Letter to City Gent, Bradford City fanzine
I like reading your magazine, but it’s just as well The City Gent includes a disclaimer for ‘any responsibility for the accuracy of anything reported’ in it after reading John Watmough’s article in Issue 189 about Paolo Di Canio and the brief period in which the fascist was in charge at my club, Sunderland.
It starts with him agreeing with the T&A’s Simon Parker about the national media ganging up to ‘have a pop’ when Di Canio arrived at Sunderland when they had remained largely silent at Swindon. Ignoring the fact that Sunderland have an average gate five times that of Swindon, Watmough fails to recognise that it was ordinary fans who objected so strongly to Di Canio’s appointment that the national media was forced to take notice. It was ordinary fans who made contact with Labour MP David Miliband in the hours following the appointment of the Italian and persuaded him to quit his role at the Stadium of Light. Fans like former soldier Jim Fox, who appeared on Sky Sports to denounce Di Canio’s arrival and hand back his already paid for season card for 2013-14.
It was fans like myself - someone who until Di Canio pitched up had hardly missed a match at home or away for 30 years plus - who made clear their objection to Di Canio’s politics and who I believe almost pushed owner Ellis Short into sending him packing even before his first game in charge. It was fans who pointed out that Di Canio’s hero, Benito Mussolini, was a hard core racist and as such how could Sunderland participate in anti-racist campaigns. It was former miners, some who had worked at Wearmouth Colliery on which the Stadium of Light now stands, who felt it was a stain on the fight by local soldiers in the Second World War to appoint a fascist.
It was anti-fascist fans who pointed out that Di Canio’s style of management would be a disaster because, quite simply, his politics excludes an approach that includes other people in his thinking. It is Di Canio first, second and third. What that means is he is always right and can brook no criticism and certainly winning League Two does not make him a genius. Di Canio’s attack on John O’Shea was only meant to deflect attention away from his crass tactics. As regards his comments on Ji Dong-Won then why did the Italian just days earlier turn down a bid for £4 million for him when any sensible Sunderland fan would have taken such a sum for an ordinary player?
I could make many more points on a similar theme but will end by saying I have viewed every game since Di Canio left and have hardly met anyone who feels Sunderland should not have sacked him after his on pitch farce at WBA.
Mark Metcalf, Halifax
Freelance journalist, football historian and author.