I had a ticket well in time but had to keep travel arrangements flexible right up to the weekend, which meant the car rather than the train, and a trip on my own on Saturday afternoon. After watching Forest Green see off Margate I headed north, pressing the search button on the radio to pick up sundry football channels as I made my way up the Ms 57, 58 and 6.
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So Salut! Sunderland‘s buildup preparations for the Wear-Tyne derby are just about done. Ticket is sorted, travel plans have been made. Look at the home page – www.salutsunderland.com – and you’ll find a prize Guess the Score and updated look at the interview with a Mag that won last season’s HAWAY top prize. At least one new Who are You? interview will run between now and the weekend. We must all therefore be raring to go. We cannot wait. The excitement has got to us. Yes but only up to a point. Pete Sixsmith has seen dozens of Wear-Tyne and Tyne-Wear derbies and just wants it over with. Then again, as our Newcastle-supporting HAWAY winner Nick Donaldson said last season (it was repeated here the other day: ‘Nearly 30 years away [from the North East] now and all I have ever witnessed is mild interest bordering on couldn’t-give-a-tossment. It’s only a big deal in the North East, but that doesn’t diminish it. It’s our derby, not theirs. – See more at: https://safc.blog/2015/10/safc-vs-newcastle-united-2-the-mag-who-loves-mackems/#sthash.OTVhh9Z0.dpuf …
It is fair to say this was and remains one of the finest ‘Who are You?’ interviews Salut! Sunderland has produced in its eight-and-a-bit years of existence. There have been many contenders for that honour but Nick Donaldson‘s answers seemed right on every level. He romped to victory in last season’s HAWAY awards for the best Q+A of 2014-2015.
So as part of our buildup to SAFC vs NUFC, the Wear-Tyne derby, here it is again. Much of what Nick had to say is relevant now, but he was invited to update his thoughts after the 6-2 win over Norwich and that is how we start …
Bob Chapman’s report from West Brom has not arrived yet but it seems important to get our Wear-Tyne derby coverage started as soon as possible.
We’ve been promised at least one “Who are You?” interview and, since it’s only Monday, there’s no need – yet – to panic.
There’s been plenty to keep us busy in the build-up to Sunday’s derby.
The framed photographs you see are the alternative prizes offered to Sunderland and Newcastle supporters entering the Guess the Score competition at https://safc.blog/category/salut-competition/guess-the-score-salut-competition/
The build-up to Wear-tyne and tyne-Wear derbies – says Monsieur Salut, pettily using lower case to diminish Jimmy Nail’s Big River (half-decent song, actually) – should start at least as early as the approach to any other game. This one is horribly important to us. Steven Fletcher boosted his confidence no end with his hat-trick for Scotland, but can he do to the Mags what he did to Gibraltar? While covering the inquest into the deaths of the IRA’s would-be bombers killed by the SAS on The Rock, M Salut befriended a court official who happened to have played badminton for Gibraltar at the Commonwealth Games. A match was arranged and ended in a draw, each winning one game. M Salut is, and was not even then, an especially fit man. Is that the measure of Fletch’s otherwise commendable achievement?
While we ponder such weighty questions, it seems a good idea to run a few blasts from the past. Here, as a start, is my cousin David Athey, whose outstanding piece, first published here a few seasons ago, sums up what I think should be the true nature of a rivalry that divides families, friends, schoolfriends and workmates …
John McCormick writes: Monday morning’s radio, on the drive home, said they were our first back to back derby wins since 1967. I’ll have been there then, so is it back to back wins for me too, only 46 years apart? Probably not, I must also have been at some of the drawn and lost games between 1967 and 1970. Whatever, it’s certainly a hell of a long time since I’ve been to a derby, and this was my first one at the SOL, one of the benefits of retirement.
CR writes: 15 years ago, a bright spark on the Telegraph news desk decided a Sunderland supporter was the best man to cover the Shepherd/Hall/Dogs/Mary Poppins fallout. One of the first people I interviewed was Kevin Miles*, prominent in a Toon campaign to force the two culprits out. I liked him a lot, enough to say ‘of course’ two years later, despite the head thinking ‘no way’, when asked to join his team of England supporters for a friendly against Germany before the minor storm of Charleroi at Euro 2000. Now he’s a big wheel at the Football Supporters’ Federation and, as an unreformed Mag, offers a mixture of wit, wisdom and partisanship ahead of the Wear-Tyne derby …
… in which an intrepid Geordie penetrates the iron defences surrounding Sunderland and presents a brave account of life behind enemy lines. And he manages it all without seeing more than the Bridges centre, a pub and a bit of the museum …
Although he supports Newcastle United, Dave Eadevic may well be a decent lad, hard-working, loyal, good company over a pint, bright even. But he also fancies himself as a writer and I am not, if truth be told, looking forward to his first book.
If you are going to compose an epic article with the title Fear and Loathing in Sunderland, and make it stretch over two parts, you really do need to have something to say, even if the forum is no more than a Toon blog, Tyne Talk.
A few of the Newcastle United supporters who have come here this week have made the claim, in different ways, that Sunderland fans care that much more about Newcastle United than vice versa.
It is debatable whether this is really the case, but when you look at this paragraph from the BBC website, repeating a fact that is hardly unknown to most passionate SAFC or NUFC supporters, you begin to realise why we care an awful lot:
Sunderland have only won on two of the last 21 occasions they’ve hosted their rivals since 1967, with Kieran Richardson’s rocket of a free-kick three years ago bringing their only win in nine played at the Stadium of Light.