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Southend United v Rotherham United - Sky Bet League One

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Roker Ramble: Your weekly round up of non-Sunderland AFC news is right here!

It’s new year, same old broom for Posh, and Sol Campbell is very unhappy after being overlooked in the latest honours list...

Photo by Jacques Feeney/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Hello Darren my old friend

I fondly remember the time I first realised that Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony was a gold-plated whopper, flamed grilled and straight from the kitchens of Burger King.

During one of the many lockdowns we endured, he appeared on the Roker Rapport podcast ahead of our clash with Peterborough United. Now I’m paraphrasing, but he complained of the lack of purposeful activity and as such his wife was “walking like John Wayne.”

I can only speak for myself, but if I said that on a podcast - or anywhere for that matter - about my wife, I would be greeting the neighbours in a rather unorthodox fashion as my head would have been driven through the party wall with considerable gusto.

The second time I realised he was a whopper (a double whopper?) was when visiting Peterborough on a work trip, I decided to take a drive down to London Road. Outside the front door (it’s literally all there is at a ground which could charitably be described as a small, crudely constructed bus shelter) there is a parking space, in front of which is a sign which simply says “El Presidente.” Don’t worry, I did loads of doughnuts on it in my rented Hyundai i10.

You just know he walks into the office, making loud boorish comments he thinks are funny, while the gathered staff put on their best awkward smiles as he affects a particularly odious shite-eating grin. Personally, I’d rather work for Piers Morgan.

Chelsea v Peterborough United - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
El Presidente
Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Anyway this isn’t intended to be a character assassination of MacAnthony. In fact, it’s a set of simple observations. Unless you’re an avid follower of the man, you may not know he has a podcast of his own called “The Hard Truth.” Unfortunately for the Peterborough players and manager, the truth has become a little bit too hard over the course of this season. Week on week of acerbic comments which has had, I imagine, the sort of effect on morale as salt does to a slug. Or a Newcastle fan to reality. Or a coat.

Well the 3-0 reverse to Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe sloggers has proved too much for the Peterborough board, and Grant McCann has been given the old heave-ho, barely nine months into his tenure.

Looking at their record over that time, it’s not a decision which will come as a shock; and neither is the replacement, because guess who is coming in to replace him? That’s right, Darren Ferguson is returning for a fourth spell as manager.

Or maybe he never left, maybe he’s been wearing a Grant McCann mask for the last few months, and before that a Steve Evans one? And don’t forget, this was McCann’s second spell in charge, as well as a number of caretaker stints. Frankly, I can’t tell who is who and what is what right now.

You have to wonder what Ferguson has on those who run the club, who just cannot help going back to him. To be fair, three promotions with the club (though only one in the last 13 years) may have done it. Mind you, he has work to do if Posh are going to get in the playoffs this season.

I would like to ask Ferguson one question though: why on earth do you want to work with MacAnthony yet again?

Peterborough United v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One
It was me all along, Austin
Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Campbell demands an MBE

Some lovely quotes from Sol Campbell this week, who has been talking to GB News about how he deserves recognition for his footballing career.

I do wonder what it is about GB News and why people seem to lose their faculties when appearing on the channel. That of course does not include Matt Le Tissier, who appears on there regularly - his faculties departed some time ago. Wouldn’t it be ironic if it was covid what did it.

Campbell’s gears have been well and truly ground by the fact no one in the establishment has recognised his achievements in the game.

“When it comes to honours lists, if it comes to a popularity contest, there’s a lot of unpopular people who are Sirs or have OBEs and MBEs.” Campbell said. Well, yes - Tory MPs.

“If you look at what I’ve done, and what I’ve gone through playing football and the consistency I’ve hit over the course of two decades, under severe pressure, I’m up there with some of the sporting greats of our country.”

Funny really because I remember a few things about Campbell - one, his swing and a miss for Portsmouth at the Stadium of Light in our 2-0 victory back in 2008. Secondly, his time being so naff for the mags, he made Jean Alain Boumsong look like Terry Butcher had mainlined skittles into his eyeballs. Thirdly, his hilarious time at Notts County where he walked out three days after his debut, as it transpired the owners of the club were bigger crooks than Bernie Madoff.

I’ll add a fourth - the time he scored in the World Cup against Argentina, only for it to be chalked off for a foul by jawdee hero Alan Shearer. Thanks, buddy. Or his disallowed goal against Portugal in 2004.

“I’m a proud Englishman, I have done a lot of football and work on and off the field for racism.

“I’m up there with all of them. I don’t know why I get overlooked on these kinds of occasions. I’m not the only sporting great that has been overlooked. It would be an honour for me to have a Sir, OBE or MBE for my sport, which I’ve committed to for over two decades.”

“I’ve done a hell of a lot for this country. I’ve been an icon.”

Web Summit 2021 - Day One
Sir Sol Campbell. Sorry - Sol Campbell
Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

This isn’t a comment on whether he deserves an honour. Interestingly, of the ‘98 World Cup squad, Teddy Sheringham, Les Ferdinand, Rio Ferdinand, Alan Shearer, David Seaman, Tony Adams and David Beckham have received recognition.

There is certainly a strong argument to say he deserves it, though I do not know the nature of his charity work; not everyone involved in third sector work can of course be recognised. However two Premier League titles, four FA Cups and being named in numerous teams of the season means he has the footballing credentials - even if you could say that Paul Scholes and Gary Neville haven’t been recognised, despite being arguably more successful.

Of course in Sunderland we have our own former player in Gary Bennett who has been recognised only last year for his work combating racism in football - and probably for that destruction of David Speedie at Roker Park too, which deserved an honour of its own. Also, it took Bennett until he was 60 to be given his MBE - 25 years after his first involvement with Show Racism the Red Card.

Thing is though, describing yourself as an “icon” and a “sporting great” isn’t really the done thing. It’s just not very British tooting your horn like that. Neither in my book is attempting to run as Conservative mayor for London.

It all makes you look a bit... weird.

News In Brief

  • Wuhan Three Towns have won the Chinese Super League - after the final round of matches were cancelled over “health problems,” otherwise known as covid. The irony of this success is of course not lost on anyone.
  • Gianni Infantino has been criticised for taking a selfie by Pele’s open coffin at his funeral. The FIFA President explained that some former footballers asked him to do so, which of course makes it all perfectly acceptable.
  • Fresh from taking out a loan with distressed-business sharks MSD holdings, West Brom chairman Guochuan Lai’s Wisdom Smart Corporation has failed to pay a £4.95m loan owed to the club. This probably means the Baggies have to get promoted this season or things could get very sticky indeed. That’ll teach you for employing Steve Bruce.

Roker Rapport Podcast: “Wednesday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” - The SAFC v Watford Preview!


Reader’s Corner: Letting go of being cynical about Sunderland


What would be a good return from Sunderland’s games this week?

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