You can’t go to Newcastle without having a pint in the Strawberry, so with an hour to go before the game and with stories at the ready just in case, we made for the trendiest pub in Tyneside.
Whilst there i encountered the coolest graffiti (in the bogs) I’ve ever read (though I never saw the ancient walls of Pompeii). Not that we needed to worry about reprisals from the locals as the majority of them could hardly raise the effort to order their ‘broon’ never mind enquire from whence we came.
In fact it struck me what a down in the dumps place St James’ is these days. Not like Ayresome, where despite our poor form, there always seems to be a buzz about the pre-match atmosphere in the pubs. There was an unusual calm in the ground too just before kickoff, without the usual exchange of taunts.
The two teams weren’t pulling their punches though, as they set about each other at tremendous pace, the Geordies finally found their voice as McGee got the spawniest goal of the season so far on 2 minutes, totally against the run of play as they say.
Happy to say that normal service was resumed as the lads fought and played themselves into the game with Brenda especially out to stick our nicknames down our throats with a real man’s performance. We’ve criticised him in the past, rightly so we think, but last week he was brilliant. Wish he could be a bit more subtle when he decides to kick ass though, because at that rate he’s going to spend most of the season suspended.
Proctor was at his best too, playing his part in our domination of the first half and capping it with a superb equaliser. In fact both our goals were as a result of good individual work. Proctor’s was a cracking shot, low and hard, whilst Marco’s came as as a result of Bernie splitting them open… and didn’t it all go quiet over there?
In the end I reckon they deserved a point after pinning us back for so long in the second half, although with 5 minutes to go I thought we were going to cling on. Which raises the point of Boro conceding goals very early or very late in games. It happened on Wednesday night again, at Wimbledon, and it’s time that we worked a little harder to ensure this trend doesn’t continue.
As you’ve read your way through the issues of FMTTM a question must have entered your head. Do the players read it? Does a copy land on Brucie’s desk? If so, does he take any notice of it? Or is it chucked in the bin with this weeks batch of transfer requests. I don’t know the answer to these questions but i do know that they should take notice.
On the whole fanzines are the only way that the supporters can air their views. This probably goes a long way to explain their popularity. Nearly every club has one (sometimes more) as a quick look at the ever expanding list in ‘When Saturday Comes’ will show. We are well aware that Middlesbrough FC / Supporter relations are crap, so it was no real suprise to hear the attitude taken by an official programme seller towards one of FMTTMs editorial staff while he was selling copies before a recent match. Among several official whinges, was that he was affecting the sales of the Excellent Boro Magazine and that FMTTM contained items that were detrimental to the club.
Firstly, its a fact that the programme will appeal to a totally different section of the crowd – like connoisseurs of the small Ad, or kids who collect ‘Super Colour’ posters of their fav players. Secondly, everything that appears in a fanzine is essentially what fans think. Written down or not, they still think it and no amount of official complaining can alter that.
In issue 18 there was an article about a Sunderland FSA meeting, suggesting how good it would be if the same thing happened here. Ha, ha. Can you imagine Brucie’s face when some likely lad stands up and says “Oy Bruce, did Dava swing for Toddy in the changies?” Or some particularly articulate chap says “Mr Rioch, do you think your authoritarian style of management is detrimental to the team form, when their fortunes are in decline?” It takes a brave man to face the music and i like to think Bruce is a brave man, so ‘how about it?’
Lets face it, the only supporter participation at the moment is the Heritage Hampers Man of the Match Award, when, if you’re lucky enough to win, you get free tickets to the match, a photo taken with your hero and a few tins of Spam in a pidgeon box. Of course, this is not exactly what i had in mind. We need more supporter invlovement, like actualy listening to our views. More openess is whats called for, a little bit of Perestroika (we could do with one them to play along side Bernie – Sorry Ed) can’t hurt the club any more than the lies, rumours and inuendos that are bandied about at the moment.
Although one good thing to come out of the current state of affairs is a new game you can play. It’s like the party game Chinese Whispers but called Boro Rumours. What you do is go up to someone at work, in the pub or wherever and say something like “I hear Moggas having talks with Norwich” or “I see Bruce is going to Everton”. Then you sit back and wait to see how long it is before the story appears on the back page of the Gazette. After all that’s how Eric Paylor gets all his best stories. Anyway, time to sum up before i go too far off track. A message to the Management and Board of this club. If you don’t like what you read in this fanzine… TOUGH. It’s here to stay. It fills a huge gap, a gap that you have helped to create. Listen to your fans. They are the best in this country and you treat them like lepers
The battle of St James Park was marred for me by a disgraceful Boro supporter stood very near to me, this man committed the worst form of hooliganism in the game today… Killer Bottom Burps.
The smell was far worse than that bad egg aroma that constantly wafts through Cleveland from ICI Billingham. If the culprit, who stood passively throughout, didn’t have a serious medical problem like rotting guts, then it was obvious to everyone it was time for him to review his diet, i mean we all like the odd Mutton Vindaloo, Boro Fish Bar Kebab, Fatso Parmesan and a few bottles of Dog but never all on the same night.
The gasping and choking around him had started before kick off as furious denials and recriminations raged amongst his mates (brave men). The excitement of Mark Proctors goal caused our friendly wind machine to reach a new level in air pollution and pretty soon our paddock became a serious fire hazard as the methane content in the air increased. After Marco (kick anything in a black and white shirt) Brennan had put us ahead the smell became so intense that bobbies with special breathing gear moved in to find the source of the disgusting odour, for rumours were rife that a hole was beginning to form in the ozone layer above St James and Jim Smith was worried that his bald head would get burnt from U.V. rays streaming through.
As Newcastle began to put us under extreme pressure the strain on this man was too much. Fans dropped like flies, whilst others, perhaps more experienced, managed to stay on foot and watch through rheumy eyes. A Greenpeace official turned up to beg the man to stop, he said that polar tips were starting to melt and the greenhouse effect was speeding up but still he farted on.
That night my throat was still sore, even though i hadn’t sung a note, i was also suffering from poisoning of the lungs. The following morning i read the match report in the Sunday Express. The match was so hard fought and enthralling that the Bottom Burpers exploits were totally ignored. On reading Jim Smith’s comments about Parkinson being coined (the git accused him merely time wasting) and saying that Big Al should have been sent off, i became extremely frightened. Jim had a greater problem than the man who had stood in front of me at the game. Yes that’s right, Jim Smith actually TALKS out of his arse.
My fellow aristocrats, Sir Bruce of Rioch has once again brought out the placard requesting a little decorum from those of us who occupy the Holgate End and quite right i’m sure, although the dug out could start by setting an example.
Unfortunately, without swearing most of the repertoire of the West End male voice choir is up the Khyber, but im sure with a few minor adjustments the sweetest light Sir Bruce demands will fall upon Ayresome Park.
So, when encouraging the players we could sing (and i use the term loosely) “Get into them, make a rather spiffing challenge”. As we announce our presence, “We’re Boro, we’re barmy, we’re really boisterous chaps, don’t you know”. When a player from a team south of Leeds rolls in mock agony, “Your a soft southern bounder”. Finally, when enquiring of the opposing teams identity “Who the bally heck are you? But jolly nice to see you anyway”, would not be entirely inappropriate.
I look forward to a new era of gentlemanly conduct from the Boro faithful and hope you can read my article in this months “Horse and Country” dealing with evening wear and the football supporter, which should be of some help when Sir Bruce outlaws casual wear on the terraces.
Ewan Carmichael has written in to clarify, or as he puts it “set the record straight”, regarding the letter he received from Roger Tames as featured in issue 21 of FMTTM.
“I apologise for not being eloquent enough for you to realise that the main thrust of my letter was centred at ITVs football coverage in general. The point i would like to reiterate is the fact that ITV have spent X amount of millions for the exclusive rights to all league games in aid of what appears to be a will to deprive us of decent armchair viewing, borne out by the fact that a quarter of the season has gone by the time of the first live match. Coupled to the fact that the ITV coverage is trying to brainwash us into thinking only a handful of clubs exist (and we ain’t one of them). If you’d published my letter, instead of sidling up with the Independent TV media your readers would have had a better idea of the argument, but i suppose the eradication of flares from the terraces is a far more important issue than anything that should concern a piddling trivial game like football“
Point taken, the truth is, at the time we couldn’t bring your original letter to hand, so summarised the gist of Tames’ reply to imagine that you had unfavourably compared their coverage to that of the BBC.
Anyway, the plot continues to thicken… as we then learnt that a Mr G Emmerson had also written to Roger Tyne (sorry Tames) to complain about Newcastle bias, getting what can only be described as a slightly less polite reply.