Sixer’s Travels: Dutch delights, Benfica blues

So on the strength of one 2-0 defeat to Benfica in a pre-season game, a fan over at the normally sensible Blackcats list is already fretting about another relegation battle (“After 50 years of totally being convinced we are going to make good next season. I think the hope has gone!!!! When if ever, will we get some talent in the team worthy of wearing them stripes with pride and giving there all”).
But this, as has been pointed out, was last season’s team. No Campbell, no da Silva, no Lorik Cana, our new capture from Marseille, no whoever else is due at the SoL. Pete Sixsmith was there to apply wiser judgement, but he was pretty unimpressed too (while being rather fond of the Netherlands) …

The Sixsmith/Horan bandwagon rolls on from the lush green fields of Ireland to the flat polders of the Netherlands as we sample the delights of European football, European culture – and European prices.

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Roker Park and me: I’m still standing


Far away, across the Atlantic, Jeremy Robson maintains unwavering support for Sunderland. And he appreciates the Stadium of Light as much as most of our fans. But his heart lies a few streets away. And where Roker Park once stood, Jeremy refuses to venture…

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.

OK, there was the Liverpool game coming up which I had no intention of going to. No point to that at all, I’d decided without hesitation when the fixture was announced.

“They’re going to be selling stuff off from Roker,” people would say. “What are you going to get? Some seats, some turf?”

“Nowt!” I’d found myself replying stiffly. “I’m not buying anything.”

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How can’t you love the Mags?

Jeremy Robson
Jeremy Robson

If Salut! Sunderland aspires to be one of the more literate of football’s independent one-club sites, the Blackcats forum is already home to some of the game’s most intelligent, sharp-witted discussion. Among the messages posted by regulars, you will find incisive match analysis, bags of reminiscences and – between each game – a steady flow of general banter about Sunderland, the North East and more.

Lately it has been positively buzzing. Step forward Jeremy Robson*, whose return to the fold (albeit from the snowy wastes of Canada) has brought a torrent of new topics and lively debate. Here, he addresses the question in the headline with a classic mixture of wit, wisdom and bluster…

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