Salut!’s week: Liverpool’s lost mojo, winning lasses and scattered Mackems

Image: Mrs Logic

Last weekend was another one without football, at any rate for Sunderland supporters. But there have still been plenty of talking points, plus the build-up to tomorrow’s Sunderland v Liverpool match, to keep Salut! Sunderland busy, as the latest digest of the past week shows …

The Lads had a break but the Lasses had work to do. Sunderland Women’s Football Club produced a strong second-half performance to beat Lincoln City, from the Super League to which Sunderland were disgracefully denied entry, for a place if the FA Women’s Cup quarter-finals.

They face an even tougher task in the 6th round a week tomorrow – Arsenal at home – and possibly a tougher one still in persuading the official SAFC website to take a blind bit of notice in their admirable achievements. Perhaps someone can explain why safc.com studiously ignores the girls, or direct us to some well-hidden corner of the site, overlooked by me, where their cup and Premier League progress is properly recorded.

For those who missed our week, or parts of it, here is a quick guide to what we’ve been doing. If anything takes your fancy, click on the sub-heading to see the item in full:

* Is the Premier the world’s best – or a fading giant?

Time, Jeremy Robson decided on the other side of the Atlantic, for a bit of a rant about the state of top-flight football in England. Sample:

“The working man’s theatre (just how long is it since you heard that term?) has become the preserve of the middle class with ticket prices spiralling in a way that can only be matched by the price of a litre of unleaded. I can’t blame Gaddafi for the decline in interest that I have begun to experience in recent years, and which appears to be shared by many more lifelong fans than I ever could realise.”

* Peter Reid returns to Sunderland and looks back on his time as manager

Credit when due to safc.com, which took advantage of Reidy bringing his struggling Plymouth side for a spot of training between two games in the north to interview him about his lively spell in charge at Roker Park and the SoL:

“I like to think I left the club in a lot healthier position than when I joined and I have some great memories.
There were plenty of highs and lows – going down with 40 points, not going up with 90 points and the heartache of losing in what’s regarded by many to be one of the best play-off finals ever.”

* SuperKev, the man responsible for so many of Reid’s highs

Reminders, caught on camera, of Kevin Phillips’s enduring class. Two superb moments from the Birmingham v Bolton FA Cup tie could not save City’s cup run but showed how, at 37, SuperKev continues to ooze quality.

* Who are You? I’m Mick Quinn, I support Liverpool – and Toon

Our Liverpool previewer was the Scouser and former Newcastle United No 9 whose time on Tyneside is remembered by many for his explosive fall-out with Kevin Keegan, but Mick Quinn himself for the good times. Here’s a flavour of the interview:

Q: Did your time in the North East, not being from there, leave you with a bit of affection for Sunderland too?
A: No! I certainly do not have any soft spot for Sunderland. That was drummed into me in three-and-half years at Newcastle; and I am black and white through and through as far as that’s concerned and have never mellowed since I left. You have to remember also that my time there gave me my most prolific years as a goalscorer (59 in 119 games -ed) and I was proud to wear the Newcastle No 9 shirt.
That said I do like big Niall but I know Steve Bruce is a Geordie at heart and deep down wants to manage Newcastle.
Q: You’re beginning to sound more like a Newcastle supporter than Liverpool. How divided are your loyalties when they play each other?
A: draw!

* Long-lost lover of Liverpool

There was still room for this marvellous piece from Pete Sixsmith tracing his disenchantment with Liverpool FC, a team, city and idea he admired in the 1960s and 1970s but grew, in the era beginning with Souness, to regard with disdain. Extracts:

“It’s about this time that I began to fall out with Liverpool as, for me, they ceased to be a city club and began to attract “fans” from all arts and parts whose only real connection with Anfield was through television, newspapers and a desire to talk about a big club in the pub, rather than their home town clubs like Darlington, Bristol Rovers and Mansfield.”

“For me, Liverpool are like William Hague in that they lost their mojo between the two Dalglish periods. They may well be in the process of re-discovering it; Dalglish knows the club, the city and is a link with the immediate post Shankly era. He did good business in shipping out Torres and has a good one in Luis Suarez. I’ll reserve judgement on the show pony he took off The Mags’ hands.”

And finally, two great chunks of nostalgia. Inspired by Jeremy Robson, himself a long-term exile from the North East, we collated some of the responses posted to the Blackcats e-mail list.

Simultaneously, some else had the brilliant idea of creating a Google map showing the extent of the Mackem diaspora. As I write, it has already drawn nearly 3,400 hits and can be seen at this link.

Here are the first two parts of the Salut! Sunderland series:

1: From Murton to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll

2: Born in Newcastle, supporting Sunderland

At least one more instalment is still to come. And that, with all eyes now turning on the Stadium of Light for tomorrow’s sell-out game, was the week that was.

Monsieur Salut

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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.

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