Over the last few weeks i’ve discovered how naive I am. I used to think the Boro was one big dedicated family, impervious to the sorid money spinning world of modern football. (Before you turn over, this is not another Pallister article, im just using our dearly departed an an example.)
Now that a couple of weeks have passed since he left, there is still a bitter taste over the whole matter. Not the feeling of sadness, like when Deano left, or the subsequent decrease in “where’s ya mam?” being yelled from the Holgate. This has been a decidedly different reaction. Especially as over the years we have come to know the character of each and everyone of the players within our ‘family’… or so we thought.
Of course this is all sentimental crap, Middlesbrough are just as susceptible to the pit of Vipers lurking behind-the-scenes as any other club.
It is a world dominated by money, a world with a huge amounts of wealth, the majority sadly owned by a handful of clubs. These clubs’ managers are, according to the gutter press “flamboyant”. Which, roughly translated, means they can’t write cheques unless they contain an obligatory 6 noughts behind the figure. These men and their Chairmen are the Godfathers or football, splashing out dosh on any player who show’s potential. Making sure that the same old clubs get all the media attention. Whilst the smaller clubs, with the smaller budgets, don’t get a look in.
The telly has the same old half a dozen teams on each week. So what chance have the samller clubs got, whose best players are forever tempted by fame, bright lights and of course, muchos molar. In our own latest case, Sir Bruce chiselled Ferguson for every penny he could get without being prosecuted by the Trades Description people, but I still think he should get the 1989 “Arthur Daley Salesman of the Year” award.
As for Pally himself, he has the chance every footballer dreams of. If things go right for him there could be international honours, a millionaire lifestyle and an appearance on ‘A Question of Sport’, before sloping off to Europe for an even more extortionate price tag.
But, on the other hand, if things don’t work out right, we could always buy him back for £300.000.
The following is an account of the pre-season friendly with Scottish Second Division side Airdrie, written by Peter Smith from Airdrie fanzine “Only the Lonely”. As you know it is not FMTTM policy to feature match reports, but as this was so scarcely attended by Boro fans we thought it might be of interest, plus its always nice to read how opposing fans view games featuring the Boro.
After the 12,000 capacity crowd at Broomfield the preceding Saturday for the testimonial game against Rangers this game saw the home side come back to earth in a rather hum drum affair despite the quality of the opposition. Only one-tenth of the previous crowd turned up for the match that assumed the disappointing role of practise match for both sides. This was evidenced by the fact for the most part of the game was devoid of notable incident. Not even the presence of ex-Diamond Bernie Slaven could induce some excitement. A great pity as the presence of internationals in the Middlesbrough side should surely have gone represented some kind of challenge worth taking up.
Perhaps we were expecting too much effort and maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on a Boro side playing its first game of a new season and containing new signing Trevor Putney. Boro weaved pretty patterns but never did enough to get the sedate crowd to exercise the vocal chords to any extent. Although the legions were quiet it was nice to see the handful of Boro fans who had made the trip enjoying themselves. The sacrifice made by football fans was never more in evidence than those made by the Teessiders with whom I spoke. Some had taken much time off work to see the two match tour (concluding at St Mirren the following Saturday) whilst others had come up for this match only, returning South at the end.
Few Middlesbrough players impressed and I’ll bet the management found it worrying that such as Gary Pallister was so easily troubled by Airdrie’s striker Alan Lawrence. This is not to demean the homesters who were never over-awed by their more illustrious counterparts. But for some sheer bad luck and one incredible refereeing decision the Diamond’s might have inflicted an embarrassing defeat on the English side. Boro keeper Kevin Poole clearly bundled Airdrie forward Callum Campbell to the ground inside the box. Amazingly the referee gave a free kick a yard outside.
The only goal came in the 37th minute. Pallister player a through ball to Davenport whose flick from the edge of the box to the right hand side caught out the Airdrie defence, leaving Kerr free to tap it in. A lovely move and a lovely finish. I thought that might be the start of a goal rush but the defence shored up instead of relaxing, like so often happens in a friendly match. Airdrie attempted to reply quickly but it wasn’t to be. The second half was largely devoid of notable incident. Airdrie keeper Martin keeping the Boro forwards at bay.
All in all a disappointing game with Bernie Slaven looking similar to how he played when he was at Broomfield… not very well at all. The highlight for me was chatting to the Boro fans and selling a few copies of our Airdrie Fanzine “Only The Lonely” to them . The football was poor but that was fully compensated for by the good relations made. This further ridiculed the arguments for I.D cards and the SFA’s idiotic expectations of trouble at such friendly matches.
The Middlesbrough team was: Poole, Proctor, Cooper, Mowbray, Putney, Pallister, Slaven, Brennan, Davenport, Kerr and Comfort.
Despite the sow’s piss cleverly disguised as a pint of bitter, I quite like The Linny. The friendly atmosphere (apart from the pool table), the service (apart from the bar staff) and of course that age old “my favourite player is better than yours” type of argument running furiously in one hot and steamy corner of the crowded bar.
“Who was Boro’s last great left back?” sighs a frustrated, bitter and big mouthed (surprise, surprise) ‘chicken runner’. “Paul Ward”, comes the cry from the floor as a mindless drunk awakens from his slumber. “No, Ian Bailey”, shouts a fair haired lad on crutches sporting a Sheff Wednesday top. “Must be Joe Bolton”, shrieks Mrs Bolton from safely under the table. Then at last comes the voice of reason from a cool blonde glancing up from her FMTTM just long enough to say “Forget that boys, who was Boro’s LAST left back?”
Her point was well made and brought silence from the ‘chicken runner’ (Shum mishtake surely – Ed). For the life of me I couldn’t recall the player to satisfy her yearnings. Mind you, I can’t remember the last time I found a seat in the Linny either and after a few pints… well. “What about Coops?” I hear from the Holgate faithful on a rare venture from Ripley’s backside. Sorry chaps, the said Mr Cooper is merely a good impersonation. He may be a useful performer (on the pitch that is, I don’t know his lass) but a left back he ain’t. I may have had a few pints but Christ Almighty (or Bruce as we know him better) a left back is not right footed, or dam well shouldn’t be.
For Col, at the lower levels, this handicap by birth was less of a problem. The technique of shimmying from side to side while back pedalling in the hope that your winger is stupid enough to think you’ve done this sort of thing before, worked. I heard a few even fell for the old “I’m actually Terry’s younger brother and he taught me everything I know” trick, but the symptoms became more apparent as the IQ of right wingers rose into double figures in Division One.
Once required to use the left peg for tackling (firmly), kicking (accurately) and controlling the ball (that’s on the pitch, Col) the true extent of his affliction was made clear for all to see – those who were at the Forest away game will know what I’m driving at here. Sadly, last season Colin’s highlights were provided on the hairdressing chair, not the football pitch.
A simple but none the less effective cure to this long standing disease would be to play ‘super’ in ‘you know whos’ former role at the centre of defence, providing speed and awareness, plus a commitment and effort sadly lacking when ‘beanpole’ held the role.
The problem of a left back remains however and the oh-so-wise one will no doubt scour the county (or should that be country) to find a suitable candidate. Thankfully Mark Dennis fancies Second Division football and joined Palace – the ability to kick your wife straight has never been successfully transferred to a more spherical target, while our own Macro Van Backpass has been ‘left back’ on the bench so far this year. Wor Kenny was a possible I suppose, but too many “Canny bag ‘o Tudor” jibes at Stocko put paid to that
Whoever the man is to take up the gauntlet, one things for sure, that cool blonde won’t be too bothered. She’ll be too busy showing yours truly what a great performance really feel like. The “Mines as big as Trtevor Putney’s” line works a treat lads.
I attended Ayresome Park for the first time this season to see Boro play Sheffield United. I thought it was a fairly exciting game – 6 goals, marvellous first one from Slaven – but obviously not the correct result from our point of view.
Other than the football on display that day my other memory of this particular match was the prejudices and levels of racism on the terraces. Things don’t appear to change much at Ayresome Park do they? Dean and Francis came in for a lot of stick from the Alf Garnetts in the crowd simply because they were black and played for the opposition that day.
This knee-jerk response to black players who unfortunately happen to be playing for the opposition – whoever they are – is now practically a systematic response – as if it was second nature! It appears to be tolerated and indeed so does the more crude and vicious racist chanting, the ape-like grunts and other such mindless insults. There was one bloke near me who was practically frothing at the mouth – beside himself with rage at Brian Deane.
Middlesbrough have a young black player in Mark Burke who has tremendous potential and the black and Asian youth who are supporting the Boro certainly deserve better than this racist rubbish. What is worrying though is that it seems to be tolerated and not confronted; the tendency will be for racism to develop in intensity, from verbal attacks to attacks of a more physical nature. There are those elements, the National Front and British National Party etc who will channel racism on the terraces for their own particular ends.
I’m not going to offer any ready made solutions to this problem, because I don’t know of any. I think it is a worrying trend. I would be interested to hear what other ‘thinking Boro fans’ have to say on the issue of racism on the terraces. Do they see it as a problem? If so, what can be done? Perhaps FMTTM, as an ‘official voice’ could open its pages to a discussion of the matter.
Lastly, as a suggestion and in terms of positive imagery – why not in some future issue devote an article / profile of the great Lindy Delapenha – a Boro player of the 50s. Especially as the Boro were one of the first clubs to have a black player.
- Robert Martin -
We all know that Boro haven’t exactly set the world alight in terms of winning trophies but I’m convinced that we have finally made the record books – Boro have the largest number of moaners than any other club and its getting right on my whatsits. Ayresome Park on a good day houses more moaners than Beirut on a bad day. What convinces me of this, apart from the ‘chicken run’ every home game, is the number of pathetic letters in the Sports Gazette every Saturday night, demanding this demanding that, drop him, buy him, do this, do that, moan, moan fr**ging moan as Chubby Brown would say.
We’ve even had one character a few weeks ago who maintained that “Bruce Rioch must be sacked because he had brought us down from Division One”. Obviously a pupil from the Tommy Docherty school of Footballing Bulls**t. That particular column then had the hounds out trying to tell Bruce how to conduct a ball squeezing transfer, moaning that he should sell Pally for £1.8 million. Nearly spoilt it didn’t you, you tossers. Nice one Bruce, £2.3 million, the mans a genius.
Maybe the moaners would like to return to the days of Dictator Adolf Amer, with the intelligent football of Billy Ashcroft (he was only any good up in the air). The days when Adolf would sell a player if another club (Liverpool) snapped its fingers and started throwing peanuts around. There really was something to moan about in those days.
Bruce Rioch is the best thing to happen to this club. For the players, for the fans, for the town. As soon as everybody recognises this the better, then he might be able to get us back where we belong without suffering the hassle of the fans who’s favourite hobby is moaning.
- Donny Osmond -