Letters, Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

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Left outside for Roker Park cup tie

ANYONE who remembers the Sunderland v Manchester United cup tie at Roker Park in 1964, or who tried to get in, has their own story to tell.

The teams had played a draw the previous Saturday. SAFC had no time to sell tickets, so it was a case of first come, first into the ground. The trouble was just about everybody in the area wanted to get there that evening.

I was 15 years old, and with my schoolmates went to see a Shakespeare play at the Empire that afternoon. Our plan was that when it ended we were going straight to the match – no time to go home for tea.

Imagine our consternation when we heard thousands were already queuing outside the ground. We had to sit through a play that wouldn’t finish until 5pm, so desperate measures were called for. At the interval many of us slipped out, gambling we wouldn’t get into trouble with the teacher. We rushed to the ground, and, as a “Fulwell Ender”, I joined a long queue snaking its way along Hampden Road. Then the turnstiles opened and we started to move forward.

The next two hours were sheer mayhem. It was a miracle I wasn’t killed. The queues merged into a scrum around the turnstiles, and we were pushed back and forwards.

Several times I thought I was about to get in, but the nearer I got, the further I seemed to get carried away by the crowd.

What a desperate struggle it was just to keep on my feet. There were children trying to crawl away between my legs and almost knocked me over.

I held my arms across my body to prevent my chest from being crushed.

Only when I head about Hillsborough disaster 25 years later did it dawn on me I could have died that night at Roker. But when you’re young you think you’ll never come to any harm.

In the end I gave up trying to get in, then who should I see in the crowd but my sister’s friend Donna.

We both realised we were never going to see the match so we trudged back to the town. I was miserable, but at least I had the company of the gorgeous Donna.

We crossed Wearmouth Bridge and I had a real thirst by then. I fancied a coffee in Notrianni’s, she joined me, so we ended up having a date – and she was prettier than Charlie Hurley!

When I got home, Sportsview was on television, introduced by Peter Dimmock, a famous name from the past. He said the match was in extra time and Sunderland were winning 2-1.

Then came the sickening news that United had snatched a draw with another last-minute goal

William Crane, Langley Close, Washington

Ideas for Vaux site

TOM Lynn makes some excellent points in his letter “Ambition needed over Vaux site” (Letters, May 21). The prospect of turning the Vaux site into another Doxford International, indicating that it will be made up of mainly contact/call centres, would be a waste of a huge opportunity of developing a prime city centre site.

The existing companies at Doxford would probably be given the option of relocating to the former Vaux site, which seems pretty pointless.

It requires vision, ambition and imagination to take the old Vaux land forward, and building another business park is not demonstrating that.

Why not build a modern music venue that offers something different to the Sunderland Empire The Independent and the Stadium of Light? It could be planned as a multi-purpose venue that serves the citizens of Sunderland seven days a week. Sunderland also needs some hotels in the city centre with character, and there’s plenty of scope for quality shopping outlets. This site has so much more potential than becoming another soulless business park.

Tom Lynn mentions riverside developments and with the proud shipbuilding history Sunderland has its another massive opportunity that could be exploited. When you look at what has been achieved in riversides in places like Hartlepool, Belfast, Liverpool, Swansea etc, why should what was once the biggest shipbuilding town in the world not have a vibrant riverside? At the centre of this could be a shipbuilding museum with a redeveloped City of Adelaide clipper ship as the focal point, now that the Australian bid appears to have hit the rocks.

Come on, Sunderland City Council, you have proved by not following the lead of other North East councils by making compulsive redundancies as part of the current local government cuts that you care about local people’s jobs. You could go down in history by making a momentous decision with far-reaching implications for Sunderland by helping to create thousands of jobs for its citizens and send a positive message out that people can relate to. Over to you.

Tony Ratton, Roseville Street, Sunderland

Thanks to voters

I WOULD like to thank the residents of Silksworth Ward for voting in the local government elections on May 5. I am proud to represent the people of this ward on the council, and thank them for their continued support.

Coun Peter Gibson, Silksworth Ward

Wonderful care

I WOULD like to say a very big thank-you to all the staff on Ward B28 of the Renal Department at The Royal Hospital for all their care and kindness over the years. David McIntosh,

Ocean Road South, Sunderland

Groucho Marxism

SOMEONE sent a letter to the Echo joking that people who write to newspapers are either inadequate loners or barking mad.

I admit to being both, but I’m also one of those who enjoy a good wind-up. Mick “The Pen” is the expert, and it amazes me how many people take the bait.

I like tossing a few unconventional ideas down on paper and seeing what reaction they get. One right-wing patriot from Seaham fell into this trap after my letter in praise of Marxism.

It’s interesting to read the views of people who disagree with you, but my jaw dropped when I saw Karl Marx is to blame for illegal immigration and for criminals getting soft sentences.

I accept that my generation, the post-war baby boom, have enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. We were children in Macmillan’s “You’ve never had it so good” era. We were never hungry, we had a good education and free NHS care. The LEA awarded me a grant to go to college, I got a decent job and had money to afford pretty things in shopping malls and now I have a generous public sector pension.

It’s great to enjoy the benefits of a consumer society while being able to say: “What a great place Soviet Russia was. All those cornfields and the ballet in the evening!”

No, I must admit, I’m more a disciple of Groucho Marx than Karl.

However, I would make this point. Those of us who grew up during the Cold War were brainwashed into thinking that communism was evil.

Look at the branch of comedians who thought it was better to be dead than Red: McCarthy, Nixon, Reagan, even John Wayne.

I was shocked when I found my sociology tutor at college was a Marxist. I automatically assumed they were all bad.

He taught me to look at society in a different way and liberated my mind. In the end he went to live in East Germany and must have been devastated when the communist regime collapsed.

Henry Whipple, Coach Road Estate, Washington

Station donation

THEY have spoiled the ship for the sake of a pennyworth of tar!

To what is this referring?  

Sunderland’s £7million toiletless railway station, that’s what.  

Still, perhaps the good people of Sunderland will have a whip-round to buy the station a toilet of its very own for Christmas.

May I be the one to make the very first donation to the pot, of say a token 1p?

R. Tomlinson, The Avenue, Deneside, Seaham

Pension changes

PEOPLE aged 56 or 57(or indeed younger) are going to be hit hard by the Government’s plan to speed up increases to the State Pension Age (SPA).

SPA was scheduled to increase to 65 for women by 2020 and to 66 for both men and women by 2026.

Now the Coalition wants the SPA for women to be 65 by 2018 and 66 for both men and women by 2020. This will particularly affect women born after April 6, 1953, and men born after December 6,1953.

Women, who have already seen their state pension age moved from 60 to 63 or 64, now face waiting up to two years extra for their hard-earned pension, the unluckiest losing over £10,000.

Men will have to wait up to an extra year, with most losing over £5,000.

The Pensions Bill that will make these changes will be debated in the House of Commons in the next few weeks. You can find out how you are affected and sign a petition against the changes at www.usdaw.org.uk.

Please also contact your MP and ask them to oppose these changes which will make thousands of hard-working people wait even longer for their state pension. You can call your MP at the House of Commons on 0207 219 3000 or email them from http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

John Hannett, General Secretary, Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)

Garden of Eden

GEOLOGISTS tell us that this world of ours

Has stood for years in billions.

So if we take away two hundred years,

There’s still left loads of millions.

Microchips, computers, heart transplants,

Intercontinental planes,

These two hundred years I refer to

Must have exhausted inventors’ brains.

It’s hard to believe not so long ago

Sticks were rubbed to start a fire,

Now men are landed upon the moon

And are even aiming higher.

Surely it has all been done before,

Yes, and not that long ago.

Maybe global warfare

Dealt Earth a deadly blow.

Maybe there were no survivors left.

This is what I believe,

Then almighty God created life again

In the shape of Adam and Eve.

S. McKinney, Lynthorpe, Ryhope, Sunderland