What on earth were the administrators of Blackburn Rovers doing, announcing the postponement of our fixture against them at 1pm, when it was obvious that Boro fans had already set off.
Its obvious the club didn’t want to call the game off as this is an expensive business, but to leave the decisions so late is ridiculous and showed a complete disregard to the 2000 visiting supporters. Okay, so its not the clubs fault that their recently installed £300,000 pitch and drainage system broke down, but as last Saturday was the first major downpour of the season / year, surely a closer eye could have been kept on the situation, with a very early statement made to the effect that ‘todays game was in jeopardy’.
A definite decision should have been made, by at the latest 11:30 am. It possibly escaped the knowledge of the powers that be at Ewood Park that fans of Middlesbrough FC have far better things to do with their time and money than spend it driving around what is a very dreary town at the best of times. But it is indicitive of the way clubs consider their own welfare as top priority and we who spend our money can go and eat sh*t. I don’t suppose Bruce was tearing his hair at the prospect of a blank weekend. With the injury situation the way it is at the moment, the postponement was a positive godsend. Before the devine intervention we faced the prospect of Putney-less, Mogga-less and Proctor-less side taking on one of the form sides in the division.
Despite the tipsters having the fixture down as a banker home win, for some bizarre reason I fancied us to get a result. Our dismal away form had to end sooner or later and the omens at Ewood were good. Last time we played them they had just beaten Liverpool in mid-week, and after playing us, went on an unbeaten run of about 19 games that saw them emerge as Division leaders and (virtual) promotion certainties. But we absolutely played them off the park that day in what was one of our best away displays of the season, eventually winning 2-0.
Anyway, Gary Gill as captain would have been a bit of a worry, especially after a pretty poor display against Halifax Town; mind you he was hardly alone that night, why oh why did Kevin Poole launch the ball up field every time he got it in his hands. With no Ripley, we didn’t have a chance in the air and when Davenport did finally get his head to one, Slaven was of course rooted to the spot, as you would be when your colleague had failed to do it in 230 attempts.
Brennan , who must now be known as Brenda, never moved out of a 10 yard square and contributed to the performance about as much as I did (I caught the ball and threw it back late in the second half). The mood amongst the 6-700 Boro supporters reminded me of the atmosphere at away games during the dark days under Murdoch, Allison and Maddren. The team would would surely have been booed off had Bernie (who else) not popped up to score the winner in the 89th minute (this guy could score with the fluff in his belly button at the moment).
One pretty funny moment did emerge from the game though, when Parkinson went on one of those headless chicken runs, this time diagonally through the centre of the midfield and straight down the left touchline (this mans positional sense gets curiouser and curiouser). Predictably he lost the ball and Halifax launched a speedy counter attack. Parkinson, meanwhile, ambled back up field racked with guilt and shaking his head disbelievingly. As he passed the dug outs, still on the wrong side of the pitch, Bruce Rioch hurled himself to the touchline with a speed that belied his age and bellowed a brief interpretation of events. “IT’S NO GOOD SHAKING YOUR F**KING HEAD PARKINSON!!!” A statement that left those in earshot laughing and Parky quickening his steps somewhat. Hats off to the first fan to make a banner saying – The Holgate Requests No Swearing From the Dugout Please.
Two satisfying pieces of transfer action should be acknowledged. Firstly, we welcome to the fold Simon Coleman, who’s hardly in the image of Stuie Boam so let the comparisons end there hey? Also well done Gary Gill for not going to Scunthorpe United for a paltry £100,000. What on earth Bruce was thinking about letting him go for is beyond me but its worth remembering his last full home game for us was against Everton, and as long as he can play like that, his place is at Ayresome Park.
Reading this headline last Thursday morning, I first believed Mr Lindsay to be referring to the Yugoslavians victory over Scotland the night before, but after considerable thought and no little alcohol I began to seriously re-evaluate his meaning, surely I had got it all wrong, I reasoned, perhaps the apostrophe wasn’t in quite the right place and so what if the column underneath didn’t mention him by name but surely the ‘Slav’ reffered to by Mr Lindsay was none other that our own Bernie slaven – why not? Bernie has baffled me for years with his Jekyll and Hyde impersonations.
Here was the man who personally defined the offside rule for the FA; the man who suffered from the footballer equivalent of the yips whenever Davo was in a scoring position and the man who made the slow motion sequence in Chariots of Fire look speeded up. Yet here also was a man who as you were calling for his immediate substitution would bring an awkward cross down and volley it home all in one movement, the man who when you had given up all hope would produce a blistering 20 yarder into the top corner, the man who after 8o minutes of terrace criticism would leave you chanting his name at the end of the game with everyone else.
He is simply that kind of player. He tests your faith but in the end rewards you with more than you could ever expect. Unfortunately for Bernie, whilst we at Boro know his worth as a goal scorer supreme, it seems his grace will continue to baffle the Scots and in particular Andy Roxburgh. He is constantly overlooked in favour of apparently more skilful players such as McCoist or McAvennie, players who at the highest level have failed time and time again to produce the goods.
Bernie might not be able to hold the stage with his talents for 90 minutes but the minute he does so will win the match. At the moment the only Scot who realises this is Bruce and after all he was born in Aldershot.
FMTTM hereby starts the campaign among Boro fans that Bernie Slaven must go to the World Cup finals with Scotland (or Eire for that matter, but we all know who Bernie would rather play for) Gullit, Van Basten and Maradona? Bah!!!
During the mid 70s it was widely recognised, especially on Teesside the Boro were a quality cntre forward away from being a potential Championship winning side. The promotion team included Foggon, Hickton (all bow) and Mills all bagging 20+ but this wasn’t taken much further. Hickton was rapidly reaching his autmn years, Foggon, for some inexplicable reason was bought by Man Utd and Diddy Mills, though always a useful front man was never going to be prolific, eventually averaging about 15 a season. In the reserve pool was Alan Willey, Malcolm Poskett, Malcolm Smith and Peter Brine. All, with the exception of Poskett failed to break into league football, though Willey made a name for himself in the USA 6 a side league.
Big Jack had proved himself a master tactician and motivator but unfortunately had a capricious attitude to the Transfer Market, possibly a legacy of his much made of ‘humble background’ and this frugality stayed with him through out his career as a league manager, whilst the team rode relatively high in the First division, we all waited in vain for a ‘big splash’.
Rumours were rife for months about who we would sign, whilst we endured a succession of 1-0 wins and 0-0 draws. Jimmy Hill look-a-like David Cross (ex Coventry and WBA) had been seen downing pints with Millsy in the Rudds Arms, this of course was untrue as Mills only drank half Lagers and Black. A slim line Ray Hankin, the free scoring Burnley striker nearly signed, before eventually opting for a flagging Leeds giving his reason as he’d rather live near Tetley’s brewery than a Cameron’s one.
Though I’d have thought that when one drinks as much as Mr Hankin, one pint would taste very much like the next. Two other big names at the time, Motherwells Willie Pettegrew and some Belgium or was it Norwegian gadgie Tom Lund, came, saw and p**sed off home again.
But then the break through. We signed Phil Boersma from Liverpool for £72,000, just before it became common knowledge that Liverpool don’t sell good players. To be fair Phil had looked a cool buy, at one point even topping the First Division scorers chart with 7 goals. Unfortunately the goals dried up and the fans lost their patience with him. Charlton had his fingers burnt a wee bit, £72,000 being a fair few bob in those days, so Jack resorted to the tried and trusted(?) method of paying next to nought and getting next to nought, but at least you wasted no money.
Millwall’s goal machine Alf (what a chin) Wood arrived before immediately breaking down. One remembers his fine over head kick against Derby County that allowed Mills to score a cracker at the far post, but whilst Alf had been a great striker in his day, scoring 5 in one match for Millwall, he was on his way out when he came to Boro, eventually being given a free to Wallsall.
Jacks inability to recognise and buy a quality a forward cost us at least a regular place in Eurpoe and possibly the Championship. Maybe this failing will also cost Bernie Slaven a place in his Eire squad in the near future.
Alf Wood: Played 22 scored 2 – Phil Boersma: Played 43 Scored 4
Having previously documented my initial investigation into Boros recent decline and highlighting the role FMTTM had to play. The second part of my investigation implicates another supposed Boro ally, namely our shirt sponsors… Heritage Hampers.
Detailed computer analysis has indicated that the image projected by the sponsoring company (or its product) is directly reflected in the performance and degree of success of the sponsored team. For example, the success and style of play at Forest, Spurs and to a lesser extent Wimbledon i.e. entertaining, robust with the promise of good times, is a direct reflection of the image their brewery sponsors would like to portray. The shirts of successful clubs like Liverpool, Everton, and Arsenal (Candy, NEC, JCV) celebrate the white heat of 20th century technology and its image of progress and sophistication. Again this image is mirrored in the performance of those teams.
However, when the Boro stride from the tunnel at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon in their current kit, what image is conjured up to inspire the players and strike fear into the hearts of the opposition?……..PICNICS!!!
I do not feel that our sponsors provide the necessary image to inspire our heroes in their tough, athletic endeavours.
A new sponsor is required which will enable the lads to venture into the season with their heads held high and their chests stuck firmly out. A sponsor whose product is synonymous with speed, power and great success, I wonder if the manufacturers of Anabolic Steroids would be interested?