You will have heard me remark in earlier submissions that I trust the crowd won’t impede my view of the match. Not much chance of that at the moment. The long grass on the bank is another matter, mind. I know it's August and all that, and we have got a succession of home games but even so, the crowds are a bit disappointing aren’t they? Not in quality I hasten to add, indeed not, a finer selection of discerning football aficionados it is hard to imagine than the RCA faithful, much experience of the game, know a good player when they see one, fair and impartial commentators, and fond of a pint; no you can’t knock the quality, but the quantity? A fine young side developing, a super standard of football, and embarked on an FA Cup run that sees us a mere ten games from Wembley, assuming we make the semi final. What more could the good people of the City of Sunderland want? Quite a bit it seems. Well, a Ryhope Derby with both sides in fine fettle, followed a week later by the visit of Liversedge in the first qualifying round of the cup is a decent offer I reckon. Maybe the undecided will decide this week.
In the wider world Wayne Rooney announced his retirement from international football, starting the latest round of debate on how good he is, or at least now in international terms, was. Very, very good at his best would be my view. I was fortunate enough, in my living years, to be in Portugal for the 2004 Euros, Rooney’s first big tournament. He was magnificent, man of the match at eighteen in the game against France while on the pitch with players of the quality of Scholes, England’s best midfield player of the last 20 years playing wide left, give me strength, Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, Campbell, Cole, and for the French Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Viera and Makalele. Desailly could only get on the bench. But Rooney was head and shoulders the best player on show. Of course a week or so later he did his famous metatarsal and that was that. Maybe he was never so good again as in his teenage years, but he was still the best of his generation I reckon, and his 200th Premier League goal the other day is evidence enough. Not bad for a tubby little Scouser. Anyway back to local concerns.
I note with some interest that on Monday the boys can look forward to a Bank Holiday trip out to our near neighbours in Consett, and for a 1:00 pm kick off at that. Does seem more than a little bizarre that when the Northern League First Division is more concentrated on Tyne and Wear than maybe ever before, and certainly more on Sunderland and round about than ever, that the best the fixture computer can come up with for a close encounter on a holiday afternoon is in the wilds of North West Durham at the crack of dawn. Taken on top of the surfeit of home games to start the season it looks to me like we have upset the powers that be more than just a bit. No. I am sure it is just happenstance and unlucky. But even so, remember the wise words of Jack Nicholson, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t all out to get you.