The season before last, Salut! Sunderland dedicated a “Who are You?” feature for one of the games against Wolves to David Graves, a great friend and colleague of M Salut’s who died in a diving accident in 2002. Today, in the first of two Wolves “Who are You?”s, David’s sons Oliver and Nathan* – who have kept the Wolfie roar loud and clear in the Graves household – jointly handle the customary pre-match questionnaire, making them the youngest supporters to take part in the series. The questions were set and answered before Steve Bruce’s dismissal but the boys made clear their disenchantment with another manager with SAFC connections …
Tomorrow: the Wolfie who hasn’t missed a game in 35 years …
Salut! Sunderland: Another season, another relegation battle. Or at least that is how it seems (and yes, for us as things stand, too). Are you worried?
We started the season very well with seven points in the first three games but since then our defending has been horrific. We both think Mick McCarthy should get the sack, he’s not the man to keep us up and we’d rather see an attack minded manager in charge. So unless something changes, or serious transfers are made in January, we don’t fancy our chances.
Your dad was a passionate Wolves supporter who would find ways of following a match wherever he was in the world and however difficult the circumstances. Is that part of his legacy important to you both and do you have any special memories of him as a Wolfie?
Absolutely, we still try and keep up to date with the latest scores wherever we go in the world. Last summer we were desperately looking for a wi-fi connection while in the heart of Zanzibar – and luckily we were successful. One of our earliest memories of Dad as a Wolfie is the time he managed to get us a private tour of the stadium from one of the club’s chief execs. The highlight being when we got to sit in the home dugout.
And have you resisted the glory seeking temptations of switching support to bigger, more successful clubs?
Definitely, the thought of switching sides has never crossed our minds despite being surrounded by many glory seeking friends of ours along with living in London.
I believe the club have been very good to your family. Do any gestures stand out in your minds?
We had the chance to meet all the players during the club’s first season in the Premiership at Molineux which was brilliant. We were also offered free seats for any home game.
Mick McCarthy: lots of Sunderland fans have a soft spot for him but he has been under pressure. Is it time for a change?
We both feel he should’ve been sacked early in October but the club has believed in him. If no improvements are made after January then it might be too late to stay up anyway.
And do you think Jody Craddock’s time at the club (he was a much-appreciated Sunderland player) is coming to an end – just two Carling Cup appearances so far at the time of writing?
With the addition of Roger Johnson we feel Craddock has been pushed down the pecking order and it looks like his time as a Wolves player might be coming to an end. He’s always been a particular favourite of Oli’s because he paints as well, and he’s not bad either.
Which players are the key to your survival, of better, this season and who needs to be replaced sharpish?
We feel both Jamie O’Hara and Wayne Hennessey have been our most consistent players so far, whilst both the strikers and defenders have been hot and cold. It seems like a hard working goal poacher is what could really turn our season around. Players like David Edwards and Nenad Milijas aren’t meeting Premier League standards.
As younger supporters, how aware and proud are you of the great old Wolves tradition, Billy Wright and all?
We’ve always been very proud of the glittering Wolves heritage, especially in the 50s when Billy Wright was captaining England. Steve Bull was also a legend in our eyes.
Who will finish top four, in order, this season? And who will go down?
As for who’s going down, we certainly hope it won’t be us and if things change as we’d like in January then hopefully the bottom three will be:
If Sunderland and Wolves are in neither of those lists, where do you think each club will finish up?
We think Sunderland will finish 11th and can see Wolves finishing 16th.
I used to call this the Eduardo Question after his dive for Arsenal v Celtic, then the Walcott Question after young Theo publicly admitted diving and apologised for it. Now it is the Barton Question (remember his play acting for Newcastle v Arsenal). That covers diving and feigning injury but what form of cheating most annoys you and what should be done to stamp it out?
It seems as the numbers of foreign players continues to increase so will unfortunate aspects of the game such as diving. We think fines should be put in place for frequent offenders, although some of them get paid so much they’d have to be pretty substantial to actually make an impact.
Is it club before country for you or do internationals matter more to you than Wolves?
Internationals certainly matter to us and should mean just as much to players. But at times like these our club takes priority. I (Oli) have more respect for the players at my club overall than those in the England squad.
What one thing should the football authorities or Wolves do to improve the supporter’s experience of the game?
That’s a good question. We feel the recent developments in goal line technology will have a greater impact on competitions such as the World Cup and Champions League than say a Mid Table scrap in League 2. Nonetheless we’re hoping it will be able to make for a better supporters’ experience in all aspects of football.
How will you follow Wolves v Sunderland and what will be the score?
We don’t have Sky so we’ll be keeping up online. Seeing as both teams have been struggling to score goals of late, it seems a 1-1 draw is most likely.
* Nathan and Oliver on themselves: Nathan is 16, Oli 17. We both go to school at St Benedict’s in Ealing (which has been in the news a bit recently – not for the best of reasons, ha). Nathan’s in his final year of GCSE, his main three subjects are History, Classical Civilisation and Sports Science. Oliver is in his final year of A Levels, studying Drama, Art and Early Modern History. Nathan is interested in going into Sports Coaching and Physiotherapy when he’s older. Oli is very interested in filmmaking and wants to eventually become a film director.
Interview: Colin Randall