Welcome to the last FMTTM of the season; we hope you find it just dandy. There’s certainly more to read in it than ever before thanks to the fantastic response of our readers in recent weeks.
We seem to be getting less and less space to feature everything we’d like, so for this reason you’ll notice some pages have smaller type. What you’re getting here is two pages for the price of one, it beats printing more pages which only further lines the pockets of our hideously rich printer (thanks for everything Gordon).
It’s fair to say that when we set out in October 88, many moons ago, we didn’t really know what we were letting ourselves in for. The venture of producing a readable alternative to the programme for EVERY MATCH was an ambitious one, but one that we’ve just about managed to maintain, thanks to boyish pride, grim determination and a mountain of Valium pills. A lot of thanks are owing and mostly long overdue so hopefully we’ll go some way to putting that right on this page.
No thanks, must regretfully go the writers of the Ayresome Angel, who once again, in their Issue 8, have resorted to petty and misguided abuse. They state: “No doubt the compilers of FMTTM will be out selling at Sheff Wed. Got any red / white Teddy Bears left lads? Sheffield should be near enough since there has been no Elland Road to visit or cup run this season.”
Firstly FMTTM do not produce or profit from the sale of red / white teddy bears. One of our salesmen had a small stock of them which he thought he could sell on match days and did so totally independently of FMTTM. He makes a living from this type of thing (well frozen fish usually) and as far as we’re concerned he can sell what he wants when he wants. If the idea of making a living offends Joseph et al perhaps he can explain why so many Boro daft Teessiders move to Manchester, Birmingham, London and Brighton to live. Prefer the scenery?
It also seems the Ayresome Angels are convinced we don’t attend away games; they even (mis) quote a statement made in Issue 12: “Please don’t write in about some past away games that you attended many years ago because it is boring and we may fall asleep”. Well, like we said in Issue 1, we don’t want match reviews as ‘you were there, you know what happened’. Those readers who don’t get to away matches, for whatever reason, probably do what we all do anyway. That is, read it in their morning paper then again in the Gazette and if they can get away with it, read all the Boro reports in the Newsagents (why else is W.H.Smiths so popular on Monday mornings). By then, you have a pretty good idea that: “Ripley and Slaven both had excellent games up front”.
We would much rather hear about interesting pre match pub / snack bar conversations or things overheard from the terrace, but not tabloid pap like: “A fine performance from the lads following the last two disastrous performances” … Zzzzzzzzz. That said I usually really enjoy the A.A. and look forward to it. Joseph is welcome to call at the editorial address anytime, we can go down the ‘Salty’ have a pint and discuss away games we’ve seen this season. Maybe that will convince my girlfriend who wants to know where I’ve been every other Saturday this season.
Oh yes, I knew there was something, Arsenal today, it’s not going to be easy, but maybe they’ll relax after their outstanding performance at home to Norwich last Sunday. Very nice of Charlton to lie down and die on Wednesday night at Luton wasn’t it? and with Villa apparently s**te against Sarfhampton it looks like it could be a close one.
One things for sure, we can play our part today and cheer the lads on to a famous victory and give us a carnival atmosphere at Sheff Wed. That way, I’ll sell more red / white teddy bears.
Why has there been a change in recent fortunes at Ayresome Park? Much has been made of the great team spirit and character at the club but at the moment Tony Mowbray can’t even direct a back pass never mind a ‘space ship’. The reason lays with the teams hairdressers. Never have so few been adored by so many with such awful hairstyles. As the lads run onto the pitch the crowd don’t roar in anticipation, they groan in disgust at the latest handy work of the Boro Butcher.
It’s a good job that Pearsy’s wife is a hairdresser, at least she can sit there all night curling his last remaining locks to cover an ever increasing bald patch. Kevin Poole on the other hand has a chop so bad, that he’ll soon have to follow his look-a-like and don a Frank Spencer beret. Parky’s had a few bad un’s in his time but as soon as he stuck to the long spiky look his form has settled into a groove the size of Colin Todd’s parting. Where as Tommy’s barber in Sedgie must be as untrendy as the rest of those sheep shaggers (You said that, not me – Ed).
But as usual Mogga is leading by example, instead of extra training it’s straight off to a girly salon demanding the bleach be applied more liberally than water on an Ayresome Park pitch.
Further proof of my theory is the form of Gary Gill. For years Gilly used to watch the Clothes Show for his ideas but since he went for the casual look, he not only leads the team in fashion but also the Sunday People form ratings. I think Pally’s contribution to the team’s misfortunes is largely due to a squirt of Sun-In. Or could it be a result of the Bobby Robson Mystery Tour of the Middle East.
Baa’lamb was a gamble when Brucie plucked him from the obscurity of the ‘Udders’ Reserves. But Bruce knew when he saw those highlights what a great contribution he would make. Proc’s back and he gives a new dimension to the side. He ate up all his cabbage when he was little and he’s got lovely little curls as a result, not girly ones like Kevin Keegan though.
Dav’s had a bit of a sticky patch since he arrived so maybe he needs a new approach. I wonder if Tommy Johnson would be any good at giving Peter a set of Rudd Gullit dreadlocks. Maybe the team should follow Bernie Slavens example. Grow your hair into such a ridiculous style that the other team feel sorry for you and let you score from thirty yards every game.
Rippers hair makes even Rick Astley’s mop appear semi-normal. Do we get a job lot of bleach every week or does the grounds man just give the lads a quick rinse and set with the weed killer? Nookie may as well go down to the social right now, his ‘hair-dont’ has no place in a team of the 90′s.
Deano was dispatched to Port Vale along with his Flat Top. Brucie thought he was a disturbing influence on some of the more impressionable players and feared an outbreak of trendiness. Alas poor Trevor, he never seemed to fit in with his Campri Ski Jacket did he?. Trev simply couldn’t cope with the pressure of pro-match gel and mousse sessions. Hammo’s goal against Southampton showed what a slap head can do for a player’s confidence and if Marco Van P**s started pouring some pints on his head instead of down his throat then we’d have been Champions by now.
Well i must go now and get a Holgate Special before the weekend, so i can look like all the scufferes who give Middlesbrough a bad name with their racist chants. But before i go here’s an idea to relieve the inflatable banana boredom. How about inflatable hairdryers to spur the chaps into Europe next season?
Many tears have been shed and words uttered over the Hillsborough tragedy but one question still remains – will it ever happen again? I am afraid the answer is yes – unless drastic changes are made. I don’t mean changes in ground safety (although they are long overdue) but changes in attitudes of the authorities and the media as to what a football fan actually is and what his needs are once he enters the ground.
For too long fans have been caged like animals and looked upon as a problem and a serious threat. It is this jaundiced attitude that has filtered through to corrupt the mind of the national public. I read one letter in the Evening Standard which concluded:
“I hope as many people as possible will boycott attendance at what has become a base and primitive ritual and help bring about the demise of this game”
This clearly emphasises the problems facing not only the FA but football in general. It is doubly sickening when you consider the change in image football has had this season. Inflatable bananas, haddocks and skeletons have turned the game into a fun occasion. We also saw families coming back into football and attendances continued to rise, the First Division showing its highest attendances for four years. The self image of football has suffered for years simply due to misalignment. There has never been anybody to take supreme responsibility for the running of the league. The Football Association and the League are both prepared to argue over the rights and wrongs of the game but neither body is prepared to inject the vast amounts of cash needed to promote the game and change the attitudes of the police and the government in favour of the fan on the terrace. My greatest fear is that the FA and the chairmen of the Football League clubs will try to squeeze out the traditional fan on the terrace and try to replace him with more directors boxes and all-seater stadiums (if you don’t believe me look what they’ve done at Spurs) in a bid to capture better clientele and rake in more money.
In article in the Independent, the Liverpool Chairman hinted at the future face of football:
“I think the statistics prove more people are now moving into the category of middle-class. As disposable incomes have increased we have more and more people wanting to sit. Obviously, those that who do not have a job are finding it more difficult”
An all-seater stadium was attempted at Coventry and there was such a drop in attendances that they had to rip up some of the seats to let people stand. It appears that they are now trying to price fans out of the market. Replacing cages with director’s boxes swapping yobos for yuppies. It has already begun at Ayresome Park with the development of the Hardwick suite (to add to the rest), yet view the toilet facilities and catering behind the Holgate and you get some indication of the scant regard that the directors have for the fans at the lower end of the market. The authorities must start providing for the fans and start treating them with more than patronage or else many more disasters will be added to the list.
In the same Independent article Dave Hill states his case:
“Isolated in their iron dens, the bottom end of the football market may soon be superfluous to requirements. Though these fans’ commitment to their clubs is emotional, the clubs commitment to them is too often based on the fans simply providing an income and supply of background noise”
If this attitude prevails and the hardcore fans leave the game in droves, football will die. It’s a pity the FA never take heed of the warnings. The police will still respond in a reactionary way in trying to mobilise large crowds of fans, acting as little more than lion tamers; the public will still react with scorn and hostility towards football fans regardless of their age, colour or creed. But for our sake and the sake of football lets hope something constructive is done that will not only fill directors pockets nut also provide comfortable and safe viewing facilities for the fan on the terrace.
Unfortunately I failed to take your advice of having a stiff drink before reading the article by ‘The Management’ in Issue 12. Gob-smacked by what I read about Bernie Slaven. Anyway I consoled myself with the thought you’d be snowed under with a backlash for issue 13 (or 14) but it never came.
I can’t understand these people who still slag Slaven off. What more does he have to do to make people realise that without him we’d still be in the Third Division and just looking at this season we’d certainly be floundering below West Ham at the bottom.
Okay, so he gets caught offside too much, but nobody’s perfect. He’s paid to score goals and that’s what he does. What’s more he scores some bloody good ones and important ones this season. How can that prat in Issue 12 say Bernies adopted a couldn’t care less attitude? The Southampton game proves my point, when at 3-1 down he was the only one (bar Ripley) who’s head didn’t drop and he lifted the whole team with a brilliant goal.
So come on you boo-boys, give the Wolfman the credit he deserves. It took Man Utd 20 years to find another player to match George Best’s record of 20 goals a season. Bernie already looks set to do it, he’s a proven goal scorer and they don’t grow on trees.
The amiable chap who owns Teeside Programmes in the Forbes Building told me a story the other week that gave me a great money spinning idea for next season. He told me of a couple of middle aged geezers who walked into his establishment and asked for directions to – of all places ‘Valley Road’.
He could tell by their accents that they were out of towners and as the lads were playing Forest that day, the reason for their enquiry became clear. They wanted to see where Brian Clough was born – bless em.
As our Brian has now achieved virtual immortality in Nottingham, i wonder how many more of its citizens would surrender their hard earned cash to go on the ‘Clough Tour of Middlesbrough’. For say £30 a piece they could take in such sights as Marton Burn School, Acklam Steelworks Ground, Rea’s Cafe, Marton Grove Youth and the site of Grenetts Sweet Factory, where his father worked, The Broadway, where his father boozed and numerous other landmarks of the Clough upbringing that we could invent along the way.
Throw in a seminar by one or two of the millions of Boro fore fathers who ‘taught Brain to play’ plus an appearance by the man himself at Ayresome Park that afternoon and they’ll be booking in the hundreds.
I can see it now – 200 Forest fans in Grove Hill with cameras and “I’VE SEEN WHERE CLOUGHIE WAS BORN” t-shirts, calling everyone ‘Young Man’ and ripping up paving slabs, easiest 6 grand i’ll ever make.