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Hartlepool United v Torquay United - Vanarama National League Play-Off Final

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Roker Ramble: Jeff Stelling is not foooooooookin’ leaving!

It’s been a funny old week in football. U-turns (not that one), new records and a chairman who’s pressed the nuclear button...

Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Stelling Stays!

My word, football hasn’t seen a u-turn this big since Jermain “unfinished business” Defoe decided that he didn’t really fancy a League One playoff push that’s destined to end with inglorious failure.

The good news wafting out of Sky Sports HQ in Isleworth is that Jeff Stelling, the king of Saturday afternoon armchair supporters is lacing up his boots once more for another season of fun and frolics with the gang.

Thank God for that.

Can you imagine what Soccer Saturday would have descended into without Hartlepool’s most marketable export at its helm? Merse would probably choke on a sausage roll within five minutes, and Tim Sherwood would no doubt disappear turtle-style into his gilet, never to be seen again. Mind you, there is some appeal to the latter.

Who are the others on there? Can’t remember, to be honest with you.

Hartlepool United v Stockport County - Vanarama National League
You didn’t think I was leaving, did you?
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Port Vale < everyone else

Chapeau to Port Vale this week.

You thought that they would be content with being one of the only sides in the football league not named after an actual place (can you name the others?).

Well now it turns out that the Vale (Valeites? Valiants? Valers?) have become the first side in the EFL to have beaten every other one in a competitive league game. A 2-0 victory over promotion rivals Sutton United secured them that most satisfying of statistics.

Soccer - Nationwide League Division One - Port Vale v Sunderland
Niall Quinn is tackled by a pensioner
Photo by Bob Collier/EMPICS via Getty Images

It’s a bit misleading though because if you have had the misfortune of having to play every team in the Football League it means you were shit, are still shit and will most probably continue to be shit for a good long while to come.

Mind you that’s rich coming from a Sunderland fan, and it also means we’ve lost to Port Vale at some point in the sadly not too distant past. Can anyone else remember that absolute crime against football at Vale Park back in 97/98 when we went down 3-1 on what was an abject, pathetic showing, even by our very high (or low) standards?

Frustratingly, had we avoided defeat that day, it would have meant there would have been no crowing from that particular part of the Potteries this week as it was our only league defeat; at least it was a memorable one.

I can only imagine what Reidy said in the dressing room after that one.

That match was one of the low points of what was a superb campaign, all told. It was probably bettered only by our 4-0 humiliation at Reading - notable, in my world anyway, because at that moment I was on a golf course being surrounded by an angry swarm of bees which, given the scoreline, meant it wasn’t the worst part about my day.

Port Vale v Mansfield Town - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Staines massif problems

My oh my, what on earth has gone on at Staines Town this week?

The Isthmian League Southern Central’s basement club (say that again after 10 pints) have been involved in a considerable amount of mud-slinging.

It’s the sort of mud-slinging that you need to be pretty sure about before you commit it to the public domain, less you want, for want of a better phrase, your arse sued off.

The club - and specifically their owner Joe “straight from the hip” Dixon - alleges it was evidence that their landlords, Downing LLP “may be involved through its other holdings in the financing of Environmental Crimes, Price Fixing, Deforestation, Forced Evictions, Human Rights Abuses, Child Labour, Slavery, Gender Discrimination and Murder”.

Got to make really sure the above is put in quotation marks. And intriguing too, to see that Staines listed price fixing above murder.

Deforestation aint cool aaiiiiiii
Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Understandably, the Swans’ match against Chipstead at the weekend has been postponed and they have been suspended from all football activity for the foreseeable.

Downing LLP - which google describes as a “2-min walk from the monument of the Great Fire of London” - deny the “wild allegations” made against them and that Staines’ owner Dixon was attempting to deflect from his mismanagement of the club for a number of years.

It’s very much not, as Ali G would say... wicked.

News in brief

  • Congratulations to Bury AFC on their promotion from the North West Counties Division One North. This page regularly features massive knobheads, but the one who used to own their club was of the blue-veined diamond cutter variety.
  • Bad news if you’re not white: 43% of sporting governing bodies have been handed the lowest available grades when it comes to race representation. But here’s the best bit - pathetically the FA didn’t even bother taking part.
  • Talking of the FA, head prefect Gareth Southgate diverted from his usual even-handed and unflappable self by describing fans who booed Harry Maguire as an “absolute joke” during England’s friendly against the Ivory Coast. It also led to Jordan Henderson to ask the existential question “what have we become?” Good question, Jordan. What have we become?

Will Mike Dodds persist with Sunderland’s experiment with a back five?


Sunderland’s final fixture run-in looks tough, but can they build some consistency?


Editorial: Just another week in the history of Sunderland AFC

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