Salut!s week: Man City moans, Gooner whines, Argyle anguish, Baggie bravado

It was the week that started badly, with a thumping at Eastlands, and could therefore hardly get worse. Salut! Sunderland got its hand-wringing out of the way as early and as best it could before moving on to other things …

One day soon, a mug like that could be yours. Well, we’ll still designing it but the idea is to make a modest start to Salut! Sunderland merchandising.

The text sizes obviously need adjustment. You might even suggest a better slogan: “Salut! Sunderland – not as bad as you thought” springs to mind. “Buy a mug? You’re having a laugh”? “M Salut! & Sixer; two prize mugs”? There could even be a Newcastle version with the handle inside the mug.

So what, if you haven’t been paying proper attention has been going on here this week? Click on any sub-heading to see the full item …

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Eyes down for SAFC’s Tombola link – and a red & white Mini’s trips to Toon

Salut! Sunderland would much rather people visiting the site arrived on the landing page to see this fetching Mini and not the growling caricature of Mr W Rooney, or for that matter the growls of hypersensitive Arsenal supporters for whom the slightest criticism of their (rightly) acclaimed team is on a par with serious crime.

Before that spat began, pride of place on the home page was occupied by an interview with Phil Cronin, chief executive of Tombola (the company prefers it as tombola), Sunderland AFC’s main sponsors.

Phil is Sunderland-born and, despite his own modesty about his credentials as a fan, a massive supporter of the club. He now gives that support a more tangible aspect, the results of which can be seen most obviously in the logo on the playing strip.

In this exclusive interview – Phil rarely steps into the limelight – he tells us about the car, and its somewhat perilous former parking habits, and about the highs and lows of being a supporter. He was at Man City on Sunday but still feels we are on the right track and, in some parting words when sending the replies to our questions, said something along the lines of “fingers crossed for three points at the weekend.”, a thought we all nervously echo.

Phil also deals with T(t)ombola’s solid Sunderland links which may help persuade doubters that his company name has every right to be on a Sunderland shirt. In a phone call after the replies had been sent, he said the firm employs 150 people, most of them in Sunderland.

Here, for those who missed it the first time around (and it did reach a decent position in the top 20 for Sunderland-related postings), are Phil’s responses in full ….

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Phil Cronin, Tombola and Sunderland: some words from the sponsor

Still needing consolation after Sunday’s latest low point in the peaks-and-troughs existence common to all followers of SAFC, we turn to a man who has combined lifelong passion for the club and obvious business flair to come up with a way of giving a deeper dimension to supporting Sunderland …

The name on the shirts our players wear tells you why people in the media, and especially in the North East, want to interview Phil Cronin.

He’s as Sunderland daft as anyone who reads this site, and once drove this splendidly decked out Mini to show his allegiance (to the extent of choosing high-risk parking spot at Newcastle Central Station).

Phil is also chief executive of Tombola, SAFC’s kit sponsors (and that’s the last time in this article you’ll see the t/T capped up; Phil sticks to the firm’s preference for lower case).

Inconveniently for the media, he is not one for interviews. All the more reason for Salut! Sunderland to be grateful that he has made this one exception.

Phil tells us about his company’s important links with the city and club, links that include providing employment for 150 people and should comfortably overcome the high-minded objections we heard last year to Sunderland’s announcement of the sponsorship deal.

He talks about the best and worst he’s known as a Sunderland supporter (yes, he was at Eastlands), offers upbeats thoughts on the club’s progress under Ellis Short, Niall Quinn and Steve Bruce and fills us in on that Mini …

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Anyone for free match tickets – and the new home top?

The jury is out on the Sunderland home shirt for next season.

For the lads at Tombola, the kit sponsors, it’s just the job with a “snazzy new black V-neck”. Others, whose views have been voiced at the usual places, have been less complimentary, from “yep it’s a dog” to the stern, fatherly: “I think it’s overfussy and, well, awful quite frankly. I got my son the current one. No chance with this. Looks dated already.”

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Clickety click: free tickets to see Wigan

Wigan at home seems an awful long way away and it is, April 23. It is also – whatever our Lancashire friend Bernard Ramsdale might tell us – short on glamour. All the same, free tickets are free tickets and you can, if you support Sunderland or are neutral, try to win a couple from Sunderland’s kit sponsors Tombola by following this link.
We thought at first Tombola was offering the tickets as a Salut! Sunderland competition prize. Don’t tell Phil Cronin, SAFC-supporting boss of the company, that it was not quite like that; he’d only be cross with them for not seizing the opportunity. In any case, Phil’s people did supply the image of our home top, for which we are grateful.

And in the meantime, this is a report of the hoops M Salut had to go through to see a past SAFC v Wigan Athletic game, live on TV in the United Arab Emirates. Health warning: as written, back in Feb 2008, it was intended for a general, non-SAFC audience …

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Soapbox: suffering sponsors


What’s this, a new split in the Salut! Sunderland camp? The ink’s hardly dry on Colin Randall’s piece about Sunderland’s Tombola sponsorship, essentially saying it doesn’t matter too much what appears on our shirts (assuming we cannot just return to the good old days of red and white stripes, badge and each player’s number). Now Pete Sixsmith offers his dissenting view …

Unlike Colin, I do think shirt sponsors are quite important. They often give you a flavour of what a club is about. Until the Boylesports deal, all of our sponsors had been Wearside companies – Cowies, Vaux, Vardy’s and I was unaware that Tombola were a Sunderland based company until I read about them on the club site.

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Eyes down for the new sponsor: two fat ladies, legs eleven, clickety click


Bingo, we have new sponsors, and Niall says they’re good news for Sunderland AFC. Salut! Sunderland offers Tombola a useful guide to the numbers on the backs of key members of the squad (but then realises it’s not needed because the firm’s chief executive is a Sunderland nut*, who comes warmly recommended by a good source)…

Salut! Sunderland is not sure it cares too much what name appears on the front of the players’ shirts.

OK, we’d certainly draw the line at seeing the initials BNP or NF emblazoned across the fabric separating thin air from Darren Bent’s chest.

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