Soapbox: properly spurred

Pete Sixsmith breaks a vow not to set foot in post-Ken, Boris-led London. And is rewarded for his about-turn by a performance that brought not only promise, but also the points…..

A few months ago
, I made the rash statement that I would refuse to visit London if they elected Boris The Cad as Mayor. I was ridiculed for this and was told that if I was to maintain any credibility in the eyes of the world I would have to stick to my guns.

Consider the guns unstuck because on Saturday I ventured into Boris’s domain to witness a performance of considerable skill and promise at White Hart Lane.

London doesn’t seem to have changed much since BJ’s assumption of power. I half expected to see the place full of floppy-haired toffs uttering “Crikey” and “Gosh” but there were remarkably few of them in the Haringey Irish Centre where we gathered for a pre-match snifter.

A quick walk to the ground and no sign of any grinning public school boys, just the usual perpetually glum Spurs fans dressed to the nines in replica shirts with the words” Keane” and “Berbatov “scratched out on the back and replaced by “Modric” and “Any new striker”.

Those glum faces were considerably glummer at 4.50p.m. In fact, I would say that the only glummer face in Borisopolis this weekend was that of Ken Livingstone as The Posh One collected the Olympic Flag in Beijing. Both Ken and Spurs were losers, one to a political lightweight and the others to a former footballing lightweight which is now beginning to pack a real punch.

Make no mistake, as poor as Spurs were, they were beaten by a side which combined determination and quality. Last season we had oodles of determination and rare flashes of quality. This season the determination remains and we have upped the quality ratio.

We did well last week and the quality of Malbranque, Tainio, Chimbonda and Diouf were clear to see. This week we added Cissé and what a bonus that was.

It’s the first time we have ever had a Lord of the Manor (Frodsham in Cheshire, if you want to know) and the first time we have had a player of his status who has said such positive things about us. He has played at two of the biggest clubs in Europe and at 27 is not just looking for a comfortable life on a big contract. This is potentially the best signing we have made since Stefan Schwarz.

His goal was a beauty – look at the step he takes away from King and Bale to head home Murphy’s perfectly placed cross. He has a great touch, genuine pace and can take on defenders. The potential of a partnership with the even more impressive Diouf is enormous and it could play a major part in taking us into the upper echelons of the Premier League.

Spurs were awful and were there to be beaten. At times we came under pressure but we won’t often have to face a home team with only one forward – and that the overrated Darren Bent. Irrespective of this, Collins and Nozza are beginning to develope a partnership, which, while not as good as that between Nozza and Evans, is a considerable improvement on Caldwell and Breen.

The midfield looks tighter and more creative. Richardson took his goal well and looks much fitter, Reid and Malbranque are busy and inventive while Whitehead settled into the pace of the game and grew more authoritative as the game went on.

So, a good way to start the away fixtures. Last year it was April before we picked up three points and to do so on a ground where our last top flight win was in the year I started my teacher training course is extremely satisfactory. There is much to look forward to next weekend.

Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

One Response to “Soapbox: properly spurred” Subscribe

  1. Bill Taylor August 25, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    This does not constitute an offer to be your agent but a friend and colleague in Toronto (alas, a Hammers supporter but showing a keen and intelligent interest in Sunderland’s fortunes) has been following your soapboxes and agrees with me that you really ought to be thinking about writing a football book.
    It’s lovely stuff you’re producing, Pete.

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