McCormick’s Craic: 2020 beckons and a star of Salut! Sunderland bids farewell

Colin Randall writes: 

John McCormick’s contributions to Salut! Sunderland have been immense, as writer and editor. Despite the serious health issues that have confronted him, he has continued in his tireless way to post articles and research and write his own exemplary work, often analytical and backed by meticulous statistical date, all presented with far more technological nous than I can muster. He has been a great mainstay of this site and deserves the rest he has now prescribed for himself.

John McCormick introduces his own farewell:  regular readers will know I was told I had a malignant tumour in December last year and was given a scan to see if I had secondaries just before Christmas 2018. That scan revealed a lesion on my liver but couldn’t determine whether it was malign or not. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I received final confirmation that it wasn’t, which closed a sequence of tests – all clear – and ensured that this Christmas would be merrier, and this New Year happier, than the last.

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From Anfield to Accrington? Why Wembley will wait

If you read Pete Sixsmith’s match report on the Sheffield United cup match or Malcolm’s account from last Saturday you’ll know I was  up for the MK Dons game. Malcolm might have given you a clue that it wasn’t just any old visit. Pete did, too, but I deleted his brief reference.

It was, in fact, my first trip to the SOL since the start of the previous season, and my first Sunderland game since December, and it had to be organised with great care. Trains instead of the car, and clothes that were guaranteed to keep me warm. And I can now add that by the time I got home I was knackered, far more than usual.

The reason lies in events that began nigh on a year ago but please forgive my artistic licence; I’m starting a lot further back than that.

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Sunderland vs Charlton Athletic at Wembley: let’s get it right this time

Jake: ‘make the Mackem army happy, Lads’

Charlton finished the League One season in style
and ended up two places ahead of us, writes Monsieur Salut. Until that poor return of four points from three successive home games, I was confident we would go up in an automatic top two place.

It wasn’t to be. We did not end the season in style and and now we start the playoff final at Wembley, after gritty semi-final displays against Portsmouth saw us through, technically as underdogs.

Before I invite readers to predict the outcome of Sunday’s Wembley encounter, I shall reflect on the 1998 version of this momentous tie in May 1998. That was for the greater prize of Premier League and we had, of course, finished above Charlton only to fail to overcome them in the playoff final.

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The Wembley slideshow: see the finished product as Sunderland prepare to face Burton

It grew and grew.
Salut! Sunderland invited readers old and new to contribute their photos from a great if ultimately disappointing weekend in London for the Checkatrade Trophy final against Pompey at Wembley, writes Monsieur Salut.

Slowly, pictures started to arrive. And then our associate editor John McCormick chipped in with his more advanced techie skills to turn a spur-of-the-moment idea into a project, creating the slideshow you can see by following the link in my tweet above to the Salut! Sunderland Facebook group.

(John Mac adds – I’ve now managed to embed the video at the bottom of the page too, but our facebook page is always worth a visit)

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Sixer’s Sunderland-Portsmouth Soapbox: Wembley woes Vol VI

Monsieur Salut writes: Pete Sixsmith and I did it in style, lunch (nothing to write home about) and drinks in the Bobby Moore suite, seats on the halfway line. It was a great occasion and at half time, we imagined a bit of silverware was ours. Wasn’t to be. Poor Catts had an excellent game even if, as he stepped up for his penalty, I turned to the charming young Irishwoman next to me – the girlfriend of a member of our coaching staff – and said ‘that’s not a great idea’. It wasn’t.

Sixer also enjoyed his day out. We both recognised that Pompey’s second-half transformation made victory for them a deserved one. But congrats to St Joseph’s Catholic Academy from Hebburn on winning the EFL Girls’ Cup final, played before the Checkatrade game – they beat a team from Mangotsfield, Bristol 3–1 – and now on to greater things …

Congratulations to the girls of St Joseph’s


The trail of tears led all the way up the M1 and A1, up the East Coast Main Line and to all points South, East and West from that benighted stadium in a North London industrial estate.

Except there were no tears. There was pride in the way that the team had played in the first half, pride in the resilience they showed in coming back in the last minute of extra time and pride in the fact that a friendly invasion of London had gone off well.

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Sixer’s Wembley Seven: Portsmouth perfect as Sunderland’s Wembley curse continues

I was sweating in the last few minutes of extra time, thinking “the next goal will win it”. And then Portsmouth scored, after we had lost all of the shape and brio that marked our first half performance. But somehow we scored a second  time to send the game to penalties. Which we lost.

Pete Sixsmith or one of the Salut contingent will file a report in due course. For now here’s his substitute’s (aka M Salut) post penalty seven word text:

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A Wembley a Day. When Man City did what Man United couldn’t

Courtesy of

John McCormick writes: should I be surprised or not that Lee Cattermole is the only survivor of our last trip to Wembley? After all, it was five years – or six managers, not including two caretakers – ago? We fans are much more constant aren’t we, which brings me to Pete Sixsmith, who before he departed County Durham on yet another foray south, left the final chapter from an excellent series that we trust you’ve all enjoyed:

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A Wembley a Day. Not Sunderland, not once-mighty Leeds, but no less northern for all that

picture courtesy Whitley Bay FC

You might be forgiven for having expected Pete Sixsmith to write solely about Sunderland’s trips to Wembley in this series. Then after reading his first post in the series and remembering where he’s from you might have anticipated another mention of Leeds at some point.  But Pete is more than this, a true man of many parts. Not only Sunderland home and away, with a sprinkling of Rugby League when he can. Bishop Auckland, Shildon and a host of lower league clubs have been graced by his presence. Which is how he came to be tripping down Wembley Way once more:

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Portsmouth Who are You?: ‘Tinpot cup but two great clubs rise again ‘

Steve Bone: ‘you’ll never drag me to a Checkatrade game – except this one’
Steve Bone.C081220-3

This is a special edition of Salut! Sunderland‘s ‘Who are You?’ series because Sunday will be a special day for two sets of fans supporting grand old clubs that have known better times but are both recovering from the horrors of recent seasons.

Our Pompey interviewee Steve Bone, from the Portsmouth Fans Network, freely admits he is going to Wembley because it’s the final and wouldn’t bother with any game earlier in the Checkatrade Trophy competition. That hardly makes him less passionate than the 80,000-odd others who will be there on Sunday. It’s a cup that matters when you reach the final and the EFL and Checkatrade are naturally chuffed at the idea of for once filling the national stadium …

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