Welcome to our chunky New Years edition of FMTTM, your trusty Boro rag. Before any more is said an apology is due to the management of the Yellow Rose for the scurrilous attack on their establishment by ‘The Walrus’ in his revue of local ale houses last issue. His views were not shared by his fellow writers and slipped unnoticed through the editorial net. I for one look forward to my full bodied pint of Samson in there, with its thick creamy head, served up by one of those voluptuous, attentive bar maids.
On to other matters. A few words about entrance prices for Simod Cup matches. With most things in life, the more we pay, generally the better quality we get. One exception to this seems to be football. Usually in Simod Cup matches and other minor tournaments teams are not at full strength and players tend not to give 100% all of the time, so shouldn’t we be paying at a reduced rate? This might also tempt a few more fans to attend.
If the clubs don’t like that then how about this? Our two Simod Cup games have attracted about 7000 gates on each occasion and out of that at least 70% were standing. Why not make an overall charge of £3.50 to allow those who don’t normally sit in the stands to do so and fill those empty seats. This would be a nice gesture to the unemployed fans who can’t normally afford to sit but who follow the team devoutly, this would enhance our ever improving image even further.
Well done to the faithful at Goodison Park on Boxing Day. Thought we did really well in the first half but the game died a death in the second. Hammo was unlucky though not to equalise and surely Davo’s elusive goal will come soon. All of you lovers of ironies will no doubt be especially hoping he does it today; a goal to beat his old club would be great to get under way on.
Thanks to those who have wrote to us, we need your ideas and comments to keep us on our toes, plus special thanks to the Southern Supporters Club for the kind appraisal in their recent newsletter. We invite members to make suggestions as to how we may improve, and expect FMTTM to be well represented at your forthcoming belated Xmas bash.
Before the season started i think its fair to say we all had a few ideas on how the team might fair in the world’s top league. I don’t think any of us thought we would seriously challenge for the Championship, though we’ve all started believe anything is possible under Riochs astute management.
Perhaps a few cynics thought we would do well to avoid relegation? But I think most of us reckoned we would finish comfortably above the relegation dog fight, just so long as we were above Newcastle United then we’d happily settle for that. Perhaps you thought our lack of goal scoring power would be the reason we wouldn’t make significant progress, but that our rock solid defence would ultimately ensure our safety?
Well with 18 games gone, the team lying in 14th place (nothing to worry about there) and 21 points on the board, things ain’t worked out like that. It’s alarming how many people in the media, and more worryingly on the terraces, seem unduly concerned with our goals against tally of 31 (before the Norwich City game). True, conceding nearly 2 goals a game is hardly Championship form, but some pundits seem to think that our defence is in some way slackening off.
Or as one fan was heard to exclaim recently “our defence has gone right down the nick”.
But i disagree; I would say our back five have never played as well as they have this season. Especially Gary Parkinson who is developing into a real gem of a player, though I doubt some of our less educated fans will ever recognise this fact. Its true Colin Cooper appears to have lost a little bit of confidence lately and allowed himself to get wound up by Pat Nevin last week, but i’m sure he’ll get back on top of his game (with a little help from the fans) and contend strongly for our Player of the Season award.
The simple fact is that Boro, like all teams good or bad, occasionally gift chances to opponents. They haven’t just started doing it either; they did it throughout our 3rd and 2nd division promotion campaigns. How many times were we let off thanks to a brilliant Pearsy save, or have a glaring miss turn a game to our advantage at humble grounds like Rotherham, Bolton and Plymouth.
Unfortunately, First Division strikers are more than a class above there counterparts in the lower divisions, so many times this season half chances have been pounced on and cracked into the net before we’ve even had chance to turn around. But we are still a very young side and this is their first season in the ‘top flight’.
We should take heart from the goals we are scoring this season, which must be a surprise to the most optimistic of supporters, instead of pointing fingers at Mogga and Pally for not ‘doing the bizz anymore’. Every outfield player has scored for us this season, except ol ‘Davo of course and his lucks got to change sooner or later (still fancy him to get at least 10 this season).
The recent form of Brennan perfectly illustrates the class of players in this division. Brennan is a player who can punish any sloppy pass or half clearance. His ability to shoot with either foot so accurately and with power is unrivalled. His shots will always bring goals, saves, gasps and corners because the man is class… the division is class… and we’re in it!
Make no mistake, as we mature with age we too will challenge for honours.
Delightful skills and a joy to watch but is Mark Burke an extravagance we can ill afford? This sort of question is always posed whenever a team employs a regular wide man. Ripley, now asked to play in a more central role, could never be described in those unflattering terms the ‘dicky dancer’. A term usually reserved for the wide man who, for various reasons, does not do his share of chasing and tackling back. But can the opposition’s fans level this same criticism at Burke?
I would say yes, in the sense that he does cover back but doesn’t seem to have the commitment in the tackle that a defender might. Rioch though, as we’ve discussed before, seems to be working towards a continental style of play and away from the traditional British style, so Burke’s role would seem to fit in with this.
He has impeccable balance and poise, plus a fine change of pace, beating men with his body swerves and dummies better than any Boro player has for a long time. Recently though he’s encountered a few problems, mainly because the opposition have realised he’s quite good. Full backs have been marking him in his own half, picking him up in very deep positions and when he has received the ball in an attacking position, two men have closed him down. Its going to be interesting to see how he, Rioch and the team deal with these problems and use them to Boros advantage.
I think he needs to learn when to lay the ball off, when to take men on and when to cross. Remember that he is only 19, he will improve when he matures as a player and I must stress these are not serious problems. In the meantime, let’s savour his beautiful talent and hope we can watch it for many years to come both at Middlesbrough and surely international level, for that U21 cap can not be far away.
Archie will be remembered by most genuine Boro fans with gratitude, for coming into a bad team and scoring some great goals. His swashbuckling style was a big hit with the fans, but when the old legs started to slow it soon became apparent he wasn’t up to the 2nd Division. When Carlisle stepped in with a £10,000 bid Bruce got rid at the right time, especially as Archie has gone on to suffer recurring injury problems.
His best goals for the Boro were unsurprisingly all headed affairs (after all, his looping drive against Port Vale was by his own admission, a bit of a fluke). He opened Boro’s account in two consecutive seasons, against Fulham and Millwall respectively, the latter a superb flying header that earned the first point of our successful promotion campaign. But for me and many others, his best goal came against Birmingham in the home leg of our Littlewoods Cup game. A goal down and struggling to come to terms with a slick Brum attack (it’s true). Archie managed to deceive Des Bremner and rise majestically (sic), before heading home with such power, that players and fans alike paused to gasp before descending on him in celebration. After the game ‘old timers’ spoke openly about witnessing the best headed goal ever seen at Ayresome Park. Over the top maybe, but a fine goal nonetheless.
What an enigma… what a puzzle… what a lazy fat #?@”%$*! who missed more clear cut chances than… well just add the name of your most hated Boro striker. Currie was capable of breathtaking skill, but rarely seemed to have the inclination to use it. Even when he did, he still managed to balls it up in front of goal when it looked easier to score.
Stockton born Currie never got the fans on his side, except for a couple of weeks after a midweek game with Newcastle Utd, he played magnificently and scored a classic curling goal that even had a member of the Cleveland Constabulary throwing his helmet into the air in disbelieving joy. Next day the national papers were full of it, “Hot Currie”, “Man Utd bid for Boro Wizzkid”, “Englands Saviour”. The buzz wasn’t to last long though. The truth was Currie ran hot and cold. He soon had the fans on his back with some incredibly inept performances, whilst going out for a drink became a dodgy pastime, but one he was hardly going to relinquish, not with his beer gut to maintain.
His most infuriating display came against Scarborough in a pre-season friendly before we were relegated to the 3rd Division. In a split-second of footballing genius he took a difficult ball on his chest, bringing it down in an instance and jinked his way past three defenders who were left starring at each other in his wake. As he raced into the 18 yard box he had a number of choices. He could unselfishly play it to the far post, into the path of three waiting Boro players. He could blast it into the net on his own and consequently score one of the best goals ever scored by a Boro player. He could even attempt to make a fool of the keeper George Best style.
But what he did instead was to hesitate, stepping on to the ball and catapulting himself into the air, leaving Currie to land not on his arse but his back, much to the amusement of fans and players on both sides. We went on to struggle to a one each draw and Currie took virtually no further part.
He was never going to do the business for Boro and Rioch was right to let him go as he obviously had no desire to do so either. He found his feet at Darlington and was eventually sold to Barnsley for £150,000. Apparently he’s playing like a hero at the moment and press reports are rife with talk of £1000,000 bids from the likes of West Ham and Wombledon. One paper even suggested that Rioch himself was prepared to bring him back to Ayresome for a fee close to a million, if this happens I’ll bare my arse in Debenhams shop window
Everybody’s hero when he was knocking in goals left right and centre from midfield during our 3rd division promotion season. Not forgetting he was also a sound right back when Willie Maddren bought him from Huddersfield Town for the bargain price of £35,000. However, he was never the same player when he returned from a serious knee operation. Failing to dislodge the then struggling Parkinson meant that Bruce couldn’t really refuse £250,000 for a fringe player. Personally i’m glad he’s gone, especially if he didn’t really want to stay. Rumour has it that he was one of the lads who fought to get out of the club when we were going bust, apparently not even talking to the other players. So good riddance to him i say, although he does appear to be doing quite well for Nottingham Forest these days.
Looked the business when he broke into the first team a few seasons ago. A bit of a turn up when allowed to leave in the deal that brought Kevin Poole to Boro from Aston Villa. Rumoured to have suffered with a bad back whilst at the Boro, Lee failed to break into the Villa team and was bought by Doncaster Rovers where he is now playing in midfield alongside Gerry Daly.
A prolific goal scorer at junior level and believed to have a great future, but Brucie didn’t think so and let him go to Sheff Utd. Well who are we to argue with the great man, doesn’t look like he’s made the grade in the lower divisions either mind.
This rat deserted us when we were a sinking ship. Despite being a naturally gifted player he was cursed with a tendency to over do it once he’d worked an opening. It’s not that surprising he left for Sheffield Utd, especially as he had his best games for Boro against them, particularly at Bramell Lane. On a lighter note, he does seem to have been the Angel of Death for each of the league clubs he has joined, as all three have been relegated during his tenure. With latest club Stoke City also looking a knocking bet to go down, his record speaks for itself… tough luck Peter, ha, ha
Absolutely no desire at all to play for Boro, Maddren brought him from Brighton.
Same as above, in so much as he thought he could come here and pose his way through games. Good passer when he wanted to be but didn’t fancy getting his arse kicked by Rioch so got the hell out while the going was still good. Now, while Boro struggle without him, he plies his trade at glamour club Grimsby Town. Oh how we need him now.
As we are told from every angle that our beloved game is going through the death throes, it is a bitter irony that those accused of destroying it (anyone between the age of 15 to 25, if you believe those in the know) appear to of “never had it so good”.
The emergence of the Casuals in recent years have turned football stadiums into catwalks for Armani, Fiorucci, Lemon, Lois, Nike and Diadora, this at a time when the game itself is condemned as bankrupt. When the last rites are read in the years to come, it will be this class of supporter who will shoulder the blame, despite the fact their support over the years has been the most fanatical ever known in football.
Despite unemployment and hideous restrictions to watch their team play, young fans in the 80′s have not only made away grounds places to be seen and heard (herded – Ed), but places to feel proud.
We constantly hear about ‘family football’, characters like Graham Taylor extolling the virtues of all seater stadiums and getting the family back through the turnstiles. Yet real supporters are being ignored in favour of the season ticket family and their greater spending power. But will Auntie Doris and the kids be travelling to the other end of the country to see a relegation battle in the middle of winter? Football is not about covered stadiums, padded seats, ice cream and women and kids. Its about hitching, having a drink or two, shouting, pushing, shoving, chanting, surging, swaying and having a jolly up. Football has always been and always will be a working class sport, so why not enjoy the game like we’ve enjoyed it for generations, en masse, in semi drunken unity.
Upwardly mobile Directors constantly remind us of our status by raising the height of the cages they erect around the terraces, whilst spending millions on executive boxes so the chosen few can watch in comfort.
Fans have long since claimed allegiance to their clubs with the chat “loyal supporters”, an answer, perhaps, to all the managers and secretaries comments in the match programmes which denounce the very same people for not being real fans. Until the clubs begin to realise who the true supporters are the ‘death throes’ are truly imminent.