Marley’s ghost came clanking into Sunderland AFC last week, with some interesting advice from the afterworld.
Perhaps stricken by existential boredom, former chairman Bob Murray didn’t hold back with his opinions.
Some of his comments were reasonable, while others were quite peculiar.
Rarely is Niall Quinn criticised. But Bob will “never forgive him” for landing SAFC with Margaret Byrne and Ellis Short, which I’m afraid sounds like wisdom after the event.
Somewhat melodramatically, he said: “I feel scarred by Short, I feel deeply scarred, my family feels deeply scarred, I feel really hurt.”
We can assure him he is no more scarred or hurt than the next Sunderland fan or discarded ex-employee and, while Ellis Short has much to answer for, the fact that he ignored the players and “didn’t buy them presents” seems the most forgivable.
Bob also questions managerial comings and goings. He has a point, but pushes it somewhat.
He asked: “Who would appoint Di Canio and not ring me and say, ‘What do you think, Bob?’”
While that particular appointment was clearly as preposterous as it was disastrous, the notion that a former chairman should have been consulted seems very strange, given his own history.
I don’t wish to dredge up the past to archaeological levels. So let’s just say some of Bob’s own appointments were better than others.
There were other mistakes too.
Still, I also recall an episode from 20-odd years ago when Bob’s predecessor, Tom Cowie, resurfaced to tell everyone where the club was going wrong.
Bob gave him short shrift. Rightly so too. Cowie was a dreadful chairman who earned his large portion of blame when Sunderland were relegated to the old Third Division (sound familiar?).
However, back in 2018 Bob seems miffed that he can’t do some backseat driving of his own.
Bob Murray is a decent bloke who left a definite legacy on Wearside, mainly in the tangible form of the Stadium of Light. He is courteous, respectful and always had the best interests of the club at heart.
He deserves respect and his views, to which he is more than entitled, will always be of interest. Not least because much that he says is correct.
I genuinely wish him well.
I should also say that some of the abuse he received back in the day was unwarranted, counterproductive and occasionally just pig ignorant. Flying stupid banners over his family home springs to mind.
But he wasn’t perfect and for people to accept that all would have been hotsy-totsy in the last few years, had we only sought the wisdom of His Bobness, is asking much.