als home






visit those nice people at ready to go

Mackem myths and tales of the unprecedented trousers

The beauty of football is that it’s riddled with millions of tales and fairy stories, emanating from public houses from across the land. Consider such fables as, Middlesbrough are a big club, Newcastle have a loyal support, Andy Cole misses a load of chances, George Graham has an Arsenal crest engraved on his patio, and you quickly catch my drift. During my time watching the Lads, I have heard more pub legends or bollocks, than you can wave a stick at, and here for your delight, are my own personal favourites.

Reidy’s a tight arse and doesn’t spend any money.
Reidy is as tight as leather pants, Reidy get your chequebook out, I’ve heard it all. although he hasn’t wasted a small fortune like the Smogs and the Mags, he has spent money. Recently, the Sun (23.01.01) said in the past three years Reid has spent £23.5m on players, which is quite a wad. More than I thought anyway.

People forget that Sunderland have only been in the SoL for four seasons, two of those in the Premiership, and only now will we be benefiting from the Sky TV money, which makes £20m+ an awful lot of money. This season alone £11.5m has been lashed out on players. Reidy a tight arse? As some fat, bearded bloke who watches telly would say, “My arse.”

The SoL is intimidating
The SoL is intimidating, passionate, with great atmosphere. We all have some great memories when Wearmouth was in full flow - the first game against Man City, Sheffield Utd in the Play-Offs, the 4-1 win over Chelsea, not forgetting the Mags. The atmosphere dipped when results went a bit Pete Tong, barring the Mags game, yes we’ve proved the SoL can be intimidating, but its all too rare.

The atmosphere has been non-existent in too many games since Wearmouth opened, capped off when 400 Bradford fans sang ‘Shall we sing a song for you’ at this season’s home game. If 48,000 fans can’t get behind the team when they are 2nd, we’re in trouble when things don’t go so well. Big games aren’t the problem, but Mickey Mouse ones are, and supporting the team all game is worth an extra man. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve tried to start a song off with the supporters looking as if I’m a cross between Lassie and Graham Norton. This is football not WWF.

Reidy has taken us as far as he can.
Many letters pages and internet chatrooms have been divided in their opinion os Nicky Summerbee’s favourite boss. At the start of the season when we had no midfield, some called for him to be shown his P45. He’s taken the club as far as he can, we want Martin O’Neill, and £10m worth of players, even if they’re crap, as long as they cost £10m. To all those who say that Peter Reid is no longer the man “to take us forward,” take a look at the league table.

Certainly, he can be as frustrating as hell, and some decisions he makes are completely baffling, but we’re going for Europe, and we’re going to win the cup. Annual three points at Peter Beardsley Park anyone? Enough said.

This Current Sunderland side is a bunch of grafters.
If I had a pound for everytime people described Sunderland as “Mirroring Reidy, hard-working, tough-tackling,” I’d have enough money to charm the pants off any woman in Sunderland. Even Dougal (Father Ted) could see a side that is giving Arsenal a run for their money in terms of a Champions' League spot must have some skill. Four years ago, a Sunderland side worked hard - as does Bradford, Man City and Coventry nowadays - but it can only get you so far.

How many times has Mark Lawrenson bored the crap out of us, saying that the Sunderland side is hardworking, without any praise for the skill in the side? An insult to the players, management, supporters and everyone connected with Sunderland AFC. Sunderland’s at the top end of the table because they have a mixture of skill, flair and consistency as well as hard yakka. Lawrenson and co should take a trip to the SoL and look at the grafters, Kevin Phillips, Niall Quinn, Julio Arca, Don Hutchison, Stan Varga, Gavin McCann and Mickey Gray, and stop touting Marcus Stewart for England. Remember, Sunderland play in red and white.

Quinn sets up SuperKev’s goals
There are many great double acts - The Krankies, Tim and Helen, Rod and Emu. Take one out and they just wouldn’t be the same, just like Quinny and SuperKev’s partnership for the Lads. Rightly so, they take all the plaudits, scoring more than Don Juan de Marcos. However, one of the common misconceptions of our deadly duo is that our Disco-Panted king sets up most of Kev’s goals, which is utter crap. Look at the goals scored by Phillips in the Premiership. Bollocks? You want to bet.

In our first season back amongst the big boys, how many times did you hear: “Quinn flicks it on for Phillips, who scores” and “if Quinn was out the side Phillips will struggle.” Being the sad git that I am, I trawled through the archives of every Sunderland game in the Premiership, and in true Alan Green-gobshite-style, can say that Quinn had a hand in seven of Phillips’ 30 goals, and that includes being fouled for the penalty SuperKev put away against Watford. Only three times have SuperKev’s 14 goals this season been set up by Quinninho, one against Derby at the SoL, and the other two are down to El-Discotheque winning penalties, scored by Kev. So there.

The gap between the Premiership and the First Division is insurmountable.
The Premiership is so good, according to experts, that every First Division side will, without a sugar daddy, be sent back to the Nationwide before you can say “Richard Keys is Big Foot in disguise.” How many times have a team got promoted, only for the touchline reporter to spout off about how tough it’s going to be, worrying the managers more than David Speedie squaring up to Gary Bennett and the Clockstand paddock. Hype is a funny word, and the Sunderlands and Ipswiches of this fine country have proved the gap is bridgeable.

Let me don my Motty-style sheepskin coat for a sec. Since season 1992-93, nine clubs have survived in the land of milk and honey, not including Ipswich and Charlton who’ll be taking six points each off the worst team in Tyne and Wear next year. Eleven have gone back down, so assuming those two stop up that’s roughly a fifty-fifty split. Nationwide teams can slug it out with the best and stay there - we finished seventh in our first season up, Leicester, Derby and the Smoggies are all still in the Premier.

Keith Chapman


Sign of the Times

Since signing up for Sky Digital this year, I’ve become accustomed to watching Premiership matches in my dressing gown. No I haven’t been taking fashion tips from Hugh Hefner, rather the Saturday morning kick off has become a depressingly common occurrence in English football. First introduced for the Man Utd-Liverpool games, we were initially told that the early kick offs were scheduled on police advice as a way of cutting alcohol fuelled violence amongst fans. Steadily and stealthily the 11 or 11.30am kick off has crept into football and is almost considered normal. Inflicted almost exclusively on NorthWest clubs in the early days, games between Liverpool, Manchester United, Leeds, Chelsea and now Arsenal are liable to have fans setting their alarm clocks for late on a Friday night.

Course, this arrangement is very convenient for the money-men at Sky TV, who can show more big games than ever. Oh, and don’t forget that 11am in the UK is prime-time Saturday night viewing for those all-important Asian audiences. Surely ‘police advice’ can’t be behind the decision to make a game like Liverpool-Arsenal a Saturday morning kick off? Mercifully, Sunderland has largely escaped such a ridiculous kick off schedule so far, but don’t count on this continuing much longer.

Morning kick offs are just one example of a wider trend – the authorities use of the fixture list for commercial gain. Did anyone else notice the glut of derbies in the week before Christmas, traditionally a time when the crowds dip as the queues grow in the shops? In the twelve days before Christmas, Sky-televised matches included the Sheffield derby, Manchester United-Liverpool, the North London derby, Blackburn-Burnley and the Bristol derby. That’s not forgetting the other tasty tie, Liverpool-Arsenal. The only games missing from this list are an Old Firm game and the North-East derby. Coincidence? You decide.

Since the advent of Sky TV, games are kicking off on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, as well as on a Sunday. A lower league Friday match is now a regular feature of Sky’s schedule and fans find themselves travelling mid-week more often.

Apologists counter that midweek fixtures are forcing players to become fitter, adding that English football would be a lot poorer without Sky TV. True, football was never well treated by the terrestrial channels before Sky landed on the scene in the early 90’s.

The top clubs, including Sunderland, have benefited from Murdoch's millions, and for such clubs dealing with a varied fixture list is a small price to pay for the millions in TV cash that comes rolling in every year. But I'm yet to see how Sky TV has benefited clubs in the lower leagues. How has life improved for the Lincoln Cities and Mansfield Towns of this world since Sky brought its own brand of sporting hype to our screens?

The game cannot now go back to the days when the 3pm Saturday kick-off was uniform, but let's have a little restraint. Sadly football seems obsessed with a never-ending cycle of greed that sees its few traditions sacrificed to a new god that lives in the heavens - satellite television. The fact is we now live in an age when football fans can visit the supermarket at 3pm on Saturday without fear of ridicule.

James Farr

We contacted the Premier League to put these points across to them. A spokesperson told us: "Saturday morning matches are a last resort and come about either because of police requirements or due to problems with European fixtures. If Sky TV has a fixture earmarked for broadcast, and one of the clubs is playing a European fixture the following week, we are not allowed to ask the club to play on the Sunday and the game must take place on the Saturday morning. However, it is something that Sky TV do not like doing because viewing figures for matches at this time tend to be lower than normal."

back to the S&C archive menu


s&c issue 22

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