In the latest in a series of profiles and interviews, Orginal Fat Bob gives his personal view on the life and career of a footballing guest before sitting down for chat and asking a few questions. Our Diasboro special guest this week is Ian Bailey…
1. The Overview – the man and his career
Ian Bailey was born in Middlesbrough on the 20 October 1956 (age 61). Another local lad to play for his home town club, he was an accomplished defender. His best position was as a left back from the years 1975 to 1982 making over 144 appearances. He made his debut for us on Saturday, 20th December 1975 in a 1-0 win at home to Tottenham Hotspur. His long flowing blonde locks used to stream behind him in the wind. Whilst talking to him, I pointed at his head (which was most indelicate of me) and asked what had happened to his blonde tresses. He ruefully grinned and passed his hand over his follicle challenged scalp and replied, “they’ve been long gone, years ago!” Fans may remember the cracking goal he scored against Sunderland at Roker Park which I believe was the only goal he ever scored for the Boro.
Reminiscing, he recalled being involved in a serious encounter in an FA Cup game with our own Bruce Rioch, who at that time was playing for Everton. Rioch made a horrendous tackle on Ian which Jim Platt has said was the worst thing he had ever seen in football. Ian was laid on the ground after the tackle, when both sets of trainers and medical staff raced onto the pitch to attend to him. Rioch was immediately surrounded by both Boro and Everton players who were jostling and remonstrating with him over the tackle. Ian was stretchered off the pitch and fortunately had not broken his leg, or suffered any long-term damage. Not so for Rioch, who was promptly told by the Everton Directors and Manager that this was not the standards expected by their club and he was shipped out of the club a short time later.
After having a great career with his home town club, Ian was signed in 1982 by our own Big Jack Charlton, who was by then the Sheffield Wednesday manager. He made over 35 appearances for them and would have made more, but he broke his leg. He left in 1984 to go to Blackpool, then Bolton Wanderers, but talking to me, he felt that he was never the same player again after his injury. After retiring as a professional footballer, Ian went on to become a physio starting at Rotherham. Whilst qualifying to be a physiotherapist, Ian had to undertake some on the job training and worked with Steve Smelt who was the physio for the Boro at that time. Strangely enough for Ian, the manager at Boro was a certain Bruce Rioch. Now this was a man who was always known for not shirking his duty. He made a point of meeting up with Ian at the Boro and personally apologis ing for that awful tackle he had made on Ian years previously. The apology made, Ian being the nice guy he is, graciously accepted. Incident closed, but not forgotten.
I remember Ian making his way into professional football because I was one of the referees who watched his rapid progress from the juniors, to the reserves and then first team football at 19 years of age. As part of a three-man refereeing team and newly promoted myself, we worked with Harold Shepherdson, who was a wonderful man and a strict disciplinarian. Harold insisted that all the junior players were respectful of all refereeing decisions and would not allow his lads to swear on the pitch. I cannot ever remember Ian being booked or even sternly talked to, so he must have been one of the nice guys. It says a lot for the junior team in those days (which was pre-academy) that so many local lads were turned into professional footballers. The always cold, open field at Hutton Road with the many training pitches, was surrounded by nice houses at the Longlands. The neighbours were used to footballs going over the high wire fence into their back gardens and generally would throw them back. Sometimes if a junior hadn’t been training very well, he was sent off to round up any missing footballs. These were usually located at a house where a large dog was barking fiercely. It certainly encouraged the lads to train well and make sure there were no wayward footballs.
Ian is today the same as he always was, quiet, softly spoken and a gentleman, whose love of football still shines through, to whoever has the pleasure to meet him.
2. The Interview – a quick chat
OFB: What year did you join Boro as a professional footballer?
IB: I joined the Boro in 1975.
OFB: Where did you stay? Did you rent, or did you live in digs?
IB: I lived in Middlesbrough when I signed for the club, so I still lived at home.
OFB: Who was your favourite Boro player that you played with at the time?
IB: It was Graeme Souness, a player with skill and the steel and grit to be a winner.
OFB: Who was the best trainer in the team?
IB: It was the late Willie Maddren who was a lovely lad and used to train very hard, even with a dodgy knee!
OFB: How do you think the match day has changed from the time that you played professional football to the present day?
IB: Everything is done for the professional players these days. The players only turn up for training and for match days. They have masseurs, fitness coaches and someone to look after their kit. They have their strip laid out and boots cleaned and polished, all ready to put on and go out playing. When I was a professional footballer, we had to clean our own boots, do our own warm up routines and stretching exercises and get ourselves ready to play. Mind, thinking back to those days, we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
OFB: When did the team travel for away games, how did they get there, by bus or by train?
IB: We used to set off to away games every Friday and always by coach. We never used the train or charter-planes!
OFB: How many players usually travelled and did the Directors travel with you?
IB: There was usually about 15 or 16 of us in case anyone felt ill the next day. I can never remember any Directors being on the coach with us.
OFB: Did you have nice hotels or was it just bed and breakfast?
IB: It was always hotels and never a bed and breakfast and they were always good hotels.
OFB: Who did you room with for away matches?
IB: My roomy was Spike, the great David Armstrong.
OFB: Who was the joker in the team?
IB: There were always jokers in the Boro team over the years. I do remember though that Brian Taylor and Patt Cuff were comical and funny characters.
OFB: Who was in your opinion the best manager that Boro have ever had?
IB: Without any doubt it was Jack Charlton.
IB: Because he was the man who gave me my first pre-contract as a professional player. The other reason is he got the Boro into the First Division in his first season.
OFB: Who is your favourite Boro player of all time?
OFB: Who is your current favourite Boro player?
IB: Patrick Bamford
OFB: Do you still follow the Boro, their results and where do you live now?
IB: Yes, I always look out for their result and these days I am retired and live in Rotherham.
OFB: What do you think of the current Boro team?
IB: Presently they look disjointed and they don’t go forward enough especially at home. As a former Left Back, I don’t think Fabio is enough of a team player and is too individual. Unfortunately, I don’t think they will get promoted this year. The midfield is poor and play too many passes sideways and back. The midfield also doesn’t help the strikers and score enough goals. What I do know is I wouldn’t have liked to play against Traore! If it was up to me I would stick him in the middle of the park and play balls over the top and get him to run at defences, he terrifies defenders!
OFB: A huge thank you to Ian for taking the time to talk to Diasboro and our readers.