Well, if ever a summer break augured ill for a coming season this was it. As the over used cliché goes, ‘performances are more important than results in pre-season friendlies’. But that’s no excuse for getting walloped at Carlisle 5-1; getting beat at Billingham Town 2-1 or for that matter, drawing at York City 2-2.
Okay so we’re trying out a new system, the pros and cons of which will be looked at in later issues, once we’ve had time to evaluate it fairly, should as looks likely, we persist with it. Plus we’ve still got a crop of players on the road to recovery (its like the Alamo at Ayresome these days) but in all the games I’ve seen so far, an ounce of the commitment shown in the games before last season would have brought us easy victories.
Here lies the most worrying factor in our failure so far… no one seems to have any fight or spirit in them anymore. Given that 3 first team players (that we know of) want away, messers D****port, P*****ter and R**ley, other seasoned pros are playing as if they couldn’t give a s**t for the club or they don’t want to muddy their 1st Division limbs playing against lesser mortals.
Pre-season games are usually an enlightening experience. The team patter for one thing is a rare treat, when you can hear the captains furious invective aimed at players playing badly or posing about. But so far this season Mogga has offered nothing more emotive than sheer unadulterated abuse, usually, nay exclusively aimed at that over used scape-goat Mark Burke. “Burkey get your finger out of your arshe” etc.
Alan Kernaghan (can’t again), an able if unspectacular player on his day, has been playing as though his head is filled with soft music (certainly not the Power Game). Proctor and Ripley have hardly busted a gut and trusty old veteran Nicky Mohan has been suffering from a touch of the inflated egos in the grand tradition of his idol and mentor Gary P******er.
Big pluses have been the enthusiasm of Brennan (yes he) who is clearly determined to prove a few people wrong. Kerr has done well and is exempt from any big head accusations. Comfort is obviously keen as mustard and has so far impressed, though I would prefer the beefed up Burke to start the campaign. Also stalwart centre forward P***r D****port has played to his best and been totally professional despite everything.
But a crop of players need to be re-motivated in the classic ‘pin em up against the dressing room wall’ Rioch way. Is it not significant that Rioch has rarely attended pre season games this term? Unlike last season when, though not 100% successful, we were never beaten for lack of effort?
Despite the hype, the Second Division is not so good that a fired up Boro side couldn’t run away with it ala Chelsea; but whatever system we play, we need to play to our best.
I wonder how many articles in this issue will begin with the words “over the summer”. Probably none, but then neither does this one, but it would be a good start. The only good thing about this summer is that there was enough time to get over the disappointment of relegation before we get stuck into this season. Summer time is always long and boring unless it’s a World Cup year, just what are you supposed to do on a Saturday afternoon?
There is one person who’ll want this summer to last as long as possible, in the hope that we all forget what he said at the end of last season. That’s Henry Moszkowicz, his attempts to blame ‘the board’ were unnecessary and didn’t have much substance, suggesting that the board shouldn’t have given Rioch the money to buy unsuitable players.
If he really thought he’d get the fans to jump on his band wagon he was much mistaken, especially with the memories of Amer and Duffield still pretty fresh in most people’s minds. It’s just a good thing that most people didn’t take him seriously or else the club may have been back on the way to the dark days of 86.
One of the reasons the club has done so well in recent years is because the board has respected Rioch’s better judgement and left team matters entirely up to him. Football is not safe in the hands of businessmen who are only interested in making a fast buck, and getting their pathetic faces in the match programmes to boost their ugly egos.
I would suggest that he Henry invests his money in a club like Sunderland but even they don’t deserve that. One way to get back at the little tyrant in the future is not to bother buying his stupidly named Moss Blatt stationery until Henry takes his money well away from football.
Speaking of the future I don’t think we’ve got much chance of staying in the Second Division, I reckon the lads like the slap up meals in the Town Hall too much to miss out on promotion. As for Newcastle I can’t see them staying in the Second Division either. We will probably pass them on the motorway on route to Old Trafford and Anfield once again whilst they are making their way to Turf Moor and Spotland. That is providing Burnley and Rochdale get promoted this season.
We recently asked Paul Read of Norwich City fanzine Never Mind The Danger to give his opinion on new signing Trevor Putney, heres what he had to say.
This close season saw Trevor Putney move from Norwich City to Middlesbrough. Putney had joined Norwich three years previously from his first club, Ipswich Town, in an exchange deal involving John Deehan a firm favourite with the Norwich fans. Trevor, an Essex lad, made his debut for Ipswich in 1982 and went on to make 100 appearances for the Suffolk side, including their dramatic semi-final defeat at carrow road in the 1985 Milk Cup Competition.
In his three years with Norwich, Trevor made 101 first team appearances and scored 10 times, playing almost exclusively on the left side of midfield. He overcame the double handicap of coming from ipswich and making a poor start, two win over the fans with his determined midfield play. He became a vital, if unsung member of the city’s most successful squad never who in his time with the first team finished fifth 14th and fourth in division one and reach the semifinals of the FA cup.
His two main strengths were his work rate and his tackling. He added some much needed steel to his more skilful yet more light weight midfield colleagues.
He also scored some important goals, most notably in 1985 when his goal against Liverpool helped end one of the most irritating statistics in football, Liverpool never losing a league game in which Ian rush had scored. Trevor also headed the winner at Highbury that clinched what was then Norwich City’s highest ever placing in Division One.
This season he scored his best goal for Norwich, an characteristically spectacular volley to open Norwich’s tally of eight against Sutton in the FA Cup.
Yet generally finishing was one of his weak points. With the chances created for him and the positions he got himself into, he really should have three or four times as many goals. In many ways Trevor was a Jekyll and Hyde character. His tackling was one of his strengths, yet on too many occasions his aggression went several steps too far, earning him unnecessary bookings and culminating in his sending off at Derby last season for stamping. At times, he also seemed to be just a little below the skill level required by top midfielders.
But what probably sticks out most in the mind about the downside of Trevor Putney, is the memory of the costly defensive errors he made due to is over confidence. Most people will have seen the suicidal back pass he made to present Arsenal their third goal on ‘The Match’ this May. Unfortunately this was far from a unique occurrence. The piece of Putney play I will never forget came in a home game against Nottingham Forest two years ago when he got the ball just outside his own penalty area. For reasons known only to himself, he set off on a mazy dribble inside the box towards his own goal, which ended almost inevitably with him losing the ball and presenting forest with an easy goal.
Putney ended this season facing strong competition for his place from Ian Crook and Paul Cook, especially now that Norwich have Andy Townsend to provide some steel as well as Trevor. Most Norwich fans will have mixed feelings about his departure. They will miss his determination and aggression, but they will also be glad to see the back of his needless bookings and costly errors.
Personally, I feel that Trevor does not quite possess the level of skill needed at the very top, but I wish him well for the future and I am sure he is capable of doing a good job in the Second Division for Middlesbrough. I just hope that the Boro fans see more of Dr Jekyll than Mr. Hyde.
Lots of thanks to Paul Read for taking the time to write this article and acting so quickly to our request for some info on Trevor. Finally we’ve got to mention as a footnote to this article a rumour that was brought to our attention by N.M.T.D Editor Jon Southgate, who alleges that “Trev’s biggest asset is in his shorts”… thanks Jon, that’ll do nicely.
24 hours a day 7 days a week that’s Middlesbrough Club Call, the daily news service that brings you all the news and views from Ayresome Park. Later on Middlesbrough Club Call we’ll be talking to Boro’s latest £175,00 signing from Leyton Orient, Alan Comfort. We’ll be asking the former Leyton Orient player how he’s settling in at Boro after his £175,000 signing from Leyton Orient. He’ll be talking exclusively to Middlesbrough Club Call, the 24 hours a day 7 days a week info service that brings you all the latest news and views from Ayresome Park. Thats 0898121181 if you want to ring Middlesbrough Club Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Well on to Alan Comfort, Boro’s new £175,000 signing from Leyton Orient. Whats been his impressions of the club he joined from Leyton Orient in a deal worth £175,000, that’s how much Boro were asked to pay by an independent tribunal for a player who joined the club from Leyton Orient. So Alan; settling in? “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”. Well that was Boro’s latest £175,000 sigining from Leyton Orient Alan Comfort talking exclusively to Middlesbrough Club Call, the 24 hours a day 7 days a week info service that repeats itself contantly for 3 minutes, rips you off for £1.17, is virtually inaudible anyway and tells you nothing more controversial than “pre-season training has to be done”. Still i don’t suppose it bothers you lot too much as you only ring it at work dontcha? Welcome to Middlesbrough Club Call the 24…………..”
Most FMTTM readers will have visited or heard of “The Linny”, or to give it its seldom used title, The Linthorpe Hotel. It is part of the drinking culture in Boro and responsible for many a youth flowering into full scale drunken slobbery, so it is with a lot of sadness that the drinkers in The Linny heard of the retirement of the manager, Roy Barnes.
I have a lot of affection for the old Linny, circa 1981 to 85, back when it was a proper pub. In those days it was not unusual to see around 20 to 30 bikes outside, inside would be a fair cross section of styles, fashions, smells and standards of personal hygiene. The beer was at a silly price as well, 45p a pint was the opening price. Lager was about 50p. There was never any major trouble and the old place had a seedy run down quality that was somewhere between destitute and derelict. It was brilliant and controlling the whole show was Roy who always looked after the regulars making a point of serving them first and saying hello to anyone else he recognized.
The old Linny and many unusual charms, the snug for instance was a small room behind the bar which always had either a group of bikers or punks in it. In the middle of the bar in the main room was a certain spot that always stunk of vomit, god knows why, standards of cleanliness were as good as most pubs but this one spot just stank of puke. Mind you when the lights failed one New Years Eve at least you could find your way to the bar by smell alone.
In recent years the Linny has simply not being as good as it was. After a major rebuilding and redecoration project the place lost a lot of its character and charm. In a way it’s quite fitting that Roy has decided to leave now, the redecoration signalled the beginning of the end. Most regulars would agree that for some reason the beer and lager has just not been the same, whilst the prices have gone mad.
Perhaps it’s just a case of getting old, but the end of an era has come about