Taylor made: Sunderland and me – is this the last kiss?

Bill Taylor (left), with the Germany coach Joachim Low trip to Stuttgart

Yesterday saw M Salut’s old mate Bill Taylor writing in entertaining fashion at Salut! North about his first proper kiss (a form of intimacy that sounds extraordinarily outdate these days). Now for a rather more depressing tale: the return of Bill’s disenchantment with the club most readers of this site follow with limitless passion …

The editor of this blog has a lot to answer for.

Before Colin Randall brought Salut! Sunderland into existence and I started reading it, I was a very passive Mackem: a supporter more in the breach than the observance.

If there happened to be a Sunderland match on Canadian TV, I’d watch it with interest and pleasure. Or sometimes displeasure. But I’d watch.

Otherwise, I did little else than check the results every week, exult in their victories, shrug when they played a draw, curse when they got beaten. And then think no more of it for another week.

It was better when my dad was alive. In my weekly phone call to my parents, we could compare notes and hark back to what seemed, with the luxury of time, to be better days.

An undemanding form of fandom. True to the way I was brought up, I loved Sunderland, hated Newcastle and didn’t feel the need to do much else. Didn’t take much notice of anyone else in the league, didn’t have much idea of what was really going on.

And then Salut! Sunderland came into being. Bit by bit, I started getting interested again. Following the Cats more and more closely, mentally dissecting individual performances (including the manager’s) and monitoring all the other clubs, too.

A good win could set me up for a whole week. A bad loss would have me cursing. Sometimes a stupid draw would have me cursing more. I won’t say the team became an obsession but it was taking up a good deal of my time.

And for what? One roller-coaster season after another; an inspired win here, a game contemptibly thrown away there; one blind ref after another, one idiotic foul with a concomitant red card after another.

One week I’d be convinced we were heading into Europe, the next equally sure we’d be struggling to stay out of the drop zone.

Truth to tell, the most interesting season I can recall is when we fought our way back into the Premiership. That’s one reason why I was so high on Blackpool last season – they weren’t, as became apparent, the best team in the world but they never stopped fighting, never stopped coming forward, never stopped playing football.

And Sunderland sometimes did stop. They’d look like 11 individuals who’d never heard the word “team” and were still learning the basic principles of the game. They’d loll around the field as if they hadn’t slept for days (one or two of them possibly hadn’t) and while they seldom threw games away, they did give away more than enough.

In short (as I wrote here at the end of last season), they’re a typical middle-of-the-road club. Give or take an unprecedented run of luck of bad-luck they’ll finish around 10th, give or take a couple of places either way. They won’t become relegation fodder but neither will they aspire to European competition.

Which is why I’m getting off the roller-coaster. I’ll continue to follow the Black Cats, just as I’ll continue to read Salut! Sunderland. But I won’t attach life-or-death significance to each week’s result or individual players’ performances. By the end of the season, it’ll all have evened out and we’ll be somewhere in the middle with nothing in particular to be ashamed or proud of.

If I’ve lost a lot of interest in the club it’s because I don’t think they’re nearly as interesting as they could or should be. Heretical as it may sound, maybe a relegation battle would change that.

For the record, I remain unconvinced that Gyan will finish the season with Sunderland and my faith in Steve Bruce remains severely shaken. I’m not sure he’ll see out the season with us either.

And I really do believe the club could do itself a bit of good by signing Joey Barton. If only to get up the noses of those guys who play in black-and-white stripes but otherwise aren’t so very different to ourselves.

But whatever happens, I don’t think it’ll make an awful lot of difference to our overall performance.

What this also means is that I’ll probably be posting fewer comments here over the coming months. That, of course, will come as a relief to some…

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14 thoughts on “Taylor made: Sunderland and me – is this the last kiss?”

  1. Sorry to hear about Bill’s mam-my sympathies to you. Important as football is, perspective comes to bear in such sad situations.

  2. The older I get the more I LOVE the team and Hate the Mags.
    My life has always centred on SAFC and always will. I was an exile once living in Toronto for 12 years and before that in Leeds for 7 years ( 1973 was a great time to live in Leeds) but have chosen to be back in the North East for the past 20 years.
    Living in Canada I played football 3 times a week but struggled to follow “The Lads” on short wave radio.I was a season ticket holder for the Toronto Argos but never saw the Blizzard play.
    Living in Durham is fantastic and we absolutely love the rugged northern countryside.
    I have the pleasure of watching my team and living in God’s country!!

  3. Sorry to hear of the loss of your Mother. I know only too well about having to make the long journey for a funeral. However, I think you did yourself no favours with this piece, but I do miss your articles in the Toronto Star.

  4. A thoughtful and well timed interjection M. Salut

    My thoughts and sympathies are with Bill and his family at this sad time.

    Regardless of what anyone may think of this particular posting, I don’t think anyone would have considered Bill at any time as cowardly, even if we choose to disagree most strongly with his viewpoint (and it is a viewpoint rather than an opinion).

    There are more important things in life than football.

  5. I’m not here – or willing – to fight Bill’s corner. I’m sure he’d have done so already and it is not a sign of cowardice that he has not: please bear in mind that his mother died overnight (ie since he sent me this posting) and although it was a merciful release – she was 93 and very ill – he obviously has more important things on his mind such as arranging to get back from Canada to Co Durham for the funeral. That shouldn’t affect anyone’s view of his posting, but does explain his subsequent silence.

  6. I have to say Bill, that I am very disappointed to read such a negative article about SAFC. Like you I am exiled from the UK and have to depend on TV coverage of games. That was a life choice and had little to do with my support for Sunderland.

    What disappoints me most about your article or more precisely the sentiments expressed is the fact that you feel that you can make some choice in your level of support. From a personal point of view I can not say that I share that notion at all. There have been times when I felt that I would like to give up, after the countless times we have been kicked in the teeth. The nadir of the relegation to the dreaded Third Division was the darkest time in our history. It would have been easy to give up then if giving up was an option. It wasn’t an option, never has been and never will be. I found myself on the terraces at Aldershot, and at Bath City’s ground midweek watching us get stuffed by Bristol Rovers the following season. That would have been a great place to give up had there been a choice, but as I said above there wasn’t.

    It’s clear from your article that you weren’t even there in spirit, and support can’t wax and wane just because things get interesting or a mate from school set up a website that you can get involved in.

    Your articles and postings are something that I have always enjoyed Bill, but I am very disappointed in reading this latest piece.

  7. “I hope only that what appears here should be well written and interesting, and Bill’s postings pass both tests with ease.”

    Only, I would assume, after being edited by another!

  8. I knew Bill’s article would be controversial and I, too, disagree with most of what he says, not least any suggestion that we should allow Barton anywhere near our shirt.
    But this is an open forum and I hope only that what appears here should be well written and interesting, and Bill’s postings pass both tests with ease.

  9. I am hoping beyond hope that this means we will not, in future, be subjected to yet more of your negative “articles”.

    In my mind they were always those that I least enjoyed reading, on this site, because, whereas, they claimed to understand the club and it’s supporters they just came across as pompous and ill informed!

    Maybe, you should just attempt to save your editor a lot of work and retire?

    A sad excuse for a, supposed, “journo”!

    Is it any wonder that your supposed profession is held in such contempt?

  10. So the premise for supporting your team is that they must be involved in a relegation battle or battling for a European place , baffles me that one !!

  11. What a sad bloke. Very sad. SAFC are better off without your ‘support’ Bill, which seemed as limited as limited as could possibly be. Wonder how many midweek coaches from Wearside to Brighton in Division Two you’ve been on marra? And I bet you enjoyed the 15 and 19 point seasons! Niall and Ellis will be moved by your passionate response to their recent efforts. Bye, bye. Missing you already [not]. Love, The Red and White Army. [PS-Anyone who calls Sunderland ‘the Cats’ and advocates signing the manipulative thug that is the Orwell quoting Joey Barton has lost the plot IMHO.]

  12. Fair enough,it’s a personal choice,but as for a relegation struggle being ‘interesting’ I can honestly say in the last four decades I’ve had far too much ‘interest’ and that it is exactly the very last thing I would want from this or any other season.I can’t genuinely conceive when I would be hoping for the nerve jangling ‘interest’ of a relegation battle.I’ve suffered at least over 20 of the damned things and that’s enough for anyone.

  13. sad to say marra

    but you sound like the sad excuse of a fan who never was

    a few valid points about ……i’ll let you guess on reflection if you creep back on here

    “If I’ve lost a lot of interest in the club it’s because I don’t think they’re nearly as interesting as they could or should be. Heretical as it may sound, maybe a relegation battle would change that”

    embarrassing in the extreme in my opinion

    but hey i am an opinionated knacker i know

    Ces Irwin

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