Sam Allardyce survival drama captured in new Sunderland book

Nick Barnes
Nick Barnes
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Sunderland fans can relive the drama of last season’s great escape thanks to a unique keepsake.

Nick Barnes, Sunderland AFC commentator for BBC Newcastle since 2003, keeps incredibly detailed notes of every game he covers in his ‘matchbook’ – complete with illustrations.

Now, with the help of Tales from the Red and Whites, Nick has turned his matchbook from the 2015-16 campaign into a quirky matchbox – 38 cards cataloguing the drama of Sunderland’s Premier League survival under former boss Sam Allardyce.

Highlights include the 3-0 derby day win over Newcastle United, the 3-2 win over Chelsea and 3-0 victory over Everton that sealed safety on a dramatic night at the Stadium of Light.

Nick’s matchbook caught the imagination of fans on social media, with footy fans across the world taking an interest – with articles published in New York, Moscow, Germany and Italy.

Now it has been reproduced, with each card inside the matchbox a double page spread of each match complete with team information, detailed notes plus the match action.

Nick said: “Since I first posted pictures of my ‘matchbook’ on social media the interest in it has ballooned amongst football and non-football fans.

“People as far flung as Russia and China have taken an interest and articles have been published in New York, Moscow, Germany and Italy, to name but a handful.

“The ‘Matchbook’, which has now been reproduced as a matchbox by ‘Tales from the Red and Whites’, is my working notebook, my commentary notes from which I work on a match day.

“My matchbook has grown from a mere scrapbook when I covered Carlisle United in the 1990s, when I kept a record of every match I covered cut from the newspapers, to the notebook it is today in which I try to combine my love of art and design with my love of football.

“Last season I took the bold step of hand drawing all the club crests as I had previously cut and pasted them from the internet, and while I was largely pleased with the results it was time consuming and perhaps over ambitious.

“But it did mean that last season’s matchbook was particularly special and all the more so with Sam Allardyce pulling off another ‘miracle’ at Sunderland.

“Sam has even signed the book on the page of Sunderland’s 3-0 win over Newcastle United.

“I hope it fascinates those that buy it as much as it did me producing it.”

The matchbox is made up of 40 cards; a title card, an introductory card outlining its history and 38 cards cataloguing last season’s Premier League campaign at Sunderland AFC.

It is available from www.talesfrom.com/sunderland and Waterstones Sunderland priced at £18.99 (plus p&p if ordered via the website).

An A6 version of Nick Barnes’ Matchbook is also available for £9.99.