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Sunderland and the Long Long Trophy Drought

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I was going to do one of those clever invite the opposition blogs. You know, chat to my Sunderland supporting mate about how he sees Arsenal, what his own side’s strengths and weaknesses are and generally give the P.A. readership, erudite and urbane as you all are, the chance to see the world through their eyes.

Problem is he’s a bit blinkered with hatred for us (doubtlessly born out of jealousy) and tends to answer even the most ambiguous questions with a long drawn out “Aye”. Only the subtlest alteration in stress or inflection gives you a clue to his thinking. Wouldn’t have read well so I scrapped that idea.

Unperturbed and determined to pursue some semblance of the plan I searched for a few Sunderland blogs online so I could quote extensively from the comments they attracted. Unfortunately the first one I came to had me screaming at the monitor after they talked about Per’s injury which lead to their goal the last time we played up there. They seemed to suggest he was somehow inept or bumbling not to have stopped whichever clodhopping Sunderland player it was that lurched passed him as he lay injured on the floor. I fought down the bile and ploughed on. The next site I came to had robbed my idea. Well, ok it’s a pretty well worn and old idea but I had thought of using it so that much was down to me. This Black Cats blog had interviewed a man who shall remain nameless but writes for a leading allegedly Arsenal supporting blog. He used the platform of today’s opponents supporters blog to display disloyalty, dishonesty, dishonour and generally bleat in the most abject way about how miserable he was that we lost to Birmingham in the widdley diddley cup final and how it wasn’t fair that nasty old Arsene wouldn’t change his ways having singularly failed to replace any of the hundred stars he’s sold in the last two weeks. You catch my drift. I was angrier than ever by now so shut down my search and just started to think about Arsenal versus Sunderland without any outside help thank you very much.

Sunderland to me is two memories. The first shared by many of my generation features a trilby hatted man with a flapping mac and red tights who looked like a nineteen fifties car mechanic and part time Butlins Redcoat in his best clothes on a day out, doing a funny hop skip and bouncy jump across the hallowed turf of Wembley. Bob Stokoe had just witnessed his fabulously coiffured and bewhiskered Sunderland team hand out an unlikely FA cup final defeat to an infamous Leeds United team who were in their pomp back in 1973. The nation cheered as the red and white striped journeymen who had come down to London as little more than sacrificial lambs bullied Leeds (not many did that) and kept them at bay, thanks in no small part to some truly incredible goal keeping from Jim Montgomery. The double save from Trevor Cherry’s header and Lorimer’s follow up shot was so ridiculously good that even as I watch the youtube video now, knowing what will happen, I’m still convinced it goes in. Brian Moore commentating for ITV at the time was equally bewildered, shouting “And a goal … NO.. my goodness I thought Lorimer had got that one”. I’ll draw a veil over the fact that Sunderland knocked us out of the FA Cup in the semis to deny us our rightful chance of revenge against a hated Leeds side who had somehow beaten us in the previous year’s final. It’s a measure of how much Leeds were despised in the early seventies that despite the indignity of being dumped out of the cup by second division opposition I still wanted them to go on and win the cup.

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 My other memory when I think of Sunderland, shared only by me and my immediate family, is being driven around Roker Park about a dozen times on our way to a bizarre holiday destination somewhere on the North East coast. Mum was wrestling with a Bartholomew’s road atlas and Dad was becoming increasingly exasperated as no matter how many different escape routes she plotted for us the magnetic force of Roker Park pulled us back into it’s orbit. Image

Of course Sunderland left their historic home back in 1997 exactly a hundred years after building it on what was originally farm land. Like Arsenal they built and moved into a new shiny stadium and despite the financial implications and inevitable stresses of a stadium move they stuck with the same manager and continued to play in an attractive, exciting style and remained firmly among the elite of European football, their beautiful pitch with it’s flawless playing surface being the envy of other less fortunate clubs.

 

Oh wait.

 

Sunderland like many others who’ve built new stadia have struggled to find consistent success. Or even consistent top flight status. In fact the last time they achieved consistent success was between 1891 and 1895 when they won the league three times in four seasons. That 1973 triumph against Leeds was their last ever trophy.

Strangely though, as I was trawling the blogosphere to find Sunderland quotes for my abortive article and whenever I speak to my Sunderland supporting friend the mood was and is always positive. The passion and support and self belief are everywhere self evident. One blog had at least five of the current Sunderland first team better than their opposite numbers in our team. And it’s been forty years without a trophy. Seventy seven years since they won the league. Something to ponder the next time you have to read or listen to some whining anti Arsenal ‘fan’ bitching because Sky told him to about seven years, and trophy droughts.

Modern day Sunderland as far as we’re concerned means packed defences and a lack of ambition at our place and a deliberately ploughed pitch with knee high grass at their place. I feel embarrassed for those passionate loyal supporters having to stand up and shout for a side that showed such a craven lack of self belief and desire at the Emirates or for a club that along with Milan should hang their heads for deliberately creating an unplayable surface just to stop their visitors producing decent football. Having said that their fans have been known to stand and applaud some of our players on occasions so hats off to them for that. O’Neill as a manager has always been an annoying waspish presence on the touchline but he knows how to organise his teams and does have some good players. It’ll be vital Theo has a good game to keep their speedy left back penned in his own half, but if we show the same patience we employed against the Orcs and the bravura with which West Ham and Liverpool were put to the sword we have enough to beat them.

Of course as Per can testify, sometimes a deep hoof print in the wrong place at the wrong time can make a mockery of even the best laid plans.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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239 comments on “Sunderland and the Long Long Trophy Drought

  1. ArsenalAndrew other then on this gem of a site it seems like we’re a rare breed..

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  2. if only the mrs thought i was a reasonable and understanding 🙂

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  3. hunter 13, the only problem with the statue is it happened at away games so it might be taking the piss abit

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  4. Haha A or B. Back to back funny!

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  5. An exceptional win today. It’s not easy heading up to Sunderland after the international midweek, and has cost us many many matches before, but the guys dug deep. Yes, Wenger was right we were inefficient in front of goal. The thing I am liking about this team is the goals come from anywhere, today midfield, tomorrow right, left, centre.

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  6. Kitchen Sink, my apologies for not saying whats up,, good to see you man!

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  7. I agree, ZP. Another good thing is that we are getting the chances, while at times this season we struggled to get around the parked bus.
    The team is coming along quite well.

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  8. Its all good paul I’m here to stay.. hope u been well..

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  9. And Ramsey goes from strength to strength,under the radar.

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  10. George its been a delicate procedure for rambo he was struggling for form and then saviour came back so wenger unlike most managers shows his class by not immediately discarding him but rather keeping him in the team even tho it wasn’t his preferred position, showing the player he still has belief in him so he got the minutes gained some stability and adapted so now that he’s back in the middle as u say he’s going from strength to strength, he was great today and seems a classy utility player as he helped a lot in the right back role, there’s still a lot to come from him he was a great finisher but as he improves on his fundamentals moving the ball quickly and his defensive aspect the frills will take care of themselves as his ability was never in question..

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  11. KS @ 12:04 am – You know what you are talking about. Meantime the fence-sitters are scurrying over to big-up Ramsey. Better late than never I suppose.

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  12. Real battle-royal for the top-four shaping up. Contenders and pretenders?
    (The columns to right are Played, Goal Difference, Points)
    3 Chelsea 26 27 49
    4 Tot-ham 26 14 48
    5 Arsenal 26 21 44
    6 Everton 25 10 42
    7 Swansea 26 9 37
    8 Liverpool 25 12 36

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  13. Yeh Bro, all is well.

    Glad you are sticking around.

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  14. Not under ALL our radars, George; just the media, the lunatic fringe, the doubters and the doomers …

    I always thought that, prior to Jack and Ramsey’s injury, Aaron had the edge on Wilshire (though I was equally excited by both). I agree 100%; there is much, much more to come from the Welsh Wizard.

    It’s funny to reflect that possibly 9 out of ten managers would not have stuck by him in the way AW has. And probably 99 out of 100 ‘fans’ …

    As you might say, yet another case of AW ‘appreciating his assets’.

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  15. Andrew – it’s fascinasting the little glimpses we get of Arsene’s managerial decisions where individuals are concerned isn’t it? When Bac had a dip in form he was on the team sheet every match no argument, never subbed , “you’re a big boy Bac I know and you know you’ll work through this”, with Aaron a very careful nurturing, building his exposure and confidence. With Jack, bang first team as soon as you’re fit mate, while with others returning from injury we’ve seen a phased, gradual return.
    Crazy I know but it’s almost as if he knows and understands what his players need better than we do.

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  16. “Crazy I know but it’s almost as if he knows and understands what his players need better than we do.”
    Yes ,who would have thought that Stew?

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  17. Yes indeed, who would have thought it?

    I had been reliably informed that Arsene was past it, had practically lost the dressing room and was just running down his contract. Seems not, after all.

    Just goes to show you have to watch the company you keep …

    We have an excellent new post due up around mid-day today by the way.

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  18. No match report ?

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  19. Good to see the Kitchen Sink.

    That was a gr*tty victory eh? Not for the first time in recent seasons (though that won’t stop me appreciating the performance, or inspire me to make up jibberish about how much better the defence is this season).

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  20. Alex Ferguson is too worried about his legacy to care about pesky things like ethics or cleaning up the game so his grandchildren get to enjoy the sport. That old alcoholic is the most despicable figure in football.

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  21. Actually got to the game yesterday. Was really great and the travelling fans were in fine voice throughout.

    Interesting points you make about Sunderland, I’m from nearby and the majority of my mates are all Sunderland Fans. Whilst they do have a bit of a negative ideal of footy ingeneral, I would always hold there support as a great example of the “extra man”.

    They love their team, any players who wear the shirt. Even Danny Graham, despite his received Boo on his first appearance all is now forgiven. Fickle, Or just good support? I know which I think is the most effective. Danny Graham had at one point said he would never wear a Sunderland shirt. Now he’s forgiven.

    In relation to their passion I think it sometimes clouds their judgement. As in they really would like to see Newcastle drop points as much as see their own team win a game.

    I sat with the home support yesterday as I went with a bunch of mates (all SAFC), I didn’t exactly keep it quiet who I was shouting for and by the end was singing Santi Cazorla’s name. I didn’t even receive an insult never mind the slapping I probably deserved. A fair bit of banter was had and all very good natured too.

    There’s a great amount in pride for Mignolet at the Stadium of Light at the moment but all noted on what a good performance Schez put in. Not only to compliment there own team in a round about way either.

    Anyway all that aside – they are stil shit and we beat them and it could it have been more if not for Jenks being sent off. Sagna and most notably Merty had great games. Giroud got practically every knock down and did a fantastic job of taking the pressure off time and time again.

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  22. finsbury…remind me again what ferguson does at his spare time? when he aint thinking of ways to kick arsenal….what does this man do as a hobby ? anyone know?

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  23. isnt he involved in horse breeding and horse racing ? isnt horse racing one of the meccas of performance labs and drugs? ..remember ronaldo;s jaw turning into a square?..steroids do that, like they did it to moresmo (female tennis player). remember how rooney’s ankle is in plaster and protective boot and needing a walking stick and then playing in champions league semi with a twisted ankle (something that needs minimum 12 days healing) . remember how everyone praises united for chasing winners between 85th hand 95th minute?

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  24. Good article from Tom English on the doping issue – he highlights Ferguson butI presume there are a list of Spanish footballers who have been treated by Dr Fuentes

    Now wouldn’t it be the thing if some of Dr Fuentes’ former patients also had medals as World, Euro and CL winners

    A bit of dogged investigative journalism required as happened in the Armstrong case

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  25. Good point Hunter – goes all the way back

    Eric Cantona – one minute mild mannered pussy cat – next minute kung fu Frankie

    Too many steroids ?

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  26. Slur Alex moaning about dope testers being a nuisance. What a surprise to us all.

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  27. alex only cares about surpassing liverpool and being remembered as THE brittish manager of all times…deeply selfish ..deeply megalomaniac…he lives for the now not the future..not an altruist like wenger..wenger can easily sacrifice his career and any title counting stats if it means his work will benefit the club in the future. wenger will take all the shit if it means arsenal benefits from it in the long run. sacrifice.

    fergie /mourinho belong in the neanderthal type human who is still looking to manipulate the environment around him to serve their personal interest..i.e cannibals, wenger belongs to the type of human with the progressed mind which wants to abolish the “law of the jungle” and the darwininan survival of the strongest. wenger type people are ambassadors of the collective and fergie tpe are the embassadors of selfishness. when you have a mind frame set on the collective you do more good than evil.

    politics, sports, social, family, the world is being run the last 5 millenia with the mindframe of a ferguson..thats why the world is shit where everyone is selfish and looks only after himself…..lately though humanity is starting to wake up and hopefully dont end up nuking eachother up and learn to embrace eachother and work collectively for mutual benefit. fuck religion fuck oil fuck money ..when scientists can explain the pattern of atoms and the behaviour of them and how one decission can alter the balance of everything in the system, we might then realise the interconnection of past experiences and the paths we follow in life.

    career, like life ..you get 30, 40 50 60 , 70 years to make the most of it. what do you do? serve your own personal interest or do good irrespective of how profitable it is or not for you? do you sacrifice your career/life in doing good or do you throw the good out the window to get the conveniences that a carnivegan would require in a selfsh material world..

    why do good when im dead in 70 years time? i might as well play the cannibal game ? i aint here to change the world or save it………and thats why we still kill and steal eachother.

    short term or long term ?

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  28. Starts to make a lot of sense. All AW is saying is it could be serious and needs investigation, and it’s strange there is nothing happening with the number of players (and money) involved. The again the responses as described from SAF sound terrifically like Lance Armstrong (“get outta my face, asshole”) prior to his “heartfelt
    ” admissions, also known as damage control.

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  29. saf aint interested in the good of football he is only interested at winning and at all costs..cheat even if necessary..manipulate rules and environment, use his influence. …cannibal.

    his teams play the same fucking thing ..two wingers two strikers, defenders and midfielders who chop and block, staam talked in his book how fergie had no problem if the player went down inside penalty area when touched..i.e take advantage of the rules irrspective of whether the touch made is a foul or not. he manages the dressing room with an iron fist…he uses dicatoroship and has admitted so ( democracy is not for the dressing room), he is about hierarchy..the way of the old…

    in his dealings with media he will use goebels routines and on the pitch he will seek for his mini-me in roy keanne…a bully to remind everyone “we are manchester united” and bollocks like that….

    mourinho….does nto create..mourinho destroys…his philospohy is to stop and wreck, not build and create…every club he left from had a 200m euros loss and more….. does he give a sh*t? of course not..he is the special one with 2 cls going for the third..highly selfish…every club he has left from is left in ruins….

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  30. Hiya fins great to see use too..
    Hunter13 12:42 brilliant.. arsenal are leading the way to humanities next stage of evolution.. 🙂

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  31. “…the responses as described from SAF sound terrifically like Lance Armstrong (“get outta my face, asshole”) prior to his “heartfelt
    ” admissions, also known as damage control.”

    Perhaps an astutely prescient view in light of Slur Alex’s reaction. Who knows. As Hunter points out he’s a man whom I suspect has little in the way of principals when it comes to getting his own way.

    A “winner” they all cry. He always struck me as a rather unpleasant bully with way too much power. I don’t doubt his football nous and managerial skills, but I’ve always loathed the way he conducts himself and see him as a malign presence. if that’s a “winner” they are welcome to him

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  32. ha kitchen ..wenger got it long time ago, i had to go through documentaries of quantum physics/mechanics and sub-atomic particle behaviours when observed and when not.

    entanglement…

    …down the rabbit hole….

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  33. hunter13
    February 10, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Brilliant hunter! You are absolutely singing from my hymn sheet. I cannot believe how misunderstood you were on that other blog, when there were pearls of wisdom like this to be had if only they could be bothered to look.

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  34. Apologies for the massive delay in today’s post. While juggling dodgy internet and my parents’ wedding anniversary (I cooked a meal for them), today’s post suffered and I must say it is finally up.

    https://positivelyarsenal.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/the-myth-of-the-decline/

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  35. Know precisely what u mean hunter things are a lot more inter connected than we have been given to believe, so the splicing of different concepts to shed light to an idea is something I am consistently welcome to..

    And how goes it dearest passenal..

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  36. Hi KS – it’s great to be back and great to see you too.

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  37. Charmed.. Well pleased to have the class back in the arsenal blogosphere..

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  38. I don’t know much about the latest cutting edge sports science. But I wasn’t a fan of Creatine, and Sol chugged that stuff like there was no tomorrow (it is legal). The lack of any blood testing in the wider game is what I have inferred from the comments by Tom English and AW, when AFC have been applying such tests by themselves for a decade. A good thing the gaffer is not a consiracy theorist.

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