The road to glory (2): Liverpool, Wolves close gap on Aston Villa

Jake has prizes for the best answers

Part one of our report on the judges’ decision in our annual ”Who are You?” awards, in which Salut! Sunderland rewards supporters of opposing sides who offered the best entertainment, insight or wisdom in their responses to the pre-match questionnaire, ended with the leaders lining up like this:

Stuart Jinks (aka Jinksy, Aston Villa fan) 10pts; Michael Hudson (Newcastle) and Jim White (Swansea) five; Richard Hulme (Stoke City) and Clemency Burton-Hill (Arsenal) three and Andy and Jo Nicholls (Wolves) and Keith Conneely (Liverpool) two. See part one by clicking here

But as we approach the finishing line, nails can be heard being bitten the country over. Here is the next group of judges’ marks and comments …

Malcolm Dawson, co-founder and former chairman of the SAFC Supporters’ Association Heart of England branch, now back in the North East after long years of East Midlands exile and deputy editor of this site:

1) Blackburn Rovers
… Mike Delap

Joint 1) Wolverhampton Wanderers … Steve Bishop

Joint 1) Arsenal
… Owen Amos.

They are in that order because that’s the order I read them in; there’s not much between them in my opinion. All were all well written, knowledgeable pieces which I could read all the way through. Not true of every contributor, I’m afraid.

Thanks Jake for your graphical flair

Jeremy Robson is another exile in Canada but spent a big slice of his younger life offering warmth, guidance and encouragement to players passing his spot in the Clock Stand Paddock at Roker Park on their way to or from the dressing rooms:

1) Wolves … Steve Bishop
How can you deny a prize to a man who hasn’t missed a game his team has played for 35 years? In my mind you can’t, especially when the article is as balanced and knowledgeable as Steve Bishop’s contribution on his dearly beloved Wolves. Salut regards itself as a site for the thinking football supporter and Steve’s piece really epitomises those values as well as any article in this thread over the course of the season. Sorry to see your team go down Steve. Had you stuck with Mick then it may not have happened. It will be a very important summer and getting off to a good start will be vital for you next season.

2) Liverpool …Keith Conneely
Liverpool … I just loved Keith Conneely’s piece, mainly because it came direct from the heart and just made me laugh so much. The idea of refusing to let his mate back into his own living room especially helped me direct a vote to this piece. Plus “Yes. 100%. He was never worth that much and he never WILL be worth that much. Unfortunately, all the money we could conceivably have spent on psychiatric treatment for the guilty party has all been spent on Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson.” Christian Poulsen, I agree, was a pretty horrible player to watch and probably makes Keith cringe in the same sort of way Steve Hetzke’s name would make the Sixer wince. At least they didn’t have to start Poulsen up with jump leads ant five minutes to three! This one would have been the winner for me. But … I can accept a Liverpool supporter from Dublin, but Barcelona? Come on Keith!

3) Newcastle United …Michael Hudson:
Refreshing and knowledgeable contribution; he is clearly a proper football fan. I loved his views on Mike Ashley (how come they aren’t wanting a boycoutt these days?) and his idea that clubs should be owned by the fans. A great read this one. Michael has apparently lived in several different countries. They do say that “travel broadens the mind”. That is evident from reading this most considered contribution. Even though he’s a Mag, Michael is clearly a good ‘un!

NB: see Jeremy’s ”special mentions” – the ones that didn’t quite make it – in the comments below.

Clemency Burton-Hill

Paul Dobson, Sobs to friend who include his admiring readership at A Love Supreme:

1) Manchester City … Rick Haswell-Cohen.

Written with a bit of humility and a sensible take on the oil millions that have come their way. It’s always nice to hear appreciation of one of ours, and when it’s Quinn, it’s no surprise. Good bit of nostalgia in that it was one of their less glamorous former players, and our former manager McCarthy. Anyone who dislikes the glory-hunters is OK with me.

2) Liverpool … Keith Conneely. Interesting to have a non-Scouse fan writing from afar, and one who also ‘supports’ Barcelona. Good information and a reasoned assessment of Dalglish’s second reign, although (naturally enough) just biased enough, and also a sensible summation of the Suarez affair and Liverpool’s (mis)handling of it. In addition, it was nice to read of that little-mentioned Sunderland fans’ support of the appeal for Hillsborough information.

3) Wolves … Andy and Jo Nicholls. Interesting to have two people, inluding one of us, to provide opinion, and it made a fascinating and balanced read. Even their obvious disappointment in McCarthy was discussed without resorting to simple insults (although there is a time and a place, and fans’ reviews are probably that place).

* NB: I had originally settled on Villa, Wolves, City, and Liverpool, although there were a few others that were close to that final group. Then I read them again and decided the Villa fan was just a little too anti-O’Neill. Whether his comments were factually true, or whether it is even fair on my behalf to dismiss the report because of that, it doesn’t matter in the end, as I ended up not really liking the piece after initially picking it as one of my favourites. Just too bitter.

Monsieur Salut, of this parish:

1) Arsenal … Clemency Burton-Hill. A refreshingly honest and unrestrained appraisal of the reign of Arsène Wenger’s reign. She, like me, is a great fan and it clearly pained her to suggest that the time had come for change. Whether she is right or wrong does not matter. As Jeremy suggests above, Clelency rose above the ‘cemleb fan’ waffle cynics might have expected.

2) Liverpool … Keith Conneely. Sobs has explained why this was such a good read. I, too, appreciated his warm acknowledgement of SAFC supporters’ role in demanding information on the Hillsborough disaster.

3) Aston Villa … Jinksy. A hugely enjoyable piece that, but for excessive criticism of O’Neill that sits so uneasily on the pages of Salut! Sunderland, would have topped my list.

* Special mentions: everyone else. I am indebted to fans up and down the country, and often abroad, for giving up their time to answer the call.

Malcolm’s decision to make no distinction among his three choices leaves no reasonable alternative to giving the first-place award of five points to each.

Which gives us a shaken up leadership as the climax nears. Jinksy and Villa are still ahead, on 12 points, closely followed by Liverpool (Keith Conneely) on 11, Steve Bishop (Wolves) on 10: Arsenal’s Clemency Burton-Hill on eight and Michael Hudson (Newcastle) on seven.

The winning line is in sight. One more set of nominations to go (Pete Sixsmith’s) and we’ll be there … watch this space.

*** SPONSORS AND PRIZES

The US sportswear people http://www.soccerpro.com/ kindly agreed to stump up $200 worth of gear as the first prize and the excellent folk at When Saturday Comeschipped in again with further prizes, a subscription to the magazine and one of the Euro 2012 tops they’re selling this summer. To both sponsors go our warmest thanks.

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Monsieur Salut, by Matt
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3 thoughts on “The road to glory (2): Liverpool, Wolves close gap on Aston Villa”

  1. No fair! Your competition and all that, but just because Malcolm was indecisive shouldn’t mean his picks all get full marks. What if all of your panel members sat on the fence? It would be fairer to give them joint second. Yours, on tenterhooks…Mark.

    • And I understand if everyone couldn’t decide everyone would be the same points no matter how you score it. Just don’t think all should get top marks when they haven’t been put in order by a judge.

  2. Here is my special mention of contributors whose efforts didn’t quite make my top three:

    * Special mentions:

    Villa
    … Stuart Jinks: Jinksy is no stranger to Salut of course having arrived with his contentious comments and stirring up a heated debate in the wake of the Darren Bent treachery. Jinksy brings a refreshing candor to the “Who are you?” with his Villa piece, which is not only full of passion but also shows that his allegiance is staunch, and has stood the test of time. I couldn’t vote for this one because the fool still thinks his beloved Villa are a bigger club than the mighty Mackems. He also engaged in a lot of trash talking after the Bent fiasco. I have not forgiven him for any of this. Only kidding Jinksy! I still can’t help wondering who got the worse end of the deal between the Pope or Big ‘Eck though. A cracking article which pulled no punches whatsoever with opinion coming straight from the heart. It’s always refreshing to read the views of other supporters when it’s so dammed honest about so many aspects of his club. He does talk a lot of complete drivel about Martin O’Neill though.

    Wolves (2) … Andy and Jo Nicholls: I wouldn’t want to pour salt into the wounds of a newly relegated fan, but to have a pop at Mick McCarthy, the one man who brought you some respectability for the first time in decades after he got the sack, only to be replaced by the lamentable (and surely short lived) Terry Connor, just put me right off voting for what was otherwise a readable piece. So sorry Andy this one gets a thumbs down. Sorry that Wolves went down and I sincerely hope we see you back soon.

    Manchester City … Rick Haswell-Cohen: I really enjoyed Rick’s piece, not only for his grounded views on his beloved Man City but also more broadly, and in particular his comments about England (Club meaning far more to him than country because: ”England would fare better if they bury the spirit of ’66? philosophy once and for all.” And also for his perspective on the Plastic Mancs in the Metro Centre. A man of comparatively few words with respect to most contributors in the “Who are You?” but a great read.

    Arsenal (2)

    Honesty, honesty and more honesty in Clemency Burton-Hill’s contribution made this one of my favourites for this season, in dealing with Wenger’s apparent failings, the desperation of Henry’s return (which seemed to work pretty well from where we are standing!), and the recognition that the Emirates just ain’t Highbury. It has become almost treacherous to point out that the atmosphere at new stadia just isn’t there, to the extent that fans almost dare not speak the truth. Not having lived in the UK for several years now, I am not familiar with Clemency or her TV show, and could have fallen into the trap of thinking “here we go with just another celebrity fan!” It didn’t turn out that way though. This was a highly enjoyable piece from a true fan.

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