Lies, damn lies and that Evening Gazette survey. Some very naughty rumours are doing the rounds in the Holgate just at the mo. It appears that some fans are actually quite upset with the present board-room leadership at our beloved club.
Fly Me to the Moon do not think the present board are insensitive, uncaring or incapable of listening to the fans option. That kind if opinion is utter rubbish, let’s face it this board has the true interests of us poor people at heart. These whingers on the terrace (obviously the product of broken homes or Guardian readers) are the real cancer in football. Just because these people turn up every week, pay their money and stand in the sort of conditions that you wouldn’t put a Vietnamese Boat Person in, doesn’t mean they actually have a valid opinion. Good grief no.
Keith Lamb is a superb businessman and true leader in humanity. I well remember him scoring the winning goal for England in the 66 World Cup. His cure for piles has been one of the finest gifts to mankind. It is a little known fact that his father is the deposed King of Albania and a breeder of championship winning seal pointed hamsters.
The only possible replacement for Lamb would have to be that littery genius McQuade of Ayresome – post to the court of King Bruce.
The sooner we get the full membership scheme in place the better, then we can see the implementation of a proper anti-hooligan policy, the birching of people wearing bobble hats, public crucifixition for those not sitting or using naughty language in the Holgate End etc.
So they say Ayresome’s going all-seater and you’ll have your own opinion on this contentious issue. Of course it took a near-disaster to force this decision which must have broken the hearts of the pin stripe boys, lower capacity equalling less profit. Mind you, the prices they’ll probably charge should offset it nicely. In fact while they are at it they could do a bit to improve the appalling facilities. Turning the empty corner into a properly equipped section for the disabled would make us the envy of the whole league. An improvement in the catering would also not go a miss, at the moment there’s more empty space in the pies than there are on the terraces.
Now there is a solution to all these problems and before you throw up your arms in horro, its only hypothetical and will never happen. Move the ground. This is the sort of thing that is now happening in West Germany, they are moving stadiums out of the city centres.
How much would it cost? A while a go there was an article in the Guardian by an American who specialised in building stadiums, giving credit where its due, if Yanks are good for nothing else, they do build some impressive stadiums. This bloke reckons he could build a new ground for even lower division clubs for around £1.5 to £2 million.
Could we afford it without using the Pally money, which should really go towards strengthening the team? After all it’s no good having a flashy ground if the teams crap (right Newcastle?) We would have to rely on some kind hearted sponsors. Although the sale of the prime inner-city land now occupied by Ayresome Park would off-set it a bit.
Where would it be located? Rumours have been about for a while suggesting the old Stockton race course, but what about the land that used to belong to the B.S.C and Smiths Dock at Cargo Fleet? It has already been reclaimed in part as a motor-racing track and it has had a large amount of money promised by a certain entrepreneur.
It would be nice if someone with footballing interests would turn up!
What are the advantages? Well we would have a spanking new ground with all mod-cons. The railway line runs alongside the site. Football specials could pull straight in and away supporters would not have to be herded through town. A coach park could also be built. It would be well out of the way, this would come in handy when that little prat Moynihan gets his way with ID cards. It would be built with the type of turnstiles required and when one breaks down, as they no doubt will, there would be no ugly crowd scenes in the town. Can you imagine the chaos down the alley on the Ayresome street entrance to the Holgate if the computerised turnstile blew a chip?
What are the disadvantages? It’s a bloody long walk from the “Yella”. Anyway, it will never happen, so the landlords can rest easy.
The Boro Stiffs suffered a cruel blow last week with the loss of their Messiah and all round good guy Gary Gill, when their super skipper decided to opt for the wilderness of Feethams as opposed to the Ayresome Park exclusion zone.
Gill completed his surprise transfer just in time to make his debut for Darlo against Vauxhall big boys Chorley and the Wheelies. But Gilly, a perennial substitute for the Boro last year was once more asked to sit it out on the bench until ‘Little’ Brian decided that the only way Johnny Borthwick was going to score was if he hung a carrot from the goal posts, but without a carrot about his person he turned to his next best option and put Gilly on.
The crowd went wild and the Great Gary Gill responded in true ‘Roy of the Rovers’ style by creating the opening goal. Darlo went from strength to strength and with Gilly revelling in the company of ‘fellow fashion’ victims Toman and Hine it was left to speedy veteran Emson to sew up the points with two late goals.
Meanwhile the Boro reserves, less their influential trendsetter took to the field against the Mackem and Tackem second string, with Danny Holmes stepping into Gilly’s nifty boots – Holmes, the nephew of Bruce is the most outstanding of the present reserves side, possessing a siftness of thought and action that his mentors in the first team have often lacked this season. If he had a little more support than that offered by Crosby and Tucker the 0 – 0 score may well have been tutned into victory.
As regards first team promotion however, Holmes is still very inexperienced with only a handful of reserve games behind him. Perhaps last Tuesdays game however, has pushed Paul Kerr, Nicky Mohan and Owen McGee nearer consideration. Of those three both Mohan and McGee must be breathing down the neck of out of form Gary Parkinson who suffered more than most along with Colin Cooper due to the failure of the midfield to realise the responsibilities against Stoke City.
Kerr may well be the answer to our midfield problem, a problem that Stuart Ripley was unable to cope with on Monday night. Kerr’s pace and deft touch might create the space that Brennan and Proctor both need in order to play to the best of their abilities, which when you look at them, are fairly limited. Neither are what you might call ‘fleet of foot’, Brennan at least can provide the killer ball from time to time i.e. the one that loops over the central defenders and falls inside the full back, but he needs an anchor alongside him who can do his bidding and create space. Proctor appeared against Stoke to have neither the ability nor the inclination to do this.
Whilst the majority of the crowd shamelessly booed Parkinson and jeered Cooper every time they got the ball, few noticed the lack of invention from the midfield that put them there, on the ball, deep in their own half and under pressure. The same midfield, hardly bent over backwards to get it back either. Hence we had no prolonged spells of possession (hardly 3 or 4 passes strung together) no pattern and no real chance of breaking down a 10 man defence.
Its worth remembering that even though we were pretty appalling we still could have won comfortably, thanks in part to relentless long balls and Stoke’s goal being the jammiest seen at Ayresome since Chapmans for Notts Forest last season, coming from there only attack of the 2nd half.
It seems strange that only 5 days after the problems of the Boro vs. Leeds game the blame seems to have switched from the club officials and police and all the difficult questions glossed over. Instead the blame has fallen on “the scum, hooligans and thugs”. So after half a dozen minor incidents we’re told by our Chairman that if the sfety of the people could not be guaranteed at Ayresome Park then there was no place for football on Teesside and that the ground would soon become all-seater. It’s all well and good for Henderson to talk about safety and improvements, but can he even see the disabled fans stuck out in all weathers from his Directors box and has he ever used the bogs behind the Holgate?
As for safety, has he ever tried to get out of the Holgate on a match day? First battle your way out and down the pathetically narrow exits and stairways, then squeeze down the alley picking your way through the horseshit, dustbins, potholes, puddles, cobbles and rubbish. Then dodge the parked cars and flying police cars in Ayresome Street. If all that isn’t hard enough, do it in the dark. There isn’t one light at this part of the ground. It only takes one person to slip and someone at the back to push and we all go down in the shit together. What would police and officials say about that? “Close the Holgate, landscape the terrace.” All that is needed is a couple of lights and a bit of tarmac.
And what of the proposed ground improvements? In the past year we’ve had sell outs on several occasions in a season which saw us relegated. Imagine what it would be like trying to get a “seat” if we ever had a good cup run or success in the First Division. Surely the ground should be made bigger if the problem is overcrowding now that fighting and pitch invasions have been eradicated inside the ground. By making the capacity smaller you exclude a large proportion of your existing following. You then have to increase prices to compensate for this loss. So the people who lose out are the unemployed, the disabled, pensioners and the lower working classes.
So Thatcher’s shoe shine boy will have his way. A game that has depended on the money and support of the working man and woman for a hundred years will lock out those who can not afford to pay. We in the North East have not had much to shout about in recent years but it is through our football that we show our pride and love for this area. That is why i fear these sweeping changes brought in time and time again will kill football and kill the team i love.
Welcome to issue 26 of FMTTM and may I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year. It seems a long time since last year when Man Utd were our opponents, my how the mighty have fallen. Although we’re unable to sample the delights of our premier division, today at least, this New Year indeed this new decade dawns with high expectations. Stoke today, then Everton, Sunderland and Newcastle with the far glint of Wembley’s twin towers in our eyes.
Christmas has so far provided plenty of festive fun and frolics for the Boro, which makes a change, and that win over Bradford echoed the kind of hard fought games which won us promotion in 1987. If we can find the balance between the determination we showed at Valley Parade and the flair we revealed against Wednesday, who knows what the Boro are capable of achieving this season?
Don’t forget 6th place can still bring promotion under the present play-off system and a good consistent run now would certainly put us in the frame by Easter. What exactly has brought about this up turn in form is difficult to say, but 6 wins in our last 8 games seems to have brought the confidence flooding back and with Pears restored to his rightful place, Brennan recapturing his best form and Slaven, Kernaghan and Davenport working as an effective unit up front the Boro look capable of taking on and beating anyone in the Second Division.
Although it is a great pleasure to look with some confidence into the future on the field, off the field the clubs decision to make Ayresome all seater has blackened the horizon. It seems the club is once more willing to ignore it’s supporters in favour of some commercial ideal, that has no feeling or sympathy with the game. In an effort to allow the voice of the supporters to be heard, this issue of FMTTM is carrying a petition
against the proposed all-seater scheme.
Please collect as many signatures as you can and help us fight for our right to be heard.
Ten years ago in a London Wine Bar a group of hacks sat discussing what the 80′s may bring for British Football. The conclusion they reached became the epitaph of the perils of forecasting the ‘funny old game’, for the decided the Crystal Palace were to be the team of the decade.
Meanwhile 250 miles north, the honest, ambitious Boro board were discussing their plans for an era of prosperity at Ayresome Park. The North Easts only first Division side were going into the big time; a flashy Sports Centre, VIP boxes and attempts to lure overseas stars to Teesside were firmly on the agenda. This , without doubt was to be Boro’s decade.
Back in the Wine Bar, the hacks had it all worked out, Palace had the ambitious young manager, the raw talent of young players and with the glory days well and truly over for Spurs the London tide had turned.
Not quite so talked about but equally promising, the Boro had Teessiders drooling at their potential. Match of the Day showed Boro trouncing Norwich 6 – 1, Cummins was to be the first million pound player and Johnston, Hodgeson and Proctor were rare talents. There was even the obligatory up and coming foreign star Bosco Jancovic and of course Billy Ashcroft (surely some mistake?).
Remarkably, in one of those strange twists of fate, even before the hacks had finished their drinks, the team of the 80’s and booming Boro were to their original designs what Alan Kernaghan is to the Spud-U-Like and the Madison is to Nightclubs.
It seems that somewhere along the lines the wires at Selhurst and Ayresome became crossed and things went slightly wrong producing numerous embarrassing mistakes. Palace fans arrived at the ground one day shocked to find that half of it had been demolished and they were standing in the meat department at Sainsburys who had inconveniently built a new supermarket right behind the goal. When the Chairman talked of building for the future this is not quite what the fans had in mind. Not to be outdone Boro had a similar mix up, when in attempting to lure Michelle Platini to ~Ayresome they had a crossed line on the phone and instead found themselves negotiating with Scottish giants Morton for their revered star Bobby Thompson. After Bosco had buggered off to become a lawyer in Paris (Charlie never did like the club to be connected with anyone who understood the law) it was left to Wor Bobby to show off his unique skills.
Bobby always saved his best for the big occasion, crucial games against sides like Southampton who included a certain Kevin Keegan in the number. Boro at 0 – 1 down had been awarded a penalty with time running out and much to the consternation of his team mates Bobby decided to take the kick himself. Unfortunately and unknown to the Holgate, Bobby had suffered double vision moments earlier and was left with a difficult decision – which goal should he aim for? Tragically Bobby chose the wrong one and to everyone’s disbelief placed the ball no less than 10 yards wide. Bobby’s post match explanation was that he decided to guess and hope, what would have happened to Bobby’s career if he had chosen the wrong ball God only knows.
Back at the ranch, Mr Amer was still planning for the prosperous 80’s and his VIP boxes, the only problem: how to convert the spaces at the back of the North Stand into luxury boxes without spending any money, Charlie was perplexed. Besides he was too busy worrying about his super Sports Centre and though the roof leaked there is no question of a man of his integrity using anything but top quality materials, suggestions that papier-mâché was used is of course simply ludicrous.
So there you have it, after that the 80’s went just a little sour. The rest as they say is history, which brings me neatly to the moral of this story. Never make predictions and never take an ounce of notice of ambitious schemes directors come up with from time to time. Now, about this all seater stadium for the nineties…
The Teesside branch of the Football Supporters Association got off to a rather momentous start, to say the least. However, this was down to coincidence and luck rather than planning – the meeting was most certainly NOT arranged in the wake of the Middlesbrough vs. Leeds game to point the finger at the police and the club and generally stir up trouble. Indeed, letters advertising the inaugural meeting to existing members in the area went out on November 19.
Having said that, a discussion of the disturbing events at Ayresome Park on December 9 was bound to dominate the night – and so it proved. Ground safety is one of the major concerns of the FSA and everyone present at the Teesside branch’s birth was obviously concerned with what happened at the Leeds game. The FSA seeks to put itself forward as a mouthpiece for the opinions of fans on a local and national level. In this case, we wanted to make our feelings known because the club and police appeared to have absorbed themselves of blame for the incident. Again, the guilty party was said to be the fans, who had surged and caused the crush. Now there’s an interesting point – how many times has anyone stood on a crowded terrace when there HASN’T been a surge of some kind? We all know surges are regular occurrences, which can start with an innocuous even like someone stumbling whilst trying their shoe-lace. But how many times do these surges end in people being crushed. Very rarely. For Chief Supt. Terry Tasker to blame the crush on a fans’ surge and in the next breath admit 60 too many fans had been in the enclosure was a sheer farce.
Several other issues immediately leapt out from the disturbing incident – why had Leeds not been given more tickets, why were more fans pushed into an obviously overcrowded area, what possible use were the barbaric spikes on top of the fence serving? Why did the police and officials initially refuse calls for help, why did we have to wait so long for an indication of what had happened? The list goes on.
The FSA meeting decided to write to the club and police to ask them to talk to us about our concerns. They refused to even respond to our letter, again illustrating the level of contempt with which Boro treat their fans. The line of both club and police seemed to be ‘we don’t need the fans; we can manage our own affairs’. We have been told they called us ‘hooligans in suits’ and denounced our meeting as a set-up designed to cause trouble. This is completely untrue; the meeting was simply a gathering of true football supporters who want a chance to articulate their views on the way the game is run.
Another worrying aspect of recent developments was the attitude of Boro Chief Executive Keith Lamb, to a poll in the Evening Gazette asking if fans supported the idea of seats in the Holgate End. A staggering 83 per cent said no, but Lamb’s response was aloof and condescending. He said the decision had been made and there were no plans to consult the fans. Typical.
The attitude of both Middlesbrough FC and Cleveland Police has been very disappointing, but we must tread a fine line. Other FSA branches have extremely good relations with their local clubs and police forces. Tyne and Wear Branch, for example, have close contacts with Sunderland FC.
We must beware not to be seen as an organisation that simply puts across a negative view of the club and police. I think we can profit in the long term by holding regular dialogues and hopefully, getting police officers and club representatives along to our meetings. We must make them accept us an organisation that truly represents the views of Teesside football fans. In a short space of time, we have done well. Our pressure and the support given to us by the County Council played a part in getting the spikes down in time for the Leicester game, whilst we have gained a media profile very quickly. But we must maintain this momentum so that we can continue to fight for a better deal for football supporters. This means increasing our membership. In theory, our membership should be limitless, as we aim to give the fans what they want – safer grounds, better facilities and no ID cards. Thus the FSA urges you to fill in the application form enclosed and join the association.
With Lord Justice Taylors report on Hillsborough disaster coming up and the Football Membership Authority starting out on its journey to come up with a membership scheme, the early months of 1990 will be important for the FSA. To help us have a say on these important issues join the FSA and help us build our membership and influence.
December 9th dawned promisingly enough, a cool grey day heralding the Yorkshire Derby between Boro and Leeds United. It was an important match not only in its context as a derby game but because Leeds were challenging for top place in the Second Division. As such it was of course an all ticket affair, Leeds receiving an allocation of about 2,000 tickets for the away section in the Clive Road corner. The demand for tickets outweighed the allocation and in an effort to support their team Leeds supporters bought tickets for the home Holgate End. It is not an uncommon practise, though one that is discouraged by the police and club alike.
Before kick off these stray supporters were removed and placed in the North East Corner. However, once the game had begun some supporters were transferred into the Clive Road corner, already filled to its maximum allocation. At around 3:30 a surge in this section caused pressure at the front of this terrace and resulted in a number of supporters being crushed against the fence. Fortunately the alert action of the police, stewards and the fans themselves mean that no one was seriously injured.
In the days following the event the usual inquests took place in an attempt to apportion blame. The police admitted allowing “extra” supporters into the Clive Road corner and the emergency services commented on the danger of the spiked top fences. Middlesbrough Football Club refused to accept any responsibility for the events. In the end no conclusions were reached but the burden of the blame seemed to be lumped on the behaviour of the supporters. On December 14th the Football Club announced that by 1992 Ayresome Park would be an all-seater stadium.
“The decision will not be reconsidered” – Keith Lamb.
Quite how the club has come about making this decision I do not know, it certainly wasn’t in consultation with supporters, but then when has the club ever showed any concern for it’s devoted followers.
This is the club who cared so much about our safety that they felt no reason to pull down the fences or barbaric spikes after the Hillsborough disaster. This is the club that cares so much about our comfort that we are made to suffer the most appalling toilet facilities which amount to little more than open topped sewers. This is the club that wishing to attract a new generation of followers to the club is unable to improve the Soup Kitchen refreshment facilities. This is the club that has made no effort to cater for its disabled followers. This is the club that has doesn’t even have a voucher system to ensure its loyal supporters gain access to the big games. This is Middlesbrough Football Club, the club that doesn’t listen to it’s supporters, that rides roughshod over their feelings and still expects gate money, week in, week out.
The plan to make Ayresome Park an all-seater stadium is just another instance of this. It is time that we supporters made a stand, before the game is lost to the businessman and the hooligan.
It is not that we are traditionalists clinging to our terrace origins, we want the standards improved but we demand changes that are necessary, not ones that cut across our needs. The Holgate End and South Terrace are perfectly safe places, provided the numbers are controlled and there is no need to seat these areas. We have a right to stand just as much as those who prefer to sit.
We want to stand in the Holgate
Get ready for the whitewash! Well what a shock, our loving and caring club (sounds like the Co-op) have put the blame where blame is due. Of course the fans were to blame for the injuries at the Leeds game. I mean the idea of fans being boisterous and jumping up and down must have never occurred to them. Aren’t we lucky that the brave lads in blue came on the scene just when they did to sort things out in a speedy and efficient manner.
Like hell they did: From the Holgate it looked like no one had any idea of what was going on. They, the police, appeared to have simply got it wrong and put too many fans in too small an area (ring bells for those at Newcastle in the First Division season?)
When are we the fans gonna’ get some respect from clubs and the police (answers to that one please). We stand on crumbling terraces, piss in Victorian bogs, get served revolting food, are barred from pubs and service stations, get treated by the media as utter scum and given the most intimidating treatment possible by police both home and away (welcome to prisoner cell block Luton) and the club still expect us to take the wrap when they screw up. Can you imagine being frisked when you went to the pictures or asked for ID at a concert?
Clubs derive the vast majority of their income from common working class punters like you and me. Clubs give the best treatment to the mega rich parasites who pay for the odd match ball or put an amount of money into the club that pound for pound comes to no where near meeting the amount a season ticket holder will put in over a lifetime of watching the club (in terms of percentage of income). Middlesbrough 1986 Ltd was saved by the fans who put in the real money week after week through the turnstiles.
The club needs to get its act together and start treating the fans (visitors included) as adults, giving them a decent standard of service all round. If not, eventually the fans will get so hacked off being treated as scum that they will stop going to the matches, buying the programme, shopping at the club shop and wasting the time of the poor unfortunate bunch of Dimblebys who protect us from disaster (oh thank you Chief Inspector for your dedication to the publics safety!)
Stop treating us like dirt and start treating us like the intelligent adults we are.
Stepping from the train at Middlesbrough to attend the inaugural meeting of the Teesside branch of the FSA, my eye was taken by a newspaper seller’s poster “Fans to blame – say Boro bosses”. As a fan myself, I bought a copy to investigate further, where upon my worst fears were confirmed. The cosy arrangement between club and police had already held trial over the previous Saturday’s terrible incidents with the accused not even told they had been found guilty and duly sentenced.
But hadn’t I been here before? Perhaps some former life, or parallel universe? Didn’t this nightmare sound familiar? Fans pulling down fences, trampling over each other, robbing motionless bodies, urinating on them, running riot and leaving happy that 95 of their friends had died?
In fact, weren’t all fans drunken scum of the earth and shouldn’t this ‘workers game’ be banned? Then along came the crazy Lord Justice Taylor and said that he wanted to hear the fans side of things. Then someone dressed up Trevor Hicks and called him a Company Director, he told how he and his family went to the match but two of them had died. LJT listened and decided that it wasn’t the nasty fans fault but the police and the officials. However, it wouldn’t happen again if we made changes to ensure safety and we would all live happily ever after.
So we all lived happily (even though the police still blamed the fans), until the 9th of December 1989 when our nightmare returned. The fans decided to crush each other, forcing fathers to impale their sons on spiked railings and everyone went a bit mad.
The police and the club decided that the fans were to blame because the club had failed to listen to LJT and put proper barriers in the pens. What sane father would have brought his son to a match where he knew the terracing was unsafe for youngsters. It was of course the fans who failed to print warnings on the tickets as LJT demanded. It clearly showed fans have less intelligence than lemmings and only go to matches to endanger the lives of their offspring.
Of course it was the fans fault, as happened at Sheffield the police and the club got in first to tell the press exactly what happened and they wouldn’t lie would they? If there is one thing they learnt from the Hillsborough enquiry, its if you do lie, don’t get caught. Lets hope that the not so nutty LJT returns and proves once again that the fans are being blamed for the faults of Directors and inadequate policing.
Written by Chris Wright – Branch Coordinator, Football Supporters Association.
It was in those lazy, hazy days of summer when the First Division seemed just a season away that the name of Alan Comfort was first connected with Ayresome. As this was in the Sunday People I didn’t take much notice but when a couple of days later his picture was splashed across the Evening Gazette with an Eric Paylor article underneath I began to suspect that there might be a grain of truth in it after all. Two weeks later and Al was shaking hands with Mogga Mowbray under the North Stand. At £200,000 he didn’t exactly appear a snip for a Fourth Division winger who was released by Q.P.R in his youth but at least he proved a useful addition to the squad replacing the loss of Mark Barham.
His first appearance at the Central Avenue ground, the Bernabau of the Northern League, against Billingham Synthonia – Terry Cochrane and all (although David Shearer was thankfully missing). He hadn’t been able to make the starting line-up but with 10 minutes to go and only 6-0 up he was introduced at a crucial moment in the game. His first match left a lasting impression – he tripped over the ball and fell flat on his backside – but the next 10 minutes went by in a blur although i do remember thinking how much in style he looked like Slaven, even though this was from the other side of the ground and through a clump of bushes. It was at York below the famous Cathedral, that saintly Al made his full debut, albeit in another friendly. The game finished 2-2 and Comfort showed himself to be a tricky performer, an old fashioned orthodox winger who wasn’t afraid to shoot when the opportunity arose.
As the first day of the season drew closer many thought of Comfort as a fringe player, but obviously he had convinced Rioch of his ability (it had been rumoured that Comfort was very much Todd’s signing and had been cold-shouldered by Bruce) and so he took to the field ahead of both Ripley and Burke, the latter of whom had really impressed during pre-season.
Comfort soon impressed his audience, responding to an unfamiliar 20,000 crowd at Wolves. He provided an endless stream of crosses, one of which led to Davo’s goal (yes, his only goal). Then against Leeds he first showed us his shooting prowess with a first time cracker from 20 yards.
Where once Ripley had provided that thrill of excitement when he got he ball at his feet, now Comfort made the crowd get up on its toes. Against Barnsley his game reached new heights, this was old fashioned wing play at it’s very best, after 5 minutes he had two men on him but it was a case of the more the merrier as Comfort toyed with his opponents. Each time he received the ball he would feign to come inside and then at the last moment he would wheel away to the bye-line and pull the ball back. Unfortunately with Kernaghan stuck in defence our attack lacked a centre forward and we had to rely on Burke’s late equaliser to save a match we should have won my a country mile. Alan had set himself a tremendous standard to live up to in those early days and it was of little surprise when after the Barnsley game he seemed to go off the boil. Nevertheless he continued to be positive, never shying away from taking on his full-back and even if he wasn’t dazzling his crosses were still providing plenty of opportunities in the box.
Alas, against the Geordies it all came to an abrupt end, a freak twist when his studs got caught in the ground as he tried to turn, sent him crashing to the floor in pain. The geordie fans hooted at the improbable injury regarding it as time-wasting but those of us who knew Alan realised that something was badly wrong. Now, a month later and Comfort is still awaiting an exploratory operation. I hope his recovery will be swift and that those darting runs down the wing will enthral this spectator once again. Although there’s a chap called Davenport playing quite well in that position at the moment, problem is he doesn’t score as many goals.
The perfect Christmas gift for the young Boro supporter, your favourite Boro stars as cuddly toys…
This one comes as self assembly kit, with his foot in several million pieces
This huge action figure comes with hair that you can really dye. Just pull the cord and hear him say things like “It’s just incredible really”, “The team morale is very high”, “A bleach job please” and “Bloody Hell Pooley why did you let that under your body!”
Action man meets Stretch Armstrong. This gangly flexible doll will amuse your child for years until a friend buys it off him for 5 times the recommended price
This accurate replica of every childs favourite bear is small and loveable but the one we tested broke after 32 minutes of play
He just won’t do what you tell him! Wind him up and watch him walk in anything but a straight line (toy needs to be topped up with liquid to achieve this). Comes with detachable shoulder joints.
Just like Weebles only in reverse. He’ll wibble, he’ll wobble but he wont stand up.
Apparently a wonderful toy with hair that really grows… and grows but unfortuately we couldn’t get him out of the box.
We’ve updated the worlds most fearsome toy – The Deano – and come up with a more subtle yet more aggressive and effective model. We’ve also changed the haircut from the dreaded flat-top to the frightening Archie Stephens crop.
First of all i didn’t want to write for this ridiculous working class rag that you lot happen to read. In fact if my accountants (Tax, Fiddle and Dodge) hadn’t told me that i need a few quid in order to keep my East Samoan investment portfolio going i wouldn’t have bothered!
Anyway, let me just say what a brilliant year 1989 has been for the Directors, despite dropping from the First profits have been as good as ever, thanks to advice from my trusted lawyers (Messers Sue, Garbbit and run). I’ve managed to make a simply huge slice of cake from the masses. The tie up between the catering at Ayresome and my subsidiary company (Anglo-Australian Pet Food Importers) has been splendid and by avoiding any ground improvements, licks of paint excluded, we have a huge stash in the bank. Ha, ha, ha.
I was very disappointed with the Pallister sale. I knew we should have stuck out for another hundred grand. On the signing front, forget it. When you show me a striker who can earn 10% tax free in a Swiss savings account, I’ll still say no! Ha, ha, ha.
I look forward to the introduction of the ID card scheme. Anything which keeps you uncultured working class yobs out of my Superstore Development, sorry, out of my ground, is good news. As I said to Margaret the other day, “Here’s fifty grand for party funds your supreme ladyship”. Bless me Harrods wellies, know what she said to me? “Oh Ted, how kind, here’s an MBE in the New Years Honours list and yet another cut in Social Security”.
Well I’ll finish at this point, I’d just like to say a Merry Xmas to all but I won’t because your all terribly common, instead i’ll go and evict a family of five. Ha, ha, ha.
Rumour has it that Sir Ted Bufty Tufton enjoyed writing this so much he may well be tempted to write again, as long as the right ‘incentive’ is there of course.
Welcome to issue 24 of FMTTM, and thanks to your help it looks certain to be the first fanzine of the week. To be honest, I thought we might struggle a little bit to honour our promise of an issue every
Saturday league game when two games come on consecutive weeks but the response to our appeal for articles has been terrific and I hope next Saturdays ‘ish will be as varied in its comment and entertaining (dare I say) as usual.
With the fanzine a year old, I think its about time we reiterated the function of FMTTM. It is essentially a vehicle for you to have your say on any matter concerning the club. Our intention is to produce a lively magazine that deals with the issues of the club in a positive way whether they be on or off the field.
We would like to stress that though we occasionally, sorry, persistently parody certain individuals at the club, we do not mean to be hurtful or scathing, its simply a reflection of the satirical mood of the moment.
FMTTM is a fans magazine and like all fans our view of MFC is in many ways an idealised. We know that we are far superior to our rivals on the Tyne and Wear. Our past teams are better, our present team is better, our fans are keener and greater in number, and who cares that our league position or trophy cabinet doesn’t bear this out, it doesn’t change the facts. Yet, we are never slow to criticise the club when it is necessary, nor are we slow to defend it. The number of people now involved in FMTTM and the improving sales figures proves we have successfully provided the mouthpiece the fans of MFC deserve.
The quality and quantity of the fanzine will improve the more you fans contribute (compare issues 1 – 15 to issues 16 – 24). It has been said in the past that a healthy fanzine means a healthy club. Think about it. Note: FMTTM is now a full time job for the Editor, and believe me my hourly rate stinks.
Oh, Leeds. Well lets just say that if we beat ‘em today we’ll forget a lot of what’s happened so far this season and have one helluva Xmas.
The organisers of the Schools 5-a-side penalty competition were hauled before Chairman Col last week. The Boro boss was furious after unprecedented scenes saw a Mackem taking a penalty during the half-time break against Oxford.
Startled Boro fans watched in horror as the pre-pubescent Sunderland fan crashed his penalty gleefully into the Holgate End goal before revealing his troubled teams coloured from under his shirt. The drama continued as his side, the appropriately named English Martyrs, squandered their one goal advantage, forcing the game into sudden death, where the offending youngster, in the image of the team he supports duly blazed his penalty high over the bar. A fuming Colin Henderson, speaking after the game said “There could have been a riot”. He also applauded the Holgate fans’ part in causing the crucial miss. “As if being a Mackem isn’t bad enough, to call him a Geordie, as in ‘Fat Geordie B*stard’, must have been too much for him to bear”.
He went on to reassure concerned Boro fans by stating that the changing rooms had been thoroughly disinfected and the culprit ‘soundly beaten’. Speaking of the flogging Henderson said that regrettably “The little b*stard appeared to be enjoy it”. Suckers for punishment those Mackems.
Fly Me To The Moon, i have always presumed, is a reference to those immortal words uttered by Sir Bruce Rioch about taking ‘Captain Courageous’ to the moon, in those heady days when Mogga epitomised the spirit of the Boro, a characteristic of the ideal player, a Roy of the Rovers.
The other day though, after flicking back over issues 21 and 22, i pondered what conclusion the average Grimsby or Charlton fan would reach if they were to pick up a copy of this perplexingly title tome. It didn’t take much reading through recent issues to decide – they probably believe that it refers to the fact that all Boro fans live in a nostalgic world far away from Earth.
For this they could hardly be blamed, just count the number of references to liquidation, Wigan Athletic, Doncaster, ‘Division 3, the best days of my life’ and ‘I remember when there were no transfer requests’, in fact if FMTTM were a radio programme it would inevitably be played to the background strains of the ‘Hovis’ theme.
As a fan I am equally afflicted with this air of despondency from present times, barely able to contemplate Boro vs. Oxford at the wrong end of Division 2. Just as we all had to remind ourselves in May 88 at how hopelessly unrealistic it all was (being in Div 1 that is, not getting out of Stamford Bridge alive). So too we have the same problem accepting the alarming speed with which elation has turned to depression.
Delving into my own psyche, i reckon that Boro fans are now drawing upon the halcyon days as a kind of hallucinatory drug, an acid, to dispel the effects of losing to Plymouth and Swindon. This drug, medically known as ‘SDSA’ (Second Division Sh*te Acid) is staggeringly successful in promoting a feeling of well being, despite witnessing a formally decent full back and a keeper who once played a blinder in the First Division make a terrible balls up of a back pass against Swindon Town. The drug requires no injection and is merely absorbed into the bloodstream by any conversation beginning with any of the following comments:
“Do you remember Archies header against Blackpool? What about the time we all thought he’d scored against Wigan in the last minute, mind you, Bury had the best bogs in the League”.
In fact, i can not for the life of me work out how the suicide rate on Teesside in the summer of 86 didn’t take a sharp up turn when SDSA was unavailable.
These conversations, under the influence of SDSA continue for several hours over a few Saturday night pints in merry reminiscence. Unfortunately, it does carry nasty side effects which are extremely unsociable. The addict is prone to outbursts towards the end of a defeat, such as chanting “Davenport, Davenport, Davenport” at an expensive striker who never scores. Doctors put this down to an attempt to turn the clock back 12 months and pretend nothing has happened (which it hasn’t in Dav’s case). The effect wears off on Sundays and reading the Sunday Sport can be quite disturbing – “Boro star found in bed with Mother-in-laws cat” (Sorry, wrong report). These after effects continue on Monday when the addict develops a manic rage when Boro are not featured on Northern Life and he writes endless letters of complaint to Roger Tyne (sorry but im writing this on a Monday).
The only cure is a 15 match unbeaten run or a valiant struggle to face reality – a course which i am desperately attempting to follow and will demonstrate to all FMTTM readers right now… Boro 1 Oxford 0, what a game! Ah well, maybe not – I concede – Hey do you remember the time Bernie scored that late winner at Bolton…
The lads, having done moderately well of late, plan to escape Stalag Luft Ayresome for a night on the town, except Brenda, who planned a week on the town instead. Sitting around the players lounge our goal shy heroes make plans…
“Och, i dinnae fancy a night at the Madhouse again” said Bernie, flicking biscuit crumbs off his “Me for Scotland” T-Shirt (on which Scotland had been hurriedly scribbled out and ‘Ireland’ added instead). Brenda looked positively suicidal. He loved the Madhouse, especially as he got a discount for buying in bulk.
“Okay” said Gilly “What about Blaises on a Thursday?” as he vaguely remembered he had a black leather jacket and a Cure LP somewhere in the house. “Blaises! Goths!” shrieked Mogga, “You’re not getting me to go out and enjoy meself with a bunch of blokes who dye their hair funny colours!” Gilly resisted the temptation to call him a hypocrite on the grounds that he’d only have to spend 20 minutes explaining what the word meant to Coops (who was quite happy in the corner reading ‘Spot the Dog gets wormed’).
Big Al coughed and looked over the top of his Mike Read approved dark glasses. “Excuse me lads but i could have a word with me mates in the wonderful world of showbiz. Me and Pete Waterman are good buddies these days”. Proc flung his copy of ‘What Pension’ in the general direction of Big Al. “Good grief, don’t you realise that the only people who listen to Radio Luxembourg are either p**sed, stupid or both?” Coops looked up, “I thought you were really good last night Al”. The team let out a collective sigh.
“Eh up me ducks!” said Simon “ah remember pub back ‘oom, t’ Ferret an’ Dark Satanic Mill, it wer’ reet bloody marvellous. Good grub, best tripe an’ parkin toasties in miles, an live clog dancin’ on Sat’day nights”. Simon didn’t say much but when he did he invariably gave away his primitive roots and lower league ancestry. The big city was still vast to young Simon who thought traffic lights and streets without trams were a revelation. At least his flares had never really gone out of fashion back home and were right up to date in the Boro.
Alan Comfort pointed out there was a church social coming up, Brenda pointed out that they were wasting valuable drinking time. The arguments started to get a bit heated now. At one point Putney had Parky by the throat against the wall. Parky had pointed out to Putney that he had no right to comment on beer as he was a southerner and would know little, if anything, about it. Someone suggested a trip to see Pally in Manchester. Someone else suggested they go and watch a class defender instead.
Eventually, after much debate it was decided that they should go on a full scale pub crawl down the Linny Road, ending up at Maddoes. Brenda took the precaution of ringing up every pub on the route to let them know he was coming and the pubs took the precaution of ringing up their respective brewers who soon had fleets of beer tankers heading towards the Boro.
The lads, with a firm target in mind were now in a good mood and Pearsy nipped out to book a taxi or two. He came back five minutes later. “Er, i didn’t bother with the taxi” he said “WHY NOT” the team shouted whilst making their final preparations, gelling hair, polishing egos and rehearsing chat up lines (“alright girl, fancy a cheap seat in the South Stand?”) “Fraid the booze is off said Pearsy. Riochs got wind of it and the bitch has locked the gates…” – Part 8 Next Issue
Sunil Gavasker, Avi Cohen and Denis Smith were driving north after appearing on A Question of Sport when their car broke down in the middle of nowhere. After walking a couple of miles down the road they came across a farmhouse and after explaining their predicament the farmer told them they could stay there for the night.
Unfortunately he said he only had one spare room with bunk beds so one of them would have to stay in the barn on some straw. Sunil Gavasker volunteered to go in the barn but after twenty minutes there was a knock on the bedroom door, “Bloody Hell” he said, “There’s a cow in there, i’m Hebrew, i can’t sleep where there’s a cow, they’re sacred”.
So Avi Cohen said “Get into bed, i’ll sleep in the barn”. Twenty minutes later, there was a knock on the bedroom door and Avi Cohen was stood in the corridor “Bloody Hell” he said “There’s a flipping pig in there, im a Jew, I can’t sleep where there’s a pig”.
So Denis Smith said “Get into bed, i’ll sleep in the barn”. Twenty minutes later was a knock on the bedroom door. Sunil and Avi answered it, there was a cow and a pig stood in the corridor.
Speculation on Bruce Rioch’s future at the Boro has been rife these last few torturous weeks, one victory away to Blackburn is not going to change that as long as the board remains so reluctant to tell us exactly what’s going on. We’ve all heard the rumours e.g. “our lasses boss told her that his cousin’s brother-in-law has been told by a friend who used to be an apprentice at the club in the 70′s, so he must be in the know, that Riochs out”. Or the even more bizarre “Howard Kendalls already got the job, I saw them in the Green Tree having a pie and a pint”.
Who’s to say if there is any truth in these rumours? Although they are bound to fly around when the club officials are so reluctant to talk openly. The way the Callaghan deal was handled, with manager and Chairman apparently divided and the confused explanations afterwards have only fuelled speculation. I do tend to believe that Riochs job is safe, at least for the time being, not least because we haven’t heard the customary pre-sacking chairman’s vote of confidence.
It is now surely obvious that the cause of so much player dissatisfaction is borne out of Riochs tough disciplinarian style and that he’s not particularly approachable when certain players have had grievances. If he’d had no success here then his sacking would make sense but this style has brought success and there is no evidence that he has become a bad manager overnight.
I believe the present problems can be traced back to liquidation and the loss of several experienced players who were replaced by youngsters, who although were at least as skilled as their predecessors, had very little to offer to the next generation of juniors coming through the ranks to earn pro contracts. In our present injury crisis we should have been able to look to the likes of Trotter, Fletcher and McGee to come in and hold their own, but with the possible exception of McGee none appear ready.
That is not to say mistakes have not been made by the manager. The sale of Deano was admirable for a 700% profit in a short space of time, but it did not account for our good luck with injuries running out as it did. Then there’s the Davenport signing, a risk worth taking at the time. But should thought have been given to the petty jealousy this would cause with players on a lot less money, despite them having given their all for the team in two successive promotions.
Most football supporter would like their team to be ran like Liverpool, knowing that success is not just here for today but liable to be here 10 years hence. Liverpool achieves this through stability in their coaching staff, allowing good systems and routines to build up over a number of years.
To lose Bruce Rioch could work in the short term but everything he has built at Boro would be eroded in the process, necessitating a new boss to start the building process all over again.
What with divots at Leeds, floods at Blackburn and mysteriously enlarged penalty areas at Port Vale it seems the groundsmen of the Football League are becoming the Boro’s most consistent opponents. Armed with little more than a spade these mindless muck spreaders have transformed groundsmans huts from their previously bland, uninspired appearance to intense battlegrounds where the plans for Boro’s humiliation are spawned.
Poor ol’Bruce, if he hasn’t got enough on his plate – that age old disease of referee blindness has reared its head again, whilst another long standing cancer is also back – mindless bickering by seemingly mindless players. The way his luck is going I wouldn’t be suprised if Bruce has booked a package holiday to San Francisco or been invited to join Maggies cabinet. Perhaps while pondering his plight, consoling himself that at least dick heads like Colin Harvey still exist to make his own transfer dabbles respectable (Beagrie £750,000?) Rioch may wonder how the current situation can be improved.
I have a suitable solution, instead of needless training sessions or public slanging matches why doesn’t Bruce test his players in the ‘Toughest Quiz In Football’ – The Kernaghan Factor. The game show that goes to the heart of players character based on 4 principle disciplines: effort, guts, intelligence and loyalty. Why the Kernaghan Factor you may ask. Simple really, in recent weeks Big Al has shown all these characteristics and more, in helping his beloved Boro while many of his colleagues, having stared adversity in the face have promptly burst into tears.
Take the first category – effort. While A.K has grafted like a good ‘un and sweated blood for Teesside, others notably Ripley and Burke have only sweated blood in their vital battle to reach Brucie’s office first and place their transfer requests in the most prominent spot. Their efforts have concentrated on the most pathetic excuses for leaving, with gems like: “Im not happy to be left on the bench even though i’m 3 stone overweight”, “I need first team football badly enough but i never produce the goods when it really matters” or more honestly, “i’m a glory grabbing superstar who works harder on my hair in the morning than i do for the team in the afternoon”
In the second category – guts, again Alan takes most to the cleaners, diabetes has been overcome but more significantly the more difficult handicap of two wrong feet and many wrong haircuts have been overcome. Only Trevor Putney and his nose can claim similar victory in the face of adversity.
In the intelligence stakes to, Al leaves ‘em standing. Mind you, it didn’t take much doing. A simple recognition of the need to battle hard and work together, forgetting past glories and transfer speculation (from let me guess, Spurs, eh Stuart?) was enough to get Al an IQ over 10 and hence double the quotient for the whole team. Sadly, when the Almighty created your average footballer he gave them more feet than brain cells and consequently in the Kernaghan Factor Part 3 – Boro players perform as well as Palace minus Ian Wright.
Last but by no means least – loyalty. Here A.K is a rare breed at Ayresome, one of the few players who doesn’t have to pinch himself as he passes the managers office in a vain attempt to prevent entry and plead for pastures new. Even the Wolfman couldn’t hold back the urge. Perhaps by abandoning his tee-total attitude and supping a pint of Guiness he can drown his Second Division sorrows, whilst at the same time assure qualification to play for Eire.
The ‘grass is always greener at (insert big name club)’ syndrome is alive and kicking but inveitably departees end up kicking their heels on the bench of one of the big 5, ironically the reason they left in the first place. Are they rats deserting the sinking ship? No folks, just rats and flea ridden sewer dwellers at that, who deserve no sympathy when they become the laughing stock of Div One (see Man Utd for details).
All in all it seems to me a few hard lessons can be learnt from this jaunt into TV quizland. 1) Attitude and determination are a pre-requisite of success not a minor part of it. 2) Talent and technique guarantees nothing. 3) Alan Kernaghan gets a raw deal from Boro fans for simply doing exactly the kind of things that make clubs promotion material. Until his principles are put into practise don’t call Bruce Rioch a psychopathic fool for changing the team every week. For until recently finding 11 players committed and mentally prepared to play for Boro, let alone the same 11 was as likely as Wendy James saying “Ouch” on her wedding night. Thankfully that situation seems to be improving but whether the improvement is too late is a mute point.
I’ve had a great season but this isn’t it!
Since Bruce Rioch took over this club nearly 4 years ago, it has enjoyed its first success since 1974. A lot of this credit has been given to the manager and deservedly so. However, the last year has been something of a disaster, culminating in relegation. If the manager takes credit for the successes, he must also take blame for the failures.
The success of this club in Bruce Riochs’ first two seasons in charge was built of team spirit. The same players who played in the relegation season of 1985-86 formed the backbone of the team that won promotion in consecutive seasons. What can make an apparently bad player into a good player? Confidence. Players need to have confidence in their ability. They need to be motivated, Bruce Rioch is obviously a good motivator, he is also a very strict disciplinarian and the two qualities seemed to work well together, although to take discipline too far can be dangerous and result in players reacting adversely. Bruce Rioch has a history of going too far (just ask the Torquay players). Has that happened here?
Many reasons have been offered for relegation. The signing of Peter Davenport and the sale of Dean Glover are two of the more popular choices but can they cause the club to go from 11th in Division One to to 20th in Division Two in less than a year? I think not. Either way Rioch was responsible for both the deals mentioned above. So the real reason for our demise must lie elsewhere. The recent story in the Gazette about the ‘bickering’ between players seems much nearer to the truth, although the story didn’t go far enough, it didn’t look at the reasons for the bickering.
There has always been cliques at this club, ever since Rioch took charge. It seems he either took a liking or a disliking to each player and that impression has stuck. Certain players always seemed to take the blame for poor team performances. Gary Gill is the biggest victim of this but he os by no means alone, Gary Parkinson and Mark Burke are also constantly at fault. Where as it seems Gary Hamilton can do no wrong (could this be because he and Rioch once lived together?) Nor can Tony Mowbray.
New players seem to become immediate favourites – Peter Davenport, Trevor Putney and Alan Comfort are three recent examples, although Peter Davenport is now right out of favour. If Mark Burke had played as badly as Comfort has recently, would he still be in the team? I doubt it. Why did Bruce try to sell Gary Gill to Scunthorpe and then seem prepared to make him Captain for the game at Blackburn? The manager seems to have taken complete leave of his senses. It is easy to see why players have become disillusioned with the club. as for Gary Pallister would he have stayed if we hadn’t been relegated? He was another of the ‘whipping boys’ and it seems he had simply had enough of the manager.
The cracks within the club have grown steadly since the Third Division, although the success of the team papered them over. Last year though, the team were naturally going to find it hard and the fact the team was struggling seemed to bring things to a head and team spirit has now apparently disappeared, resulting in six transfer requests.
Now, 4 years on, we are almost in the same league position as when Bruce took over, although we are in a much better state of health financially. But it is the league position which counts, not the bank account. Rioch brought initial success to Middlesbrough, but lately he has failed. Unless the team and the manager can turn things around dramatically it could be time to give Bruce the O.B.E – out before Easter.
With the Boro being in the state they are at the moment, it’s not surprising that booing is on the up and up. The trouble is there are some people who don’t seem to have the hang of it. Mainly it’s the young bucks in flares (i knew if i wore mine long enough they’d come back in). So being the kind hearted type, i’m lending some advice from my forthcoming book “The Joy of Booing” available from Chicken Run Publications.
Equipment – You don’t need much, so long as you’ve got your membership card. Thank god you can obtain it free, although it does cost you a quid to get your photo taken to go into it. A self portrait in Biro is no good, i’ve tried it. Oh and a T-Shirt two sizes too small to go around your oligatory 46 inch waist is also essential.
Preparation – Most of this is done in the ‘Yella’ consuming vast amounts of gob lubricant and picking out targets for today. Normally it’s one of the big five, namely Pooley, Parkinson, Slaven, Kernaghan and last but by no means least that Davenport bloke.
Knowledge – Like the old saying goes, too much knowledge is a dangerous thing and when it comes to booing that’s dead right. I mean if i knew a good pass from a bad one i wouldn’t be able to slag off every pass a Boro player makes.
Preconceived Ideas – It’s a common mistake to think that preconceived ideas are a bad thing. Well what a load of Gary Gill. If you don’t have them you might change your mind and then where would you be?
Contradiction – It is very important you don’t have any preconceived ideas. One of the most irritating aspects of a good Boo Boy, is he says one thing and in the next breath contradicts himself. The best example of this is the Pears / Poole syndrome. Towards the end of last season Pears was crap, so Poole got his game. “I’ve always said he’s the best of the two”. Now Pooles even worse, “Get Pears back, everyone knows he’s number one”. Get the idea?
Timing – This is the most important part of booing. It’s no good shouting your tonsils out when the rest of the crowds giving it E.I.O. The best time is when it goes deathly quiet, so quiet you can hear the wallets rustling in the North Stand. Then you shout something like “Bloody hell Boro, if this was on the radio i’d turn it off!” or something worse if they’re losing.
Company – Groups of three or four are best. You don’t have to like each other either, in fact its best if you hate each others guts. This makes it easier to argue all through the match.
Gross Stupidity – When all else fails and you haven’t driven the people in front of you to distraction this is what you fall back on. For example, say it’s been a bad day with nothing much to boo at (it’s only an example), you shout “I’ve got you’re number Rioch, you want the sack so the club will pay your contract out”. Mind you, it doesn’t sound so stupid now.
A Brain – This is the one thing must not have. The ideal IQ for a standard Boo Boy falls somewhere between that of the lesser spotted sea slug and the nasty black stuff you used to get under the table in the Linthorpe. If you do have a brain, get a frontal lobotomy immediately, or if you can’t afford that listen to David Mills on the radio, it has much the same effect.
So there you are, a few hints on how its done. So lets have less of this “We Love You Boro, We Do” and more “Your bloody rubbish Boro” mind you, most of you don’t need me to tell you that.
This was not so much a classic performance from Boro but it was definitely the first game i saw where i thought the Boro were on their way to something good. Everyone had just been relieved to see the lads run out at Hartlepool against Port Vale and im sure most people didn’t really care what the score was, it was just great to see the Boro were still alive. But at Wigan, the Boro really turned the corner.
The first half saw Wigan run all over us, with Pears making numerous excellent saves. At half time it was reported that as the players walked down the tunnel the Wigan captain audibly declared that “Boro were rubbish and there for the taking” and to be honest it seemed he was right.
The second half started in much the same way but Boro gradually began to gain in confidence and believe in themselves. Turnbull was running around like a madman, Mogga had got a grip of the defence and Bernie, Ripley and Gilly were all running confidently with the ball. Then came the goals, a (now) typical Mogga headed goal from a Hamilton corner and a Turnbull cool finish after a good run and through ball from Bernie.
The 500 or so Boro fans behind the goal were going mad and the lads were spraying the ball abut all over the pitch, completely taking the mick out of Wigan. It could have been 4 or 5 after that and this was one of those rare occasions when you didnt want the final whistle to blow. This was, i’m sure a crucial game for Ripley, Coops, Parky and Gilly who all visibly grew in stature and confidence as the game went on and who all went on to have superb seasons.
Undoubtedly a turning point in Boro’s future. Brilliant. I wonder what that Wigan captain had to say after 90 minutes?
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.
It was no wonder Wimbledon were booed off the other night, their display had all the worst elements of Football on show. The Long Ball, a tactic that brings with it acute boredom for the spectator is excusable to a certain extent, when it suits your players and brings results. What is not excusable though is a team who after going ahead in the 4th minute, spend the rest of the game deploying every delaying tactic in the book. Not a very good reflection on a team that is supposedly in a higher division.
Coupled with the gamesmanship was the persistent fouling executed by virtually every player in a blue shirt. Elbows in the face, shirt tugging, knee high tackles and blatant tripping were all a part of the Wombles game plan, aided and abetted by a referee who amazingly let it all go without punishment. That at least two Wimbledon players weren’t sent off must be a total mystery to everyone except this ref and that includes the two guilty players themselves.
His eventual booking of Young, Gayle and Wise was cheapened by his incredible booking of Ripley, who at 1 – 1 and with Boro pressing hard for the winner sought to gain advantage by kicking the ball goal-wards despite being offside. “Time wasting m’lad! Can’t have that!” Players were aloud to foul and foul again, in fact they could have tripped Bernie up all night as long as no-one broke a leg or something. Blue murder.
On the plus side Boro were magnificent, especially in the second half when they overran the Wombles with the kind of work rate that used to personify games at Ayresome. It was great to see Ripley back to his very best, i thought he was superb for the whole 90 mins. Parkinson was getting forward effectively, linking superbly with Putney and not totally disregarding his defensive responsibilities. Same with Cooper, what a difference he makes, and he’ll get better and fitter with each game. Mogga and Kerny were commanding and looked very keen, despite the ‘sledgehammer in the stomach’. Brennan played some lovely little balls inside the full back with Proctor doing most of the spadework and Bernie
was… err, just Bernie.
We’d have murdered Plymouth and Brighton if we’d played like that, and lets hope it wasn’t a one off. Sing your hearts out for the lads today.
I see the North Stand clock has joined the growing ranks of faces at Ayresome Park these days and stopped working. A bit like those halcyon days between 1976 and 1980 when amongst the remarkable features of Ayresome matches like goalies with safe hands and well organised defences was the fact that all games kicked off and ended at 4:50.
Though i was a mere bairn in 76, a starry eyed one at that, the sight of that lifeless time piece was the second most embarrassing thing (getting wrongly accused for shi**ing in the school baths being the first) especially when the visitors were Liverpool or Man Utd. “What on earth will they think of us?” i thought as i stared into the packed Clive Road corner, whilst also making a mental note never to purchase and product of ‘Longines’.
Match of the Day appearances were marred by not only the 0 – 0 draws but the occasional glimpse of those fixed hands. During televised games i prayed for passes to be kept low and to feet and i am thankful that Wimbledon weren’t in the league back then.
It seems such a little thing to ask that it be repaired or replaced, though the club came out with a succession of what seemed at the time like half baked excuses. The club claimed that the clock was technically not their property as it was part of a 10 year agreement made in 1966 with a member of the World Cup committee. The gadgie with whom the contract was made had since died (probably sick to death of the phone ringing) and it was impossible to trace the original, owners. A Lancashire firm who maintained (?) the clock had not surprisingly gone bust and no other firm wanted anything to do with the job. Or so we were told, in other words because it was a delicate piece of machinery and quite high up, to restore the pride and convenience of 25,000 paying customers every other week “will cost you in the region of one hundred nicker….. hello……are you still there Mr Amer?”
When we sold Graeme Souness to Liverpool i consoled myself with the thought that “oh well, i suppose we can afford to get god damn clock fixed.” But of course it wasn’t and why should it be, after all you cant see it from the North Stand anyway and that’s where all the real fans sit.
Then suddenly it was gone. With the explanation that the original contract had been found at the Loginess Head Office (of all places) in London. They decided that the clock was beyond repair (yeah the it’ll cost you a hundred nicker syndrome again) and so it was taken away to a place of rest, which at the time was probably Huton Road. Then the club had the bespectacled bare faced cheek to ask for a new clock to be sponsored by some ‘kind hearted soul’. I other words ‘you want to know how long till half / full time, you pay for it’.
Well the Ayresome jinx has struck again and this pathetic situation has turned full circle, which is a damn sight more than the current clock is doing. Now that the club has a few bob in the bank why don’t they do something positive and lasting and erect a state of the art computer scoreboard at the back of the old Boys End. It surely wouldn’t cost that much and it would bring us into line with all the so called top clubs to which the board are constantly telling us we aspire to. The cost of such a project could be offset against revenue that can be earned with advertising and it would give the fans something off the field we could be really proud of. We’ve spent enough on the Hardwick, Camsell, Mannion and Foggon suites and whilst its nice to impress visiting players and staff, who does it really benefit, not the community, most of whom couldn’t afford to use these facilities and are hardly likely to be invited.
So come on Mr Chairman what about us?
The following is a retrospective view of Alan Comforts career at Orient – written by Tom Davies and reproduced by kind permission of the Leyton Orientear.
The first piece of bad news to come Orients way in a long time hit me as I munched my Cornflakes on July 11th 1989. As rumoured, Comfort was on his way to Teesside to play for Middlesbrough in their bid regain Division One status (hopefully at the expense of W**t H*m). I don’t suppose you can blame Alan or Frankie really. There’s cash in it for us and hopefully Alan will provide the Second Division scene with as much entertainment and skill as he did in the Fourth. Although i can’t help thinking that to progress further we need to get out of this vicious circle of selling our best players. Since the departure of Chiedozie in 1981, Comfort has been the most exciting and skillfull player to grace the mighty mighty Leyton, at times it seemed like he was the only one with any ability at all.
Comfort arrived in March 1986. We were in our first season in the basement and our promotion bid was faltering, mainly due to a run of terrible home performances. He leaves in 1989 with the club better supported than at any time since our Division Two days, promotion achieved and things looking up (touch wood).
I missed his debut at Scunthorpe but the reports were good, even if the result wasn’t (2-0 up with 8 minutes left, 2-2 final score). I first saw him in the 4-2 win of Torquay and although we missed promotion Comfort had shown immediate promise on the left wing. It was in 1986-87 that Alan really established himself as a cut above your average Division Four muddied oaf. The trouble was that the rest of the team were bloody awful and the hole we’d dug ourselves by the beginning of January (4th from bottom in an era of angry Clark abuse and Orientear editorials) was too great for us to achieve promotion. It was during the revival of Feb-May 1987 that Comfort came into his own. Aided by the cultured midfield play of Shaun Brooks and the tireless flair of Godfrey on the right, Comfort was often breathtaking. His brilliant last gasp winner vs. Lincoln is particularly memorable and over Easter his pace and skill completely overwhelmed his pervious club Cambridge in a 3-0 romp, followed on Easter Monday at Aldershot by a superb 50 yard run which set up Ian Juryeff’s dramatic winner. He was pretty much the unanimous vote as player of the season, which he fully deserved.
At the start of the 1987-88 season optimism was high yet false but Comfort certainly played his part in helping us to 2nd place by Christmas. Memorable Comfort moments include two cracking goals in the 8-0 vs Rochdale and a fine run and cross for Rhino’s dramatic winner against Darlington. But in the latter half of the season Comfort was frustrating and frequently dragged down to everyone else’s mediocrity as some horrific performances were witnessed Hartlepool (h), Scunthorpe (a) and Wolves (h) etc. Alan was rarely at his best during this nightmarish period.
Optimism was low at the start of the 1988-89 season and for the first six or seven games Comfort didn’t really stand out as the whole team were playing completely crap. As results picked up, Alan was good but not that good. Unfortunately, one of his best performances in this period was at Enfield in the Cup in front of 4,031 at Southbury Rd – and the bloody TV cameras. Motson was gushing with superlatives as the cameras showed in-depth slow motions from about 37 angles of Comfort weaving his way through the Enfield defence. But the team remained inconsistent and although Alan frequently showed his class, it was a bit sporadic as rumours of arguments with Eastwick spread like wildfire and we wondered why he kept being switched to the right.
Being fickle and without the benefit of hindsight, giving Comfort a freer role, coupled with the arrival of Kevin Campbell worked wonders and Alan was in breathtaking form as we stormed up the table and on to promotion. The O’s front line of Comfort, Campbell and Harvey took the piss out of Fourth Division defences and a feast of goals were plundered. Comfort finished top scorer last season with 18 goals, many of which were absolute classics – Burnley (h), Burnley (a), Wrexham (a) – where he steamed through a packed defence and slammed it into the roof of the net. He was instrumental in our eventual promotion. Unfortunately, the outside world got wise to his ability and now he’s gone, along with many of the other stars from our stay in the Fourth – Brooks, Godfrey and Shinners etc.
Comfort will be fondly remembered for his role in brightening up our lives on a Saturday afternoon with his mazy runs down the left and his ability to grab spectacular goals. A ‘real old fashioned winger’ as they say and though this sounds very sycophantic, he often really did make you forget you were watching Fourth Division football. In these past three and half years i never saw anyone playing for your Scunthorpe’s, Wolve’s or Northampton’s as skillfull as him. He was also renowned for his devout Christianity and his slightly posh accent, which was encountered as certain people lied about their age to get into the Junior O’s open day in 1987 (“I’m looking for my brother honest”).
For those of us too young to remember the, er, glory days of 69-70, 73-74 and whose memory of those Second Division days is a bit hazy, Comfort will be regarded as one of the O’s greats. Cheers Alan. Over to you Danny Carter – p.s. we should never have sold him.
Ewan J Carmichael, a regular correspondent of FMTTM, recently wrote to Tyne / Tees Television to complain bitterly about the level of coverage given to Boro on their regular sports feature. He received the following letter by way of reply.
FMTTM would like to go on record as saying that although Tyne Tees sport presenters do appear to have a Mighty (spew) Quinn fixation at the moment, their coverage is a lot fairer than their rivals at the BBC who are loathed to feature anything outside of Tyne & Wear. Tyne Tees are sensitive to accusations of regional bias since they came under strong pressure to eliminate it a few years ago when independent TV stations were franchised. The BBC meanwhile can smugly report on whatever they feel and these differences are reflected in the two services on offer.
Mr Carmichaels reply was as follows:
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?
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 -
What a week, defeat at Sunderland, Pally going for a record fee before making an arse of himself on his Manchester United debut. But most important of all and a real tonic for the Boro faithful, we get a plum tie in the Littlewoods Cup 2nd round, Halifax Town.
After the predictable disappointment at Leeds, Sunderland was an enigma; we were so much better in the first half it was embarrassing. Maybe the players let the embarrassment get to them and stopped trying when the going got tough? One bright spot was the continuing good form of Putney and Comfort, if Bruce spends his 2.3 million as wisely as he appears to have, then we should have little problem regaining our position in the top flight.
In all my away trips following the Boro, I have never encountered such an abrasive attitude as that usually displayed by the police at Sunderland. Usually I say, as on this occasion some of the lessons of Hillsborough appear to have sunk in, with the police being both courteous and helpful instead of the usual ‘treat them like the scum they are’ attitude.
Today sees our first run of the mill fixture against Sheffield United. Following two disappointing away defeats, we should get some idea of the crowds we could be in for this season unless things take off, another 6-0 victory would be a good way of doing that. Thinking back to that glorious 6-0 victory a couple of seasons ago it’s worth drawing the comparison in form and attitude of one Stuart Ripley.
The then golden boy was playing as though the world was at his feet, scoring a hat-trick and bringing Slaven and Senior into the game with his constant running and skill. So far this season he’s done sod all, he’s looked lethargic yards slower and barely interested. Mowbray too has been only mediocre in the games so far. With the possible exception of the Sunderland game where he played a bit more like his old self, he’s scarcely looked like the ‘Captain Courageous’ of old.
With Pally now gone is it not possible that a couple of our England Internationals have got superiority complexes about playing in Division 2. If this is the case then it doesn’t need me to tell them that they are doing themselves and the team no good, and I would suggest a spell in the reserves to bring them back down to earth.
So Pally’s gone and the general consensus of opinion believes that we got a very good price for a player desperate to get away.
Most Boro fans recognise him as being a class centre back, with excellent heading ability, as fast as any player in the country (a former schoolboy sprint hurdles champion) and having not just a little bit of skill. The Leeds fans who eee-awed at him, as seems to be the case with most famous centre backs these days, could not have picked a more unsuitable candidate for the treatment. We are all aware of his major floor, a tendency to be over casual but this has diminished since the start of our First Division campaign where he soon learnt the cost of such mistakes at the top level. Eventually I believe he will have this problem licked and regain his place in the England squad.
The transfer affair, now that the details are out, has done nothing to endear Pally to the Boro faithful. The fact is that he signed a four year contract that contained no clause releasing him should we be relegated from Division One. In asking for a transfer, he should have requested one formally and when turned down got on with playing football. That would allow Brucie and Col to tell other clubs that there was no deal to be done unless silly money was offered, as it was eventually.
Instead Pallister showed undue eagerness to get away from the club that had given him his break in the big time. That is not to say that I agree with him choosing to leave but i believe he didn’t conduct himself in a proper manner.
His use of John Smith throws up another issue regarding the role of agents in the modern game, are they professionals striking top deals for thick footballers who would otherwise be bought on the cheap, or are they parasites after a cut of ever increasing transfer and signing on fees.
Another distasteful aspect of the affair involved the Gazette’s reporting and subsequent gloating. They pointed out that their 26th of August edition had stated that Pallister was going and then pointed out that their local rivals the Northern Echo and said that there was no deal. In their glee they seemed to forget that they had previously urged acceptance of the original £1.8 bid pre-season, but then i suppose that is typical of a newspapaer that pats itself on the back.
I pay very little attention papers who show a cutting from a previous day to show how right they were, They can have 100 guesses and are bound to get a few right. We are never reminded of the ones they didnt get right, like the News of the World about a year ago saying that Pallister had gone to Man Utd for £2m and that we had already spent half of it on Wayne Clark. Read and be entrertained by all means but have have several large piches of salt to hand.
Seeing as Bruce will probably decide against making a 2.3m donation to the FMTTM Destitute Editors Foundation i suppose he’d better spend it on players (note the word players rather than player). Big Col will surely have told him not to spend it all in the same shop.
The priority must be a defendeer seeing as the defence wasnt performing too well even with Pally. As has been suggested he may need to look abroad, partly through the lack of quality players in Britain and partly because foreign clubs will not necessarily know how much dosh he has.
Pallister went for a ridiculous price but being the sycophant i am, i can not help but agree with Bruce when he said “its better to have players in your squad than money in the bank”.
Friends and family of Radio Cleveland DJ Mark Page are still concerned today after he was mysteriously struck down by a very severe case of funniness a fortnight ago. An aide to the Middlesbrough born personality told us that Mark is still cracking jokes. “It’s no laughing matter”, said his wife, Mrs Page from there home next door to their neighbours. “Mark has never been funny before, quite the opposite in fact, he’s one of the unfunniest personalities around, i can’t understand it”.
Thousands of people heard Mark, who was considered not funny enough to keep his job at Radio 1, being funny during the half time break at the match between Boro and Wolves. As fans roared with laughter it soon became apparent that something was drastically wrong.
At first it was thought that he was drunk or had consumed one of the many chemicals on offer from club chairman (you wannit i gotit) Henderson, but the club doctor Mr L.E (Quack Quack) Dunn, on inspection confirmed he was physically sound. It was suggested that during the close season he did have plenty of time to think up and rehearse his act but this theory was dispelled on the grounds that he’s never been remotely funny before in a lifetime of thinking up and rehearsing his act.
Some claimed that it was not in fact Mark Page at all but his idol Roly Poly comedian Roy (Chubby) Brown. Scores of concerned fans reported to the general office after the game to check up on Marks well being and well wishers have bombarded his home with ‘Get Unwell Soon’ cards.
Meanwhile it is hope that Mark has recovered in time for this afternoons match against Sheffield United, when he needs to make a poor account of himself to avoid becoming a regular fixture at Ayresome Park on match days.
The Wolves game saw the debut of not only Comfort and Putney but also the ‘new improved’ programme, the Boro Magazine. Some people had suggested to me that the reason for its publication was as a result of last seasons programme sales being affected by increase in popularity of Boro fanzines. I disagree, most people who stopped buying the programme probably did so because it was the worst for years and at £1 was a joke.
As a build up to it’s first issue editor Alan Berry, formerly sports editor with the Gazette, referring to the Boro fanzines told the Gazette, “They show that there is an interest and enthusiasm on the terraces for something to read before the match” fair enough comment i thought. He continued, “There is a demand for well written and thoughtful articles on the Boro that we can meet”.
Yeah, well we’ve been known to string the odd sentence together without splitting too many infinitives. “Our close relationship with the club gives us an insight that they can’t match”. Which leads me to believe, that folk in the Peoples Republic of China, should read their Government run newspapers to find out what’s happening in their local square.
The Gazette went on to talk about a professional journalistic approach by the team producing the magazine so it was with eager anticipation that I bought the highly polished finished article on Thursday afternoon before the match. Brilliant start, first page and Sir Bruce’s piece contains a World Exclusive – it would seem that Graham Taylor has left Aston Villa and joined our opponents Wolves.
Surely that must be the case; the professional journalistic approach would never let the Boro Magazine team confuse the surnames Taylor and Turner. A similar error occurred later on in the magazine when Big Col Henderson talked about the sports centre having been commissioned by the old board under the leadership of “Chester” Amer. Obviously their insight to the club being put to good effect there.
That’s enough of the cheap shots, for this article anyway. The Boro Magazine is a definite improvement with many new features which should prove popular although there still seems a little too much advertising. The colour reproduction is excellent quality on the fold out poster but surely they could have found a player more pleasing on the eye than Mogga for the first issue?
Another plus was the team listings on the last page. Next to each name they gave a little bit of up to date information on the player, so much better than the syndicated nonsense that appears in every programme about the visiting team. Unfortunately the mag also includes the aforementioned nonsense. Another new idea is the A to Z of Boro players since the war, which if you keep up top date with your buying of the mag each home game should serve as a useful source of reference.
Now for the important question… will I buy it again? No i will not… but then I’m just a tight git who wouldn’t even buy Fly Me To The Moon if I didn’t get it free.
David Hodgson just beats John Hickton as my favourite player of all time and i’m sure this is the case for many people. I gave him the award after a cup game vs. WBA ten years ago. The previous week after a shirt tugging tussle with Man City’s Nicky Reid at Maine Road Hodgy was sent off, thereby banned for the cup game. Other players might have moped at home. Most would have opted for the dugout sitting next to the manager in a sheepskin coat eating Opal Fruits and getting sympathy all round, not this man. He took the terraces, Holgate End to be precise, lending his voice to the rest of the Kop.
The fact that Boro ended West Brom’s cup aspirations for that particular season was almost immaterial; the act endeared him permanently to many fans.
This wasn’t an isolated display of street level love for the club and fans, several more confirmed it. Pre match warm ups / kick abouts at away matches invariably finished with him kicking a match ball into the Boro fans. Clearly a deliberate act intending someone to have a free ball. One other memory was relayed to me by a long standing friend and Boro fan, who after a defeat at Elland Road decides to drown his sorrows at Maddo’s. Seemingly Hodgy had shared the idea. My mate, with several pints of courage inside him had a word with the Boro man regarding the game in general and the dirty play of Kenny Burns. Expecting a brief reply he was surprised to find Hodgy frank, warm and keen to talk, at no point looking as if he wanted to be elsewhere.
On the field the Gateshead man never gave less than 100%. Who can forget those lightening raids down the line to retrieve that ball he had no right to get to. He never scored enough goals but the ones he made justified his 6 England U21 caps.
Inevitably he ended up at Liverpool (Boro’s sister club at the time) for £500,000. He couldn’t reproduce the form he showed for us, though he was a popular figure at Anfield due to his bubbly personality and never say die attitude. For a few seasons he lost some credibility by going to Sunderland, then Sheff Wed, Norwich and several unpronounceable foreign clubs. A brief return to Boro on loan was cut short when he was sent off against Bristol City and returned to Norwich City.
I’ve two lasting memories of him. Firstly, completing a fine hat-trick against Spurs in a 4-1 victory. Secondly being carried shoulder high around Ayresome Park after our final game of the season 81-82. We headed down, he headed to Liverpool. I firmly believe he didn’t want to leave but was forced out because we wanted the money.
For the record: Played 116 games. Scored 16 goals.
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
Welcome to the last FMTTM of the season; we hope you find it just dandy. There’s certainly more to read in it than ever before thanks to the fantastic response of our readers in recent weeks.
We seem to be getting less and less space to feature everything we’d like, so for this reason you’ll notice some pages have smaller type. What you’re getting here is two pages for the price of one, it beats printing more pages which only further lines the pockets of our hideously rich printer (thanks for everything Gordon).
It’s fair to say that when we set out in October 88, many moons ago, we didn’t really know what we were letting ourselves in for. The venture of producing a readable alternative to the programme for EVERY MATCH was an ambitious one, but one that we’ve just about managed to maintain, thanks to boyish pride, grim determination and a mountain of Valium pills. A lot of thanks are owing and mostly long overdue so hopefully we’ll go some way to putting that right on this page.
No thanks, must regretfully go the writers of the Ayresome Angel, who once again, in their Issue 8, have resorted to petty and misguided abuse. They state: “No doubt the compilers of FMTTM will be out selling at Sheff Wed. Got any red / white Teddy Bears left lads? Sheffield should be near enough since there has been no Elland Road to visit or cup run this season.”
Firstly FMTTM do not produce or profit from the sale of red / white teddy bears. One of our salesmen had a small stock of them which he thought he could sell on match days and did so totally independently of FMTTM. He makes a living from this type of thing (well frozen fish usually) and as far as we’re concerned he can sell what he wants when he wants. If the idea of making a living offends Joseph et al perhaps he can explain why so many Boro daft Teessiders move to Manchester, Birmingham, London and Brighton to live. Prefer the scenery?
It also seems the Ayresome Angels are convinced we don’t attend away games; they even (mis) quote a statement made in Issue 12: “Please don’t write in about some past away games that you attended many years ago because it is boring and we may fall asleep”. Well, like we said in Issue 1, we don’t want match reviews as ‘you were there, you know what happened’. Those readers who don’t get to away matches, for whatever reason, probably do what we all do anyway. That is, read it in their morning paper then again in the Gazette and if they can get away with it, read all the Boro reports in the Newsagents (why else is W.H.Smiths so popular on Monday mornings). By then, you have a pretty good idea that: “Ripley and Slaven both had excellent games up front”.
We would much rather hear about interesting pre match pub / snack bar conversations or things overheard from the terrace, but not tabloid pap like: “A fine performance from the lads following the last two disastrous performances” … Zzzzzzzzz. That said I usually really enjoy the A.A. and look forward to it. Joseph is welcome to call at the editorial address anytime, we can go down the ‘Salty’ have a pint and discuss away games we’ve seen this season. Maybe that will convince my girlfriend who wants to know where I’ve been every other Saturday this season.
Oh yes, I knew there was something, Arsenal today, it’s not going to be easy, but maybe they’ll relax after their outstanding performance at home to Norwich last Sunday. Very nice of Charlton to lie down and die on Wednesday night at Luton wasn’t it? and with Villa apparently s**te against Sarfhampton it looks like it could be a close one.
One things for sure, we can play our part today and cheer the lads on to a famous victory and give us a carnival atmosphere at Sheff Wed. That way, I’ll sell more red / white teddy bears.
Why has there been a change in recent fortunes at Ayresome Park? Much has been made of the great team spirit and character at the club but at the moment Tony Mowbray can’t even direct a back pass never mind a ‘space ship’. The reason lays with the teams hairdressers. Never have so few been adored by so many with such awful hairstyles. As the lads run onto the pitch the crowd don’t roar in anticipation, they groan in disgust at the latest handy work of the Boro Butcher.
It’s a good job that Pearsy’s wife is a hairdresser, at least she can sit there all night curling his last remaining locks to cover an ever increasing bald patch. Kevin Poole on the other hand has a chop so bad, that he’ll soon have to follow his look-a-like and don a Frank Spencer beret. Parky’s had a few bad un’s in his time but as soon as he stuck to the long spiky look his form has settled into a groove the size of Colin Todd’s parting. Where as Tommy’s barber in Sedgie must be as untrendy as the rest of those sheep shaggers (You said that, not me – Ed).
But as usual Mogga is leading by example, instead of extra training it’s straight off to a girly salon demanding the bleach be applied more liberally than water on an Ayresome Park pitch.
Further proof of my theory is the form of Gary Gill. For years Gilly used to watch the Clothes Show for his ideas but since he went for the casual look, he not only leads the team in fashion but also the Sunday People form ratings. I think Pally’s contribution to the team’s misfortunes is largely due to a squirt of Sun-In. Or could it be a result of the Bobby Robson Mystery Tour of the Middle East.
Baa’lamb was a gamble when Brucie plucked him from the obscurity of the ‘Udders’ Reserves. But Bruce knew when he saw those highlights what a great contribution he would make. Proc’s back and he gives a new dimension to the side. He ate up all his cabbage when he was little and he’s got lovely little curls as a result, not girly ones like Kevin Keegan though.
Dav’s had a bit of a sticky patch since he arrived so maybe he needs a new approach. I wonder if Tommy Johnson would be any good at giving Peter a set of Rudd Gullit dreadlocks. Maybe the team should follow Bernie Slavens example. Grow your hair into such a ridiculous style that the other team feel sorry for you and let you score from thirty yards every game.
Rippers hair makes even Rick Astley’s mop appear semi-normal. Do we get a job lot of bleach every week or does the grounds man just give the lads a quick rinse and set with the weed killer? Nookie may as well go down to the social right now, his ‘hair-dont’ has no place in a team of the 90′s.
Deano was dispatched to Port Vale along with his Flat Top. Brucie thought he was a disturbing influence on some of the more impressionable players and feared an outbreak of trendiness. Alas poor Trevor, he never seemed to fit in with his Campri Ski Jacket did he?. Trev simply couldn’t cope with the pressure of pro-match gel and mousse sessions. Hammo’s goal against Southampton showed what a slap head can do for a player’s confidence and if Marco Van P**s started pouring some pints on his head instead of down his throat then we’d have been Champions by now.
Well i must go now and get a Holgate Special before the weekend, so i can look like all the scufferes who give Middlesbrough a bad name with their racist chants. But before i go here’s an idea to relieve the inflatable banana boredom. How about inflatable hairdryers to spur the chaps into Europe next season?
Many tears have been shed and words uttered over the Hillsborough tragedy but one question still remains – will it ever happen again? I am afraid the answer is yes – unless drastic changes are made. I don’t mean changes in ground safety (although they are long overdue) but changes in attitudes of the authorities and the media as to what a football fan actually is and what his needs are once he enters the ground.
For too long fans have been caged like animals and looked upon as a problem and a serious threat. It is this jaundiced attitude that has filtered through to corrupt the mind of the national public. I read one letter in the Evening Standard which concluded:
“I hope as many people as possible will boycott attendance at what has become a base and primitive ritual and help bring about the demise of this game”
This clearly emphasises the problems facing not only the FA but football in general. It is doubly sickening when you consider the change in image football has had this season. Inflatable bananas, haddocks and skeletons have turned the game into a fun occasion. We also saw families coming back into football and attendances continued to rise, the First Division showing its highest attendances for four years. The self image of football has suffered for years simply due to misalignment. There has never been anybody to take supreme responsibility for the running of the league. The Football Association and the League are both prepared to argue over the rights and wrongs of the game but neither body is prepared to inject the vast amounts of cash needed to promote the game and change the attitudes of the police and the government in favour of the fan on the terrace. My greatest fear is that the FA and the chairmen of the Football League clubs will try to squeeze out the traditional fan on the terrace and try to replace him with more directors boxes and all-seater stadiums (if you don’t believe me look what they’ve done at Spurs) in a bid to capture better clientele and rake in more money.
In article in the Independent, the Liverpool Chairman hinted at the future face of football:
“I think the statistics prove more people are now moving into the category of middle-class. As disposable incomes have increased we have more and more people wanting to sit. Obviously, those that who do not have a job are finding it more difficult”
An all-seater stadium was attempted at Coventry and there was such a drop in attendances that they had to rip up some of the seats to let people stand. It appears that they are now trying to price fans out of the market. Replacing cages with director’s boxes swapping yobos for yuppies. It has already begun at Ayresome Park with the development of the Hardwick suite (to add to the rest), yet view the toilet facilities and catering behind the Holgate and you get some indication of the scant regard that the directors have for the fans at the lower end of the market. The authorities must start providing for the fans and start treating them with more than patronage or else many more disasters will be added to the list.
In the same Independent article Dave Hill states his case:
“Isolated in their iron dens, the bottom end of the football market may soon be superfluous to requirements. Though these fans’ commitment to their clubs is emotional, the clubs commitment to them is too often based on the fans simply providing an income and supply of background noise”
If this attitude prevails and the hardcore fans leave the game in droves, football will die. It’s a pity the FA never take heed of the warnings. The police will still respond in a reactionary way in trying to mobilise large crowds of fans, acting as little more than lion tamers; the public will still react with scorn and hostility towards football fans regardless of their age, colour or creed. But for our sake and the sake of football lets hope something constructive is done that will not only fill directors pockets nut also provide comfortable and safe viewing facilities for the fan on the terrace.
Unfortunately I failed to take your advice of having a stiff drink before reading the article by ‘The Management’ in Issue 12. Gob-smacked by what I read about Bernie Slaven. Anyway I consoled myself with the thought you’d be snowed under with a backlash for issue 13 (or 14) but it never came.
I can’t understand these people who still slag Slaven off. What more does he have to do to make people realise that without him we’d still be in the Third Division and just looking at this season we’d certainly be floundering below West Ham at the bottom.
Okay, so he gets caught offside too much, but nobody’s perfect. He’s paid to score goals and that’s what he does. What’s more he scores some bloody good ones and important ones this season. How can that prat in Issue 12 say Bernies adopted a couldn’t care less attitude? The Southampton game proves my point, when at 3-1 down he was the only one (bar Ripley) who’s head didn’t drop and he lifted the whole team with a brilliant goal.
So come on you boo-boys, give the Wolfman the credit he deserves. It took Man Utd 20 years to find another player to match George Best’s record of 20 goals a season. Bernie already looks set to do it, he’s a proven goal scorer and they don’t grow on trees.
The amiable chap who owns Teeside Programmes in the Forbes Building told me a story the other week that gave me a great money spinning idea for next season. He told me of a couple of middle aged geezers who walked into his establishment and asked for directions to – of all places ‘Valley Road’.
He could tell by their accents that they were out of towners and as the lads were playing Forest that day, the reason for their enquiry became clear. They wanted to see where Brian Clough was born – bless em.
As our Brian has now achieved virtual immortality in Nottingham, i wonder how many more of its citizens would surrender their hard earned cash to go on the ‘Clough Tour of Middlesbrough’. For say £30 a piece they could take in such sights as Marton Burn School, Acklam Steelworks Ground, Rea’s Cafe, Marton Grove Youth and the site of Grenetts Sweet Factory, where his father worked, The Broadway, where his father boozed and numerous other landmarks of the Clough upbringing that we could invent along the way.
Throw in a seminar by one or two of the millions of Boro fore fathers who ‘taught Brain to play’ plus an appearance by the man himself at Ayresome Park that afternoon and they’ll be booking in the hundreds.
I can see it now – 200 Forest fans in Grove Hill with cameras and “I’VE SEEN WHERE CLOUGHIE WAS BORN” t-shirts, calling everyone ‘Young Man’ and ripping up paving slabs, easiest 6 grand i’ll ever make.
Well it all seems a little meaningless now doesn’t it? The events at Hillsborough last weekend have left us all in a state of shock and sadness and I for one have a very foul taste in my mouth as to the reasons behind it. Though it is a little early to apportion blame, one thing in the midst of this tragedy is clear, fans have once again suffered at the hands of the football authorities who repeatedly refuse to consult with those to whom they owe their living.
Already those in power at Middlesbrough Football Club will be making future decisions on crowd control at Ayresome Park without the merest consultation with the fans. As for the perimeter fencing, charmingly adorned with Stalag 17 spikes, they are to stay indefinitely, so we can only hope as we plough our money through the turnstiles that the club have got their sums right.
An old adage occurred to me last week, as I enjoyed the spacious and civilized facilities at Loftus Road. “If you treat people like dogs, sooner or later they’ll behave like dogs”. Their toilets put ours to shame. Covered and lit with toilet paper and soap in the basins, the club had made a real effort to treat fans decently. One observer made a comment that saddened me even more, “Oh they’d just be thrown on the pitch at Boro,” and that’s probably true, because soap and toilet paper is not normally associated with Football Grounds in Cleveland. Unless your in the 100 club of course, but then they’re decent people aren’t they.
p.s. There are no fences at Q.P.R
I should like to offer my deepest sympathy to all the victims of the Hillsborough disaster and try, however inadequately, to express the full horror that all football fans have felt this week, surely the saddest week in footballs long history.
Whilst we must accept that there will be an element of risk in all facets of daily life, the scale of Liverpool’s tragedy is quite appalling. What has shocked the authorities is that this disaster could still occur even after all the stringent safety controls imposed over the last fifteen years since the 1975 Safety of Sports Grounds Act. Up until Bradford, league attendances in England totalled 1100,000,000 with only 50 deaths from accidents. With reduced ground capacities and generally lower crowds, did we neglect safety for security against hooliganism? Looking at the statistics did the authorities feel a disaster on the scale of Bradford was very unlikely to happen again? Well they should have asked us fans.
It is to be hoped that there will be a speedy yet thorough inquiry into Hillsborough and that all police video and T.V coverage will be stringently analysed. Several important points must be addressed. Firstly, how was such a massive scrum allowed to form outside the ground? As far back as 1924 a Departmental Committee on crowds recommended that “The approaches to grounds were to be divided by barriers to channel spectators towards clearly designated turnstiles”.
This was done last year at Hillsborough, so why not this year? Why has such a clearly common sense recommendation never become standard practise? It is rubbish to say that grounds must be moved out of Towns since channelling to turnstiles is possible anywhere.
So just why did so many Liverpool fans turn up en-masse so late? A lot has been made of the terrible hold ups over the M62 but there is a policy by the police of directing away fans into grounds at the last minute. Indeed Justice Popplewell in his Bradford report recommended that fans should not enter grounds until half an hour before kick off time. So coaches are often stopped on motorway exits before the police escort them in convoy at the very last minute. This policy is at odds with more sensible policing where away fans arrive at matches in good time. In fact even the governments own I.D scheme says that any delays at turnstiles caused by I.D cards should be avoided by fans arriving earlier. But facilities will need to be improved within grounds so that security problems do not arise from bored early arrivals.
Why did so many Liverpool fans arrive without tickets? Well first off, the allocation was totally inadequate. Any wholesale change from terracing to seating can only make matters worse, smaller capacities, higher prices. Anyway, people always turn up to sporting events without tickets. Look at the F.A Cup Final, every year a T.V. presenter gives out tickets to a few of the thousand hopeful fans. People turn up because there is always a good chance to get into a match and not just through police opening a gate. Go to Old Trafford or Anfield and there are touts everywhere. Steve Beauchamps has a good idea here to prevent touting. The clubs could offer refunds on unused tickets and then the real touts can be isolated.
Why did everyone pour through the same death-trap tunnel? Well anyone who attended the Middlesbrough game at Old Trafford will remember how it took a full 20 minutes to file out of the one tunnel exit from the terracing behind the goal. This is an absolute disgrace. We need more entrances and exists, more stewarding and better / clearer communications all round (including tannoy systems) inside and outside the ground.
Finally we come to the fence and this is the saddest point of all for me. A couple of years ago the Football Supporters Association produced a damning report on the safety implications of fences around the Wembley pitch. The pitch should be there as a natural escape route, not scared turf that must be saved at all costs. We need to look at how Arsenal and Q.P.R, West Ham along with most of the Scottish Premier Division have managed without fences and without pitch invasions. Certainly fences with spikes on as at Ayresome Park should be outlawed immediately.
So, some general ideas. Well we need better organisation, from departure point to inside the ground itself, who remembers how the Boro Travel Club coaches couldn’t find Old Trafford? Better communication, treat fans with more respect and we must respond positively to this. Games should always be delayed if necessary and closed circuit T.V. should be monitoring the situation. Not even live T.V deadlines should interfere with public safety. There needs to be a rethink on ticket allocation, in West Germany a sell out is reached well below ground capacity leaving plenty of space inside. Fans must now have more say in how they wish to watch the game. Remember it can take a long time to evacuate a seated area. Last year in an alert at Grimsby, it took a full eight minutes to clear the stand. The Government must help in footing the bill to make our stadiums safe.
I hope we can all help in some way to support the grieving friends and relatives in Liverpool.
“We are men of iron we are men of steel” So says the ignominious song but are we really? I’ve had my doubts over the last couple of months. I know our back four have had their problems lately, like Coopers niggling injury and the occasional ineptitude of the midfield (which thankfully appears to have receded in the last few games). But what really strikes me at the moment is when we do concede goals and i accept it is a simple fact of football life, that we inevitably go on to concede a few more.
The players, perhaps only momentarily, hang there heads and blame themselves. They give the impression that they feel sorry for themselves. I don’t see anyone pointing the finger at anyone else, each readily acknowledging their own shortcomings. Maybe its not such a bad thing, especially as too much bellyaching can do more harm than good. But with no one accountable the players do not seem to be angry enough, be it at their team mates or themselves.
What they need is a crash course from the John McEnroe school of public relations and etiquette. Don’t get me wrong i hate the little toad but his self motivation is second to none. Tony Mowbray should be screaming instructions left, right and centre whenever there is a sniff of danger in our penalty area whilst the others should be screaming back at him if he’s not in position himself. Nothing personal about this, just hard facts. Like Kevin Sheedy’s goal against us in the Everton match. A lot of people blamed Gary Parkinson for ball watching but why weren’t other players bawling at him that there was a man on?
I don’t think the trip to Bermuda did us any favours either. Anyone whos done some metal work at school knows that to harden steel it needs chucking into cold water when its red hot, not to simmer it nicely under a warm grill. If i had my way they’d have gone to Greenland or Iceland and been given a short, sharp, shock.
Also you don’t play piss passy football in your own penalty area, you hit it with a sledgehammer and attempt to send it into orbit. It may not look pretty but it wins prizes. I want the players to take each goal against us as a personal insult, not just to say “sorry about that” to us fans. I want to see so much pride that you’d rather wring the neck of an opposing forward than let them have the audacity to even think about putting the ball over our goal line.
C’mon Boro, you can do it, we all know that, just get out there and prove it
It’s October 29th 1988 and the people in Ayresome Park are cheering wildly as a certain Peter Davenport walks upon the playing surface. For the first time in many a young fans memory and the first in a long while for older ones too, a player with a big reputation from a so called ‘big club’, has agreed to join Middlesbrough F.C because he sees it as a club that is going places. The transfer is all the sweeter because his winging Scots get of a manager (one of a couple from the Yorkshire-Lancashire border) didn’t want him to go.
105 minutes later the ecstasy of the same people could probably be heard on the other side of the Pennines after the Boro had trounced a formidable Millwall side 4-2. The omens were good, eighth place in the league looked easily beatable especially with Dav coming into the team looking to be a consolidating piece in the Championship jigsaw.
That, as they say is history. Some five and a half months later, the opposite is true. Instead of challenging for the Championship we are battling relegation and the man upon whose shoulders so much faith had been placed was out of the team having scored only 2 goals in 20 league games.
It’s very easy to point the finger of blame in his direction but i believe he deserves the benefit of the doubt. He was bought as an out and out goal scorer, with his goal scoring record at Forest the inspiration, but that assumption is wrong. He is not a target man to hustle and bustle in the penalty area upsetting goalkeepers and defenders alike. He’s the bloke who comes in behind the striker and latches onto the rebounds. Unfortunately for him, this club has already got a man in this position. A bloody good one too. Bernie Slaven.
So what do we do now is the question. I believe that to find the answer we must go the root of the problem which is simply that he’s had it too easy since he got here. He didn’t have to fight for his place; his massive transfer fee ensured that.
At the beginning of the season all the talk was about having a good team, but also having a wafer thin squad. Davenport’s arrival had the fans thinking he would shine like a beacon and every touch he made would glitter like gold dust. That’s unfair; thankfully he is now regarded as a mere mortal like ourselves and therein lies the key to his future success as a Boro player. Stick him in the reserves, show him that if he wants first division football so desperately he is going to have to roll up his sleeves and fight for it, then and only then should he be given the right to fight for a first team place. I don’t really care if he doesn’t play again for us this season as long as he’s there fighting for first team recognition and putting pressure on the current team.
The seven hundred and odd thousand quid that he cost is a heavy cross for him to bear but it’s for us fans to assist with that burden. Forget his price tag and treat him as one of the lads. He’ll come through in the end. I’m sure of it
Arsenals Tony Adams has taken a fair bit of stick this season which has been well reported and to some extent promoted in these scribes. However the latest efforts to undermine Tony’s flagging reputation really take the biscuit, it seems plans are afoot for Boro fans to bring along carrots with the sole intention of tossing them in his general direction during our forthcoming game with the Gunners.
FMTTM wishes it to be known that they completely and utterly disassociate themselves from any such plan. It is absolutely disgraceful that the dignified folk of Teesside should even contemplate enhancing Tony’s reputation as a Donkey.
We would also like to point out that carrots can be purchased at 5 or 6 pence cheaper when bought from Honeymans in the village rather than Prestos supermarket
Don’t forget lads: Aresenal next, so no carrots.
FMTTM has come in for some criticism lately for presenting a ‘too critical’ outlook on recent Boro teams. Though it should go without saying, we must stress to those connected, that our job is to offer a fair reflection on the mail we receive and occasionally put up a counter view if required.
True last issue was a bit negative but that’s the way the letters have been coming lately and you’ll no doubt notice a backlash this issue, particularly the Gary Gill business. Anyway, now is not the time for petty bickering, unity is needed on and off the field as we strive for the points that will bring us safety.
With this in mind, i find it particularly difficult to understand the clubs petty attitude to the local press at the moment. It seems they’ve still go the hump with the Gazette (not a bad old rag, getting better) over the Bermuda business. This is a pity because it denies the public their only source of information, sparse though it is at the best of times. We feel the Gazette has always been fair in the way its portrayed the clubs affairs in the past, after all the Slaven controversy would not have started had the club been honest from the start. Every excuse was used save the obvious one about the triangle. Though relatively petty, the whole affair is indicative of the apparent contempt the club has for those it wholly depends upon. Perhaps the club would like to make known it’s own side of the argument?
Anyway, more importantly, the team needs us to get behind them today like never before, hopefully earning some breathing space over our Hampshire relegation rivals.
Signs were that the fans were recreating the atmosphere of old against Everton and it should have paid dividends, but lets not dwell on that, instead lets just sing our hearts out for the lads. Its what they would want and would say so if they could.
Now you might think i’m just a whinging sod, who only goes to the match for a good moan and a laugh when the kids miss a penalty at half time. Well normally this is true, the same goes for the rest of the hard core in the Chicken Run but the Everton match was different, it was a total nightmare. I wouldn’t mind it but it looked so good before the start, a real Boo Boy extravaganza, with Gilly on and this new bloke Barlamb or something.
Then the horror began, Gilly making the first goal. I pick up a bit at 1-2 down, the verbal diarrhoea was really flowing, even though Gilly was having a good game. Then we get a penalty, i just had time to shout out “Bet you wish you’d never sold Glover now Rioch you ya useless prat”, before Parky strides forward and nets it. I’m back on form at 2-3, getting at that Davenport fellah, when bugger me he goes an nearly busts the net. I’m having a breakdown. All around me everyone’s cheering, smiling and shouting “E-I-O” and what have you (i just can’t understand some people). If spud Kernaghan’s header had gone in i was for the gas oven.
The final insult came at the end as they were leaving the field, i can still hear the chants of “Gary Gill, Gary Gill, Gary Gill”. Have these people got no pride, no sense of tradition?
So it’s down to the boozer to drown my sorrows with some serious drinking. I’m staggering to the bog so legless i could eat a kebab, when i slip on the floor and hit my head (luckily its not a vital organ) on the johnny machine, falling flat on my arse, nearly knocking myself sensible. In my stunned state i had a vision – im queuing for my I.D. card when they sit me down in front of a video of a pretty mediocre match (they’ve got loads to choose from, Man Utd, Villa etc) of course my reaction is “You’re *&%@X?*! rubbish Boro”. The next thing i know they’ve stamped my card B.B. and sentenced me to the North East corner – so that’s what its being turned into – a leper colony for the Boo Boys.
Luckily it was only a dream… or was it? Mind you, that pack of Mates was the worst chewing gum i’ve ever tasted (you can’t beat the old ones, ask Mark Proctor).
Despite Gary Gills sterling efforts in the Everton game it seemed that large sections of the crowd would / could not accept he was having a blinder. Every misplaced pass was greeted by more moans and groans than a ‘Mary Milington’ film. Yet Gary Pallisters missed ‘winner’ was forgiven and forgotten as soon as his long legs had taken the four steps back to the half way line.
More hypocrisy followed when Gilly, in the closing few minutes attempted to dismember Pat (the last thing im going to do is shoot) Nevin with a tackle so high that Bernie Slaven got vertigo just watching it (how else can you explain his last cross of the game). Sympathies laid very much with the victim, which would be fair enough were it not for similarly over zealous tackling by Mogga and Ripper being greeted by cheers and chants of “Die, die, die you b**stard”. Lets face it, Deano was canonised on Teesside for his blood curdling antics.
Good thing or not Gilly was as intimidating a presence as Deano ever was, yet still managing to play more balls forward than any other player on the pitch. One pass late in the second half, played with the outside of his left foot, was so beautifully weighted that it fooled everyone in the ground including it’s eventual recipient Bernie Slaven. For a second or two he stared speechless at the ball, scarcely believing its static location, before racing onto it and bringing us back down to earth with a more human like contribution.
Despite all this Gilly still had the intelligence, skill and stamina to be on the end of Boro’s best moves whilst also having a hand in all the goals. His heading ability may be dubious but he did provide genuine nuisance value in midfield and got to some crucial flick-ons in the box.
So it was with wry satisfaction i noticed he didn’t hang around to long at the end of the game to milk the applause from the Holgate End, who for so long have jeered him with or without cause. He’s had his critics, lets face it we’ve all questioned his ability at some time, to put it mildly, but after that performance lets applaud Sir Bruce’s judgement and patience and get behind Gary. He can’t help any lack of technique but must be commended for his commitment and capacity to learn. With Mark Proctor playing so well in a supporting role he could well hold our First Division future in his hands.
Gills Match Stats – Accurate Passes: 39, Misplaced Passes: 7, Shots on Target: 6, Shots Off Target: 2, Fouls: 8, Serious Fouls: 3, Near Fatal Fouls: 1, Fingers Groomed Through Hair: 7,389
One of the best things about having a season ticket is being able to go along to Boro reserve matches for nowt and I tell you what, it’s damned entertaining stuff too – honest. Consider if you will these strange reserve game phenomena:
Any road, there are plenty of people getting themselves down to games. In fact more crowded into Ayresome’s old North Stand to see Peter Davenports debut than were scattered around the entire ground for many a gloomy 2nd Division stuffing. The football is of excellent quality with players of real potential. There are more than a few waiting to follow Nicky Mohan’s lead in mounting a first team challenge. Trotter is a play-making centre back out of the Pallister mould, whilst Robinson stamps his class down the central channel, Agnew has a canny left boot and Fletcher a cool head in front of goal.
Don’t rule out Mark Barham either, his appetite for the game seems to be returning and it really is a privilege to witness flicks and crosses of such pin point accuracy. One memory i will always treasure is the sight of the sadly departed Deano-O Glover crashing a 40 yard free kick into the roof of the net for a last minute winner against an utterly bewildered Oldham Athletic. Not bad at all.
I am writing to you in answer to the points raised by Scotty in Issue 12. Firstly, let me tell you that i once thought Gilll was a waster and gladly joined in the chants of “Who the **** is Gary Gill” prior to the kick off at Southampton. During this game he played as well for Southampton as Kerry Dixon did for us in last seasons play offs. He was without doubt Southampton’s best midfield player. He played some lovely one touch passes to their players. As soon as he left the field the Boro changed gear and scored 3 goals.
At Luton though Gill’s fortunes changed and he had a good game. In fact the Luton supporters standing next to me couldn’t believe our best player was being replaced. The comments made so far on this game have clearly been made by people who did not go to the match. They probably went to Scarborough for the day and returned to Middlesbrough only claiming to have been to Luton.
In contrast to these charlatans and through a skillfull mobilization of forces, the ‘Middlesbrough Supporters South’ managed to get at least 30 Boro fans into the Kenilworth Road Stand. This was done with only a handful of membership cards. When Gill charged down the right and crossed the ball into the box it reminded one of our elder members of ‘Foggon the Great’. Last weekend Gill repaid Rioch’s patience by playing a starring role in our games against Wimbledon and Everton. It was a toss between Proctor and Gill for man of the match in both games.
So all of us who thought Gill was rubbish can now eat humble pie. He is playing with confidence and starting to come out of his shell. I believe his booking against Everton will do him the world of good. We need to get stuck in and win more 50 / 50 balls. We need Gill more than ever seeing how Marco Van Brennan seems more interested in pi**ing it up than putting on a Boro shirt.
Last year Gary Parkinson was not a good player but with everybody’s encouragement his improvement this season has been an inspiration. If we all get off Gills back and encourage him then Bruce won’t have to spend £370,000 on a midfield player who couldn’t give a toss about Boro and their supporters. So come on Scotty and all the other Boo-Boys, we’re Boro and proud of it, we’re the best supporters in the country and ought to be above this kind of thing. Gill has answered your criticisms with good performances and it is now time to put ‘The Great Gary Gill Debate’ to bed.
If anyone has to be criticised then it has to be Mark Brennan. We all know he is a Southern Softy and has spent far too long in the part of the country where Maggie looks after her own. Answer this question for me Scotty, is Brennan committed to the Boro, or is he just happy to pick up his pay cheque every month without having to do very much for it? I look forward to your reply.
All hail the return of the conquering hero in the shape of Mark Proctor. Having said that, he hasn’t exactly achieved a lot since he’s been away where as we’ve been to hell and back with a succession of personnel.
Proc was part of the big sell out from the early eighties, which including Armstrong, Johnston and Hodgson and set us on the road to near oblivion. He is is the second of the quartet to return, Hodgy having already been here rather unsuccessfully on loan. It will be interesting to see how Proc and Hammo get on, as when they have played against each other they have been mortal enemies.
Reading one of the daily papers this week, it was suggested that Mark Wright shone against Boro and should be reconsidered for an England place. Yet again i begin to wonder if i have been to the same match, as in the one i saw Wright had an adequate game but struggled nearly every time against Ripley.
Finally i must thank all the contributors to this issue who make it possible for us to provide you with a fanzine every home game.
Just what is a big and bustling centre forward? For those of you unable to quite put your finger on it, I reckon I’ve come up with the answer. A ‘big and bustling centre forward’ is a player with no skill, who should more accurately be referred to as a complete spud.
Every time i read the name Billy Whitehurst, he is constantly referred to as ‘big bustling Billy’. However, the only highlight of his appallingly laughable career was when he showed the Geordie boo boys what he thought of them by way of a ‘friendly’ hand gesture after being substituted. This led to him looking for yet another club stupid enough to sign him. Oxford and Reading both took the bait before Blunderland tried their luck with the old carthorse and look how long that lasted, surely if you can’t make it with them then it’s time to hang up your boots.
Other examples of this classic breed include such clowns as – George Reilly, Colin West, Nial Quinn, Tony Cunningham, Keith Walwyn, Ron Futcher, Scott McGarvey, Carl Airey, Nicky Cross and of course who could forget our ex Trevor Senior and still with us Big Al Kernaghan.
None of these players can run more than 10 yards, they miss open goals and show opponents ‘who’s boss’ by frequently getting sent off. During their illustrious careers they wander from one club to the next going from bad to worse, leaving supporters wondering how the hell they became professional footballers in the first place.
Some even manage the impossible and actually score a few goals along the way… but not many.
The time has come to channel some serious, yet constructive criticism in the general direction of Peter Davenport.
Dav has been afforded the kind of patience he would not have received at any other First Division club. His strike rate says it all really. Even Trevor Senior had scored more goals than Davenport to date and in fewer games too. It’s worth remembering that the fans chose to thank Trev for his superior firepower with the kind of disloyalty that culminated in his eventual departure.
That said, the reason Senior’s scoring was superior to Davenports was that he was a tryer and it made up for his lack of skill.
We all know that Davenport has skill – we’ve seen it. But it shows itself all too rarely as his performance against Liverpool emphasised. When his services were needed most he was nowhere to be seen. In contrast, Slaven (who was having a nightmare) kept bouncing back, showing determination if nothing else, despite his critics on the terraces.
On one occasion in the same match there was the possibility of a Boro penalty, which the referee was having none of. Davenport decided that rather than play his part in the attack (which was continuing), his efforts would be better exploited arguing with the Ref. He may have done that at Man Utd during his Prima Donna days, but you cant do it here where you have to play good football to earn your keep. So come on Dav, get your finger out before Bruce kicks your arse good and proper. Let’s see you make me eat my words in the next few weeks. We all know you can do it.
Bernie has been the man who got us up from the Third to the First Division in the last couple of seasons, but i think he’s finding it hard to adapt to the rigours of the worlds top league.
Okay, he’s got 13 goals so far this season but even his most ardent fans cannot deny he could have doubled that, missing some absolute sitters along the way (see Newcastle game). Also he’s too slow and has really struggled when confronted with speedy defenders like Ratcliffe and Parker. a forward needs to be able to keep up with them and sadly Bernie can’t do this.
Don’t get me wrong, i like Slaven but i’m trying to look at things rationally. He simply doesn’t have the class to be successful in such a tough and ruthless Division. The Wolfman seems to have lost interest in the game, he seems to have adopted a couldn’t care less attitude, a long shot in the 2nd or 3rd Division would see him racing onto the keeper to pick up any loose ball, now its as if he’s saying “Sod that, let Davenport do it!”
Speaking of Dav, i’ve got the feeling Bernie’s a bit jealous of him, he’d rather beat a man and lose the ball than pass to Peter. Fair enough, Slaven did set up Dav’s goal against Man Utd but did he really mean to do it? He doesn’t seem to be bothered about being offside anymore either. I’d be rich beyond my wildest dreams if i had a pound for every time he’s caught.
Maybe if another forward is bought Slaven might wake up and realise he isn’t indispensible but until this happens my opinion is that Bernie should move on.
I will indeed answer the letter that Tommy (foul mouth) Stephenson sent you regarding Gary Go Go Gill in which he dared to question my loyalty to Boro. He tells us that Gilly played well at Luton but does not reveal if he actually attended the match. One of my mates who went told me Gill was tripe but did manage one shot and touched the ball on two other occasions, mind you that’s more than he normally manages in about four games, so i suppose he did play better than normal.
‘Foul mouth’ is right, Gill did score against those world class teams Carlisle United and Newport, the former now struggling in the 4th Division, the other virtually none existent. He’s also right when he says ‘himself and Endy are Gills only fans’, Bruce only plays him because we have no other midfielders in the squad to stand in if a player gets injured.
True if he did score we would cheer but as for him becoming a hero – come off it – we’d cheer a Boro goal if a headless chicken were to score it. But realistically, how the hell is he going to score at this level if he cant even execute a half decent pass?
As for me being a hyporcrite who doesn’t care about the Boro – give it a rest. I have followed the Boro since i was 16 and until recently i have endured a team of mostly spuds who got beat by no hope teams like Grimsby and Burnley etc. We would try to scrape enough home wins to ensure survival in the 2nd Division until inevitably we did go down and the rest is history.
I wonder if ‘foul-mouth’ followed Boro through those nightmare days, when we would have 4 or 5,000 at home games and a travelling bunch of supporters around the hundred mark. I doubt it, or did you jump on the bandwagon in the last few years? I also doubt you go to away games because during my travels i have never heard or met anyone with anything good to say about Gilly. If you had been to places like Grimsby or Blackburn 84-85, or Rochdale or Newport 86-87 when we only took a few hundred fans, then surely i would have heard you shouting for Gill to come off the bench or cheer him when he did get the odd appearance (which was rare), because individual voices stood out and no one ever cheered for Gill.
The results of me being loyal through the bad old days are plain, i have become almost bald and nearly an alcoholic. I blame this on stress and worry brought about from following the Boro, especially from 83-86. As for me going to Darlo, i think you’ve got it the wrong way round, if you follow Gill’s career as closely as you say then it will be you going to Feethams after we give him his long awaited free transfer to Darlo.
Okay, so Liverpool was bad but let’s not dwell on it, think instead of Blunderland being beaten twice in the space of four days and thus condemning themselves to almost certain mid-table mediocrity. It was only an outside chance but we couldn’t have them emulating us with successive promotions.
Radio Cleveland listeners may well have heard two of our editorial staff being interviewed regarding fanzines and their current popularity. General consensus of opinion says that whilst one spoke like the babbling fool he is, the other made up for this by speaking with the eloquence of the Rioch fellow himself.
Grateful though we are of the publicity both shall be severely disciplined for not serving you with fanzines at our busiest time of a Saturday afternoon… it’s not just Trevor Francis capable of being a complete b*****d in dishing out punishment. Having said that we should all be grateful that it was radio and not T.V. seeing their ugly mushes on the box would have been unbearable.
Staying with T.V. having watched the European competitions this week i can’t help thinking that they must miss us as much as we miss being involved. Any of you potential hooligans reading should consider your actions and the harm they could do Boro and their European ambitions in the future.
Your recent articles concerning Gary Gill have forced me to offer the opinion – “it doesn’t really matter”. He rarely plays for the first team as he is not deemed good enough, that said he does a good job for the reserves, no more no less.
Surely a more pressing issue is the consistent failure of our classy midfield play-maker Mark Brennan. The master of the five foot back pass to Mogga, the only player rarely to be seen marking anyone in defence, a man with the ball winning prowess of Andy Crawford (who he? – Ed).
Brennan cost this club well in excess of £300,000 and i’m beginning to feel like we’ve been ripped off. He strolls about the pitch on a Saturday trying to look pretty with his Maradona turns. Executing defence splitting passes back to Pearsy or Pooley, looking like a slimmer version Butch Wilkins during his “i must pass sideways” England hey day.
My dad says he needs “fire in his belly” but it looks like the only thing residing there at present is Johnny Walker Black Label. So after careful consideration, i think id rather pick Ivy Brennan from Coronation Street ahead of him, at least she’d get stuck in.
Talking of big money signings, i couldn’t help noticing that the £1.1million pairing of Brennan and Dav against Newcastle was an absolute disaster, both men having the proverbial nightmare. To be fair to Dav he did get over a couple of good crosses in the 2nd half, but this serves to illustrate that the lad isn’t a striker, he hasn’t got the instinct to get into goal scoring positions. Bernie might not be the most skillful player at the club, but even when he’s not scoring goals he’s at least in position to do so. He has that ability to read the game, which Dav just doesn’t seem to have, i wonder how he managed it for Cloughie?
I just want to finish this article on a positive note, of the regular team which has played this season, nine of them were regulars in the Third Division days. Expectations may have risen but they’ve done quite well you know…
The first goal for a new club is always a special moment for both player and crowd alike and i shall long remember Trevor Senior’s first effort for the Boro against Sheffield Utd.
Trevor had been a big hit during his time at Reading, where he had a near goal a game ratio. His lanky frame and lack of co-ordination topped off with a ‘Worzel’ haircut and Yokel grin often brought derisive laughter from the opposition, allowing Trev to nip in, catch them unawares and bag a sitter. At Watford however he tried to act the 1st Division striker, all neat flicks and running into space. The result was abject failure and only a couple of goals. Now at Boro, he would once more opt for his original plan.
The Sheffield game began and Trevor was soon into his old routine, gangling about and looking every inch a threat to the crowd as he lined up a shot on goal. His distinct lack of balance when putting one foot in front of the other, as well as a serious vertigo problem that hindered his heading ability, soon perplexed the Sheffield defence to such an extent that after 10 minutes they decided the only damage he could do was to himself and duly left him alone. Trevor saw his opportunity, “What a bunch of mugs” he thought, “Falling for the old Kerry Dixon impression”. Trevor grinned an enormous toothless grin.
Suddenly a ball was thumped forward, Trev was on to it as soon as it hit him, bringing it down at the third attempt and turning on a tractor wheel. Still the opposition were unable to come to their senses. By now the arms and legs were pumping away as he propelled himself, like some kind of manic combine harvester, towards goal. On the edge of the box Trev winked at the crowd and pretended to stumble. The Sheffield defence, now realising the danger flung themselves at Trevor but it was too late, for the “Senior Scorcher” was already ambling its way towards the back of the net, via the scenic route of full-backs leg and keepers body. The crowd rose to applaud and once more the First Division beckoned for Boro and Senior.
Wilf’s supreme performance for the Boro was against Blackpool in 1974, known to every Boro fan over the age of 50 as ‘Mannion’s Match’. Twenty or Thirty Thousand of us sensed in advance that something special was going to happen as Wilf had just got engaged and it was said that his fiancee was in the stand.
It was a great football occasion, Blackpool were a real Rolls Royce of a team, comprising three England Internationals, Harry Johnstone, Stan Matthews and Stan Mortensen. They also had Wallace, the Scottish goalkeeper, who in the three previous months had let in only two goals. Not that Boro were far behind. We were a very good First Division side, usually in the top half of the table, built around Wilf as the General or the play-maker as they call them these days.
So there we were, a fine autumn afternoon, waiting for the off, a tense buzz of excitement, you could feel that there was something special in the air.
In the first half we saw Wilf at his very best, in his classic style you might say. There were no frills, he just played like the brilliant international he was. He was fast, direct mostly, but occasionally he would shove in the odd sway that increasingly un-nerved the Blackpool defence.
His passing was unbelievable, perfectly weighted for whatever distance, sometimes at extraordinary angles and always finding his man. He scuttled about like a jet propelled Hare, his blonde mop bobbing up and down, palms down and fingers pointing (his trade mark) a bit like Tommy Cooper. Nobody in the Blackpool defence could get anywhere near him. At half time it was 2-0 and they were shattered.
If nothing else happened in this game, none of us would ever have forgotten what we had seen, it was a perfect display of old fashioned inside forward play. Whilst the rest of the Boro team rose to the occasion; i’ll bet the likes of Ces MacCormack, Micky Fenton and Johnny Spuhler were just as pleased to be part of the proceedings as we the spectators were. But we had no idea what was to come in the second half. Wilf turned the game into his own scintillating showpiece. You’d swear the ball was bewitched, where HE was IT was. He did things with the ball you’ve never seen before or since.
As for the mesmerized Blackpool defence, he dribbled through them, round them, under them and over them sometimes, skipping past those forlorn white shirts in one’s, two’s and three’s. If his passing in the first half was text book, now it was sheer magic, with a bit of a three card trick thrown in. Passes like rifle shots were mixed in with the gorgeous lobs which again left Heyward the centre half rocking on his heels. Then he would show off his collection of crisp little chips, curvy ones, curly ones and those little stubby things that spun back to him. Wilf would control the ball like nobody else, we all knew that but there a few tricks up his sleeve that had everyone gasping.
Dear old Cliff Mitchell recalled one long high clearance out of the Boro defence that had Wilf chasing after it, keeping his eye on it over his left shoulder, as it arrived he took it on his forehead cushioning it about five inches away from his nose, trickled it down his chest to instep, to form an inch perfect pass to Ces MacCormack at inside left and WHAM another one in the onion bag.
Sometimes the magic happened when the ball was perfectly still. I can see him now, the ball motionless, Wilf swaying behind it. A bit of jiggery pokery with his left shoulder and right eyebrow resulting in Harry Johnstone seeming to throw himself, quite voluntarily, flat on his back. Poor Johnstone, he got up wearily looked up to the stand for his manager and threw up his arms in complete bewilderment (managers sat in the stand those days, only Charlie Cole with his magic sponge and galvanised bucket sat on a stool in the tunnel).
The atmosphere was absolutely electric. The roars were like bullfighter sounds when the Toreador is doing his stuff with the exhausted bull. It was a personal statement of football genius by Wilf Mannion, St. Wilf of Southbank, which had everybody, spectators and players, friends and foes gasping in astonishment, totally aware that we were seeing a once in a space age performance.
The final score was 4-0, Spuhlar, Fenton and MacCormack got the goals. A marvellous game, a majestic solo performance. When us golden oldies begin to reminisce you can bet your season ticket that before two pints are downed, someone will say…”Can you remember the Blackpool match?” Can we ever forget it? Thanks, Wilf.
With the transfer deadline looming it seems like a good time to take a look at one of this seasons problem areas… namely the midfield.
The introduction of Brennan was originally hailed as a master-stroke and as he settled in he showed his capabilities as a calming player with an eye for a 40 yard pass, and an ability to make forward runs from deep positions in the mould of Hodge at Forest. However, this year, apart from the Man Utd match when Marco got stuck into Robbo, he has looked a pale shadow of his former self; too ponderous on the ball and not strong or swift enough in the tackle to make his presence felt.
Paul Kerr too seems not to have recovered his form yet, his game relying on little touches and energetic running can be breathtakingly skillful when it comes off, but in a season when he has been plagued by injury he has been unable to develop the confidence in himself or the colleagues around him.
This has put a great deal of pressure on Hammy and even more so since the departure of Deano. But to his credit and every Boro fans admiration he has risen to the challenge. More than any other player he has made the step up to become a 1st Division player, competing with and bettering the McMahons and Hurlocks of this world. He has played in the true Boro spirit, comitted but not dirty and using skill rather than force to better his opponents.
The other plus point has been the significant improvement in Mark Burke, who has increased in stamina and consistency over the season. Delighting the crowd with his own genius and surprising us with his tackling (what about that last ditch effort against Palace). I still can’t understand why he was dropped against Liverpool.
Over all the midfield has not performed consistently as a unit, on many occasions we have been out battled as much as anything by the opposition powerhouses. We have the capability to exert authority as seen against Millwall or Man Utd so in these closing weeks the midfield must find their true form and pull together or else Bruce will have to get his cheque book out again.
Welcome to the tenth issue of FMTTM. I must say i was surprised to hear that Sir Bruce was taking the lads on a mid season break to Bermuda. True, a nice little break for the boys and a chance for Mogga to top up his sun tan but surely Sir Bruce would have been better employed in dear old Blighty keeping his finger on the transfer pulse with deadline drawing nearer the need for a new player or two more obvious since the mediocre display against Newcastle a fortnight ago.
Plus i don’t think air travel, hotel, fuss, change in climate, food and most importantly BEER can do the lads much good two-thirds of the way through a tough first season in Div 1. The money would of been better spent on improving the toilets or getting ‘Upex’ to provide the match day pies instead of ‘Spillers’.
Back to the Newcastle game, even though Boro played at half pace for most of the game, i still thought the T.V. highlights were a fair reflection of the goal mouth incidents for either side. Trust Smithy to have a moan though. One query. Why did Burkey, after making our equalizer with his first touches, spend the rest of the game covering for Gary Parkinson at right back?
Also i’d love to know what Paul Kerr was so vehemently remonstrating about when he was substituted. It looked as if he was having a real go at Mark Brennan, which, no matter how justifiable was right out of order. Talking of the same Marco, a speedy return to form is badly needed today if we are to quell the threat of Liverpool, also its time Hammo started those penetrating runs into the box again, his goal tally for the season so far is well below satisfactory.
Finally, thanks to all those who’ve written to us with ideas and articles recently, your efforts have been paramount with our growth over the last 10 issues. Thanks to our reviews in ‘When Saturday Comes’ and ‘Off the Ball’ the appeal of FMTTM has become nationwide with subscribers up and down the country. You make it possible, so keep writing and don’t worry if your stuff doesn’t surface straight away; everything is filed for future use. We can’t stress enough… this is your fanzine.
It’s difficult to decide what the Boro crowd think of Burkey, i don’t think we up on Teesside are used to such refinement on a football field; it seems much more natural to accept the Hammy brand of no nonsense football. But i think we could well get to like it if we give him a chance.
First glimpse of Burkey came on Boxing Day against Blackburn. Coming on as a substitute with 5 minutes to go he was received with no little shock by some bloke stood next to me who exclaimed “He’s black” – yes quick of him to spot that one but then there’s quite a few more like him in the Holgate. Anyway Burkey would have gone some way to changing this blokes negative attitude, when with his first few touches he eased his way through two tackles and let fly from 25 yards, bringing a flying save from Genoe in goal, one of the few occasions he had been called upon in a generally disappointing Boro display.
Back home i reckoned Rioch had picked up something a bit special, but in the coming months Burkes name featured only at irregular intervals on the team sheet and more often than not he was on the subs bench.
However, watching him in the reserves you could see it was only a matter of time before he broke through. He was undoubtedly the most skillful player on the Boro staff, possessing a deceptive body swerve, superb ball skills, inate balance and every now and then there would be a moment of pure genius that left you wondering just what was possible for the lad.
This year Burkey has continued to advance, he was a revelation at the start of the season but has since endured some barren spells and often found himself the scapegoat when Boro failed to produce. Not to say Mark doesn’t have his faults, he’s not a good tackler, or a great header of a ball, he can become lost in some of the more physical games and be quite indecisive at times. Rioch’s criticism of his lack of crosses is a pointer to this factor, but on the other hand Mark is very good at certain things where his colleagues are found wanting. Essentially he adds a new dimension to what is basically a tough tackling, short passing midfield. His dribbling skills create holes in the opposition defence by drawing men towards him, he also possesses a crisp shot, and perhaps more importantly, the ability to play well weighted and early long balls to the front runners, the kind more usually associated with Marco Brennan.
At times i can understand the Holgates harsh words, though not their racism, for when a player aspires to greatness anything below that comes as a disappointment. I only hope that Rioch and the Boro crowd will give him the opportunity and the atmosphere to blossom and display the kind of prodigious talent that brought his superb goal at Southampton. Best of luck Burkey.
I would like to express my anger at some of the pathetic announcements that frequently come out of our very own hi-tec P.A sytem at Ayresome Park.
QUOTE: Would the people at the East End of the ground please refrain from jumping up and down when the Boro score :UNQUOTE
What the hell are we supposed to do with the adrenalin and sheer passion that is bursting out of every pore? Do they really want a polite clap and a “Jolly good show” buzzing round the ground? If they are so worried about the seating being damaged then perhaps they should think back to the last time any serious damage was done, when those ‘nice people’ from Yorkshire visited us and were afforded seating to which they were eternally grateful.
I’m sure to god the players would prefer a good atmosphere and the prospect of three points, when compared to the slight chance of a Joiner’s bill and the award for Leagues Nicest Seating?
I would like to voice my feelings on gracious Gary Gill. To be frank, (as in Bruno, unlucky champ) i think he’s ace. You only have to look at his recent star performance against Luton (no away fans) Town, his excellent displays for the Central League team or two years ago when he starred in Boro’s promotion to Division 2. I might also add he has scored some crucial goals at home against Carlisle and Newport (Who? – Ed).
The chap in Issue 9 clearly doesn’t appreciate Gill’s skills, but he also has the nerve to question Sir Bruce on who he should or shouldn’t have in his triumphant first team squad. Personally i’d like to think Sir Bruce knows what he’s talking about. As for the remark that “Y.T.S kids play him off the pitch”, that is utter s**t. I watch all the home reserve games and in 99% of the games Gill has been as tenacious as Hammo and as industrious as Kerr.
It can’t be just me, Endy and Sir Bruce supporting Gilly when he pulls the famous red and white shirt over his controversial haircut. But judging by the moans from all around the ground when he gets the ball i think it must be. The boo boys (especially all you rich w**kers in the 2nd tier of the South Stand) can just f**k off, because all your moaning does is lower his confidence and that affects the rest of the team, not just Gilly!
But the point which really p**ses me off is if Gill scored for the first team, would there really only be three of us going wild out of the 20,000 or so Boro fans? Of course not, everyone would be going wild and worshipping him as the new messiah (behind Sir Bruce of course).
The anonymous **** from issue 9 should go to Darlo himself, instead of being a hypocrite who doesnt give a s**t about the Boro. “KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GILLY”
When asked who was the best Boro player i’ve seen (and as the oldest of the FMTTM editorial staff i’m well qualified to answer) my usual reply is Mike Angus, no only kidding. Seriously i’ve never been able to separate Maddren and Souness. Willie first came onto the Boro scene in the very late 60′s, around the same time as Diddie Mills, but neither established themselves until 2 or 3 years later, the era of Ben Sherman shirts and the ‘Teesside Times’ advertising the ‘Great Stewarts Sale ’53 weeks a year.
First time i saw Willie was as a centre forward scoring a 25 yarder against Bury on Shoot (the days before Kenneth Wolsenholme). “He’s a good centre forward i thought… well, nearly”. This was of course during the Stan Anderson days, but Willie eventually took his place alongside Stuart Boam to form what every Boro fan thought to be the best defence in the league. We couldn’t realistically insist on this until proved in the 1st Division, but this was successfully done in 74/75.
Under Big Jack our defence was tighter than the merchant of Venice (he wasn’t much good in the air anyway). That season we conceded just 28 league goals, a feat only equalled by Liverpool. To give this some kind of perspective, just have a look at some of the goals against columns already this season.
Boam was a rough diamond at first, later polished by Big Jack, how he managed this I’ve no idea, because polish was not something you immediately associated with Jack. Willie though was the key man in defence, he was one of those players that made everything look easy and did so in unspectacular style. His reading of the game meant a task was always completed with the minimum of fuss, no dives or lunges.
He was unlucky on several counts during his stunted career, of course it was ended prematurely by a knee injury, but rumours abound that Jack forced him to continue playing when medically unwise through the use of pain killers. He faired no better with his England chances due to the embarrassment of quality centre halves at the time. After Moore and Hunter came Todd and Beattie, both superb. Maddren would walk into the present England team.
There was a body opinion at the time and one that still exists today, that claimed playing for an unfashionable club had restricted his England ambitions. But he could certainly take heart from the opinions of many top pro’s and experts who cited Maddren as the best uncapped player in English football. On one occasion he quelled the not inconsiderable threat of Kevin Keegan to such an extent that it prompted the striker to state that he “might as well have gone shopping with his missus” than play against the Boro.
In summing up, Maddren was the last of the anonymous centre halves who you hardly noticed were there. A really nice guy too, too nice for football management and certainly the best thing to come out of Port Clarence since the Transporter Bridge.
For the record: 239 Appearances, 19 goals, 5 U23 caps