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Welcome to the last S&C of the Nineteen Nineties, the Twentieth Century and the Second Millennium. Given our current form, the year couldn’t go on long enough for us. Our recent annihilation of Vialli’s Continental Cockneys was all the more remarkable considering the series of suspensions that had decimated our squad. The unbelievable first half well and truly laid to rest the ghost of our opening day stuffing at Stamford Bridge and, assuming we manage to avoid being eaten by the millennium bug, we come into the year 2000 as a real force in English football.

Much has been made of the partnership between Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, which seemed almost telepathic at times against Watford. The pair just get better and better for Sunderland and, when compared to Premiership ‘stars’ like Chris Sutton and Duncan Ferguson, they make a mock of the transfer system. Having said that, Niall Quinn’s current mullet makes a mock of modern fashion, but there you go.

The silver lining to the disciplinary clouds that have hovered above the SoL of late has been the opportunity that our numerous suspensions have given to the so-called squad players. For a centre-half pairing of Williams and Craddock to silence such renowned quality as Zola and Flo for ninety minutes was incredible and Jody Craddock in particular, has shown class and composure during his first spell in Premiership football. Paul Thirlwell’s top-flight debut was equally as impressive and it is hoped that these players can be kept involved in the first team equation, ensuring long and successful careers at the club.

Christmas and the New Year is always a time for reflection, this year more than most. With events of a football nature pretty much taking care of themselves, we have increasingly been looking towards the future of Sex & Chocolate. Since the introduction of a full-colour section at the start of this season, the magazine has really taken off and the feedback we have received has been very encouraging. People nowadays seem to expect full colour as standard and by making S&C full-colour throughout, we will gain much more scope to include features like the recent picture-story, which proved immensely popular. To accommodate this change, the price of the magazine will have to rise by 30p (one-sixth the price of a pint of lager), S&C’s first price rise since its introduction a year and a half ago. We believe that as a result, ALS Publications will continue to give fans the most straight talking, best-looking, non-sycophantic, best-selling Sunderland magazines.

The increasing popularity of e-mail makes it easier than ever to get in touch and contributions to S&C and ALS have risen to new levels this season – so thanks. Nevertheless, it is worth making the point that the quality of our fanzines can only ever be as good as the contributions we receive. If you think we need articles of a certain type, that you’ve something we currently don’t offer or that your point of view is not being represented, then please get in touch and put us right.

One thought to end the year on. If we breezed Chelsea 4-1 and Chelsea recently stuffed Manchester United 5-0, then by the laws of playground football, we are due to hammer the World Club Champions 9-1 at the end of December, making us the undisputed Champions of the Universe. I wonder if they’ll be playing for a draw! Well, I can’t remember a better mood going into the Christmas programme; it certainly does make a change. All that’s left is to wish you a cracking Christmas and a very happy New Millennium, we are playing the best football of many of our lifetimes, what other excuse do we need to enjoy the biggest party in 1000 years?

Ten Topics for Peter Reid

"We've won the fair play league twice on the trot coming up and the only thing that has changed within the league is the referees, but I wouldn't have a go at them because I think they do a very difficult job. All I would say on the situation is that assessors are putting pressure on referees, they are told what to do and I think that is really difficult for them, when you are out there in the middle you get a feel for the game and I think they're taking that away from referees and making the job difficult."

Our Disciplinary Record
"I think we've been unlucky, on a couple of occasions my players have been booked for dissent in kicking the ball away which I won't tolerate, I think it shows a lack of discipline. If you go for the ball and you're a little bit late, that isn't a problem with me and my team will still be tackling, don't worry about that."

Squad Strengthening
"I'm looking to improve like any manager, but the biggest problem I've got is getting players in who are better than I've got at the club. Invariably the clubs don't want to let the better players go. My record in the market ain't bad and you've just got to be patient on these things."

"If Ronaldo was available and I had the money, I would go and get him. I've had plenty on loan but I just haven't taken any at the moment. I've made bids for black players but unfortunately I haven't been able to get one at the club. Paul Parker, the ex-Manchester United player, and Viv Anderson are very good friends, so it isn't a racial thing, it's just I haven't been able to get a quality black player in. Rest assured, there will be one coming."

"Well Quinn's played Premier League football and is an international player. Because he's 6 foot 4, he's not the paciest and people forget about his tremendous ability handling a football on the ground. Kevin is a natural goalscorer, but you need the service into them and the likes of Summerbee, McCann, Alex Rae, Stefan Schwarz are all involved in that, it's a team game, but obviously the people who get the headlines are the goalscorers and rightly so. I always had confidence in them and we've got Danny Dichio and a new lad called Michael Reddy who's burst on the scene. If they got injured we might have a problem so that's why we're looking around."

Player Power
"You don't want to play for this club then you're on your bike. I want people who want to play for the red and white shirts and if they don't want to play, it ain't a problem, just get them down the road. There can only be one manager at the football club and if you let the players have too much power then you've got a problem."

"I find it really difficult, I'm hopeless. It's a great idea but then it's getting into it and finding the patience. This modern day computer age is just passing me by, but I'm sure I'll get into it."

Manchester City
"We finished fifth, fifth and ninth in the First Division, but I fell out with the chairman, Peter Swales. At the end of the day, when you argue with the Chairman there's only one man that goes. I went after four games, we got one point in four games. Mr Swales decided it was end of story, and I was down the road, not a problem. He sorted out my compensation, shook hands and got on with it, but I thought I did alright there."

Cheer Up Peter Reid
"I got sick of it once when I was on holiday and there was a few lads who recognised me on the beach. I think they'd had a few San Miguels so I got a bit embarrassed walking along with my name chanted all over the place. But I think you've got to have a laugh at yourself. I might look miserable when I'm on the bench but I'm doing my job. I'm cheerful really. When I was out in Newcastle once, I kept hearing 'Monkeys heed, Monkeys heed' and I thought there was a monkey following me but apparently 'Peter Reid's got a monkey's heed.' I never thought of that. My mum wasn't pleased, but I thought it was amusing."

Chewing Gum
"I must get through six packets a game, easy. I think it is a nervous thing. I'm just thankful I don't smoke because I don't know how many I would get through. The cleaners must love me, though I've got a little place in the dug-out for the second half. I always wrap it in my silver paper because it says that on the packet."
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