Our cherished former manager Lawrie McMenemy may have apologised before for all I know for his part in dumping Sunderland AFC into the Third Division. He’s at it again (or should that be for the first time?). Who can remember those relegation playoffs against Gillingham without wincing, whether they were present or following from afar? And who can forget the nasty taste left in the mouth by McMenenemy’s rotten reign? …

From the man who led Sunderland towards a one-and-only visit to the third tier come an apology and, inevitably, excuses.

As we ponder the remaining issues of the group stage of Euro 2016 – and maybe have a flutter at Online Sportsbook, this will turn our thoughts to dark period in the club’s history. A glacial welcome back into our world, Lawrie McMenemy.

Among the reasons for the mess he left us in, we learn from Lawrie McMenemy’s book A Lifetime’s Obsession, was the mess he found us in when he arrived.

The publisher, Trinity Mirror Sport Media, has promised a PDF of the relevant chapter, dealing with McMenemy’s catastrophic time at the club (June 1985 – April 1987), but this has not yet materialised. More may be added but for now, I will treat the Chronicle’s quotes as accurate.

First the apology for the club’s drop into the Third Division, McMenemy having left with just seven games to go: “I will be eternally sorry that I played a part in that surrender. I am judged as a manager by what happens on the pitch and that was unacceptable at Sunderland.”

Then the self-serving wriggling.

“The Sunderland public don’t know half of what went on behind the scenes and never will unless I write a book,” he writes.

“… There are a couple of misconceptions about my leaving. I was not sacked and I didn’t leave because I thought the club was going to be relegated but for the opposite reason; I thought my departure would give a new manager time to spark the revival I was certain would come.”

McMenemy never endeared himself to Sunderland supporters. There were stories about him being the highest earning manager in English football. There was the irritating matter of him not even living on Wearside while manager, even if that has become commonplace among players and managers alike.

But back to the excuses.

“I knew from my first training session a mountain of work was in front of me. What I saw sauntering past me in their training gear was definitely not normal. The lack of professionalism could not have been more obvious.

“I was looking at a group of 30 players who appeared lacklustre and disinterested as they jogged around, warming up. It was an unusual response to a new manager.”

And those cockroaches and a dilapidated Roker Park? Remembering this is our
dilapidated Roker Park and these were, by extension, our cockroaches.

“Roker Park itself was antiquated,” says McM. “It was in a dreadful mess for a so-called top stadium. It appalled me when I realised just how inadequate and unhygienic it was.

“At night if you turned on the lights in the home dressing room you would stand back and watch in disgust as cockroaches scattered under the benches. The team suffered because of the inadequate facilities and the state of the pitch which had been sand-slitted to help drainage. It was a disgrace. We did not have enough good players to perform well on the country’s best pitches, far less one of the worst.”

And then there was the board. He says his salary was leaked to the press by a director. When Bob Murray replaced Tom Cowie as club chairman support, he felt even less rapport with them upstairs.

Sorry Lawrie, It doesn’t wash.

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

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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.

7 Responses to “Does Lawrie McMenemy really think blaming Roker Park cockroaches can sway us?” Subscribe

  1. Phil Johnson June 21, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

    I read that earlier and it seemed to me that it was just a continuous “splurge” of excuses to distance himself from his own failure.

    One simple example!

    Iirc, the fact that he was English football’s highest paid manager was published when he was appointed (not later) and was mainly a source of pride in our club’s ambition, rather than a reason to resent him.

    Those reasons came later, with his woeful management, continual excuses, lack of results and then selling the story of his resignation to The Sun (iirc) before he even had the decency to inform the club.

    I believe (and always will) that he was a lowlife who only cared about himself and nobody else.

    Interestingly, he talked about “cockroaches” – I don’t think he understands the irony in him doing that!

  2. William C June 21, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

    McMenemy’s spell at Sunderland was one of the biggest disappointments of my Sunderland-supporting life [ !947 – present ]

    I really rated what he did at Southampton, and I was convinced that he would be a roaring success at SAFC. In fact, next to Clough, he was the man I would have hand-picked for the job.

    I still don’t understand how he got it so wrong. I’ll have to buy his book!.

  3. Laurence Hart June 21, 2016 at 4:40 pm #

    Thanks Lawrie for playing your part in one of my most enjoyable days as a Gillingham support. Sunderland are a huge club and beating you at that time meant the world to a 13 year old, especially as our PE teach was a Sunderland fan.

    Sorry, please don’t offended by those comments, it all ended well for you in the end. You are in your rightful place and we remain in the same place where were that day.

    Good luck Sunderland

  4. scotter June 21, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    Reminds me of the paid “exclusive” he did for one of the tabloids just after he left. A journalist likened it to a U.S pig slaughter house where every part of the animal was sold but he went one better by selling the “squeak”.

    He certainly butchered us even though he was the best paid manager in the league. Now we have noisome echoes of that very “squeak”—- for money no doubt.

    Don’t buy the book and let this individual just slide into the obscurity he richly deserves.

  5. mark wood June 21, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

    I watched McMenemy’s Sunderland team week in and week out for all of his reign and I cannot believe the absolute hogwash the man is coming out with right now, when he says he would have kept them up in 1987 if he had stayed.

    The most apparent fault watching that team is that they did not want to play for the manager or his assistant Lew Chatterly and turned out week after disinterested and completely unmotivated. If memory serves correct, he lost his first five league matches.

    His activity in the transfer market was shocking, bringing in a host of age 30+ players, out of which I would say only 1 (Frank Gray) played anything near to his capabilities. Eric Gates was a success for Sunderland, but only later under the reign of Dennis Smith and not while Lawrie was there. He sold the best players that he had inherited such as Shaun Elliott, Barry Venison and Nick Pickering in order to pay for his huge wages.

    He bemoans that Bob Murray did not back him which should hardly have come as a surprise to him with his team near the bottom of the league and when it was clear to all what a goddamn awful job he was making of the post……at the dillapidated Roker Park, which Dennis Smith inherited from him and managed to get into the top league from Div 3 in the space of three years!

    Lawrie, you are deluding yourself that you could have kept the club up, that team was awful and played as if you had lost the dressing room from the off, dont insult the fans who had to watch all that happen to their club any further.

  6. Bill Taylor June 22, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    For me, his heyday was 1967 when he took Bishop Auckland to the Northern League championship. It was all downhill after that…

  7. david miller June 23, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    Phil and scotter are correct about the Sun exclusive; it was disgusting that he sold his story to them immediately after leaving. He even had a derisory dig at Stokoe taking over the reigns, calling him “old Bob!”

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