There's a lot winning going on: our friends at A Love Supreme have just collected their second successive award for football fanzine of the year, Sunderland "won" the right to stay in the Premier and here – at last – are Salut! Sunderland's winners in the great Who Are They? awards …
Forget George Orwell, tracing the progress of the same breadcrumb each day on the breakfast table at his lodgings. The Road To Wigan Pier is a marvellous book, but Salut! Sunderland has discovered that the town provides shelter and inspiration for another writer of distinction.
Step forward Bernard Ramsdale, "landlord" of Ye Olde Tree and Crown, the Wigan Athletic fan site and clear winner in our awards for the best contributions to this site by opposing fans during the 2008-09 season.
Bernard, picture below, wins a copy of the customised Wigan Athletic book, kindly donated by Getting Personal. If the excellent Sunderland version of the book is any guide, he will be content with his prize.
Throughout the season, Salut! Sunderland received incisive, entertaining or warm articles from fans of other clubs. Finding candidates for the Who Are They? feature before each of Sunderland's game was the hardest part; once recruited, they rose almost without exception risen to the challenge.
Of the three three judges, two placed Bernard in first place and the third had him as runner up to Julian Boodell from Stoke City.
Julian accordingly finished in second overall position, ahead of the third-placed Mark Collar, the only shortlisted candidate from outside the Premier League (he previewed our League Cup game at Nottingham Forest). Read on for news of a special youth award – for Danny Warbrick of Bolton Wanderers.
This was how each judge voted:
Ian Todd, founder of the London branch of the Sunderland AFC Supporters' Association and a national council member of the Football Supporters' Federation:
1 Julian Boodell (Stoke City)
2 Bernard Ramsdale (Wigan Athletic)
3 Mark Collar (Nottingham Foerst)
Ian wrote: "I must say I found it hard and chopped and changed my order on re-reads. In particular, I found the fact that the questions varied from club to club offered a greater advantage to some writers than others. As far as the reasons for my choice go, I have been swayed by those who have benefited from a knowledge of relationships between the two clubs and an appreciation of some of the wider issues in football. My order of choice therefore related to the extent to which the writers included that in their pieces."
Pete Sixsmith, top writer at Salut! Sunderland:
1 Bernard Ramsdale – "should win for his name alone, but any post that makes me laugh, has a reminder of the great mudslide and shows great knowledge of football and human nature is bloody excellent in my book. His comments on the RL team are priceless"
2 Ciaran Byrne – "seemed a pretty smart guy and I liked his rant against Wembley and all that the modern game has become"
3 Julian Boodell – "must take guts to follow Stoke when you are called Julian; really liked his style and the fact that he had followed Stoke for so many years. Very good stuff"
Colin Randall, editor of Salut! Sunderland:
1 Bernard Ramsdale – "a natural wordsmith, a diamond football supporter in the broadest sense and a willing contributor who gave us not one match previews but also a second, each of great quality"
2 Mark Collar – "a fitting representative of a club with many similarities to Sunderland and obvious potential for a return to greatness"
3 Jerry Evans (Chelsea) – "a lovely, old-fashioned and entirely sportsmanlike read"
A Special Salut! Sunderland Youth Award goes to Danny Warbrick (Bolton) for a preview that demonstrated exceptional maturity for a lad of 16.
Julian receives a Philosophy Football "Against Mod