|Posted on 30 April, 2018 at 9:15||comments (0)|
Man from South Yorkshire goes viral after spotted having a pint in pub
A man, 59 from Barnsley, was spotted today having a beer in the Travelling Man public house in Boldon, Tyne and Wear.
Known locally as Big Mick, the Yorkshireman said: "I come up for pint with some lads and next thing I know, I'm all over that Face ache and Twatter".
Big Mick added: "Next time, I'm up for a sup, I'm defo wearing me flat cap."
|Posted on 20 February, 2018 at 6:20||comments (0)|
So today’s papers have announced that Sunderland AFC is now up for sale at £50M.
Having spoken to a number of credible sources ourselves, these may be the reasons why.
Apparently, Ellis Short is losing £30M a season on Sunderland. Not many fans will like the US owner at the moment, but Ellis is basically bankrolling the club and paying everyone’s wages to keep things going.
The amount of debt the club has accrued, we’d basically need another billionaire to bail us out.
Apparently, several sources have leaked that previous consortiums wanting to take over the club offered in the region of £60M and wanted Ellis to wipe off the debt, believed to be in the realms of £110M, which in reality, was never going to happen.
In essence, before today’s announcement, a potential suitor to buy the club would need to shell out £170M before even beginning to look at restructuring the club and investing in players. Today’s news would suggest the figure would be in the region of £120M.
If relegated this season, the chances of going under are very real indeed.
Several other sources, suggest administration may be skipped and liquidation entered into, with the club apparently not having as many assets as some may think. How you wish to read into this, well we will leave that to you to investigate.
With a lower TV revenue due in next season after a possible demotion to League One, coupled with debt repayments and a high wage bill for that division, the notion of less hot dog sellers on concourses, is the least of our worries at the moment.
More on Ellis and dealing with Sunderland over the years can be found in new eBook – Attack! Attack! Attack! The story of football, business and war – available now on Amazon at http://amzn.to/2ocvZjh
|Posted on 14 February, 2018 at 5:30||comments (0)|
A new eBook has shed light on a bizarre email exchange between a then fanzine editor and football club owner, wanting a campaign set up against former Sunderland AFC vice chairman, David Miliband.
Attack! Attack! Attack! is an eBook looking back at the ten years in the life of author, Malcolm Robinson, since he wrote one of the first books on the modern Afghanistan conflict entitled, “From Afghanistan to Temazepam”.
In the original book, Robinson kept a diary of his time in the Royal Air Force in Kandahar in 2006 to 2007, which was published charting his football team’s (Sunderland) rise to promotion under then manager, Roy Keane.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary, Robinson released “Attack! Attack! Attack! – The story of football, business and war 10 years on” as a look back on events in his life since.
He became editor of Sunderland fan’s magazine, Seventy3, and it was here where one of the most bizarre stories in the eBook comes to light.
It centres around an email exchange between Robinson and Sunderland’s Texan billionaire owner, Ellis Short. In the exchange, Robinson sends Short an electronic copy of Seventy3 in support of then newly appointed head coach – Paolo di Canio.
Short’s reply was to the point, to say the least.
In the email Short wrote: “There should be a fan-led publicity effort to get David Miliband, since he harmed the team by his publicity seeking, and since he abandoned his constituents to go make big money in New York, to disgorge all the money that SAFC paid him as director and donate it to the Foundation of Light to help local families and kids.”
Subsequent emails from Short added “can’t come from team, so this wasn’t my recommendation.”
In an extract from the eBook, Robinson adds: “To say I was a bit shocked would have been an understatement…no way was I expecting a response like that. Don’t get me wrong, the Seventy3 team and I were most likely in complete agreement with Ellis on this one. Miliband had left the club with a public swipe, this after receiving a decent salary, purely for sitting on the board. Yet for this to come from Ellis Short, a public figure and the current owner of Sunderland AFC, a Texan billionaire to a humble fanzine editor, whom he didn't know that well, well was quite astonishing.”
A few days later, Mal obliged with a softer approach to the Miliband affair, this article appearing in the Shields Gazette, the paper for South Shields – the constituency of David Miliband - https://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/miliband-wrong-to-quit-sunderland-over-di-canio-1-5544523" target="_blank">https://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/miliband-wrong-to-quit-sunderland-over-di-canio-1-5544523
Sunderland AFC appointed controversial figure, Paolo di Canio as head coach of the club in March 2013. His suggested links to fascism caused a wave of conflict towards the club from fans and public figures alike, with the Durham Miner’s Association requesting their historic banner back from the club (which hung in the reception of the Stadium of Light) and the resignation of then Sunderland vice chairman and former Foreign Secretary, David Miliband.
Indeed, it was Miliband’s resignation citing di Canio’s “past political statements” as his reason for leaving the club, which struck a nerve with owner, Short, leading to the email exchanges calling for a campaign against the former politician.
BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said at the time that Mr Miliband's decision to stand down was entirely to do with Mr Di Canio's appointment and nothing to do with his forthcoming move to New York to work for a charity.
The Sunderland owner, who has seen a public backlash from fans following relegation from the Premier League last season, sees his team currently residing in the relegation zone of the Championship.
Author, Robinson said: “I was in disbelief at the time of the emails, but it showed Ellis’ passion for the club, something that seems to be missing now the club is in freefall. It makes you wonder where that passion and interest from Ellis has gone? I have included balanced stories on Ellis in the book, some good stuff he has done behind the scenes. It makes you wonder why now he seems to have lost interest in the club, when at the end of the day, it is his saleable asset. ”
Attack! Attack! Attack! The Story of Football, Business And War 10 Years On is available now in digital format via this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Attack-Story-Football-Business-years-ebook/dp/B079NTXJC1/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1518604159&sr=8-8&keywords=malcolm+robinson" target="_blank">https://www.amazon.co.uk/Attack-Story-Football-Business-years-ebook/dp/B079NTXJC1/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1518604159&sr=8-8&keywords=malcolm+robinson
It is available on other platforms here: https://www.books2read.com/u/3L9kXe" target="_blank">https://www.books2read.com/u/3L9kXe
|Posted on 12 February, 2018 at 9:50||comments (0)|
I wrote a book once about my time in Afghanistan with the RAF, whilst trying to keep up to date with what was going on back home, with then manager, Roy Keane and his charges, pushing for promotion for Sunderland.
The book, "From Afghanistan to Temazepam" was published in October 2007 and did reasonably well in sales, so much so, you'd have to go second hand and buy it on Amazon now. Fast forward to October 2017 and a friend suggested I provide an update of things since the original book release, a mini summary if you like, to mark the decade since first penning those original thoughts.
And so at the start of February 2018, the eBook, "Attack! Attack! Attack! The story of football, business and war" was launched on all relevant digital platforms.
Split into 3 main elements, the 30,000 words look at my life since that tour in Afghanistan in the first chapter (military), life as fanzine editor of Seventy3 Magazine (football) and the third and final chapter on job roles since, particularly that of Sports Editor for ncj Media (business).
However, it will be the football element that will attract the attention of Sunderland fans.
As editor of Seventy3 Magazine, I interviewed all of the surviving 1973 team, the likes of Peter Reid, Micky Gray, Kevin Phillips and more.
Yet, possibly the most bizarre relationship was with Ellis Short.
An order came in one day for a subscription for the magazine via PayPal from an E.Short from Texas. It felt like some kind of wind up, even though the funds had been transferred. One of the team contacted the client and indeed it was Ellis Short, who was glad we got in touch, as he wanted the magazine to be sent to his London address, not Texas.
He wanted to read Seventy3 to gather an insight into the club and it's culture - nice one.
It was the beginning of a working relationship with the Sunderland owner.
There would be conversations on the appointment of Paolo di Canio and support for him from Seventy3, which led to a email exchange about David Miliband, invites for us to attend Ellis' private party the night before the 2014 League Cup final in London and emails about genuine interest in the city.
The last time I saw Ellis was in the Hilton Hotel, following THAT Everton game, the one that kept us up in May 2016. There were wild celebrations that night and across came Ellis to chat to me and my mate Vinty. God know what was said between us, following several drops of alcohol that evening. There was one photo that emerged of Ellis chatting to us both. With Ellis being so tall, he crouched down to chat to us and when the photo was captured it looked like Ellis was worse for wear from the drink, when in truth he was sober. The image kind of went viral online, with everyone laughing and joking on, with me trying to point out the truth and it was us that were intoxicated, not the Sunderland chairman!
In the book, I have covered things that Ellis has been engaged with, which suggests at one point he was very much interested in the club and city, which begs the question, where did it all go wrong?
There is no doubt he has been badly advised, yet at the same time, he oversaw the running of the club.
I take it he must have experts in their fields, running his other investments, which makes you wonder why he didn't have some kind of football person to help run SAFC? When Niall Quinn left, he was simply never replaced.
Our current predicament also makes you think, why hasn't Ellis invested, simply to make the club more saleable than what it is now? If he wants rid then so be it, but you'd try and make the club a healthy investment to take on board. Its like selling your house, you'd make it look the best it could be to potential buyers, so why not a football club?
Having been fortunate to have experienced various occasions and insights into the club, it makes me more baffled to see the club where it is today and the lack of interest from Ellis.
Ellis Short - what is his end game? Answers on a postcard please.
Attack! Attack! Attack! The story of football, business and war - is available now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and more. Click on the link to see the range of digital platforms available. https://www.books2read.com/u/3L9kXe" target="_blank">http://https://www.books2read.com/u/3L9kXe
|Posted on 4 August, 2017 at 9:45||comments (1)|
Wear The People’s Mal Robinson looks ahead to the new season, by looking back at an important season for the Lads and wonders if history will repeat itself?
The talk of the summer may be focussed on 20 years since leaving Roker Park and 20 since the opening of the Stadium of Light, but if you cast your mind back another decade, then it will be 30 years since the start of Sunderland’s only season in the third tier of English football.
30 years ago, it was also my first full season watching Sunderland. My Dad had taken me to the season previous, where I had the delight of watching us succumb to West Brom, Sheffield United, even surrender a 2-0 lead at home to Barnsley on the last day of the season to ensure we had the pleasure of Gillingham in the play-offs (what a game that was), and 30 years ago, May gone.
And so 30 years ago this August, we trundled in the light drizzle to Roker Park to see Denis Smith’s Sunderland take on Bristol Rovers in a drab 1-1 draw, the club’s first home game in Division 3 in our history.
The campaign itself was a glorious one, even if in Division 3. The team swept all before them (eventually) and the arrival of a young gun named Marco Gabbiadini, meant there was fresh enthusiasm once more on Wearside. Sunderland were big news in this Division at that time, and red and white away followings drowned towns and cities up and down England from Aldershot to York.
You could close your eyes and envisage a similar trend for this season. It can be argued, Sunderland are the biggest name in the league (perhaps Villa now with John Terry can rival this) and teams will be looking for a scalp, as red and white hoards bombard vicinities from Burton to Sheffield this time around.
Yet, I fear for the club and the team.
At the moment, the club feels like damaged goods. I do believe in the manager, Simon Grayson, and think he speaks common sense, with a can do, no nonsense attitude. But as many before him in the SOL hot seat, it is money and the players that talks.
Travel 30 miles or so down the A19 and its Middlesbrough who are the perfect example of how to combat relegation during pre season and re-align themselves with the fans. Garry Monk has held talk ins with the fans and backed up promises with head turning signings. They look like a club ready to take the league by storm, the fans, players and club all as one.
Sunderland in comparison look like a non-league outfit, actually that’s insulting to the likes of South Shields and Gateshead, who seem to have their PR in check.
The lack of major signings and funding from up above has been aggravated by a pre season “friendly” arranged with Celtic, to which I can only surmise as appeasing our sponsors. A game which cost in policing, brawls and bad press across the board. My option would have been to play Everton for the Bradley Lowery Cup – a club that has done so much for Bradley.
It was supposed to be a game to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the SOL, yet it was Celtic who took the limelight. Even at 0-2 within the first half, the sight of a pathetic by-plane with 20th anniversary message from the club, just smacked of ill timing as ever.
Throw in Darron Gibson, not so much the somewhat staged video by fans, but the club’s response! They couldn’t even spell his name correctly in a media statement. And to be honest, Gibson was bang on the mark.
Then there is the strip which goes away from the traditions of thick stripes of red and white for something resembling a butcher’s apron, or throwaway plastic bag. The fans don’t like it and it looks hideous.
So just like the international tournaments with England, we go into the club season with no expectations of the side...I think that would be for the best. Sunderland’s promotion and relegation odds are similar; it’s that tough to call.
A good start is crucial. Win against Derby and we’re off the mark. Lose and the pre season negativity is reignited and questions over anyone and everyone with the club will resurface.
The club is not in a healthy state, lose the first few and we are playing catch up with desperation already, which could prove terminal.
So which part of history will be repeating itself come May 2018? The 30 years since I had to watch drivel and dross en route to the third tier, or the beginning of the revival under Denis Smith?
Personally, I don’t see neither.
Sadly, Sunderland are not strong enough this year in terms of depth and skill and we lag behind the likes of Boro and Villa. We do have people on the day that can perform (McGeady, Cattermole) will one be consistent enough and will the other stay off the injury list? A mid table finish could be in the offing.
I’d happily snap the hands off anyone offering us a play-off position now.
|Posted on 28 September, 2016 at 5:10||comments (0)|
Top Sports Writer, Graeme Anderson provides a little more on his top flight memory for Wear The People.
Graeme holds the distinction of probably writing the most words on Sunderland AFC, having covered the club for over 20 years with the Sunderland Echo.
Graeme now heads up GSA Media, having also featured for the likes of The Times and Daily Express.
Chelsea 1 Sunderland 2
April 19, 2014
"We need a miracle," Gus Poyet had said a fortnight before this game but a 2-2 draw at champions Man City was followed by this - the end of Jose Mourinho's amazing unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge after 77 games.
Connor Wickham had bundled one home early doors, Fabio Borini scored a penalty with minutes remaining, to set up a nail-biting end.
At the final whistle, Sunderland fans went mental and I think I finished sending my copy to the Sunderland Echo in a state of shock.
The Great Escape was on. Miracles do happen.
|Posted on 23 September, 2016 at 7:00||comments (0)|
This time Jim Fox looks at memories of Manchester City away, with the lads due to play there tomorrow for the first game of the season.
He looks back at his first visit to Manchester in 1970...
Those who think the Etihad’s in a bad part of town never visited Maine Road.
Even as a wide-eyed 13 year old, my first visit to Man City in 1970 was a shocker. Moss Side was, shall we say, “ripe for redevelopment” resembling Beirut more than Barnes.
This was a real adventure. I’d been taken to away games in a car but I and a lad from school got the train to Piccadilly and a bus down Oxford Road where a pre-match meal of pie and chips was had; even I didn’t drink at 13.
It being April, we were of course in a relegation battle which we would lose, a last day defeat to Liverpool sealing our fate. This was a strong City too with Lee, Bell and Summerbee regarded as the nucleus of England’s imminent Mexico campaign. City even had a song “Hiho, Hiho, it’s off to Mexico, with Bell and Lee and Summerbee, Hiho, Hiho”.
A 65th minute goal from Dennis Tueart won us the game: what irony. No tickets in those innocent days and we had paid four shillings for a seat in the Platt Lane stand and, of course, kept enough for a programme.
Another highlight was having enough money to purchase a Mexico 70 souvenir publication in Smiths on the way home. If only I could be entertained so easily now.
|Posted on 23 September, 2016 at 6:55||comments (0)|
Those of a certain age know that in the bad old days of football violence, going to Middlesbrough for a definite non derby was often worse than travelling to the other place for a real derby.
I don’t recall a worse visit to the ageing Ayresome Park than 7th February 1981. For the record, we lost one-nil to a Graeme Hedley goal although the events on the pitch were almost incidental to the utter mayhem which went on around the game.
My memory does not extend to whatever pre and post match skirmishes went on during the walk to and from the station although I have no doubt it was “lively” as the euphemism goes.
What was remarkable was the amount, level and prolonged nature of the fighting which went on inside the ground and in at least three sections of it. I have no doubt that police and stewards were present but even by Cleveland Constabulary standards of non-intervention, amply demonstrated since the move to the Riverside, this was remarkable.
If there was meant to be segregation, it had broken down completely soon after kick-off. As was common, Sunderland had infiltrated home areas in numbers.
This led to waves of fans from both sides charging up and down the terracing at each other, landing blows and kicks, retreating, regrouping and repeat the process for what seemed most of the game. I really don’t remember the security services even making a token effort to snatch and arrest people as a deterrent or to form a no man’s land between them.
The good old days, eh?
|Posted on 23 September, 2016 at 6:50||comments (0)|
Online gaffer Jim Fox gives us his memories ahead of Southampton FC on a trip to The Dell in the 1980's
The 31st January 1981 was not a good day to be at what used to be generously described as Southampton’s “quaint” home, The Dell.
In this instance, quaint means unfit for occupancy, crumbling and sight lines and fencing which meant that from several areas of the ground, principally the away end, one couldn’t really follow the action at all.
Having met some colleagues off the ferry who had been in France, a convenient coincidence, refreshments were taken before buying tickets in the home end. The logic was twofold: firstly, the view from the home end whilst not brilliant was better than looking at a fence or the back of someone’s head which was all that was visible from behind the other goal. Secondly, Southampton fans weren’t a hostile bunch so infiltration carried few risks.
The first problem was their manager, a certain genial Gateshead lad you may recall called Lawrie McMenemy. I don’t really need to say much more in the light of what disaster he would visit on our club so soon afterwards.
Worse than this was the fact that Southampton was, of course, in the grip of Keegan mania. The curly permed dwarf had surprisingly arrived from Hamburg at the start of the season in a blaze of publicity and inflated ticket prices.
It goes without saying that he who would become our nemesis at Newcastle later scored twice in the first twenty-five minutes and we lost 2-1. I have never understood what comfort there is in a “consolation” goal but Gordon Chisholm scored one on 89 minutes.
After the match I headed for London and the rest is a blur so nothing’s changed there in 35 years.
Wearside at Wembley - Mercantile Credit Trophy Special
If you thought the Sherpa Van Trophy was bad it was the Champions? League compared to the living death which was 1988?s Mercantile Credit Trophy.
If you?re a younger reader and therefore thinking ?WTF? as I believe you hipsters say, think yourself lucky. If you are old enough to have been actively supporting Sunderland 25 years ago, you are probably experiencing flashbacks which would shame a Summer of Love acid survivor.
I should start by saying that, in theory at least, I have free will, and I had a choice: I had the option of not going for God?s sake. However, this is Sunderland and the prospect of missing any ?competitive? game is anathema so duty called and Wembley beckoned. After all, there was a whole week between the tournament and a short trip to Southend: easy.
This abomination of a ?tournament? was conceived as the Football League Centenary Tournament and, obviously, brought to you by sponsors Mercantile Credit finance. How productive a sponsorship in terms of business growth this proved to be remains unknown. I?m sure profits slumped in its aftermath.
Qualification was based on clubs? records over a certain number of games during the season and, unfortunately, our march towards promotion meant we were duly invited to participate. Enthusiasm was not rampant on the streets of Hendon.
The League was hopeful, or naïve, in thinking that holding it at Wembley would create interest and spectators: they were wrong. The Saturday saw around 41,000 attending and the Sunday, Finals Day, about 17,000. It seems not having Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and West Ham playing may have been a tactical error.
The teams unlucky enough to qualify were: Aston Villa; Blackburn; Palace; Everton; Luton; Man Utd; the Mags; Forest; Sheff Wed; Sunderland; Tranmere; Wigan; Wimbledon and Wolves.
For the record, if anyone cares, the tournament was won by Nottingham Forest whose iconic leader, Brian Clough, wisely decided to give the whole weekend a miss. Forest won on penalties in the end, massively eclipsing their paltry two European Cup triumphs.
The method of victory was appropriate in as much as the League had failed to consider that the duration of games on Day One, twenty minutes each way, would inevitably lead to goalless draws and hence penalty shoot-outs. Mind you, the League would probably argue that the lottery of a shoot-out only added to the excitement of what was billed as the inevitable ?family fun day out?.
The games on the Sunday were of thirty minutes each way duration but it is not insignificant that two of the quarter-finals, one of the semis and the final itself were decided on penalties.
The biggest winners that weekend were Tranmere Rovers, firstly because they beat the Mags 2-0 in the Quarter-Finals but mainly because it was only a year since they had come very close to going out of the League entirely. Tranmere would see more of Wembley in subsequent years, of course.
Never mind all that, I hear you cry: what fate befell our beloved Sunderland in the white-hot cauldron of the national stadium that day? Unsurprisingly, 1973 apart, it was at Wembley so naturally we lost. Following the pattern of the entire pointless spectacle, forty minutes of will-sapping, brain-numbing inertia against glamorous Wigan Athletic produced a goalless draw followed by a defeat on penalties: I can?t remember the score so meaningless was it.
What I do remember, for the only time in my life, was praying that we would lose on penalties so I could have an excuse to leave and either spend the rest of the day more productively drinking in the capital or catch an early train back north: I chose the latter option as I recall.
The League, in its wisdom, had somehow overlooked the logistical challenges posed to travelling fans by a tournament whose duration involving your side was unknown. We had catered for this by the obvious expedient of having open rail tickets and arranging to stay over with London Branch members in the unlikely event of qualifying for the Sunday: no chance. As it turned out, I remember being back in Sunderland in time for the highlights on that night?s Match of the Day. When I say highlights, I am sure it was a short programme.
Looking back, why I bothered at all is hard to fathom. We got to Wembley late due to dallying in a rather hospitable London hostelry near Kings Cross. We did not, however, get there late enough to miss our game with Wigan but had missed the twin treats of Tranmere beating Wimbledon 1-0 and the Mags drawing 0-0 with Liverpool then beating them on penalties.
Leaving Wembley that Saturday, however, I had my revenge, taking it all out on an unfortunate Wolves supporter. Violence I hear you ask? No, worse than that: I gave him my ticket for the Sunday. His team having already been eliminated by Everton (yes, on penalties) he was reluctant but he was staying over anyway and the offer of money and free beer to take it off my hands clinched the deal.
You?re envious now, I can tell. You just wish they would arrange another such tournament soon, don?t you? It was terrible. I must add that those who criticise the new Wembley can have spent little time in the crumbling wreck which the old one was even then and certainly was ten years later for the Charlton play-off game.
Looking back, given the Metropolitan Police?s notoriously cautious approach to games in the capital, it?s a wonder the event took place. The Met could have saved everyone the time and trouble, not to mention cost, by simply banning the whole fiasco on public order grounds.
Given that one of one?s priorities for a long time when in London with Sunderland is checking fixtures and tube routes to estimate the likelihood of running into rival fans en route to or from other grounds, one might imagine that London on Mercantile weekend resembled modern day Syria.
After all, we were there as well as the Mags, their traditional allies in all things anti Sunderland Forest and, of course, Leeds United with whom we share a certain history going back to the sixties, one might say.
I stand to be corrected but this was not the impression I got, at least on the Saturday. It seemed that such was the stupefying dullness of the entire event that even the most dedicated adherent of ?bother? was lulled into a soporific state of pacifism, deeming the triviality of the contest and lack of kudos attendant on its whole proceedings unworthy of lifting a hand or launching a boot. There can be no greater shame, surely, than a football tournament even hooligans cannot be bothered to fight at.
The last word on the accursed Mercantile Credit trophy belongs to a certain Sunderland magazine of the era called Wise Men Say which, in one of its not uncommon satirical moments, suggested that the Football League Centenary would have been better served as a commemoration by an It?s a Knock-Out style drinking contest in which diehard drinkers from leading clubs gathered in a suitable London hostelry, the winner being the last man standing.
Knowing our luck, of course, it would still have gone to penalties or, in this case, pints of Whitbread Trophy the pint, as the slogan says ?that thinks it?s a quart? but you wish was a half!