Archive for the ‘Sunderland’ Category
Short set from former X Factor winner
Heard quite a few moans and groans in the Bents Park, South Shields this afternoon as Matt Cardle fans seemed a little cheesed off at his late arrival at the venue and the late start to his performance. The former X Factor winner was also heard moaning about his audio and asking technicians to make adjustments to his vocals in between songs. Most disappointing was the shortness of his set at around thirty minutes, but I guess at a free gig beggars can’t be choosers. The concert attracted a very decent sized crowd, although not as large as last week’s even though the weather was ten times better. The park was bathed in warm sunshine with just a few clouds floating by as we all filled the place with deck chairs and aluminium tables for a decidedly family afternoon of music and entertainment. Unfortunately it was left to local performers to pad out the schedule but they took it in their stride, and despite nervousness gave a good account of themselves. For me the real star of the show was former Britain’s Got Talent contestant Ryan O’Shaughnessy, he finished in fifth place in the sixth series of the popular TV talent show in May this year. Like Cardle, O’Shaughnessy just appeared with a guitar to warm the crowd with some very mature songs, the Irish lad really was a breath of fresh air.
I guess it’s a bit of a shame that he eclipsed Cardle, but he had the audience in his hands whereas Cardle seemed to be totally unaware of where South Shields was!
Oh well, with a choice of a free concert in South Shields or an almighty struggle with crowds down the road making for the Sunderland International Air Show I think I made the right choice (anybody else notice the apparent lack of planes over South Shields this weekend?)
Note to Messrs. Martin O’Neill and Ellis Short
I know I haven’t written much about the club recently, or it’s new fully American ownership and business plan, but the season lurched from disaster to comfort before slipping towards the nervy end of the scale again as mid season promise withered away. There will need to be some rebuilding of the squad at The Stadium of Light before the next season begins at Arsenal, Gyan will be gone along with Craig Gordon and three or four others, Sessignon may be difficult to hold on to, but it is imperative that we pull all of the stops out to keep him. The two of you don’t need me to remind you that we have not had a consistent goal scorer since Bent was tempted by huge wages. It will also be important to try and keep Bryan “Pop” Robson on board, his scouting abilities improve year by year, and if he finds us another James MacLean he’ll be almost a legend! Far be it for me to tell you who to buy, I’m sure that you both have your own ideas and a “shopping list” to work from, but if you will accept just a little football advice from a long suffering South Shields based fan then please please DO NOT sign any “talent” from the Australian Football League, a place where the two top stars are Harry Kewell and Michael Bridges.
Welcome back my friends.
First a bit of music to cheer you all up, and may I extend a big welcome to you all as we begin a New Year in South Tyneside’s first and oldest political blog, I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope that it brings some sort of cheer to you. I cannot promise that output from this desk will be any more frequent this year than it was last, a new lifestyle here leaves me a bit less time to write and my passion for photography at South Shields Daily Pictures also competes for my online time. However, with a long drum roll let’s get started with things for 2012.
National and international predictions
Financial and political pressure within the EU continue to build as a realistic solution to the Eurozone crisis fails to materialise, as referendums in Greece and Ireland initially reject further austerity measures relating to the latest bail out plans. Calls to remove these countries from the Eurozone are thwarted as both nations are forced to hold a second vote which confirms their compliance with the Commission’s wishes. Massive unrest on the streets of Athens leads, for the first time, to a pan European peacekeeping force being deployed in Greece to keep its citizens under control.
David Cameron decides that Britain will not contribute any personnel to the new force, and further reduces Britain’s contribution to the IMF, stating that our financial problems require us to keep more of our finances at home. Nick Clegg threatens to pull the Lib-Dems out of the coalition in protest at the Conservatives outright hostility to the new EU plans designed to bring stability to the markets, however because of Labour’s weak position under Ed Miliband a combination of Tory and rebellious Labour MPs win the day in a Confidence debate in the House of Commons, thus tying the Lib-Dems into the coalition. Rebel Labour MPs claim this was the best way to ensure the total demise of Lib- Dem MPs at the next general election whilst buying more time for Labour to reorganise.
In America President Obama wins a second term, although very narrowly, after providing logistical and intelligence support to Israel when they successfully bombed a number of Iranian nuclear facilities the week before President Ahmedinijad was expected to announce the testing of his country’s first nuclear weapon.
In Russia Vladimir Putin is elected to lead the nation again, but there are strong doubts about the integrity of the elections, massive unrest in Russian cities is dealt with firmly and harshly, and following warmer than normal friendly talks with neighbouring states regarding trade agreements and energy supplies, observers begin fearing for the independence of the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) as nationalist parties there see a massive rise in popularity after the EU’s enforced austerity measures spark riots.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announces a new treaty with Iran, promising to help them rebuild the facilities destroyed by the Israelis. Increased defence spending in the secretive far eastern state has resulted in a larger American military presence in Australia’s Northern Territory and the permanent patrol of a full battle ready US fleet in international waters close to the Korean peninsular.
China continues to be the world’s leading economy but still shows little appetite for increasing it’s spending on imports, preferring instead to produce good quality copies of foreign article for home consumption, Obama’s pleas for relaxations in China’s trade policies fall on deaf ears.
The case in San Mateo County Court in California involving three South Tyneside councillors and an officer rumbles on seemingly interminably with no prospect of either a firm result and conclusion, or a commencement of proceedings in a British court. The costs of the matter are used as a political weapon during the local government elections in May.
Fifteen South Shields boys and girls attend the X Factor auditions in Newcastle but not a single one makes any progress, meanwhile late in the year Little Mix release an album to mixed reviews which does well in the charts but does not reach No. 1, fans had a liking for the new material but complained that five covers in the album were probably too many. As the year closes Little Mix prepare for their second UK headlining tour. Meanwhile Joe McElderry had released an album firmly in the dance genre after expressing disappointment over the sales of his Christmas Classics collection of cover songs, he also decided to accept the offer of a part in a West End musical and will be appearing in panto at the end of the year at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.
South Tyneside’s jobless figures continue to rise although not at the massive rate that some had feared, local employment prospects are boosted by the announcement from Nissan of their decision to build a further two new models at their massive plant in Washington.
In the local elections in May Labour takes an absolute stranglehold on local politics as virtually all opposition in South Tyneside is wiped off the map. Cllr Geraldine White loses her seat to Labour in Fellgate and Hedworth, Lawrence Nolan fails to hold Harton for the Progressives after the retirement of Jimmy Capstick, the Liberal Democrats disappear as Joe Abbot loses to Labour in Hebburn North, Labour regain Horsely Hill in a close contest as Independent Alliance councillor Gordon Finch loses his seat, in Monkton John Hodgson somehow manages to fend off Labour’s challenge with only a handful of votes to spare, Labour make it three in a row in West Park as Enid Hetherington ends the Progressive Association’s long tenure there, Labour pick up Westoe at the expense of Allen Branley, and further legal challenges ensue after Ahmed Khan narrowly loses the decision against Labour’s John Anglin in the Beacon and Bents ward of South Shields.
Labour’s only other failure on a remarkable night was in Cleadon Village and East Boldon, where Conservative Councillor Jeff Milburn retained his seat with a much reduced majority.
Following further shop closures in King Street, South Shields, South Tyneside Council announced an updated plan for a shoppers car parking scheme which gave two hours of free town centre parking, charges would only be applied after two hours and could be refunded if shoppers were spending more than £5 with local “partner” businesses. In a further sign of Labour’s pragmatic approach to working with the coalition government council Leader Iain Malcolm announced his intention of shaving an additional £45m from South Tyneside’s spending as he intended to announce a first ever reduction in council taxes to help local people rebuild their economy by putting money back into their own pockets to spend.
On the sporting scene, South Shields Mariners are in disarray after the sale of Filtrona Park , a late season slide in form saw them narrowly avoid relegation and their future is now in serious doubt as new houses are about to be built on their former ground. Until they find a new home their existence in the Northern League cannot be guaranteed.
In the Premier League Mike Ashley showed no inclination to spend on Newcastle United during the January window, as once again he discussed the possibility of selling the club at the end of the season. The Magpies strong start to the campaign was cancelled out when striker Demba Ba suffered a serious injury, this coupled with the sales of Tiote and Krul meant that Pardew’s men had a late season loss of form which saw them end the campaign in 15th. place.
Rivals Sunderland were boosted by the surprise arrival of a top name striker and a full back which pleased the red and white half of South Shields. Meanwhile Ryan Noble’s emergence as a Premier League threat helped Martin O’Neill cement his status as a “legend” as the team went on a strong run towards the end of the season finishing above the Magpies in 9th. place. Owner Ellis Short announced that further funds would be made available to the Irishman for the summer transfer window, once again Sunderland are considering the possibility of extending the capacity at The Stadium of Light.
Which have nothing to do with music or Chelsea!
Apologies for the recent lack of posts in here, I’m going through another of those inexplicable periods that stifles creativity, optimism, the will to write, and a slight depression. Much of it has been brought about by seeing rioters locked away without any real efforts to have them clean up their communities (I knew things were heading in the wrong direction) too many doctors were producing a diagnosis and then prescribing entirely the wrong medicine, the illness will not be cured. Heard a really interesting interview on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday evening with a former policeman in Glasgow who is now involved in a project to reduce violent crime and gangland culture which has had startling results over the past year, shame it isn’t available as a podcast for you to hear. The crux of his solutions was to offer a stark choice between punishment and reform coupled with multi-partnership early intervention schemes starting with parenting classes and advice centres which put great emphasis on the first three years of life helping (mainly) single parents to introduce empathy, consideration, a realisation of the consequences of poor behaviour, and its effects upon others around you. The scheme also involves parents and teachers working together to reintroduce discipline at school and in the home for children between four and fourteen with rewards for good behaviour and reductions in privileges for poor behaviour. Those who do make the choice to join gangs and enter into a life of criminality in their teens are warned of the “zero tolerance” attitude that their local police will take going right down to the point of possible eviction from social housing, chasing down their mothers if they don’t have a TV Licence, chasing down the family if their car is not taxed, chasing down those who are in arrears with council tax, in other words the police promise to be “in their faces” all day long. Local courts are encouraged to hand down more community sentences which see offenders making real reparations for the damage that they may have caused, they get to meet victims of crime and experience the horrors and fears that many carry with them for life. On the other hand, if they choose not to display criminal behaviour they will be offered places in schemes which channel their energies in better ways such as football teams, youth groups, apprenticeships, art classes, special interest groups that teach music, video editing, video game programming, all the things that modern teenagers would probably love to do.
Unfortunately such schemes can be costly to run, but economically make good long term sense, particularly if re-offending rates begin to collapse, and they have in Glasgow, no wonder that the Strathclyde Chief Constable is one of the favourites to take over at the Met.
Then to cap off a bad week, the politicians in their wisdom decided that everything was more or less solved so they took off on holiday again!
If that wasn’t bad enough to give you the blues, I don’t what is.
As a typical South Shields football supporting lad I was looking forward to yesterday’s derby match between Sunderland and Newcastle, but now working every Saturday prevents me from going to the Stadium of Light to watch Sunderland, (my visits will have to be restricted to Sunday and mid week games now), but two sessions in front of the box watching Match of the Day have simply added to my depression, two games against Liverpool and The Mags should have netted six points if only our strikers could hit the bloody target! I fear a week of solid ribbing from the black and white half of this town. At least yesterday’s game appears to have been trouble free with only 21 arrests at the ground, which is pretty good from a capacity crowd!
So……….hoping that a bit of cricket this weekend will cheer us all up as England try their hardest to secure a test series whitewash of India, two days left to bowl them out twice for a humiliating innings defeat, at least we can say we’re champions at something! For those poor folk who cannot, or would not, dream of paying for a Sky subscription there’s always Test Match Special on BBC Radio, probably the best tonic for the blues and depressions, even without the venerable “Johnners” there are enough characters to give you a laugh, I leave you (for now) with this little classic!
Please give Sunderland’s young lads a chance.
I don’t know how much spare time you will have over the next few days, but in the hope that you do make use of this interwebz thing and happen to search Google for anything to do with Sunderland AFC and its supporters in South Shields, then you may well come across my words, it is after all a long while since I last wrote about the love affair with my lifetime favourite football club Sunderland.
The Lads have had a bit of a torrid time during the second half of this season, and for supporters we have seen a strong promising position at the turn of the year when we were genuinely threatening to break into the top four of the Premiership, melt away as fast as a dropped Minchella’s ice cream on Shields’ beach! Yes, we have had an injury crisis that is true, we have a relatively small squad, that also is true, but I have questions, quite a few of them to be sure, about the management regime and style that you brought to the Stadium of Light. Despite our great Premier League position at the turn of the year, which we might have hoped would be sustained, you must recognise that it was not attained by playing the most attractive football in the world, we didn’t get there by playing like the Barcelona of the Costa del Monkwearmouth. We had managed somehow to get there with an ever changing back four who at times must have struggled to remember each others names, I don’t recall that we ever played the same back four for three consecutive games, and of course on the back of the goals of one certain Darren Bent. Bent gives us a clue that something was amiss, he’d already made plain his intentions to seek a move to another club during the previous season but remarkably he was persuaded to stay on the promise of beefing up the team’s attack, so out went Kenwynne Jones and in came Asamoah Gyan and before you could shout hurrah Bent was off after the sniff of a huge pay packet turned his head. Don’t get me wrong, Sunderland were right not to have been panicked into signing a quick replacement during the January transfer window, that could well have been short sighted, but in the supporters eyes there did not appear to be any longer term plan or option available either.
I was involved in a “discussion” with a rival Newcastle fan yesterday evening here in South Shields and, to his credit, he had a clear view of some of the problems at Sunderland football club, he rightly suggested that we have far too many midfielders on the books, all solid workhorses but none of them with any real pace, no traditional wingmen, and nobody with creative flare or ability, I could not disagree. It was galling to recall that we had missed out on the opportunity to buy both Stewart Downing and Adam Johnson, both now making a good impact in the Premiership and with England caps behind them. He also pointed out that your South American buys collectively had all of the impact of a cold burrito, how could I disagree? Paulo da Silva just couldn’t cope with the pace and physical presence of Premiership attackers, Marcos Angeleri and Christian Riveros would struggle to make their mark in the Coca Cola Championship, err the idea might have been right to save money by shopping on the South American continent, but it appears as if Ricky Sbragia’s scouting operation was hopelessly out of its depth – and by the way Steve, is it true that you will be inviting Bryan “Pop” Robson back to Sunderland to head up the scouting team? We do need a bit of fizz!
My “Mag” mate also asked what is up with the training regime to cause so many injuries these days? I had to tell him that you had a different work ethic to Mick McCarthy, have the lads in for an extra hour each day, run less fitness drills and play more eleven aside football. That’s the problem I was told, over training and too much physical contact during the sessions, no wonder Keiran Richardson’s stress fracture was hushed up for a while, he suggested. And another thing Steve, and my Mag mate was effusive on this point, Sunderland AFC have far too many loan players at the Stadium of Light, how can you expect maximum commitment and the fulfilling of an ambition when so many players know they wouldn’t be there to either enjoy the fruits of success or face the music of failure?
The most damning failure, so far, of your management and footballing style has been to play unadventurous teams in solid, no I think I shall say stolid, formations, which while grinding out a few wins and quite a few draws did nothing to excite the fans on the terraces. So much so that chairman Niall Quinn was forced to come out and plead for us to return to the stadium, he blamed foreign television stations beaming matches into pubs, we blamed the football for ensuring that the Stadium of Light has been all but two thirds full for most of the campaign. A little more expansive play on the ground and to feet would help engender a sense of hope for the future, but it has never been realised.
Did I just mention the future Steve? Oh yes, that’s what it is all about now, I’m sure that you are aware that we have one or two young lads playing in the reserves who ought to represent Sunderland’s future, they ought to have been ready to play Premiership football by now, they ought to be in your thoughts for next season (on the assumption that you will still be with us). So, can you please explain to me and hundreds of other Mackem fans in South Shields that whilst we have gone through a thoroughly rotten injury crisis, which has now left us with NO fit first team strikers, why you bothered pushing Nedum Onuoha up front in a desperate tactical move against Fulham? You have Ryan Noble available, you put him on the bench, he has a goal scoring track record, yet this lad of the future has still not been used on the pitch in the Premiership. I thought you were a protege and product of the great Sir Alex Ferguson Steve, a man who has done so much in nurturing young talent in the game and brought names like Ryan Giggs, Phil and Gary Neville, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Johnny Evans, Darren Fletcher, and Darron Gibson to our attention. I hope you are seeing my point Steve, from being four games out from the season’s end, and now down to two, you have had the opportunity to bring a few of our young lads on to the pitch. Our Premiership survival was all but confirmed, we have an injury crisis, these lads such as Ryan Noble, Craig Lynch, Billy Knott, Robbie Weir, and Adam Reed deserve to be given a chance to prove themselves alongside Jordan Henderson and Jack Colback. The future may well be in their hands as financial constraints may prevent the club from spending all of the transfer fee received from Aston Villa for Mr. Bent, it would not have done any harm for some of them to be recalled from their loan clubs and thrown into our first team, the worst thing that might have happened would be them picking up an injury.
So please Steve, in the two games left against Wolves and West Ham, can you give the fans some entertainment? Can we please go out with a young striker or two on the pitch? Can you send out a team capable of winning all six remaining points and ensure that we end this campaign in the top ten and ahead of our rivals up the road?
Do that, and I might be happy for you to stay another season, but I’ll be honest Steve, you wouldn’t be my first choice.
Now if club vice chairman and South Shields MP David Miliband were to find time for a little chat over the summer………
Former South Tyneside man turns back on local politics
I had accused him of being the biggest political turncoat in Britain, but it seems there were a few others around the country with a record for swapping parties that would make them proud.
Former Newcastle City councillor Ian Proud hails from Jarrow and used to work with me at one time in South Shields, he used to support Sunderland too but I’m not sure if I can trust that he still does. It has been rumoured that the former Denton councillor was about to stand as a candidate in the local elections for yet another party, the fledgling Newcastle First group formed around a couple of disgruntled Tories. Great, what a story, how many parties could you represent in a short political life?
What a shame he decided to change his mind.
Word of warning t councillors in South Tyneside (and quite a few of them have swapped horses over the years) if Proud returns to Jarrow and comes knocking on your door asking to join up, try and find that elusive “temporary membership card”.
Celebrate local grassroots football on April 9th
Local blogger Michael Hudson who writes at Dolphin Hotel is involved with organising Northern League Day on April 9th. 2011, a celebration of north-east grassroots non-league football.
OK, Sunderland are at home that day and Newcastle don’t play until the following day, so if you either cannot any longer afford the ticket prices for Premier League action, or baulk at the antics of overpaid prima donnas diving to the ground every five minutes as they attempt to get an opponent yellow carded, then get back to your grassroots and try and show your real local club some support. Michael has set up a site to publicise our local clubs as we approach Northern League day and it is full of interesting factoids about the Northern League clubs and their homely well loved grounds, they can also be followed on Twitter @Grassroots11. It is some time now since I was at Filtrona Park to watch South Shields (The Mariners) but if you’d like to get a taste of the atmosphere as they played Penrith, then I have a set of pictures starting here – just press the forward arrow on the right of the picture to see the next one.
Michael has the support of the Football Supporters Federation, the Non League Day campaign team, and Mike Amos, Chairman of the Northern League, I hope the day goes well and local clubs garner a little extra help and support as a result of it.
Oh, and here’s a reminder of what a good old fashioned “rattle” sounds like!