When I was a kid in the fifties, me dad, Sam, used to have an allotment in Blackhall. He and his brother Tommy used to grow leeks.

Some were for our dinner at hyem. They planted them at the right time, med sure they had water but nowt much else. But some were for the leek show.

These leeks were planted further apart in the sunniest spot and they had milk bottles, with the bottoms knocked out, stuck in the ground next to them.

Sam and Tommy spent ages in the shed arguing about last weekend's match and making up this brown stuff that they poured into the bottles every now and then.

The ordinary leeks were grown, picked and eaten long before the show leeks.

The show leeks just sat in the ground in the sun, sometimes with glass frames over them, having brown stuff poured into them.

Dad let me do that once. "Gan canny, though. It teks a bit!"

He and Tommy were very patient.

The show approached. Sam and Tommy took turns guarding the show leeks. Tommy even talked to them; "Gan on! Grow ye buggers!" and" "Ha'way the Lads!" Sam whistled tunes like, "Cushy Butterfield".

The day before the show. The leeks, by now as thick as Charlie Hurley's thigh, were carefully pulled out, cleaned polished and put up for show.

All up, months of love, care and attention.

Getting Sunderland out of the third tier is a bit like growing show leeks at the moment I reckon.

They've got some canny gardeners, with Stewart Donald and the best fans in the world, but they need plenty of nurturing.

Might 'tek a bit'.

Ah'm in Australia now. watching the games on the Net with me Reg Vardy shirt on. I sometimes whistle "Cushy Butterfield" as I sup some brown stuff.

Aye! Might tek a bit, but we can dee it!

"Ha'way the lads!"