Now then Fly Me To The Mooners & Moonettes. So that was the week that was… Boro out of the Simod Cup, Pallister out of the England squad, Little resigns and Paul Kerr pulls his back lifting a T.V. (so he says). It’s been a tough old week for the faithful too. But that didn’t stop one Harrogate man changing his name to David ‘Bernie Bruce Middlesbrough’. Good man, despite the accent.
The good news this week is that messrs Amer and Duffield haven’t got a penny from Boro yet. So lets not dwell on the Simod Cup exit, despite Coops breathtaking goal we didn’t give Palace the respect they deserved. We played poorly, have before and will again, football supporters of any team must accept that.
However, there are still a minority of our fans who, in a situation like the Palace game, love to make a big show of walking out before the final whistle. Whatever the circumstances i’ll always know these people as ‘DIRTY SNEAK-OUTS’.
Anyway, not all is doom and gloom, watch out for Brucie making a plunge into the transfer market before the deadline.
Younger supporters may wonder occasionally how good Big Jacks promotion winning team really was. We compared it recently to Rioch’s team but just how did the opposition view Souness and Co?
During the early seventies Eire sibling Eamon Dunphy played for Millwall alongside the likes of Alf Wood, young Gordon Hill and Bryan King. Throughout the 73/74 season he kept a diary of events and games. This was published as a book and became highly acclaimed along with his work for newspapers including The Times. His most recent work includes the life story of U2 which though commissioned by the band was originally disowned by Bono and the boys who didn’t care much for Dunphy’s warts and all account.
Eamons account of Millwalls home game against the Boro at the Den, their grounds name before it was decided to opt for ‘Cold Blow Lane’, went something like this:
“Today we got found out. The chickens came home to roost. After the euphoria of last Monday, the transformation was unbelievable. Things started to go wrong in the first five minutes. Dennis knocked a ball up for Hilly on the left wing. Hilly failed to read it and didn’t go for it. Dennis put his hands on his hips, his head bowed. ‘What the hell…’ From then on he played half heartedly. That left us to face the strongest team in the league with ten players, four of them inexperienced youngsters. It was a tight game and in the early stages we needed all the help and geeing up we could get. But there was no one to do it, with Dennis having abdicated.
After twenty minutes they were on top. We had a few flashes. Shots just over the bar, dangerous looking crosses easily cleared by Stuart Boam their centre half. They pushed the ball around in midfield always threatening to thrust aside our defence. We were denied that crucial early goal you expect at home. Weak sides usually concede an early goal which sets you up, takes the pressure off for the afternoon. But this time the pressure was staying on.
They were brilliant. Or rather they were secure; mature, a together bunch of pros. Bobby Murdoch in midfield gives them an aura of calm, presenting an illusion that they are impregnable. That is his great ability. To be composed on the ball. He isn’t fast, he isn’t strong in the tackle, he doesn’t hit a great long ball, he cant beat a man. But what he is great at, when everyone else in this division is going at ninety miles an hour, hitting impossible balls, trying to squeeze things into spaces when it just isn’t on, is being composed, and slowing it down. Knocking the fifteen or twenty yard ball, getting it back and knocking it again. For half an hour I ran myself ragged jockeying Murdoch, who would push it to Souness or Foggon. They would knock it forward at the moment I lunged, committed to yet another fruitless tackle.
Dave Donaldson and I got in a two-on-two situation down near their corner flag. I knocked the ball to Dave, checking back for a return instead of going forward because a defender had read it well. Dave knocked it forward, the defender picked it up, a quick break down the field and bang! It was in the back of our net. At half time no one said anything. But the atmosphere was one of passive acceptance.
Middlesbrough were set up then. They weren’t ambitious, they weren’t brilliant, but they were imposing. They were what I believed we could and should have been, what I thought we were going to be eight weeks ago.
Afterwards we got in the bath and everyone was sickened because we had been on the end of hiding. It was only 1-0, but we had been outclassed. Which was very rare. Outclassed, outthought and outfought.”
Of the two local TV stations there is no doubt that the Boro have both friends and enemies.
On the Beeb we have Doug Weatherall, managing to bring together an appalling TV manner with an incurable Sunderland fixation, the like of which must even irritate Newcastle fans (those that are left). Their fairly new sports man Steve Sutton appears to have the personality of a pencil, so it’s difficult to know what he thinks. Why can’t Wendy Gibson do the football I say?
Tyne-Tees has generally been fairer, the Burton / Thames combination are fairly professional. Although they do have an overwhelming advantage, in that they are the only station to have any up-to-date clips. This and the fact Frosty has Boro blood coursing through his veins of course.
But what of the two radio stations, T.F.M and Cleveland. Here there is no doubt that Cleveland are head and shoulders above their rivals from across the river. Only Harold Shepherdson’s inane comments stand between Cleveland and real excellence.
Old Shep can’t be arsed to go any further than Darlo these days, which at least means we don’t have to put up with him for away matches. Ironically this is when Cleveland really shines, Alistair Brownlie’s detailed and passionate commentaries carry us through blow by blow when we are unable to be there in the flesh. If only he could learn to say ‘Stuart’ Ripley instead of Stute.
The resident T.F.M pundit is David Mills, even though he has begun to share the commentaries for away matches, if there is a more boring and monotone drone in the broadcasting world, I’ve yet to hear it.
So all in all, I reckon Cleveland is the best friend the Boro have at the moment – even more than the biased Gazette in my opinion.
The recent mention (Derby Daze – Issue 5) of Bobby Scaife playing for South Bank vs. Whitby, has prompted one reader to think of a Boro team made exclusively of players with only 90 minutes in the famous red and white (some even less).
All appearances are league only and do not include loan players.
1. Phil Kite (2) – Replaced Pearsy in relegation season
2. Andy McReesh (2) – Couple of apps in last First Division season
3. Steve Cordon (1) – Broke his leg in debut against Wombledon (where else?)
4. Keith Nobbs (1) – Against Coventry City in Jan 1980
5. Jim Cochrane (3) – Captain as a result of his vast experience
6. Ronnie Coyle (1 + 2) – Everybody must remember Ron?
7. Eddie Colman (1) – Local lad played in 1975
8. Colin Blackburn (1) – Against Forest in January 1980
9. Malcolm Poskett (0 + 1) – Sub against Hull in 70’s promotion team
10. Tom Paterson (1) – Against Birmingham City 74/75
11. Alan Walsh (0 + 3) – Now in Littlewoods semis with Bristol City
This team makes Mitch Cook, Andy Strong and Paul Proudlock seem almost deserving of a testimonial. It’s a pretty unbalanced line up with 4 fullbacks and 5 forwards, but one to get even the most loyal Holgate Ender scratching his head.
For those of our readers who travel to away games and consider picking up hitch-hikers, here we have our guide to who you should and should not pick up.
Ian Paisley – Is to be driven straight past as he tries his luck on the Tees Viaduct, he would only bore you as he told you how good a team Rangers were and why Celtic are doomed to eternal damnation for being one of the Popes favourite teams.
Steve Cram – Who is often seen flashing a leg to motorists at the Picton turn-off on the A19, is to be bypassed due to the fact he knows nothing about football (a Sunderland supporter we hear) and should be running everywhere he goes anyway.
Marietta Higgs – Should be ignored as she provocatively swings her stethoscope for a lift outside the Town Hall, you’ll be okay until you bend over to get out of the car, at which point she’ll have your duds down and start giving you the once over.
Lee Chapman – Must always be driven past, unless girlfriend Leslie Ash is with him, he can easily be gotten rid of by asking him to check the brake lights, driving off the moment he leaves the car. Obviously female drivers / supporters may wish to try this the other way round.
Finally, always remember to pull in swiftly and reserve the best seat in the car whenever you see a hitcher brandishing a copy of FMTTM, it means you are guaranteed intelligent conversation and not just a few laughs.