Pete Sixsmith was inconsolable when Salut! Sunderland, in common with Hello! magazine, lost out to OK in the bidding war for exclusive coverage of Fabio Borini’s Tuscany wedding to Miss Erin O’Neill. Now he makes up for that disappointment, forming the official ‘welcome to the North East’ party as the happy couple plan their new life on or near Wearside. And guess what? Sixer’s recipe for happiness had Erin in stitches (see her retweet below) …
Well, what great news yesterday as Fabio Borini signed a permanent contract with Sunderland AFC, following in the footsteps of such greats as David Swindlehurst, Billy Whitehurst and the legendary, never to be forgotten Rod “The Mod” Belfitt.
When I heard of the likely move, I was stood on the packed terracing at Dean Street, where Shildon were losing their unbeaten record to a 90th minute goal from some little scroat who plays for Morpeth Town and, by the time I was at Heritage Park watching Darlington cuff previously unbeaten Blyth Spartans 2-1, he had signed a four year deal.
Two of the Darlo (that’s what the fans call Darlington 1883 and far be it from me to go against them) subs, Adam Mitchell and David Dowson, both former Sunderland players, did cartwheels of delight when I told them the great news. Pity they were on the field at the time. I hope the fines aren’t too steep.
Now I know that Fabio is au fait with the North East, having spent a splendid season here a couple of years ago, but what of his wife, Erin? What does she know of our part of the world? With a name like that, she probably does not come from Puglia or Lombardy, more likely Liverpool or some other Irish city and it is quite possible that this delightful young lady is totally unaware of the charms of the Far Corner, as Harry Pearson puts it in his seminal book about North East football.
So, to help here with house hunting, shopping, places to eat and visit and where she (and Fabio) can be groomed, here is Big Fat Pete’s Guide to How The Borinis Can Love The North East.
1 Where to live?
I am sure that the estate agents around Darras Hall, Ponteland, Castle Eden and Plains Farm will be compiling brochures for the young couple. What I say to Fabio and Erin is “Don’t bother with these enclaves. Live with the real people, those who make England what it is. Come to Shildon.”
It just so happens that the house next to Sixsmith Towers is up for sale with vacant possession. I urge Don Fabio and Contessa Erin to look very carefully at this property. They have no children so the three bedrooms will be fine. They can have a guest room for when Fabio’s Italian chum Mario Balotelli comes to stay and Fabio can convert the other one into a cinema room where he can sit and watch endless loops of him crashing the ball past Tim Krul and making Alan Pardew look more mourngey* than usual.
Should the fragrant Erin want to work out, there is a large back yard for her to do her exercises and things and I am quite prepared to use my high powered binoculars from my bedroom window to keep an eye out for any unsavoury characters in grubby mackintoshes.
2 Where to shop?
Erin will be spoilt for choice in the shopping mecca that is Church Street, Shildon. She can sip a coffee in our very own Costa, shop for firelighters and door locks in Davison’s Hardware Store and purchase haute couture fashion in The Original Factory Shop, where international brands like Lonsdale, Karrimoor and Hi Tec are discounted for the discerning shopper. Don Fabio can stroll down Main Street and call in at Hackett and Baines – although the clothes will not fit him as trousers start at 42in waist and go up to 60in – ideal for past stars like Bob Lee or Anton Rogan, but of little use for the lithe young men who flit around the ultra-modern stadiums where football is played now.
The Borinis can also furnish Next Door To Sixsmith Towers from H and B’s at a very reasonable price. They have a splendid selection of self-rising chairs, ideal for Fabio to rest in after a long day on the training ground chasing aimless and inaccurate passes from John O’Shea and Lee Cattermole.
— Fabio Borini (@borinifabio29) August 31, 2015
3 Places To Eat
Where to start? I have already mentioned our very own Costa (one more than Bishop Auckland, Spennymoor, Ferryhill and Crook combined) and I heartily recommend the Paradise Street Blend. Should they want to dine out, there are so many places to visit – Clem’s Fish and Chips, the Shildon Tandoori, the Peking Chef (not to be confused with the China Chef over the road) and the Kebab Place Whose Name Escapes Me. They can bring their food home with them and some of the places mentioned will even deliver. The streets of the town are crowded with smallish boys, whistling modern hits and pedalling away on their bikes, delivering food to the inhabitants.
Should they want to go upmarket, Clem’s has a fish restaurant (Pies and battered sausages are also available) and the K Café does an excellent liver and onions.
There is also a place that should become very dear to Fabio’s heart, Café Limone, a genuine Italian café style restaurant serving traditional Italian food in authentic Italian style to the strains of Dean Martin singing “That’s Amore.”**
— Erin Borini (@Erin_ONeill_Xo) September 1, 2015
4 Places to Visit
The town and the area are full of charming old buildings and thrusting new museums. Locomotion is an outpost of the National Railway Museum and has a fascinating collection of rail flanges and boiler hinges which will keep Fabio and Erin busy for the four years of his contract (as long as we stay up). There are numerous examples of old English housing at nearby Eldon Lane, some of which is still lived in. Bishop Auckland and its internationally renowned Newgate Street is but a few minutes away while the beauty of Weardale is within striking distance. There are even buses to take them there.
5 Personal Grooming
For Erin, there are any number of tanning salons, nail bars and hairdressers to choose from, all of whom offer an excellent service judging by the number of young women who hang around outside them.
For Fabio, there is only one place to go and that is to Pat Lee’s for a haircut, a shave and “a little something for the weekend” delivered sotto voce by the proprietor. Here he can thumb through an extensive collection of style magazines before deciding how to have his hair cut. I am even prepared to offer him my Tuesday appointment so that he can exchange football anecdotes with Bill Roughley***.
So, I hope to see a Liverpool removal van outside the next door house in the next few days. Fabio and Erin are more than welcome to call in for a cup of tea and a Fat Rascal and I can fill them in on the other neighbours and the days that the binmen call and what they need to leave out. I will even arrange for the paper shop to deliver Corriere dello Sport – Stadio as long as he passes it on to me. He is welcome to my Rugby League Express.
I hope they are not noisy neighbours.
* A Yorkshire word that means surly. One of my favourite words along with “apparatchik”, “Timothy Taylor” and “boycout”
** It is a very pleasant restaurant and worth popping in when you are in Shildon. Put your meal on my account.
*** Probably the best non-league footballer I have ever seen. He played for Shildon and lesser clubs and could have gone pro but he was too good an insurance salesman.