als home






visit those nice people at ready to go

Full circle

When Ipswich beat us by a goal to nil back in August, almost everyone who sat in the away end at Portman Road agreed that it was our worst performance for quite sometime. The disappointing defeat, our second in the opening three games of the season, left us looking up at the majority of the Premiership from seventeenth position. New Years Day saw us put four past the Tractor Boys, our first four goal salvo at the SoL since the turn of the millennium. As 2000 slipped into 2001, we sat proudly in joint second place, with - dare I say it? - European football more than just a pie in the sky.

Everyone with SAFC at heart is well aware of the dreadful run of post-Christmas form that ensured European football eluded us last season, but it is with confidence that I predict that it will not happen again this season. Maybe it was because of the New Year and all that came with it, but there was a positive warmth amongst those at the Ipswich game, something that was born out by the fact that people were actually yelling out encouragement to Danny Dichio. Dichio repaid the fans faith with probably his best performance to date, capped with a goal. Lessons of getting behind players to be learned there, then.

These words will probably come back to haunt me and be rammed down my throat by everyone who knows and doesn’t know me, but I’m going to say them anyway while I’m on a roll: We will be in Europe next year. Hold on, don’t bombard me with abusive e-mails or call the men in white coats on my behalf just yet.

So it took until Bradford away for our Lads to produce the scintillating football we’d all love to see, but we have been grinding out results for a while and have been becoming hard to beat (except at Selhurst Park). Liverpool and Arsenal have both been held at their own place. We haven’t been beaten at home all season, and with the likes of Liverpool, Man Utd and the Scum due to visit over the next few weeks, long may it continue. OK, so maybe talk of the title is a season or two premature, but European qualification is well within our reach.

Unlike last season, when we suffered the kind of burn-out Ipswich should be wary of, after bursting on to the Premiership scene, I think we are just coming into our best form. The impact of top quality investment in the form of, Thome, Varga and Arca should not be under-rated, and added to the as-good-as-signings of McCann, Schwarz and Craddock we are a much better squad, though we remain short of depth out wide and up front. I’m not getting over confident, but I’ve been checking ferry times to Amsterdam and plane schedules to Milan, I’ve even bought a load of sun tan cream in readiness for a trip to Barcelona. S&C readers who wish to travel to Paris via Eurotunnel can book seats on the Channel Tunnel website at

Much has changed from Ipswich to Ipswich. Kevin Phillips looks a new man after his slow start to the season and is finding much more dangerous positions now. Alex Rae has put together arguably his most consistent run in a Sunderland shirt and looks very effective alongside a resurgent Gavin McCann, while Don Hutchison has proved much more effective on the right than Kevin Kilbane, whose effort must nevertheless be praised. But more than these individual performances, there is a hunger about the team now, a togetherness and an understanding that makes us a pleasure to watch. We are a team in every sense of the word at the minute and long may it continue… all the way to Europe.

Lisa Bainbridge


Brilliaaaaaaant: Ticket Stubs

I found my pot of gold in between the socks and the handkerchiefs, on a random tidy of my bedroom. Only after spending half an hour immersed in the collection did I realise their true worth. I could almost hear Hugh Scully shrieking with delight. Keep your ticket stubs, they’ve got ‘football collectable’ written all over them.

To the undiscerning eye, they haven’t got an awful lot going for them. They measure only about eight square inches and contain the barest of details of the game you went to see. But by flicking through your collection you’ll go far deeper than merely the admission price, seat number and date of the match. Each stub triggers a memory of an afternoon you couldn’t remember or a ground that you forgot.

In my case, the £6 Hillsborough 1992 Semi Final ticket set me in quiet reverie for a time when games were affordable. A quick check of my stub from Burnden Park brought back amusing images of an away end that was obliterated by a supermarket. Stoke away in '94/95 awakened me to the mindless violence of their fans, whilst the crumpled Family Enclosure ticket from 1988 marks my first game, the start of a love affair.

At present, there isn’t really a market for ticket stubs. After all it’s only recently we stopped handing over our wedge at the turnstiles in favour of buying tickets weeks in advance. The trendification of football saw to that. So, whereas once, people might have presented a bundle of programmes as proof that they attended games, the modern generation might be handing down fistfuls of ticket stubs to their offspring.

As with collections of any sort, some items will be more sought after than others. For instance, there’ll be a fair few from the 1998 Play Off Final knocking about. Conversely, one from Crystal Palace in the Worthington Cup this year will be more of a rarity. Less than 2000 were sold and our ticket office staff took took them off you when they were exchanged for a free FA Cup ticket. However, surely the Penny Black of recent times is the ticket from St James’s on 25.8.99. There were only 834 to start with and, unless you were dressed like Ranulph Fiennes, they inevitably emerged as a grey lump as the monsoon that night defeated the best efforts of your trousers.

Of course, I might be wrong and they might end up worthless. As a consolation, they look class when displayed as a montage and framed. Football as an art form indeed. Respect to the ticket stub.

Tom Bright

back to the S&C archive menu


s&c issue 21

The S&C Archives











All material ©copyright ALS Publications and may not be reused without permission
ALS Publications exists to provide a platform for all Sunderland supporters to voice their opinion
As such, views expressed are those of individual contributors and do not represent those of the editors