, and I remember wondering whether SAFC’s predicament was beyond even Vic’s powers to resolve. That’s a long way of introducing Andrew Steel*, Barrow fan and football blogger (check out Halftime Oranges), who reminds us that Vic also made a big impact at his club. Andrew also has soft spots for Liverpool and Inter MIlan, but Barrow come first and he will be part of the army of fans making their way cross-country for Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie, a dream for him, hostage to fortune for us …

Salut! Sunderland:What does it mean to you, as a fan, to have drawn Sunderland away? Better than Boro away, I imagine.

I was made up when I saw the draw, although I was a little cautious about getting ahead of myself as, to be honest, I didn’t think we’d beat Oxford.

Last year was amazing. I’d never thought I’d watch Barrow playing Premier League opposition in a competitive match. It’s the stuff of dreams, so twice in two seasons is just magical.

For me, this year’s draw was definitely bigger than Boro. With no disrespect to Boro, Sunderland is a bigger club with a better following. I’m very much looking forward my first trip to the Stadium of Light

Read moreWho are you? We’re Barrow. Who?! You heard, Barrow

The uphill struggle of supporting Sunderland


Eugene, from ESPN, came knocking again at Salut! Sunderland‘s door.What he got in response was the Pete and Dud show. I’m the dud, Pete’s Pete Sixsmith. Here are our answers to his questions – both of us giving our responses without knowing the other had been asked, too …


Up to this point in the season, what is the best / worst your club can achieve this coming season?

Pete:
The best we can achieve is a top 8 placing, putting us in the second tier of the Premier League, alongside Fulham, Liverpool and Blackburn. The worst we can achieve is yet another relegation struggle; bit I think we are too good for that.

Dud:
The owner set top 10 as his aim for this season. On the face of it, we’re roughly on target, but the recent bad run has undone some of the good achieved earlier in the season. Realistically I’d make eighth and a decent cup run our best hope, being sucked into a relegation battle the worst possibility, though I cannot believe we will be in trouble come May.


Who is your key player and why?

Pete:

The key player is Darren Bent – you don’t have to have a UEFA A badge to work that one out. He has 13 goals already and without him, we would be struggling. He is an excellent striker and takes a good proportion of his chances. Not as good as Sandra Redknapp though!!

Dud:
Lorik Cana. He’s a strong, committed leader, the sort of player Sunderland fans have always admired, though he must do something to curb the excesses of tackling enthusiasm that have cost him so many cards.

Who is the unsung hero in your team and why?

Pete:

The wages they are on, I don’t think there are any unsung heroes. Jordan Henderson has beavered away all season and Paolo Da Silva has looked quality when he has played. He has a quiet, authoritative manner about him.


Dud: Andy Reid continues to get some stick from fans who remain unconvinced, largely because of his generally weak dead balls and a tendency to drift out of games. But study most of our matches and you see that most of the creativity and spark comes from him.

Which new signing has impressed you most? Which one the least?

Pete:
Darren Bent, for obvious reasons, closely followed by Lee Cattermole; Frazier Campbell has not impressed yet, but he hasn’t really had a run in the team. John Mensah has looked good, but has suffered with injuries.

Dud:
Lee Cattermole was an inspiration before his injury layoff but Darren Bent has to get my vote for the simple reason that he has scored goals, usually only one in a game but so often vital to the outcome. I am afraid that Fraizer Campbell has not impressed me at all so far.


Which area do you think your team needs strengthening in January?

Pete:

We desperately need two full backs who can tackle, pass and link up with the wide players. This is a top priority. Another forward would be useful and maybe a winger to supply Jones and Bent, but minor surgery rather than a full scale, life saving operation. Not many good players available in January.

Dud:
We are woefully weak at full back, I would like to see another striker if rumours about Kenwyne Jones being on his way out prove correct. And the speculation about Robert Green shows Bruce may be unhappy, as I am, about our goalkeeping.


What has Steve Bruce done to impress/infuriate you lately?

Pete:

Jordan Henderson has played most of the season and has made one or two sit up and take notice. David Meyler played at Blackburn and confirmed what we dedicated reserve team watchers have been saying; he has the ability to make an impression.

Dud:
To be honest, there has been nothing during our lamentable recent run to impress me, except perhaps the honesty of his public response to poor performances. His substitutions when 1-0 up against Portsmouth showed a desperation to cling on to the lead (which we didn’t) when we should have been trying, for once, to kill off feeble opposition. If it was his decision to appeal against Michael Turner’s red card at Man City, the sheer inevitability of the verdict (a four-match ban instead of three) made that infuriating, too.


Where will your club finish this season?

Pete: answer in the post?


Dud:

I do not think we will reach my target of eighth as described above, but I will keep the faith and say 10th.

Can you also give me a short description of your site and it’s achievements so that I can help highlight it on our site?

Pete:
Our site, www.salutsunderland.com is a fans’ site which seeks to be supportive of the team and to reflect what fans see.. It was founded by Colin Randall, a journalist of 35 years experience and a Sunderland fan of 45 years experience, so he knows how to write and organise and he knows how to deal with the constant disappointment that is Sunderland AFC. He lives in London and France and has a season ticket; I live in Shildon, County Durham., have a season ticket and spend hours sat on coaches following the dream of seeing a succesful Sunderland team.We try to make the writing interesting, erudite and witty. We sometimes succeed.

Dud:

Salut! Sunderland is easily the most successful of my Salut! group of sites. It aims to be as literate and entertaining as possible. triying to appeal not only to Sunderland supporters but to anyone who appreciates good writing about the game.


Colin Randall

Soapbox at Ewood Park: a turn for the better

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Having led Blackburn 1-0 and 2-1, the loss of two more points could be seen as another example of the sloppy, wasteful ways into which Sunderland have fallen. Sloppy yes, but Pete Sixsmith recognises the draw as a fair result and finds scope to take heart for the new year – and to salute a couple of touches from Daryl Murphy ….

The “typical family Christmas”, I assume, includes a phase where someone in the “family” with whom you have had a fall out over the past year turns up at your house, plonks down in a comfy chair and proceeds to spoil the whole bloody day by drinking your best Egyptian brandy and smoking your finest Manikin cigars.

For “typical family Christmas”, read “holiday trip to Ewood Park”. For awful relatives, read Pascal Chimbonda and El Hadj Diouf. It would not be controversial to say that neither was a huge success in a red and white shirt or that season tickets were sent back by the sackful when they were moved on by Ricky Sbragia.

Read moreSoapbox at Ewood Park: a turn for the better

Soapbox at Hibs v Rangers: a tale of two Millers

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Ewood Park, for Blackburn v Sunderland on a bitterly cold Monday, requires dedication. Pete Sixsmith has it in abundance and will be there. He even warmed up for the challenge, if that is the right description, by subjecting himself to a blast of wintry Scottish weather, catching a Hibs v Rangers game that enabled him to see how a couple of our old boys are faring …

So, what to do the day after the day after Christmas? The Chocolate Fudge has been eaten from the last selection box, the DVD of Hilarious Footballing Gaffes Presented By DJ Spoony has been watched and proved to be as funny as a performance by Sting on his lute and the last of the relatives is still hanging around, desperately hoping for a New Years invite before they go back to the Salvation Army Hostel.

The prospect of “going to the sales” is about as enticing as an afternoon in the Strawberry with Ant and Dec, while the cinemas are showing nothing but rubbish – and American rubbish at that. What’s wrong with British rubbish? Where is Sex Lives Of The Potato Men when you need it?

A glance at the fixture list throws up Arsenal v Villa (too far away), Hull City v Manchester United (no chance of a ticket) and Hibernian v Rangers. Why not? Edinburgh’s not that far and it should be easy enough to get in, so let’s go, and leave the elderly relative on the doorstep for the Sally Bash to collect.

Read moreSoapbox at Hibs v Rangers: a tale of two Millers