In2views: Archie Stephens

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 a chat and asking a few questions. Our Diasboro special guest this week is Archie Stephens.

1. The Overview – the man and his career

Arthur, or better known as our own, Archie Stephens, had played 127 times for Bristol Rovers, scoring 40 goals before moving North to us at the Boro. He had been picked up by Terry Cooper at Bristol Rovers from non-league football club Melksham Town. When Archie joined us in 1984, he made up a two-pronged strike force with Bernie Slaven. During our post liquidation period, Archie made over 92 appearances for Boro and scored over 24 goals, however, it should also be noted that he also made a lot of assists for his striking partner, Bernie Slaven.

He is just under six feet tall, but always gave the appearance of being taller on the playing field and could outjump most players, Now, in his early sixties he looks today like a man that you wouldn’t mess around with and some ten years younger than his age. After leaving Middlesbrough he later went on to play for other local teams Carlisle United and Darlington before finishing his career at Guisborough Town. Admired by the Boro fans and respected by opposing defenders he has even had a record made in his honour, “Archie Stephens Birthday Party by Shrug!”

Archie Stephens 700x600

When his striking partner Bernie Slaven spoke about him to the Gazette, he said “I’d just moved down to England and he showed me how I needed to play, to adapt to the league and the game. He was probably a couple of inches shorter than me, but he could jump about 10 times higher. When he was up in the air he used to hover, and hang there like a kestrel. We struck up a good partnership and scored 33 goals between us in Division Three, when we got promotion, the season after liquidation.”

Bernie and Archie are still good friends and regularly travel to see their old team mate, Gary Parkinson who suffers from locked in syndrome.

2. The Interview – a quick chat

OFB: What year did you join Boro as a professional footballer?

AS: 1984.

OFB: Where did you stay? Did you rent, or did you live in digs?

AS: I lived in the Stork Hotel at Stockton On Tees.

OFB: Who was your favourite Boro player and others that you have played with?

AS: I must say that all my team-mates I played with in 1986 were my favourites and still are. I also played with Gary Mabbut at Bristol Rovers, who was one of my favourite all time footballers.

OFB: Who were the best and worst trainers in the team?

AS: Me and Gary Pallister were the worst trainers in the Boro team! Gary Gill and Bernie Slaven were always the best trainers.

OFB: When did the team travel for away games, how did they get there, by bus or by train?

AS: The team travelled by bus on Friday afternoons, especially if we were going on long journeys like London.

OFB: How many players usually travelled and did the Directors travel with you?

AS: There were about 15 players who travelled on the bus and no Directors ever came with us.

OFB: Did you have nice hotels or was it just bed and breakfast?

AS: Oh yes, we always stayed in nice hotels, never any cheap ones, or bed and breakfast.

OFB: Who did you room with for away matches?

AS: I always roomed with Paul Kerr.

OFB: Who was the joker in the team?

AS: There were quite a few jokers in the pack, nearly all footballers have a good sense of humour.

OFB: Can you tell us any amusing anecdotes or pranks that were played?

AS: The favourite trick of the other players, was getting your hotel room turned over and wrecked whilst you were out and then leaving you on your own, having to explain all the mess afterwards!

OFB: Whose boots did you clean as an apprentice and who cleaned yours?

AS: I come from a non-league background, so I wasn’t an apprentice and I didn’t clean anyone’s boots. I’m afraid I can’t remember the apprentice that used to clean mine.

OFB: Did you try and emulate your style of play, on any individual player who played in your position?

AS: No, there was no one that I tried to copy, I just played my own game, my way.

OFB: What was your most memorable game, your own individual performance and best experience with the fans?

AS: My most memorable game was the first game of the season, Boro against Port Vale when I scored 2 goals. My best experience with the fans was when we played at Doncaster All the fans surrounded us and were at the edge of the pitch waiting for the game to finish. When the final whistle went, they all invaded and stripped me of all my clothes except my underpants!

OFB: What was your worst game or experience and why?

AS: My worst game and experience was when I was playing for Bristol Rovers and we were away at Millwall. I was sent off and when I was going to the dressing room, I had to run down the tunnel where all the Millwall fans were. So, I had to run past them all and they were all shouting at me. To make matters worse, I ended up getting fined as well.

OFB: Is there a game that you wished you had played in, either for Boro or another team?

AS: It has to be for me, the 1965 FA Cup final, playing for Liverpool who won it for the first time against Leeds. It wouldn’t have been possible of course as I would only have been 11years old at the time, but I can still dream.

OFB: Who was in your opinion the best manager that Boro have ever had and why?

AS: It has to be Bruce Rioch, because 1986 was the year that changed everything within Middlesbrough Football Club forever and look where they are now. It wouldn’t have been possible without Bruce Rioch.

OFB: Who was in your opinion the manager that had the greatest influence on your career and why?

AS: Without a doubt it was Terry Cooper, who signed me from non-league football and changed my life forever. He was a big influence on my professional footballing career, no matter how short it was.

OFB: Which opposing team and which player did you fear playing against?

AS: I didn’t fear no one! (No other comment required is there? OFB)

OFB: Which opposing team and which player did you like playing against?

AS: At Millwall they had a centre half called Dave Cussack and we used to have some good battles. That’s who I got sent off against at Millwall, when I mentioned having to go past all the fans.

OFB: Who is your favourite Boro player of all time and why?

AS: Tony Mowbray was and still is great reader of the game. He encouraged everyone around him and was an outstanding player as well.

OFB: Who is your current favourite Boro player and why?

AS: I don’t really have a current favourite player at present.

OFB: How do you think the match day has changed from the time that you played professional football to the present day?

AS: I couldn’t play now because the physical contact has gone out of the game which the fans liked to see. The ball is lighter and football boots are like slippers. Oh, and the main reason I couldn’t play now, as you also need a designer haircut, which I don’t have! (laughs OFB)

OFB: If you could be a fly on the wall, is there any dressing room you would wish to eavesdrop on?

AS: I would like to be in the Everton dressing room, so I could go back to the Liverpool dressing room and let them know what was being said

OFB: Do you have any regrets in your career, or missed opportunities?

AS: I wish I had been picked up earlier as a professional footballer. It’s an amazing life doing something you love and getting paid for it.

OFB: Do you still follow the Boro and their results

AS: Yes, I religiously follow their results at every opportunity.

OFB: Whereabouts in the Country do you live these days and what do you do?

AS: I live in Great Ayton, just outside Middlesbrough and I’m counting down the years for retirement.

OFB: Whom have you made a lifelong friend through football?

AS: My best friends are; Terry Cochrane and Bernie Slaven.

OFB: During our talk you mentioned being associated with our new manager Tony Pulis. What was his role at the club? Did he influence your career, and did you think then he would go on to be a great manager?

AS: When I arrived at Bristol Rovers Tony Pulis was not there. He was playing in a Hong Kong League. The club arranged a house for me which happened to be Tony’s. When Tony came back from Hong Kong he re-signed for Bristol Rovers, and was working with the 2nd team. I played a few games with Tony in the 2nd team, he was a bit of a handful as a player. As a coach you don’t know how far they will go. He didn’t have any influence on me.

OFB:  Do you think Tony Pulis is the right man for the Boro and what can we expect to see from him?

AS: Tony hasn’t managed in the Championship before but is proven in the Premiership. What you will get from Tony is a determination to get Boro in the Premiership. It might be a bit more direct but will try his upmost to get them back in the Premiership.

OFB: Finally, if you hadn’t had a professional career as a footballer, what do you think you would have done as a career?

AS: I was a painter and decorator when I was noticed and signed as a professional footballer. If I had carried on being a decorator, I would have had my own business now, as a self-employed painter and decorator.

OFB: A huge thank you Archie, for taking the time to provide an interesting talk with me at Diasboro and giving our readers and bloggers worldwide, an insight into your life at Middlesbrough Football Club.

135 thoughts on “In2views: Archie Stephens

  1. OFB,

    Thanks for that, I always reckoned he’s a bit of an unsung hero but that may just be time and distance at work.

    My spellcheck is doing the same Tractor Man’s, turning OFB into OFF, never mind at least it doesn’t add a word in front!

    Excellent work, more please.



    1. Thank you there’s another half dozen in the pipeline for when we have no football or good topics to talk about.

      Don’t know how Werder and RR do it when we have 3 games in a week !


        1. Well I can do better !

          I worked on Kazakhstan and it was -40 in winter !

          Bit of news

          Boro captain Grant Leadbitter is facing a race to be fit in time for Friday’s home clash with Leeds United.

          Leadbitter, who scored his third goal of the season on Saturday against his boyhood team Sunderland, was withdrawn with 15 minutes left with a hamstring problem.

          The Boro skipper says he felt a problem with his hamstring after slotting home the penalty at the Stadium of Light and hope he’ll be fit in time for the visit of Leeds United.

          “I felt a little bit of a feeling in my hamstring after taking the penalty and I didn’t want to carry on and make things worse,” said Leadbitter.

          “I want to try and push forward and look forward to Friday night and hopefully be fit.”

  2. A good read, living away for much of the last 35 years I didn’t get a to see a lot these players much in the flesh and very little press coverage. It fills in my knowledge.

    1. Jarkko and OFB
      The lowest temperatures I have encountered was minus 17 whilst on holiday in Moscow in 1978. However on my way back to Blighty from Singapore on a troopship in August 1958 we sailed up the Persian Gulf to pick up some troops and were told that at sea the temperature was +49. Most of us were sick through dehydration as stocks of fresh water were extinguished.

  3. Winter break! In the late fifties they often had to play 3 matches in 4 days over Christmas and Easter, and I don’t recall their complaining except maybe having to play on Christmas Day and all for about £17 a week. I reckon it won’t be a break anyway because their clubs will be arranging lucrative matches against foreign clubs in China, India, USA et al.
    Good grief! How many actual hours a week do the players actually WORK in a week now? When you calculate that, their hourly wage must be staggering, and even accepting the fact that most of them stop playing at 35, they must be really knackered!

    1. Its not even a real break!

      Half the clubs will have the first weekend free then play 13 days later while the other half have to play and then have 13 days off making sure they still cash in on TV rights.

      Add in that they are now switching the FA Cup 5th round to a midweek with no replays so no big pay days for the likes of Rochdale as example. If the “romance” of the Cup wasn’t dead already they’ve managed to induce a coma. Maybe the real problem is all these Champions League and Europa League games.

      What about all these huge squads? Man City and Chelsea own half the players in the lower leagues in England and Europe. Why not just let them add a few more squad players to the 25 so their fatigue problem is solved? Heaven forbid that professional athletes have to run around for 3 hours a week consecutively. Just wait until a frozen or snow covered weekend and they will go into meltdown (no pun intended).

      The biggest insult is that it doesn’t apply to the lower leagues as they have too many games already apparently and couldn’t squeeze them in. Same old FA, one rule for the rich and mighty and the rest can go and do one and even then they make a right pigs ear of it.

  4. Bob, really nice. I have always had a soft spot for Archie as he scored in the match of the centenary when Boro played at Hartlepool in August 1986. Nice he still remembers that sunny afternoon!

    We also stayed often in Great Ayton in the Late 1980’s and Archie lived in the Weatlands already then. I was too shy to talk to Archie but he lived close to my pen pal in Great Ayton. I often saw him there with his family.

    Thanks, Bob. Really nice to read about Archie. Brings a lot of nice memories to us. Up the Boro!

        1. I’m with Jim later at the game see if he can squeeze to and Mrs Jarkko in and meet me and Mrs OFB for a drink except she’s not fat ! OFB Original Fair Blonde!

  5. Forget that, Martin. The past is in the past.

    Lots of fiascos create giant “what ifs”. It arguably took the points deduction to spark Boro into life, the sense of righteous injustice at the points being deducted inspiring the team to lose only four of their last sixteen matches – and three of them were unlucky 1-0s. One more goal in the last ten minutes at Leeds and we could easily have survived.

    Similarly, it took a certain wobbly for the whole club – manager, players and hierarchy – to wake up and realise that if they didn’t work hard and stick together, there would be no promotion.

    Many mistakes were made. Solitary cases of the team not turning up and the manager not turning up were never the be-all-and-end-all of a narrow failure and a success that wasn’t as comfortable as many thought it ought to have been, respectively.

    1. Simon
      No club can allow the team to, ” not turn up”
      That is the one unforgivable sin.
      When it happens, the only answer is to hold a witch hunt, dismiss the offenders, and take it from there, because it is a cancer which will eat at the heart of the club.

  6. Welcome news about Adama’s red card being overturned. I never doubted it for a second once my previous posts were presented to the panel. 🙂

    On a serious note thats two red cards that have been overturned and both were avoidable and in my opinion have cost us at least two and maybe five points. Getting them rescinded is great, not getting them in the first place would have been better. We can’t replay the Norwich and Sunderland games with a full contingent of 11 players.

    Once is an accident, twice is unfortunate lets hope there won’t be a third.

    1. Please let Traore be the one one to go down and not give the opposition defenders and manager what they want. Brief him Mr Pulis. Meanwhile the match was skewed and for the second half because of the sending off. Traore parked on or near the halfway line would have terrified Sunderland.

      Certainly their second half strategy would have been different. That young man and Bamford should be given free reign in their preferred positions.

      Meanwhile what of the punishment for the eye poker? He gets away with it? A point off Sunderland perhaps Mr FA? After all that action/decision changed the game.

      I’m happy the red card has gone but the crime goes unpunished.



  7. Good grief two red cards rescinded in my life time never mind a few weeks.

    It looked something and nothing but you couldn’t really tell due to the fleeting footage.

  8. OFB thank you for the great interview with Archie. Like a few others remembered him from the Dark Old Days.

    Well for one I could not believe we got away with the Adama Red. However as RR said, as difficult as it is at times they should not have happened. More the Gestede tackle from behind. Not necessary and a probable cause of points lost.

    As I said previously, Adama was being targeted, so a little sympathy there. But once more, probably points lost. Or Ken may say we never had them and he would be correct to a degree. Still 2 x wrong decisions and no recompense.

    1. Steely
      When you consider that Traore does not dive, does not foul, stays on his feet( and even gets back on his feet after a foul on him) in addition he is relentless in trying at all times to be better that those opposing him. It is ironic that he has been sent off twice.
      Meanwhile those charged with stopping him have decided that it is mission impossible, and are therefore prepared to put him out of the game permanently.
      Because that is what happened on Saturday, that person knew that it was perhaps his one chance to be rid of him and he went for it, big time.
      Traore can look forward to more of the same, now that they have got his measure, or rather they will never get his measure, and there’s the rub.

  9. Could we have a Winter break now? I’m getting tired of freezing my nuts off in the West Stand. I look like the Michelin Man with all the layers I have to wear if I want to be warm.

  10. Just to clarify, I’m not at the Riverside tonight, otherwise I would definitely be freezing. I was bemoaning the fact that the West Stand appears to be the coldest place on earth, particularly when you’re comotose, as I have been for most of this season.

  11. Steely

    The coldest place on earth was the away end at the Britannia. It is in Stoke on the top of a hill with nothing around it. It also had both ends of the stand open to the elements.

    In Gate relegation season fans left the tropical North East wearing their blue and black away shirts. Coming from derby I went with coat, hat, gloves and sxcarf even though the weather was glorious in Derby.

    The away fans blue fingers and arms blended with the shirts, the only colour were the red noses.

    Those of my age also remember the Town Hall bus stops. The A and B stop was up by the corner and was bitter and that was in July.

    Another cold spot is the Arbroath football ground, it stands between the coast road and the beach. My wife comes from there and a couple of times we have parked up with a pudding supper trying to eat it before it congealed, that was in August.

    On to Adama, pleased he was let off, I am surprised because it expect it to be really clear cut. I wonder what the referees report said.

    1. I’m guessing that the Refs report said he elbowed or punched Oviedo bearing in mind that the Lino sorry Assistant only seen it from behind and with the home fans screaming “off off off” it was probably less contentious to “even things up” given that at that stage having stopped the game he had to give something. Walking away and just carrying on with proceedings and ignoring it was no longer an option.

    1. What ? Was he sent off? I saw him walking off the pitch and I thought they were making a substitute!

      What was he sent off for ?

      I was looking at something else Jeff!

      Anyway it’s all happening here today !

  12. Well that’s a cheery bit of news to come in from work too and another good interview piece from OFB.

    In my unbiased opinion😉 I suspect that the ref didn’t actually see the incident and the linesman probably didn’t have a clear of it made the panels decision for them. Add in the footage that was available and it wasn’t as clear cut a red card as some thought it was. Yes Traore pushed him over but why?That maybe the reason for a little seed of doubt in the panels minds and could’ve been enough for them to rule as thy have. What I am surprised at though is Traore hasn’t had any sort of punishment for his reaction to his sending off.

    While I am, in footballing parlance, over the moon that the decision has been overturned, what I am starting to get a bit Boronoid about is this has happened twice in the same season to the same player. Now we all know teams have been targeting Adamah for most of the season and in my view officials have been carried along with the opposition players and home supporters in getting him sent off.

    Now I’m not suggesting bribery and corruption here, but as I posted previous I genuinely think that officials are assuming what they think happened rather than what actually did or did not happen, and in some part are swayed by said opposition players and fans.

    I know it’s all ifs and buts, but what if Adamah hadn’t had those 2, incorrectly awarded as it turns out, red cards against Villa and Sunderland? We could well be in a position that I’m sure we’d all be much happier with.

    Onto Friday then and the dirties. Weather permitting I’m sure they’ll be targeting Traore and hoping for the same result from the officials as at the SoL. Fingers crossed for you that it does go ahead Jarrko so you can witness first hand just what an exciting player Traore can be on his day.

    On Archie Stevens I saw him play a lot more away from Ayrsome Park than at home due to my Service career and I remember a no nonsense, full blooded old fashioned type of centre forward and one who would probably flourish in a Pulis team. If the fitness and diet regiemes of the different eras were comparable.

    1. Thanks for the acknowledgement.

      Suproslngly emoigh Archie is not a very tall centre forward and I used to think of him as a giant of a player.

      What I did see was a man who even today doesn’t suffer fools gladly and you wouldn’t argue with. A proper old school footballer used to taking the knocks and also perfectly capable of dishing it out.

      You can see why he was the perfect foil for Bernie creating chances and openings for the goal grabber to sneak in whilst the defenders were occupied with Archie.

      I sent him a copy of the Intervoew yesterday I hope he liked it!


  13. Should’ve read “the linesman probably didn’t have a CLEAR view of it”.

    Really should take more notice when I’m proof reading before I post. I’ll put it down to tiredness it’s 4am out here.

  14. Thanks to OFB for another interesting interview and for me Archie Stephens was a something of an unknown player as he arrived shortly after I left the area to go and study Computing in late 1983 – I think my last four home games before leaving were four consecutive 4-0 defeats and this was a period where following the Boro was not an easy task and my attention probably waned with the student distractions on my new doorstep – no such thing in those days as internet for online newspapers, video streams, internet radio or even blogs – so following a team away from the area was much harder and I probably only saw the results and brief match summaries. Anyway he sounds like another decent guy and I’m sure Bernie was grateful for his assists too!

    btw Just did the school run and was -11 degrees so have woken up now – though I think I many have mentioned a few years ago that the coldest place on the planet is indeed Darlington train station where the operators of Trans-Siberian Express are poised to put in a bid for running the East-Coast rail franchise.

    1. I worked in London for a couple of years and also Aberdeen.

      I’ve stood on both sides of that Darlington Station going South and North.

      It used to chill tp the very core and I even resorted to wearing thermal underwear which I had to take off during the subsequent journey on the train. I suppose that’s TMI !
      Too much Information!

      It’s pretty cold here today in God’s Country and plans for having a nice sedentary day in have been dashed as someone wants to buy my car (4×4) so today with thick snow on the ground is the ideal day to sell.

      The down side is having to go and tidy it up get rid of sweet papers and old Boro programmes and grandchildren car seats etc before tea time!

      Ah well the pleasures of life and hopefully the match will go ahead on Friday.

      Social media is great these days and Boro head groundsman tweeted photos of Rockliffe where his team cleared one pitch a training area and another goal mouth area then had to dash over to the Riverside to check the coverings and pitch heating. It’s all quite scientific these days but very labour intensive. More so than picking up a few sweet papers.

      Thanks for the comments Werder much appreciated.


      1. I hope you didn’t take your thermals off in the quiet carriage as the all whistling may have disturbed the other passengers 🙂

        Though looking at the weather forecast for Friday on Teesside it looks like no snow but around zero all day – though it will probably feel absolutely freezing as it looks like there will be a fairly strong wind with gusts up to 45mph – so you may need your thermals at the Riverside for the wind chill!

  15. OFB

    I remember the furore about a match being called off early against Toon. The decision was made on a Friday and the next day he pitch and areas outside the ground were ok so we got some stick.

    If I remember rightly the problem was within the spectator areas. We didn’t have undersoil heating but a huge tent over the playing area. The beauty of undersoil heating there is somewhere for the snow to lie and melt. The wind had blown snow up the terraces and down the concourses.

    I think that is correct, it was the story I told everyone down here because they thought it was convenient with our injury problems at the time. We won the rearranged 1-0.

    I am willing to be corrected.

    1. There was also some problems on the small roadshow and road tunneli leading to the ground. So it is not ofter the pich itself but to get the fans there safely.

      I hope my train from Manchester to Boro won’t be delayed and the match is on. It is warming a bit today and especially tomorrow over he in the real North East. So hope the roadshow melt down by Friday.

      Is it the same in between Leeds and Boro. Are they able to come safely to the match?

      Up the Boro!

  16. I saw one article recently in the Portuguese newspaper ‘A Bola’ about Rochenback where a misprint had BORO spelt BORE. Well I think it was a misprint, but in the words of Francis Urquhart ‘they might well say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment’.

  17. Great news about the Adama red card being rescinded – I wasn’t at all confident that Boro would win their appeal as the video clip of the incident didn’t appear to absolve Traore from actively pushing a player to the ground. I guess it maybe depended on whether the officials had thought Adama had struck a player rather than pushed him.

    He was sent off for ‘violent conduct’, which is vaguely described as “Violent conduct occurs when a player is guilty of aggression towards an opponent even if not challenging for the ball”. Whether the forearm push to the chest of Oviedo is not regarded as ‘aggression’ or it’s no longer deemed aggression if he was trying to prevent Oviedo from trying to poke him again in the eye – i.e. self defence.

    Either way that was definitely a result to have Adama available again.

    1. The FA Statement released was very brief “Adama Traore will be available for Middlesbrough’s next four games after an Independent Regulatory Commission accepted that he was wrongly dismissed for violent conduct against Sunderland on Saturday” – the only reason given being he was wrongly dismissed.

  18. I wonder if statistically more red cards are rescinded for players with teams who were playing away from home – which may indicate the officials are being persuaded or pressured by the reaction of the home crowd. Both of our rescinded reds came away at Norwich and Sunderland.

  19. I remember Archie as an honest and hard working though not particularly gifted footballer whose greatest strength was his heading.
    Perhaps he could coach Gestede?
    Stephens goal scoring record is better than I remember. He was a useful foil for Bernie and would run interference for him. Please pardon my use of a term from American Football, it’s the one useful contribution the sport has made.
    Plus Stephen’s seemingly miraculous ability to hang in the air be fitted from a young Stuart Ripley on the wing. (On the wing).
    Good to know he enjoyed his time at Boro. Lovely read, thanks, OFB.

    I share Ken’s scepticism of the winter break. Though I would go one further and suggest it’s a prelude to playing a Prem fixture in the US. ‘Hey guys, while we’re over here anyway, why not play a proper game.’

    With Adama now available, will TP have his own Adamascene conversion and play Bamford up front?

    1. Thanks Chris

      It’s interesting talking to these ex players how many have stayed in the area after hanging up their boots.

      It says a lot for the people and the warmth of the welcome they give to players how they feel at home in the Boro


  20. I am a tough lad as I support Boro. Been through 1986 season and was at the first game in Hartlepool.

    A couple of years back I flew in to Manchester and drove a rental car the same day to Blackburn. Only to see the match being postponed because of the floods.

    So let’s see what I will experience with my missus on Friday when we are flying in on the morning. Then there is the train trip to Boro.

    I won’t be upset – I am ready for anything. We have already paid some extra to change the flights to Friday morning as the match was put forward by a day.

    At least we could see Traore – IF the match goes ahead. At least there are two other games to look forward to.

    Up the Boro! Erasmus.

  21. Ian

    Re the called off Newcastle match the pitch was indeed fine it was mainly the area around the stadium and the approaches that were the problem.

    I was home on leave at the time and was down by the dock/ over the border getting some photos for a presentation I was doing on the Origins of Middlesbrough for a leadership course I was going on. The snow had started to melt but in areas of shadow there was water on top of ice. I nearly went down myself a few times on my walk about so god only knows how 30 odd thousand people would have got on.

    I suspect James Cook A & E would’ve been “snowed under”! I’ll get me coat.

  22. jarkko, according to the MFC website they are doing everything possible to ensure the match goes ahead. I know more snow and freezing conditions are forecast but they have 3 days to work on it, and Friday is forecast to free from further snow. They also may be under pressure from Sky to ensure it goes ahead but the last word may be down to H & S and the police.

    As for travelling fans, from 10 years experience as a Highways England Traffic Officer the main roads will be clear, especially as no snow is forecast for Friday, the only roads left with a covering will be roads in estates.

    Still hope to bump into you on the concourse opposite the hot dog stand by block 38 East stand.

    Come on BORO.

  23. I liked Archie, always committed and willing to get stuck in.

    Good news on Adama’s red card, but he does need to be careful, he’ll be targeted now by every team we play.

    I hope TP goes with Bamford up front, he thrived in that role when he had Tomlin supplying the ammunition, with Downing and Traore he should score even more. Don’t know whether TP will be prepared to tweak his preferred playing style though. I cant see much point/benefit in high balls to Bamford, balls into feet is what will be needed.


    So far 8 entries received for this years challenge, for the newcomers or people who read but don’t usually post, it is a fun competition for anyone who cares to enter.

    To find out more go to the top of the page, on the right hand side under “links” and click on the “Exmil Challenge 2018” icon and all will be explained.

    Come on BORO.

  25. Where is everybody? Cleaning the entrace to the house?

    I have a fire in fireplace, it is nice and quet here. We have -20 degrees in the night time but the sun is warming and just -10 in day time. And everything going smoothly as normal as we are used to this and all have winter tyres and good isolation in the house. And proper heating.

    Looking forward to visiting Teesside on Friday. Up the Boro!

    1. Jarkko,

      I have a photograph of Hakaniemi Square in Helsinki In 1942 and the whole square is just sawn soon stacked 5metres high with roads running through the piles of firewood. Apparently the timber harvest was close to twenty five million cubic metres of wood. Amazing, that would keep you warm.



  26. Reading between the lines gives me the feeling that MFC will ensue the pitch and surrounding area which are their responsibility will be ok and then Health and Safety will come along and say the roads leading to the ground are not safe. In reality those supporters who have real concerns about getting to and from the ground will simply stay at home and watch the game on TV

    1. The promblem with the Riverside is its poor access and egress.

      Mr Gibson was let down badly by the local authority with this. One of the main routes through a narrow tunnel, road and railway crossing. In 2018 is a disgrace. But then then the Council??

    2. I was at the game at Leicester in 2013. The game was on Sky on a Friday night. The whole of Leicester resembled a snow covered car park. I got into the ground just before half time having abandoned the car . I hindsight I should not have gone but the game should have been called off. I hope that the powers that be make a sensible decision tomorrow.
      What are the thoughts about Friday night football? Here in Oz the best games of the weekend are always on Friday night in both rugby league and Aussie rules

  27. Ice age conditions all over Europe. Plenty of snow in northern Portugal also, but here in the Algarve most of the locals are welcoming the rare sight of rain as reservoirs were at seriously low levels. Very strong winds though have brought much warmer weather.

    Regarding the UK though very few football matches have been postponed this season due to the weather but generally as a nation we are now at the mercy of Health and Safety regulations. Most schools just after the Second World War had outside toilets as did many houses, and in 1947, the most severest of winters, they were frozen over but schools never closed. Children still went to school wearing shorts or skirts, no jeans or long trousers for under-14 year olds in those days. Quite rightly that situation would not be tolerated today.

    I recall attending a school reunion in the 1980s when the school daybooks were on display and observing that after air raids during the War, my school delayed its opening hour to 10am, the only concession. We don’t seem to get many severe winters in the UK today, so when we do get extreme weather, it comes as a shock and we’re not prepared for it. I’ve been lucky to spend the last 25 years or so here in the Algarve, along with many Canadians who come here for 3 to 5 months like migrating birds. Who can blame them? They know a thing or too about severe winters.

    Keep warm!

    1. Middlesbrough’s snow-threatened televised clash with Leeds United will be discussed at a crunch meeting this morning.

      Boro are due to meet with key council officials, police big-wigs and transport chiefs at 10am to discuss what must be done in a bid to ensure Friday’s Championship six-pointer goes ahead.

  28. Here, down The Hollow in Mickleover, we seem to have our own micro climate due to the topography of the area. We only live 30 yards from the top of the hill but with no through traffic and the school shut at the end of the road getting out requires someone to clear the snow.

    I cleared it starting at 6.45am, put salt down from the council bin and took Mrs G to work for a meeting. Working from home and even the parts of the road I cleared and treated are succumbing to the weather.

    I suspect the match at the Riverside will be called off shortly, I read somewhere that the salt wasn’t working because of the temperature. Clearly wrong type of snow!

  29. Well, I have our flight tickets for tomorrow morning. If the match is called off, does anyone know a place to rent skies in Middlesbrough?

    Last time around we were in Blackburn end in December when the match was called off due to flooding. There was not much to do in Blackburn on Boxing day when it was pouring.

    I hope the Rockcliffe Hall and Bath is open during the weekend. Up the Boro!

  30. I’d rather see it off,than have a farcical game.
    On another note, I guess we are guaranteed to win a world cup,now the overworked players are getting a mid season break, at least we are told it’s to help the national team,although most of the squad are part time players now,who can’t get a game for overseas players?

    1. The playing conditions won’t be farcical as it can be cleared of snow and under soil heating will keep the pitch in decent nick. The problem will be the job the Council does in keeping the roads clear and in fairness to them the A19, A66 and Trunk Road are more important than Riverside Road.

      The Riverside road bit is very pertinent as the council (suspect two councils perhaps with a boundary part way down it?) simply don’t bother with it as it is a mud and sand strewn filthy death trap for pedestrian supporters at the best of times with double yellow lines long concealed under two inches of mud and it has been for 18 months. A covering of thick snow and ice would actually make it cleaner and safer to negotiate.

      All that said I seem to remember going to games in the 60’s and 70’s when the snow was far worse than this. People just got on with it and at times the ball resembled a large snowball with the snow gathered around it before being whacked clear or headed. Like everything else these last few days it will just take a little longer to drive and/or walk to the Riverside. Sometimes think we are too namby pamby and people should take responsibility and decisions for themselves. It will be very cold so wrap up, it will be very slippy so where sensible footwear and it will take three times longer to travel so plan for it.

      The club start their irresponsible trancing, flashing light displays (with warnings about anyone who may feel “unwell”) at the start and end of games when people are negotiating steps and stairwells so I don’t see much difference in terms of safety and responsibility between that and a bit of snow especially as the stairs now all have grip treads on them.

      The biggest problem will likely be idiots throwing snowballs at opposing fans if its not cleared away around the NE corner.

  31. According to BBC weather forecast for TS3 the fall of snow will cease around 6 this evening, nothing further except for a bit of sleet on Monday morning. The temperature will rise to 3 degrees on Sunday and a tropical 4 degrees on Monday, then it will steadily continue to rise during the week. I still think the match will go ahead but then again I am a half full type of guy.

    Come on BORO.

  32. Tonight’s televised Rugby League match between Hull KR and Cas, plus tomorrow’s fixtures at Leeds and Wakefield all postponed. No decision made whether they can be rescheduled for Sunday weather permitting. The reason for the postponements likely to be dangerous access as a few years ago the Salford v Cas match was played on a snow covered pitch before the SKY cameras.

    According to the Gazette Boro’s match with Leeds is a six-pointer, and we could certainly do with the match being played tomorrow as the six points would be useful if Boro win. Mind if Leeds win that must mean they will be 3 points ahead of us. Of course if the game is postponed, the Football League may only award 3 points to the winner of the rescheduled match. Funny old game, ain’t it?

  33. Despite being snowed under with work, I’m still waiting to decide if I need to call off my match preview. I’m hopeful bar a late avalanche of jobs from Mrs Werder that it will be safe to go ahead – though it’s possible the Leeds preview may be hastily turned into a Birmingham preview if the game falls victim to the weather.

    1. Don’t worry, Werder, I’m sure that everyone on here will understand if the Leeds preview doesn’t appear. Indeed, I’m in awe at your levels of production. It’s vital that you continue to do whatever you can rather than ever feeling that you’re overstretched. And that goes for RR, Bob, Simon and other irreplaceables.

      1. Thanks Len, but I have the bulk of a match preview drafted but I’m waiting to hear in which direction the decisions goes before decided whether to finish it as a Leeds preview or convert it into a Birmingham one instead of binning it. I hope the game goes ahead as it will probably get rescheduled into a midweek game in April and it’s probably a good time to play Leeds before they recover their form.

  34. This new fangled decision making aid -VAR- hasn’t taken long for it to be questioned as not suitable for football.
    Last nights game at Tottenham when it involved VAR seems to have been a shambles .
    When it was introduced into cricket there was an obvious “play safe “ by umpires of going to the 3rd umpire for the decision rather than make it themselves .It is noticeable that many of the decisions they used to make – and invariably correctly – they now go to the 3rd umpire.

    This is ok to the players and the spectators because the ball is usually “dead” and the decision is made quickly.
    Also cricket is “very black and white “ regarding whether a batsman is out with the exception of LBW and in my experience if an umpire consistently did not give a batsman out LBW when playing well forward then players accepted it.

    By comparison the decision to invoke VAR just creates delay and confusion for the players and supporters and has created more problems than it has solved.
    Also ,unlike cricket, there are grey areas and we witness in every match differences of opinion as to , eg , a foul has been committed. It is not unknown for the pundits to disagree after watching lots of replays – even in slow motion.

    So I would like to see VAR kept for goal line decisions which are black and white and everything else left to the referee who ,after all, gets most of them correct.

    1. I just think the answer is very simple. We have loads of retired ex officials who understand the laws but whose legs don’t permit 90 minutes of running around.

      Let the Refs Referee the game as normal but have a Pierre Luigi Collina or a Jeff Winter sat with a video upstairs and let the game go on but can intervene and alert the Ref when a “major” incident occures. In-game errors will still happen as they inevitably do now but maybe Adama wouldn’t have been sent off and maybe Dele Alli may find a few yellow cards for simulation may curb his penchant for sprawling on turf.

      There is enough time to take a quick look before a goal kick or corner is taken to review whose shins it came off. It doesn’t require the Ref to stop the game, a quick verbal down his headset to note that it wasn’t a corner etc. is ample along with the existing goal line technology.

      The danger with VAR is that the 5th Umpire sat in a studio Refs the game and the actual Ref just becomes a mere channeling whistle blower.

  35. Hi Redcar Red

    Your proposal sounds okay but if the “retired referee “ sitting in the stands takes his time to intervene, say, as little as 10 seconds, then the ball could be at the other end of the pitch when the pitch referee stops the game and goes back to the incident which not all players and the spectators will have seen.

    If this was the norm, then we would end up with confusion as to what was happening. If it took longer than 10 seconds then the confusion would be worse. Plus you might get a “retired referee “ appearing to intervene too much in a game.

    For it to work the retired referee would have to make an instant decision to intervene to cause as little disruption as possible and would he get them correct every time when he is under pressure to decide almost instantly as referees have to do ?

    I think if there is a real concern about referees getting the big decisions wrong then this should be addressed as a specific issue.
    Clearly the issue of players diving is a problem and some are very difficult to decide as only the player himself really knows. However this could be sorted easily if the penalty was more severe to make managers instruct their players to stop doing it.

    1. Phil

      Fully agree that was my point but poorly made.

      A quick rewind when players are running to the Ref saying “its our ball” is enough time to rewind ten seconds of recording and see who it came off last. A simple hand up and listening to the ear piece to have it confirmed should be no longer than debating with three or four players arguing the toss.

      Anything long winded remains with the Ref on the pitch unless a blatant cheat (e.g. the Maradonna hand of God) when justice could be done before the game restarts. Off the ball incidents etc. can be dealt with simply as they are now by a word in the ear via the hearing pieces which would be no different to a Lino calling something to the Refs attention. The time the Ref and the Lino spend talking to and discussing with their mouths covered would be enough time to conduct the same discussion with the 5th Official via the video.

      The VAR idea is a good one its the application unfortunately which isn’t. The expectation and burden of 100% accuracy every single time rather than a nominal 60% improvement on what we currently have is the millstone.

  36. I’m unsure about VAR for the same reason outlined by Philip.
    As he says, in Cricket and Rugby play has stopped while a decision is made. Making in play judgements can only result in chaos IMHO.

  37. Still awaiting a statement from the club as to whether the game is going ahead tomorrow – it may well be a waiting game to see what kind of snowfall happens between now and tomorrow morning and whether it can be cleared to H&S satisfaction. The club is showing a photo of a stadium free of snow and a mention of 27,000 tickets already sold. So I’ll probably hold off on a decision to post up the match preview until we know for sure .

    If it is postponed I’ll rework it into an earlier than normal Birmingham match preview as I produced an extra table of data that will be out of date after the weekend and some of the text will perhaps be less relevant.

  38. Werder

    I may sound ungrateful but with so much time on your hands can’t you don your super cape and pop over between tasks and clear the snow. Mrs Werder wouldn’t notice, if you need to, you could do it during the night when the family are asleep.

    Just man up to your responsibilities and don’t KFC out, other fast food outlets are available.

    Elsewhere, Arsenil and playing Citeh at the Emirates. There are a myriad of empty red seats amongst the home fans, the Citeh section is full. The good old commentor said it was terrible getting to the stadium in freezing conditions and then getting home.

    Fair play to Gary Neville. His view is that it is a reflection of the fact how far adrift they are of the top of the table.

    Two empty seats at the Riverside will be the conversation point even if the game is postponed.

  39. Ken

    Spot on, it isn’t life or death. I would rather the emergency services look after those in greater need. If they can get additional funding from the club, sky etc. without endangering services that would be a plus.

    A lot depends on Werder’s super powers.

  40. Now sitting in the Finnair flight. -20 degrees here in the morning, sun is shining and no delays on this end. This is normal for us.

    I hope trains are Ok and on time from Manchester to Boro.

    Up the Boro!

    1. Jarkko

      There are cancellations on cross country trains due to the weather and as far as I’m aware they are unfortunately (or many of them) are still not running. Later trains are currently showing as “on time” but I think that is based more on hope than expectation. It may be possible to find a different route on the rail network.

      The Roads are in the same state with the M62, A59, A66 all closed. The A69 road from Carlisle to Newcastle is still open if you hire a car but the journey with the state of the roads could be a nightmare.

      Good luck and keep safe!

  41. Cleveland Police have apparently said that as it stands at the minute the Boro match is on but no definitive decision is expected until after a lunchtime meeting between the Council, Police and club. There doesn’t look like any significant snow is expected today and that will become less likely as the day progresses. I think I’ll start finalising the match preview as a Leeds one but with the disclaimer it’s not my fault if the game is cancelled 🙂

  42. No direct train apparently, but open till Leeds, propably York, too.

    The gate was not ready. So we waited 25 min for chairs as the ‘tunnel’ was not in use. Typical British?

    Up the Boro!

    1. Jarkko, there are trains running between Leeds and Darlington and also between York and Darlington so you should be OK – plus NationalRail is saying there is a train from Manchester Airport to Leeds that is due to depart at 11.30am.

  43. Well the club are stating everything looks promising for tonight and I’ve checked the weather forecast and weather radar, which is showing virtually no more snow today with perhaps a chance of 0.1mm at most. The match preview is completed and now it’s just a case of waiting for confirmation before posting it up – Maybe I can start looking at the Exmil Challenge now!

  44. So far no snow on Teesside overnight or this morning but the wind is making things feel extremely cold to put it mildly.

    As things stand my guess is the game will go ahead for the sake of Sky as much as anything else but on the subject of sky the Teesside sky at present is dark, grey and ominous looking with heavy cloud. It may just hang there all day looking broody so lets hope it doesn’t develop into another significant deposit of the white stuff. My phone app tells me that there is a less than 10% chance of snow but the view from my office window doesn’t look as optimistic so lets hope the former is correct!

    The wind chill factor for tonight is predicted to be at -6 in the area but down beside the Tees I believe it will feel an awful lot worse than that so if it does go ahead for those that are planning to be in attendance make sure to wrap up warm and then wrap up some more.

  45. Jarkko, there are definately trains running between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly, via York, to Middlesbrough. Not as many as usual as some have been cancelled, but there are some still running. A good bet would be at least to get to York, then you’re half way there and will have more options from York to Middlesbrough or Darlington (with taxi to Boro). Good luck, hope all goes well and you make it to the match.

    1. Had a chat with Patrick Bamford after the game and I congratulated him on his hat trick tonight.

      I asked him when was the last time he scored three goals.

      He looked at me and grinned

      “ I’ve never scored one before. It’s my first and only hat trick “

  46. Great effort by all to get the game on, but the cynic in me wonders if the same effort would have happened if the game was not on Sky. Ipswich and Sheffield United don’t seem to have put in as much effort as the Boro.
    To those of you going keep as warm as possible, although Jarkko will think its balmy, and get home safely. Looking forward to watching here in the morning with much milder temperatures.

  47. At the hotel now. Just 30 min later than planned even there wad no direct train this morning

    And the game is on. Lucky us. Next to meet Sir Jim Platt and eating.

    There were no trains from Manchester to Scotland eiyher.

    Happy to be on holiday in Teesside. Up the Boro!

  48. Well tonight should see a good battle between Lasogga and Ayala.The former has ten goals in seventeen starts and is more than a handful so much so that Dani and Ben may have to take it in turns to jostle and block him at set pieces. Paul Heckingbottom’s sides seem to display plenty of hard graft and work ethic so tonight will be a battle of that I’m sure and no doubt Liam Cooper will be looking to rough things up a bit at the back alongside Pontus Jansson.

    Attendance will be a bit of a lottery as the club will like as not count all tickets actually sold but understandably not necessarily turning up at the gate. Its possible that there may have been a few extra tickets sold this afternoon to add to the 27,500 once the game was confirmed as being on but many I suspect will opt for a warm fire or a pint in their local or indeed both whilst watching it on the box.

    I’m going for a reverse of the Elland Road score and 2-1 to Boro.

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