Malcolm Dawson writes…..I called into the Wetherspoons in Houghton to give mine and M Salut’s regards to Hull City fans Raich and Gary, excellent contributors to the Who Are You series but there was no sign – so I nipped into my brother’s for some Cheesy Puffs and a chicken drumstick prior to this one. I can’t say I was too optimistic. Anyone who has followed Sunderland for more than a season knows that they can surprise you in the most unlikely of situations and will invariably disappoint if you go full of expectation. Like so many games before, here was a fixture we were odds on to win against a side rapidly becoming odds on for the drop. Another banana skin loomed and with Andre Marriner in charge we were unlikely to get any marginal decisions. I don’t normally moan about referees, adopting M Salut’s stance that generally they do a tricky job to the best of their ability, but this particular official has a track record when in charge of our games and yesterday just added more grist to the mill. Having said that we were crap second half. Peter Sixsmith concurs.

SBOXHULL (2)

HULL CITY BOXING DAY

How to spoil a good Christmas:

Take a Sunderland side who seem to think that a derby day win guarantees undying affection and a continued presence in the Premier League, add a twist of a former Sunderland manager who has forgotten how to win against anybody but the red and whites and throw in a soupcon of Andre Marriner, possibly Europe’s most inadequate referee, and you have the ideal recipe for an absolute disaster, a game that made cold sprouts and a box set of Jim Davidson DVD’s seem infinitely preferable.

The day had started well. I was a guest of Pete Horan and Emma Niven (the younger of his two stunning daughters) in the Montgomery Suite. The food was excellent, the company equally so. We shared a table with a lovely family from Peterlee (there’s a good story here which, hopefully, will appear later), chatted with Chris Makin who is currently “working” with Nicky Summerbee in Qatar, commentating on Premier League games and bumped into John Hawley who, tongue in cheek, predicted a 3-1 win for City. Oh how we laughed.

Pete's dining companions

Pete’s dining companions


The smiles grew wider as Hull contrived to defend like the Over 50’s team in the annual pub challenge and Adam Johnson rolled the ball into the net in the first minute. We sat back in the plush West Stand seats and anticipated an opportunity to reduce the goal difference deficit.
For fifteen minutes we looked good; trickery from Alvarez, excellent link play from Fletcher, some crisp passing from Gomez and Larsson. When the Swede put a good opportunity wide, there was little to worry about as surely another chance would be along in a minute or two.

What we didn’t realise in our post prandial comfort zone was that The Tigers were gradually gaining a foothold in the game. Led by the excellent Stephen Quinn and the busy Sone Aluko (a player who had passed underneath my radar), their passing was crisper than ours, their movement was more incisive and when Gaston Ramirez levelled with a goal that seemed to hit a divot and embarrassed The Giant Pantilimon, it was no more than they deserved.

We had a flurry of activity before the half time whistle went which gave Andre Marriner the opportunity to show us why he should be barred from Wearside until the 23rd Century. I thought that Alex Bruce clearly handled a cross from Adam Johnson, as did most of the Sunderland crowd and players. Bruce had his hands up and was always liable to touch it, either intentionally or not, therefore it had to be a penalty.
I was less convinced by the other claim against Quinn where I thought that the ball hit the hand but we could have gone in 2-1 up when McGregor made a good save from Vergini’s effort. It would have been undeserved but I would have taken it.

Jake: 'you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind' Pete: not on yesterday's performance

Jake: ‘you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind’ – Pete: “not on yesterday’s performance!”


The second half was an absolute disaster as Hull proceeded to roll us over for the fourth time in a row. Chester’s firm header came about because he was completely unmarked and Jelavic finished off the twitching corpse in the last minute as we pushed up field in a desperate attempt to salvage a point – one that we did not deserve.

What is it about this club? As Pete said after the game “You could put the Real Madrid team in Sunderland shirts and they would perform as Sunderland always do.” How right he is. There we were, with the warm glow of a Derby win behind us, a game where it was accepted that we played the better football. Another 40,000+ crowd, bedecked in new Christmas jumpers, scarfs and hats, full of brandy and bonhomie and we play like this.

There were some players who were seen through in this debacle. John O’Shea has had a good season thus far, but take Wes Brown out of the team and he is not as effective. Put him alongside Coates and he is even less so. The Uruguayan, who grew into the game at Newcastle, grew out of this one pretty quickly and his passing was woeful. Vergini was little better. Cattermole played far too deep, Larsson appeared to believe all the good things written about him this season and Alvarez and Gomez are lightweight, ineffective and out of their depth. Jack Rodwell must be looking like Billy Bunter in training if he can’t get into this team.

And then we come to the substitutions. Off came the two Z men and on came Giaccherini and Altidore. The former was making his return after three months out so that may be the reason for his wretchedly disappointing performance. A couple more like this and he may well be resuming his career in Serie A. As for Altidore, well, I really cannot envisage him ever scoring for Sunderland. Danny Graham offers more and so would Mikael Mandron. The American has had ample opportunities and has shown that he has nothing to offer at this level. His movement was poor, he rarely wins headers and his presence on the field can only inspire giggles amongst the opposition defenders. His sole contribution to SAFC will be to be mentioned in the same breath as Andy Kerr, Tom Ritchie, Brett Angell and Jon Stead as complete and utter flops.

So, a real disappointment, made all the more so when the other results are looked at. A win or even a draw would have pushed us up the league and created a breathing space as we go into a four game run where points will be hard to come by.
But this is Sunderland, a club where the catering is excellent, the set-up is outstanding and the product on the field is consistently disappointing.

Will it ever change?

What do you think?

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Born in Hetton le Hole, deputy editor Malcolm Dawson’s first game at Roker Park was the three all draw with Leicester City at the beginning of the 64-65 season. Having spent more than thirty years living in the East Midlands, he was Chairman and Information Officer of the Heart of England Branch of the Supporters’ Association but has now returned to live in County Durham.

10 Responses to “Sixer’s Hull City Soapbox: Bruce and Marriner bring Boxing Day blues” Subscribe

  1. Ifos December 27, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    I remember a few seasons ago Mourinho saying he would refuse to have a particular referee, I forget which one, officiate another Chelsea game. He was castigated, fined, etc. but surely the time has arrived for someone at the club to stand up and point out Marriner’s apparent bias against Sunderland (I would love to believe it was just incompetence, but…). If Poyet does not take this stand we may as well not bother turning up to the next game he is in charge of. The decisions aren’t even close or difficult to call!
    All of this is not to absolve the team or manager of yesterday’s debacle: woeful and abject does not come close. However, for an ‘independent’ official to give decisions against a team as consistently as he does requires attention.

    • malcolm December 27, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

      For the first shout the linesman was just as culpable unless under instruction only to call offsides and throws which seems unlikely.

      40,000+ people sitting all around the ground could see it was a clear penalty. How can two officials within yards not have seen it?

      As for Bruce’s comments!

      • Drummer December 27, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

        Bruce was he’s usual childish , bitter , disingenuous self afterwards and as i said on another post ,bringing that man into our club was Quinnys biggest mistake . I honestly wish that both he and Di Canio’s names could be officially removed from our history . The damage both have done to our reputation in different ways has being unmeasurable .

  2. Paul December 27, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    Will it ever change? I am still optimistic but it depends upon new recruits. Quality is certainly needed but I have doubts about Poyet’s qualities and his judgment. I think it will be another successful relegation struggle but I do think Poyet will move on in the summer. I think he is not 100% committed to the club and this is reflected in the patchy performances.

    • Paul December 28, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

      Poyet is describing today’s fixture as disgraceful, so soon after the Hull debacle. It sounds as if he us getting his excuses in early. Heads I win, tails I win. I see this more as defeatism than leadership.

  3. KenG December 27, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    We were dreadful BUT Andre Marriner has a truly horrendous record of bad decisions against us, and despite the difficulty of the job ( a la Mr. Salut ) there really are serious questions to be asked about his officiating for SAFC. It does seem odd that he was given this fixture having sent off two of ours against Hull at the KC stadium ( one was a stonewaller, agreed ).Add to this the orchestrated way in which Cattermole was targeted, no doubt on the instructions of FGB, which Andre did little to prevent by booking the feigners of injury.As for the penalty shouts, in the two main instances the players involved showed guiltiness all over. Why did Quinn pretend to be hit in the face if it was accidental hanball?and why did Alex Bruce put his head in his hands? Hull deserved to win because we were terrible and it seems Sunderland supporters are just not allowed to enjoy themselves too much.

  4. Gary December 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    We were in the Wetherspoons in Houghton pre-match, the Boars Nest? Our bus arrived a little later then expected due to the heavy traffic and an accident on the A1 but we were there nevertheless.
    I don’t think the ref had such a howler as some of you are suggesting. The two hand ball ‘incidents’ were clearly accidental, both were from almost point blank range and hardly a case of a player sticking their hand out deliberately to gain an advantage. We had one against us in our previous match against Swansea. A speculative punt at our goal hit another Swansea player on the arm and was diverted into the bottom corner of our net. It was a diversion on par with your beach ball ‘goal’ but it was given and we lost the match 1-0.
    If anything I was relieved the referee did think carefully about the decisions, as did his two assistants, because that was the first time Hull have been given the benefit of the doubt all season.
    I heard Steve Bruce being very complimentary about Sunderland on the radio after the game so I suggest some of you may be looking for excuses to stick the boot in. You should be on the receiving end of some of the comments made about my club and city from certain big name Premiership managers just after their teams have rubbed our noses in it. It happens so often now that we almost expect it.
    As for the actual football played I thought we played most of it and your lads plated as though the gifted early goal we gave you allowed them an easy afternoon, and perhaps the late winner at Sid James Park took more out of your legs then expected.
    The unexpected victory was well received in the away end, and after ten games without one, that much sweeter.
    All the best for the New Year.

    • malcolm December 27, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

      Sorry I missed you. Was about 12.30 when I looked in – it wasn’t that busy so maybe you hadn’t got there or maybe I didn’t look hard enough.

      We know we played badly especially in the 2nd half but I’m sure you would have expected penalties if it had been O’Shea and Coates whose arms had been struck.

      Anyway onwards and upwards with 3 points at Villa.

  5. KenG December 28, 2014 at 11:11 am #

    Sorry Gary but if you didn’t think the ref had a howler then I’m afraid there seems no point in elaborating on the injustices we’ve suffered from Mr. Marriner. I would also note that you seem to disagree with all the neutral pundits and reporters, not that I can speak for the Hull Daily Mail of course.I don’t want to be bitter but I hope you are on the wrong end of something similar today.

  6. IanOklahoma December 28, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    We need class players,what we have is not good enough,we should be killing off teams like Hull etc.I like Poyet,I think he is a good manager,the problem is the playing staff,it is just second rate.We have some good players that would perform better if we had better players with them.Poyet like myself and thousands of other fans want a team that plays good football,can take anyone at home and are hard to beat by the big teams when were away,We know what is needed and if we survive the drop again this year,a big clean out and the recruitment of some premier league class players is needed.We cant keep going on like we are,we need to compete with the Arsenals and Man U’s.Short needs to get out his check book and buy big,in the end if were successful on the field,he will be making good money from having a good winning team.If arsenal can be a top 4 team and compete in europe year in year out,then why cant we?…I am so frustrated,year after year of the same old crap,,got to go,I need an Alka Seltzer…..

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