Boro 2 – 1 Bristol City

Middlesbrough Bristol City
Evandro 13′
On target
On target

Towels and Tribulations

Redcar Red reports on Boro’s victory against The Robins at the Riverside…

Having lost last Saturday away to Millwall and bouncing back by giving Garry Monk the Blues at home on Tuesday night Lee Johnson literally flew his Robins to the Riverside this afternoon perched just a single point behind Boro. With games disappearing fast it looked like the loser of this game would be saying goodbye to any realistic aspirations for the Play-offs. Both sides were in a similar vein of self-imploding football at the moment so anything could have happened results wise allied to some recent uninspiring lamentable performances.

Despite their lofty league placing Bristol had the worst way record over the last twelve games in the Championship of any club having only picked up five points from five draws and seven defeats. Even the Mackems and Burton had bettered that return. Like us they could only manage a recent draw away to lowly Burton. Having never ever lost at the Riverside their last four visits to Teesside meant that they had won three and drew one making Boro by far their favourite away day. As the side with the worst away record playing at their favourite travel destination what could possibly go wrong for Boro?

Selection wise Boro had injury worries over Downing and Bamford while Mo Besic was actually rated “doubtful”. To me Besic and Bamford have both been carrying injuries in the last few games and have been playing when it would have appeared more sensible to let them rest and fully recuperate. Half fit, neither of them have come close to their recent high levels. Downing’s injury scare I presume was because he found his shooting boots and has had to lie down in a darkened Rockliffe room all week. Grant of course had been excused from duties at the moment due to a rush of blood to the Captain’s head.

Lee Johnson had a few ponderables in his nest in terms of selection. Eros Pisano had sat out Tuesday night’s win for reasons of fatigue apparently but should be back in the reckoning this afternoon. Club Captain Bailey Wright had struggled with a thigh strain and was unlikely to feature but Lloyd Kelly had been earning plaudits of late meaning that Bryan looked likely to be deployed in front of Kelly in an attempt to smother Traore. Further up the field O’Dowda and Paterson were missing on Tuesday and could feature. In mitigation it could be argued that with three half time substitutions TP was also conscious of game management and resting his big guns on Tuesday evening. The Bristol trio of Bobby Reid, Famara Diedhiou and Matty Taylor were all likely to be starters but the 90 minute fitness levels of Reid and Famara could be questioned.

With the 1-1 result of the Blades and Lions game sinking in come two o’clock we had our selection answers and learnt that TP went with same again apart from Clayts in for the suspended Grant. Lee Johnson kept Taylor and O’Dowda benched but did keep both Bryan and youngster Lloyd on the left to target Adama as suspected. Reid started along with man mountain Djuric with Diedhiou also entrusted with taking the game to Boro.

The Robins lined up in a Purple and Lime Green kit which was certainly distinctive but not I would imagine a Bristolian marketeers commercial dream. Boro started the game reasonably steady and had a half chance early on with Jonny Howson but he seemed to scuff his shot and it squirmed wide of Fieldlings upright. The early intent was welcome as hopefully it signalled a desire to actually win rather than sitting deep and pick the visitors off.

A failure by Downing to cut out a midfield pass meant that Besic was forced to charge back and slide in to cut out the danger but earning a yellow card in the process and giving away a free kick. On thirteen minutes a soft build up involving Lloyd and Reid led to a cross being put in which was wincingly half cleared by Shotton and spun out to the edge of the box where another headed attempt to clear by Besic seen him beaten in the air and saw the ball drop for Djuric stealing in between Ayala and Friend to prod home. Our defending was to put it mildly all over the place and very poor but that wasn’t the language being used around me in the North Stand at the time. Our start wasn’t great but not disastrous up until those few mad moments of chaos.

Just after the restart another Bristol foray saw Ayala and Randolph almost take one another out as the thwarted Reid closing in on goal. The enormity of the task facing us wasn’t lost upon the home fans and they rallied round behind Boro. A few minutes later a Traore Corner was literally fizzed in with pace and George met it perfectly centrally on the edge of the six yard box with a glancing header past the despairing Fielding to draw level with eighteen minutes on the clock and suddenly the mood changed inside the Stadium. The visiting fans noticeably reduced their hitherto optimistically hopeful and upbeat decibel levels. Just as the celebrations were dying down George was once again in the action cutting out a ball in the middle of the Park which the attention seeking Ref deemed worthy of a Yellow.

Just as Boro started to find their feet and the Red Faction their voices the next event sickened everyone in attendance when Paddy went up for a ball with alleged ex Boro target Flint and landed (splattered is perhaps a better description) face first after a hefty aerial duel. He lay motionless and it was Bristol players that first raised the alarm by drawing Ref Madeley’s attention to it and the Boro Physio’s to rush on to Paddy. What followed would have been pure comedy gold had it not been so serious. The Paramedic/First Aid/Stretcher bearer team had to be screamed at by the fans of both sides to get their act together. Now whilst jibes at tickets and kits directed towards the club are well deserved the confused, disorganised and chaotic fumbling of them was matched only by the Boro defence for the opening goal. Twenty four thousand people screaming at them to get their act together and run onto the pitch with oxygen and stretcher etc. certainly focussed their athletic prowess.

After a very worrying ten minutes or so the Stretcher was eventually raised and Paddy was carried off to a standing ovation and cheers of “Paddy, Paddy, Paddy Bamford” from both sets of fans. The farce however didn’t end as the Stretcher had to be let down again as presumably the weight was too heavy for the bearers and they changed arms half way across the pitch, picked Paddy back up and the removal continued once again. Slapstick at its finest!

During the injury break Dani had raced across to TP and informed them that Paddy was out cold and to hurriedly ready Assombalonga. Britt’s first touch was OK but a little heavy, importantly however and noticeably he received a supportive round of applause and cheers to lift his confidence. The game now had a kind of surreal feeling which in a strange way matched the weather, overcast but with the sun struggling to break through with temperatures in the balmy low Teesside teens.

The first half ended with a sustained spell of Boro pressure building up to a series of shots and blocks which somehow ended with the ball not crossing the Bristol goal line thanks to a series of defiant and desperate defending. I counted a Besic effort and I think two from Stewy one of which was flicked on by Britt. The much delayed half time whistle finally went with the major attention of the half created by the Referee who obviously had a new whistle along with a new set of cards. He looked determined to win the MOM award in front of the Foreign TV Camera’s suspiciously looking like he was after a lucrative Middle East retirement deal.

News that Derby were trailing at half time to lowly Burton (remember them) lifted spirits that were considerably dampened after Paddy’s worrying removal from the field of play. Better news had started to filter through that Paddy had been responsive and talking in the changing rooms albeit groggy before being taken to James Cook. On commencement of the second half Bristol brought off Djuric which was surprising as whilst he was far from mobile he was a thorn at set pieces and balls into the box for which his goal was testimony. Pisano came on which was a nod perhaps to Bristol hanging on to what they had which was a rare and valuable point on the road.

As the half wore on Fielding resorted to time wasting techniques along with time being taken at each set piece in an effort to run the clock down. Boro were not exactly putting on a stellar performance and Bristol were sitting deep defending in numbers giving us plenty of possession but not threatening. Britt had a few opportunities but his finishing was worse than woeful and his appetite for jumping back up and getting straight back in the game was slow motion personified. That was in stark contrast to Mo Besic who was busting a gut and lungs and Clayts who was blocking, chasing and charging down everything in sight.

George was having joy down the left flank and Adama was giving poor eighteen year old Lloyd a wake-up call to life in the Championship. The screw was slowly turning but Bristol were dangerous and Boro were thankful to both Ben and Clayts in blocking attempts which was just as well as Shotton was having a torrid time conceding possession in his own half. There was lots of endeavour from Boro but little to show for the possession and anxiety was growing amongst both sets of supporters with the game having so much at stake.

Another brilliant corner from Adama was lofted in with deadly accuracy evading the giants of the Bristol back line for Dani to rise majestically and head home but it was cleared off the line by Baker but much to our euphoria only into his own net. Our secret Goal machine had done it again and it was now 2-1 to Boro with around 25 minutes to hang onto the slender but priceless lead.

After Ayala’s goal Johnson’s side looked more like a combined Pulis/Allardyce eleven that you are ever likely to see with Aden Flint thrown up top and every ball humped, hoofed and lumped 60 yards up the pitch. With five minutes of normal time remaining Fabio was brought on for Downing to run the clock down, add fresh legs and a bit of inventive pace. Bristol were knocking on the door but Boro were resilient with some sterling, determined, defensive work. It was squeaky bum time for the Home fans as attacks were repelled and every goal kick and throw in breaking the pressure as the fans sang loud and proud supporting their hero’s efforts.

The fourth Official signalled three additional minutes and TP signalled he wanted to bring Cranie on for Adama with the emphasis now on dealing with high balls and holding on. Seconds later the star of the show Madeley finally blew his whistle for full time and the ground erupted in celebration apart from the understandably dispirited travelling fans and the Bristol players sat on the pitch realising that their season which had so much early promise had all but fizzled out.

News filtered through that Paddy was not as bad as first feared and a later radio interview with Pulis revealed that he was now back at the ground sat in the changing rooms chatting to his team mates. The afternoon wasn’t a classic but it had elements of frustration, comedy, passion (stand up Besic, Clayts and Friend), inevitability (thank you Dani Ayala), drama (courtesy of poor Paddy) and farce courtesy of Mr Madeley generally and his shiny whistle but also for he and the fourth official deeming that Shotton and Friends drying towels were now illegal.

At this stage all that matters is the result and we won those precious three points. MOM for me had a few contenders all for differing reasons but I think Clayts won me over for his all-round display and probably his best in a few seasons but anyone who felt Besic, Friend or Ayala deserved it would get no arguments!

Boro need to avoid missing the boat
by navigating safe passage to play-offs

Werdermouth previews the visit of Bristol City to the Riverside…

Boro slipped out of the top six following defeat to Sheffield United and after just one win in their last five games, the failure to gain three points on Saturday would leave Tony Pulis’s promotion course heading for the rocks as the club’s play-off challenge became seriously holed below the waterline and the chances of a top-six place would start to sink along with our lingering hopes. As Bristol City sail up to the Riverside, moored just one place below and one point behind in the table, it’s surely time that the players found their Championship sea legs and took the wind out of the opposition’s sails rather than risk leaving their own supporters in the Doldrums. The key may well be starting the game at a fair rate of knots rather than just treading water as no doubt there have be some stern words from the manager following recent listless displays.

After several scary performances of late, it’s possible Tony Pulis will be showing the players some horror videos of those games ahead of Saturday’s crucial encounter. Whether such viewing on Friday the thirteenth will produce a change in fortune against Bristol City is uncertain but perhaps team selection may involve the manager being crystal clear about what he wants and then consigning the squad to an overnight stay at a log cabin in the woods around Stewart Park lake. In this lesser known instalment of the Friday the Thirteenth franchise, entitled The Old School Camp, a group of under-performing players wait to find out which of them gets brutally axed ahead of the upcoming game.

No doubt the severe slashing received in the first half against the Blades may have prepared some for the inevitable anticipated carnage that lies ahead, though it’s possible Assombalonga will at least survive the prerequisite trip to barn and a gruesome end by actually failing to see the barn door, let alone finding it. Though with the Championship entering its final chapter, a seemingly unstable Grant Leadbitter has disappeared from the camp after losing his head but still remains obsessed with taking one for the team, so it would be a brave man that volunteers to go out alone in the dark to search for those who have one-by-one gone missing on the pitch.

Boro really need to learn to play without fear if they are to survive the tests of the coming weeks and we have now reached the stage where there can be no more excuses for failing to perform when it matters. The display in the second half at Bramall Lane was as if all of a sudden it dawned on many of the players that they were sleep-walking through the season in a recurring nightmare on easy street. The urgency shown was in stark contrast to so much of what had gone before in recent games and one wonders what was preventing the players from previously displaying such intensity.

Middlesbrough Bristol City
Tony Pulis Lee Johnson
P42 – W19 – D9 – L14 – F59 – A41 P42 – W17 – D14 – L11 – F59 – A48
Points per game
Projected points
Points per game
Projected points
Last 6 Games
Sheff Utd (A)
Nottm Forest (H)
Burton (A)
Wolves (H)
Brentford (A)
Barnsley (H)
F-T (H-T)
1:2 (0:2) L
2:0 (2:0) W
1:1 (0:1) D
1:2 (0:2) L
1:1 (1:1) D
3:1 (2:0) W
Last 6 Games
Birmingham (H)
Millwall (A)
Brentford (H)
Barnsley (A)
Ipswich (H)
Burton (A)
F-T (H-T)
3:1 (2:1) W
0:2 (0:1) L
0:1 (0:0) L
2:2 (1:1) D
1:0 (0:0) W
0:0 (0:0) D

After the Easter disappointment of Wolves and Burton, Grant Leadbitter told fans not to worry as the players were still getting it right on the training pitch and said that means “nine times out of ten you get things right on the pitch during the game.” – before adding confidently “Of course it helps that so many of us in this squad have been here before… and we’ve got players who have been promoted in there too. That will help over the long run, I’m certain it will.”

Whilst experience shouldn’t be a disadvantage, it almost feels like there is a complacency that they expect to prevail purely because they’ve done it before. What happened in the past doesn’t count for anything unless the team consciously puts everything they can into the task of winning each game – Sheffield United started on Tuesday with a determination to win from the off, Boro seemed to be behaving like it was an extension of a training game and began the game with a kind of measured composure and they couldn’t match the urgency of their opponents who instead played flat out rather than just flat.

Perhaps the team became too reliant on a few individuals performing at a higher than maintainable level and it masked the drop in the erratic form of others such Downing, Howson, Leadbitter and even Besic – few on the pitch looked to make an impact and were maybe content to be controlled and directed by their captain as they expected either Traore would at some point produce his usual lightning burst of speed to create the required goal or that Bamford would continue his well above average scoring streak. The removal of all three meant the crutch that had kept the rest of the players limping along in tandem with our promotion hopes was gone and they suddenly woke up and realised this was not a drill.

What was also interesting is that faced with needing to win, Tony Pulis switched tactics and went with a back three with wing-backs and a midfield that pushed, pressed and supported the centre-forward – even Clayton suddenly started making ranging passes instead of the safe, short square passes. He did a similar thing once before early in his reign when Boro visited Preston and went into the interval 2-1 ahead – three substitutions early in second half and switching to a back-three saw Boro win the game 3-2. The question is whether the manager will see the eleven-man version of this formation, with the addition of an extra forward, as the means to drive the season forward to a successful conclusion – or will he like post-Preston revert to business as usual in the hope that the tried and trusted will ultimately prevail. Though Shotton looks a more natural back-three defender than a right-back and Fabio’s energetic presence offered much more as a wing-back – perhaps Adama should be just given a free role behind Bamford rather than attempt to restrict his talent with too much responsibility at this stage of the season.

However, if Boro fail to find the required intensity then it may be a case of preparing for the usual excuses for failing to deliver when it mattered. Of course, we may ultimately see more imagination in these excuses than from the actual play-book but many Boro followers will not be easily convinced that this hasn’t been a season of avoidable errors. Though the club have a long way to go before they could match the less than credible excuse offered by eight Argentinian police officers this week when asked by their new chief what had happened to over half a tonne of seized marijuana which had disappeared from a police warehouse – they all rather innocently claimed it had been eaten by mice despite a forensic investigation finding no trace that mice had been in the warehouse and scientific experts ruling out the rodents confusing the drug for food. Anyway, the eight officers have been arrested and the investigators are now presumably looking for the big cheese who trained the mice to smuggle the marijuana out of the warehouse.

OK, perhaps the experts were right for a change and no mice were involved – though a little impromptu back of the envelope calculation (which may have an outside chance of being included in next year’s GCSE maths paper) shows if a mouse only eats a maximum of 5g of food a day, how many mice would it take to polish off a half-tonne stash of marijuana given the average lifespan of a mouse is just two years long. The answer of course is 137, but that doesn’t take into account how many packets of counterfeit chocolate hobnobs that over a hundred stoned mice with the fabled munchies would have also devoured from the police warehouse – plus the amount of time that they’d be floating in a most peculiar way instead of eating as they tuned in, turned on and dropped out of the rat race.

Nevertheless, whilst that brazen lame excuses by Argentinian police officers may be hard to beat, football clubs also have pretty good form when it comes to passing the buck and absolving themselves of blame. Should Boro actually make the play-offs then they may struggle to better the excuse offered by Blackpool in 1996, who placed the blame on letting a two-goal lead slip in a tie against Bradford City on the fact that the team’s boardroom was being haunted by the ghost of Lord Nelson. Apparently the wood panelling in the boardroom was made out of wood from Nelson’s ship, HMS Foudroyant, which later ran aground off the Blackpool coast. Stadium manager John Turner said: “It is an old maritime superstition that sailing folk take exception to anything on their ships being touched, which could explain these strange events.”

Though some superstitions appear to be almost invented retrospectively when football fans search for justification for their team performing badly. When Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-final there was clearly one man who was primarily to blame – Yes that well known jinx Mick Jagger. He was apparently spotted in an executive box before the game and he’d previously been blamed for their defeat to the Netherlands in 2010 when he was spotted sporting a Brazil shirt at the game. He has been given the nickname ‘cold foot’, which apparently denotes bad luck in Brazil because any team he backs generally goes on to lose – he’d earlier publicly backed Portugal to go all the way and they then lost two of their group games and Italy who lost to Uruguay and went home too. They even claimed that he had backed England to win and they also lost but I’m not sure that this is the level of proof needed to be called a jinx – deluded obviously, but England losing a game is perfectly normal. Some Brazil supporters tried to counter the jinx by creating a Germany supporting Jagger effigy – but unfortunately the power of the man himself was just too great!

Jagger the jinx

As for Boro’s opponents on Saturday, their supporters have been burdened for many years with their name being being associated with something that is perhaps holding them back from puffing out their chests and proudly declaring their allegiance. Thanks to that good old cockney pathological affliction with finding rhymes without reason in the hope that it will trick the Bottles (bottles and stoppers – coppers – police) into thinking nothing suspicious is afoot, Bristol City supporters are slightly aggrieved that they’ve inadvertent become victims of unfortunate and unnecessary rhyming slang. Why the east-end blaggers rounded on Bristol and not any of the other nine English football clubs with City in their name (a quiz question for a later date perhaps) is not quite certain.

Indeed, I discovered in my usual extensive research, it’s a subject that has occupied many a City forum as they look for closure, with the most widely favoured reason proffered being that Bristol’s port city was famous among sailors for its large-breasted prostitutes. Whilst it’s always good to see civic pride manifesting itself on supporter forums, I suspect it’s not a claim that will be proudly boasted in chants from the terraces of Ashton Gate any time soon. Although, it’s unlikely that much thought probably went into the rhyme given that nearly all other examples of the so-called secret language sound like the first word that subconsciously entered the heads of East London’s finest lexicographers as they enjoyed several King Lears in the Rub-a-dub whist compiling their definitive Fish Hook of cockney patois.

Still at least Bristol City have had plenty of alternative nicknames over the years to distract attention from their cockney moniker. Their first known nickname was the rather left-field ‘Red Shirts’ or ‘The Garibaldians’ due to the similarity with those worn by the followers of the Italian revolutionary – in fact, due to the popularity in England of Garibaldi in the late 19th century, quite a few club adopted Garibaldi Red as their club colours, including Nottingham Forest and Arsenal – incidentally, Forest fans recently set up the ‘ForzaGaribaldi’ (Force Garibaldi) movement in 2016 to mark their 150th anniversary and to galvanise support for the club, which is now awaiting the Karanka revolution to begin on the Trent.

The City supporting side of Bristol were also more obviously known in their earlier years as ‘The Citizens’ before becoming referred to instead as the less than politically correct sounding ‘Bristol Babe’ – but before you start thinking the previously model citizens had gone all glamorous on the beautiful game, it was in fact a reference to a small 19-foot-long wooden red bi-plane of the same name that was manufactured in the city and had a wingspan under 20 feet with a top speed of just over 100mph. After being launched in 1919 for the private flyer, experienced test pilots found it potentially difficult to fly and it soon had its Civil Aviation licence withdrawn a few years later – so given this obvious failure, it’s not quite apparent why this nickname lasted until the late 1940’s.

Anyway, Bristol City eventually became known as ‘The Robins’ shortly after the war and it’s a name that has stuck until the present day, with the origins of the name being once again related to their red shirts and the resemblance to an even smaller flyer in Robin Redbreast (Erithacus rubecula). Unfortunately, for the supporters of Bristol City it seems this unhealthy obsession with chest-related associations may leave some Cockney’s feeling vindicated as they would say there’s no Laugh n a Joke without Jeremiah – plus even the cockney rhyming slang for chest is actually Bristol and West. Still at least the club can regard themselves lucky that Garibaldi didn’t opt for yellow shirts with blue sleeves as I suspect there are other small British garden birds that would have been far worse to have been named after.

So will Boro finally channel their energies against Bristol and sail through the game as they refloat their play-off dream? Or will the former Garibaldians take the biscuit and leave Tony Pulis with few crumbs of comfort as they dunk our promotion hopes in the drink? As usual your predictions for score, scorers and team selection – plus will Mick Jagger be turning up at the Riverside to jinx our chances as the mood on Teesside is painted black?

212 thoughts on “Boro 2 – 1 Bristol City

  1. Great intro Werder, very droll and amusing.

    In answer to Grant’s ‘it helps that so many of us have been here before’ line, yeah, well so have we on the receiving end of the dross, Boro sleepwalking, not turning up, disappointment and let-downs.

    So with all the optimism of someone born and bred in Middlesbrough I’m going to bring all of the natural positive thinking to bear and go for:

    Turkeys 1 – 1 Robins, whatever it’ll be a draw and if Boro only play for half a game they’ll be lucky to get that. Worryingly the Robin is a ferocious little blighter too.

    Let’s just hope Boro don’t end up looking like a bunch of Bristol Citys when the ref blows the final whistle and is that why Leeds changed from yellow and blue to white?

    I await the eyes in the sky with interest.



    1. Thanks’s John, I’m sure 1-1 is quite a positive prediction for a man of your natural born optimism – though using Turkeys sounds like you may have missed your cognitive bias modification exercises this morning…

      1. No exercises missed, we’ve got the builders ‘working’ and drinking tea, they’re building a new boiler room and fitting a new oil-fired boiler. I can feel the Boss getting quite tense, maybe she should give the pre-match team talk… Still she should try being a Boro supporter.




    League Table

    1. exmil 2017 (88) 7,9,8,9,10,4,7,7,10,8 = 79 = 167
    2. Pedro de Espana (80) 8,9,8,9,9,9,7,9,8,7,8. = 82 = 162
    3. MW in Darwin (82). 8,8,10,9,9,8,6,7,9,6. = 80 = 162
    4. borobrie (84). 7,9,6,9,9,4,7,7,9,10. = 77 = 161
    5. originalfatbob (79). 8,9,10,7,9,4,9,10,8,8 = 82 = 161
    6. KP in Spain (78). 8,9,8,7,8,10,8,8,7,10 = 83 = 161
    7. Redcar Red (84). 7,6,8,8,9,6,7,5,9,8. = 73 = 157
    8. Ian Gill (80). 7,8,6,9,10,7,7,5,7,8. = 74 = 154
    9. werdermouth (76). 8,9,8,7,8,6,9,5,9,8. = 77 = 153
    10. Andy R (75). 7,10,8,8,10,4,9,5,10,6 = 77 = 152
    11. Martin Bellamy (77). 7,6,8,8,9,6,7,5,9,8. = 73 = 150
    12. lenmasterman (78). 9,7,5,8,7,10,6,8,8,3. = 71 = 149
    13. Suffolk’n’Boro (79). 7,7,6,7,9,5,4,7,8,10. = 70 = 149
    14. selwynoz (83). 7,6,6,8,6,4,8,3,10,8. = 66 = 149
    15. Ken Smith (74). 7,7,6,7,9,8,7,5,9,10. = 75 = 149
    16. jarkko (83). 4,10,5,9,7,4,6,5,9,5. = 64 = 147
    17. Forever Dormo (84). 4,5,8,7,8,2,5,8,8,6 = 61 = 145
    18. Powmill-Naemore (78). 7,10,3,10,8,2,7,6,8,5 = 66 = 144

    I am shocked at still being at the top after my Boro predictions were so poor but as can be seen, there has been a lot of movement (not just in the MFC toilets) in the league. Pedro de Espana is occupying the second automatic promotion spot, whilst MW in Darwin, borobrie, originalfatbob and KP in Spain are in the playoff places, meanwhile jarkko, Forever Dormo and Powmill-Naemore are fighting to avoid the drop.

    As usual if the totals were equal I placed them in order of who had the most 10’s/9’s/8’s etc over the two legs, if anyone thinks I have made an error, please post their concern and I will recheck my calculations.

    Entries for Part 3 must be posted by 1945 hrs tonight, good luck to everyone, especially the Boro.

    Come on BORO.

    PS Another great article werdermouth.

    1. If I remember correectly, Dormo was in top three or something. But he had Boro winning all matches and are now second from bottom! perhaps Dormanstown is not Teesside as his optimism was on such a high level.

      I was also optimistic but not as optimistic as Dormo. At least I am just third bottom and two points above my friend.

      Up the Boro!

  3. Another amusing article, Werdermouth. I’m pretty sure that you knew full well that the Boro win against Preston was not at the Riverside but was a deliberate mistake on your behalf to make sure we were paying attention. I also reckon that you’re the type of person who could, given a subject at random to talk about for a minute, do so with amusing candour.

    As for Boro superstitions and bad luck there was always the theory of a gypsy’s curse on the football club, but maybe the superstition is the fact that Middlesbrough contains 13 letters.
    It’s also always been a slight surprise to me that a city the size of Bristol has only tasted 9 years of football in the top division of the English League, and 5 of those were before the First World War.

    It’s obvious that this is a must win game for the Boro, but at this stage of the season I also think the same could be said for Bristol City as away wins are vital for any club aspiring to reach the playoffs. This is the only fixture left this season that I’m confident that Boro will win, and I rather think in an end to end encounter it will produce goals. So I’m going 3-2 or even 4-2 for the home side with Ayala and Assombalonga amongst the scorers before a crowd of 25,252.

    1. Thanks Ken and well done for spotting the ‘deliberate’ mistake – though I’ve amended the article as I’ve only got limited prizes 🙂

      Yes it’s a surprise that Bristol City haven’t had more success but I think I recalling reading that they are one of only four clubs to have won all four divisions.

      1. Sorry Werdermouth, but only Preston, Burnley and Wolves have been Champions of all the top four Divisions. Wolves have also been Champions of the Championship and the old Third Division North.

        Uniquely Coventry City are the only club to have played in the Premier League, the Championship, the current Divisions 1 and 2, the old First and Second Divisions, and both the old Third Division North and Third Division South.

  4. Great read as ever Werder!

    I’ve just heard on the Radio a Paul Simon favourite of mine but this time a few of the lyrics really resonated with me for some reason, can’t think why?

    “You know the nearer your destination
    The more you’re slip slidin’ away”

    I’m sure I could force something out of Bridge over Troubled Water and the Transporter but I won’t go there. Instead lets just hope we aren’t left with the booby prize come five o’clock on Saturday!

      1. Lets hope that TP can keep the home customers satisfied and that its not a case of bye bye love and come the final whistle we are all feeling groovy!

  5. Werder, apologies in advance but, I’ve yet to read your leader and comment, I’ve got no doubt that when I do it will be of your constant quality, we are blessed to have you as our scribe.

    Thing is, I alluded in the previous blog that TP’s team is here and now, exactly what he took over when he penned his contract, it is his side. The same point was expanded to a point that I could never hope to achieve by Smoggieinexile, it was so good that I didn’t think that it deserved to be buried in an archive, I think that both Smoggie and myself have points that are both relative and in need of discussion and answers, more from MFC than anyone on here. If I’m out of order in bringing this forward and spoiling the feel good, move on to Bristol City carnival, then I unreservedly apologise, but I think that Smoggie and myself deserve a bit more response time to what we both feel is a very relative subject.

    1. No problem PPP, you (or even Smoggieinexile) should feel free to repost anything that may have slipped through the net when moving on to the next match post. Unfortunately, I can’t myself physically move comments from one post to another.

    1. PPP

      Maybe we could do a “questions we would have asked” bit on the subject but I think thats already been done elsewhere or about to shortly in all likelihood. Being serious however the points raised are all fair and valid ones.

    2. No problem PP, glad to hear that something I wrote has resonated, even if it wasn’t exactly optimistic.

      I may re-post as Werder suggested. Not to blow my own trumpet like.

  6. Need a Titanic performance and it’s not a shipwreck we need a life jacket and hope the new Captain steers us back into the playoffs!


    1. Come on OFB don’t be so negative. 🙂

      Bristol haven’t won a solitary away game out of their last twelve attempts with only five draws and seven defeats holding the worst record in the Championship. Even our Makem friends aren’t that bad having beaten both Derby and Forest. Even Burton have three away wins in their last ten away games! The Robins League position is based purely on being invincible at Ashton Gate.

      Mind you Bristol have never lost at the Riverside. Our last Home win against them came in March 1995 at Ayresome Park with a Fuchs hat trick!

  7. Werder
    Another peach of a leader just hope the the boro know their onions and turn-ip and show us the fruits of their training.
    Onions 2 shallots 1

  8. Yet another brilliant piece Werder. Thought you deserved more than “the usual” for the effort you’ve put in, although I resorted to that after saying I’d run out of superlatives to describe your talents. (I reserve the right to revert to normal in future as I’m a very slow typist, which is why my posts are generally short).
    I don’t expect a change in our fortunes tomorrow but, as ever, I’d love Boro to prove me wrong. Surely, one day, they will.
    Going back to my darkened room now.

    1. Many thanks Steely, I guess the days when you could consider employing a secretary to do your typing for you have long gone – though I’ve heard voice recognition software has improved but if they are anything like those that used to allow you to book cinema tickets by telephone then you may need to do your best impersonation of a rather posh Eton educated politician. I remember when living in London I tried to book tickets for Kensington Odeon and it just couldn’t recognise my pronunciation of the cinema until I faked the plumiest of accents and everything went through without problem.

      1. Werder
        You’ve hit the nail on the head as I worked in the times of “typing pools” (explain that to the younger generation!) and had to adjust to new technology in my final working years but never got beyond 1or 2 fingered keyboard skills and have not improved in retirement. I’ll have to ask the other half if I can employ a secretary but I think I know the answer.
        Don’t think I can do posh, so voice recognition would have to cope with my best South Bank accent.

  9. Great article Werder thank you. I was chuckling to myself reading about the Argentinian police’s excuse – brilliant.

    Given the Robins poor away record this season coupled with their excellent record at the Riverside then this is clearly set up for a “typical Boro” result.

    I don’t believe a draw is good for either side and I fully expect Millwall to win at Sheffield.

    Usual staring eleven with the exception of Clayton for Leadbitter.

    Boro 0-1 Bristol

    Crowd 24,242

    Boro’s play off hopes well and truly scuppered. ☹️

  10. Another nice article Werder with the usual built in “chuckle lines”.

    Hoping to find a stream tomorrow as it is on BEIN. Which Boro will turn up and in which half. I wonder how match fit some of the team picked will be?



    With under 2 hours until the deadline 3 entries are outstanding and 1 needs correcting before 1945 hrs.

    Outstanding are jarkko, Andy R and Forever Dormo.

    werdermouth correction needed on your entry please.

    Come on BORO.

  12. Cracking piece Werder. Particularly liked the nautical references. Although not wanting to be a pedant, its actually Stewart not Stewarts Park. The park was bought by Councillor Thomas Dormand Stewart in 1924 for the people of the town.

    Seeing Bristols (stop sniggering at the back) appalling away form, a Typical Boro performance seems certain and judging by the predictions by most on the blog most feel the same way. Unfortunately Typical Boro performances are becoming far too typical.

    Tomorrow really must be the last chance saloon for any play off hopes so you’d like to think the players would take this on board and pull their collective fingers out. A win of any kind is the only outcome that will be of any use, if they put the effort in for more than half a game we may just get that win.

    Alan in Bahrain

    Thanks for the heads up re the game being on Bein. With a bit of luck I may get to see it. No G & T’s unfortunately☹️

    1. Thanks FAA, I was actually intending to check whether ‘Stuarts Park’ was indeed correct as in the back of my mind I had a doubt even though we always called it that as as children – I blame my parents 🙂

  13. I must point out that the fact Exmil and myself are on the same cruise is a pure coincidence.

    Exmil will be in his private jet, we will be in charter cattle class. Our cabin has oars installed to aid against strong currents, Exmil will be in the Presidential Suite.

    Don’t care, I will enjoy myself when washing up duties allow.

      1. I called and your butler said you were making a tour of your estate so wouldn’t be back for several hours, you had taken your cook, footman and maid who would be preparing a lunch for you.

        I explained about the holiday and he spilt the beans.

  14. By (ahem) popular demand, here is one what I wrote earlier…

    This is TP’s team. TP is the manager, so it is his team. TP made the decision to move on Braithwaite, Fletcher, Christie, Forshaw and perhaps indirectly Fabio, so it is definitely his team.

    Now, TP-ball conspiracy theorists out there can take a look at that list and draw their own conclusions, such as, Fletcher-aside, all of the players on that list might not be tall enough to ride all the rides at a big-kids theme park, but I leave those conclusions to one side.

    As PP says above, it is ever thus. Now, TP has made some progress. Gibson and Ayala are a lot more solid again, and Ayala has re-discovered his ability to score goals which could be useful for us. George is back towards his AK promotion performance levels, although perhaps dulled by injuries and time. Shotton is more defensively sound than Christie, although as someone else said earlier I also long for the days of a Nsue patrolling that flank. TP has also added some previously undiscovered dimensions to Adama’s game which could net us a couple of million more when he comes to be moved on.

    However. He hasn’t changed the general malaise that has stunk out the club since around December 2016 when our top flight dreams started to unravel. The malaise which means that the players can’t summon up the effort to fight for 90mins at a time, or that means that previously consistent performers (Clayton, Leadbitter, George) swing from Premier League to Sunday League from week to week, and sometimes even from half to half of one game.

    There is one thing you need above all else to succeed in the Championship – spirit. Skill is not your biggest asset, otherwise there are plenty of teams who would have walked the league but actually ended up in mid-lower table. No, it’s spirit.

    Boro were promoted because everyone had a meltdown at Charlton and decided we weren’t going to let it derail us. Burnley because they were a boring long-ball unfashionable club who weren’t going to let the southern fancy dans tell them they couldn’t sup a pint of Bass at the top table. Huddersfield because Wagner took them to Sweden and made them get naked and wrestle each other (or something similar). Newcastle because, well, they believe that they are too good for the Championship and they were confident that Rafa Knows. Brighton because they weren’t going to be denied again. Wolves because despite having no class whatsoever, I’m sure Nuno makes every one of those expensive players believe they are part of something. Cardiff are up there because of Warnock, Fulham because of the carefully assembled squad and the spirit of the manager who even uses WhatsApp to sign players!

    Boro. Well, where is our spirit? Our spirit disappeared the second that the dissent of the Downings and Woodgate’s crept in. And yet, they are still here and so is the general malaise. If we don’t find some spirit from somewhere then we are going nowhere. What we need is an unfair decision, or some other external event to galvanise us and push the team together. Perhaps Grant’s sending off and the furious second half at Bramall Lane will be enough. Perhaps, but we will only see within the first 10mins of the next game.

    1. And there lays the biggest single problem Smoggy. The Downings and Woodgates. I agree entirely and the fault lays firmly at the door of Mr Gibson.

  15. Now for some football.

    If we cant get ourselves up for the game against Bristol and get a win then it is game over,

    Personally I would like us to give a real go and make a statement one way or another, not headless playground football but front foot. We are either up for the fight or not good enough. I would love us to win but a damp squib is not an alternative as far as I am concerned.

  16. Great piece Werdermouth and exactly the type of free-wheeling lunacy that makes this blog so unique. It did make me again ponder the whole issue of rhyming slang because just recently I was doing a puzzle and wanted to know if ‘berk’ was an acceptable word. Imagine my shock when google showed me the actual etymology. Did people know this? I didn’t. I’ll leave it for others to find the answer for themselves. Firstly, I’m sure most of the people who use it have no idea and, secondly, why would cockneys use this rhyme. Was it always an upper-class Berk?

    Great stuff and time for Boro to turn up and win 3-0.


  17. I agree with the majority that we can’t change management again, but I want to see TP change things around for the City game. 1 win in 15 against the top 10 I believe is the stat I read earlier this week, he needs to show us he can make the tough calls and not just play safe with his selection policy.
    I would like to see Harrison/Baker/Traore as the 3 behind either Bamford (if fit) or Assambalonga, but I fully expect it to be the usual suspects.
    It’s on the box here tonight , not feeling overly confident as most on here but hoping for not just a win but a display that gives us confidence for the games ahead, and please come out of the blocks on the front foot and maintain it for 90 minutes

  18. Thought I’d share this with you all, it’s the future of pitch side advertising.
    Basically it means clubs get a work around advertising restrictions which differ from region to region.
    I.e. It will be possible to simultaneously sell fast food to England, booze to the Far East and cigarettes to Africa.
    Progress, eh?

    1. Shaun Dyche has done wonders at Burnley. His recruitment policy has always been spot on and he was certainly keen to sign Assombalonga pre-season but not for the ridiculous price that Boro paid. One wonders if Dyche avoided a banana skin purchase there, or would he have got more out of Britt than either Monk or Pulis have managed. I recall the Gazette reporters deriding Burnley’s style of play two seasons ago, but now that Boro are adopting a style of play that is alien to what we would like to see, perhaps some of our fans might accept that results justifies the means.

  19. Will today be a black day for Boro’s playoff hopes or a ‘white’ day with a win keeping us in the mix? Well according to the Oxford Dictionary black equals white although I’ve never heard of a ‘white’ moment. But it’s there in black and white, viz:-
    Black = Dark = Dim = Pale = White.
    Confusing, ain’t it.

  20. Smoggy

    So all the ills of the club are down to the “likes” of the Downings and Woodgates!

    Rank bad management from the top, through to the clubs manager(s) and recruitment/scouting network are the main issue for me. If as you elude its player power among a couple of senior pros then as far as I’m concerned weak management let this situation continue for far too long.

    Managing players and all their different personalities is part of the modern game and if those in management positions can’t do that then they are more responsible for letting the

    Getting relegated from the top flight last season was down to Karanas fear of losing and lack of ability to change his system. Seemingly he was happy to lose 1-0 rather than gamble and lose by a larger margin, but at least have a go. But sadly this was not his entrenched way.

    Watching him stand there on the touchline at Turf Moor after trying not to win the game and not having a clue how to get back into the game was the stand out point for me.

    Pointing the finger at certain individuals isn’t he issue for me. Collective management failure from the chairman down and the failure of the playing squad as a whole is.

    1. FAA
      There is one point about AK.
      He was gone with plenty of games to go.
      Unfortunately, we had hired a manager who was not capable of winning three? Of those many games, thus avoiding the drop.
      In his favour he did what a lot of fans wished, I.e. Stop defending, which certainly worked, we conceded a shed load.
      It was the scoring goals which failed, I believe we scored none( or did it just seem like that)
      It generally pays to have a plan.

    2. Hi FAA – I didn’t suggest that the ills of the club were down to them, merely that the set-to with AK (widely believed to be started by those two), broke the spirit and togetherness in the team; which has not been recovered.

      I tend to agree with you, it was rank bad management not to remove them both from the club; and do allow them to hang around still now is foolish.

  21. As a quick response or supplement to Smoggyinexile’s earlier post, here is a recap of events as I recall them unfolding this season. I suspect Steve Gibson is still somewhat baffled at where it all went wrong – though I fear he is not alone!

    I don’t doubt that the club has many issues still to solve and my main problem is still that the recruitment in the summer was carried out by a rather inexperienced manager under a policy declared by the chairman to introduce more progressive football as a response to the failure of the previous season rather than working out how best to tackle the one that lay ahead.

    On the issue of Downing, if you remember he was told almost immediately by Monk that he wasn’t in his plans and was told to find a new club – something that failed to materialise because of little interest in the PL and Championship clubs unable to match his Boro wages.

    The arrival of Assombalonga and Braithwaite for nearly £25m was an indication that this was going to be the new strike partnership and Howson was bought for another £5m as a more adventurous central midfielder with a goal-scoring record.

    Christie was also brought in as a more attacking right wing-back and it was Fabio who was pencilled in for the left wing-back slot rather than an out of form Friend. Boro also splashed out £5m on the well regarded Darren Randolph and also made an offer West Ham couldn’t refuse for their promising youngster Ashley Fletcher, who joined for £7m.

    With Bamford and Gestede also proven at Championship level and the wildcard of Adama it looked like the squad was shaping up. We still had the Karanka defensive unit of the then £30m-rated Gibson, plus Ayala and the emerging Dael Fry – with Leadbitter, Clayton and Forshaw retained in the midfield.

    That midfield was added to by the arrival on loan of promising Chelsea youngster Lewis Baker who presumably it was hoped would add more goals to midfield – though the problem of an attacking creative left-sided midfielder or even a right-sided one too was still missing. Perhaps the club had hoped for more loan signings to fill the gap but it was the Division One Marvin Johnson who arrived instead – with other squad players in Shotton and a promising youngster in Connor Roberts arriving to provide cover for Christie.

    As we know, Downing stayed in the end and Boro were deemed to have at least on paper one of the best squads in the Championship and were installed as favourites to win the league. Sadly, that was August and the task of making this group of players at least as great as the sum of their parts fell on Monk to work out where everyone would fit in.

    Perhaps the job was just too big for a young manager or maybe the size of the transfer fees of the new arrivals and the Championship reputations of those who remained at the club had fooled many at the club into thinking a winning team was just waiting to be unleashed and promotion was a foregone conclusion.

    As we know it never happened for Monk and he went round in circles trying to discover his best team, which never arrived and he even brought in youngster Tavernier to add to his multitude of options before he was shown the door after just half a season. In walked Tony Pulis with a different view on matters and he quickly decided who was in and who was out as he looked to reduce the squad to managable levels, all of which suddenly left some players searching for an exit and pretty soon Boro were left with more or less a First XI with a few options from the bench.

    The club have gone from having a massive squad of two players for every position in a planned progressive style to a tighter group of 14-15 players trying to play in the way of a different style of manager. It’s probably a story a season that won’t go down as textbook in terms of winning promotion – but the fact that Boro are still in with a shout probably tells us that the Championship is not spoilt with contenders this season.

    Boro must win today otherwise it may not quite officially be the end of our season but reality it probably will be.

      1. Thanks Steely, you can’t really fault the commitment of the club in spending big on the areas in the team that lacked quality and on paper some of the players brought in should have done better than they did. Though this is the view from the outside and people in the club who specialise in recruitment should have you would hope more insight into the actually attributes and potential weaknesses of the players they were spending many millions on. Whilst it’s OK for the supporter to think they seem to look good on paper, it’s up to the backroom staff to do their homework and ask the pertinent questions as part of the due diligence before purchasing players for 5, 10 or 15 million pounds.

        The club may have thought that the players were the right ones but the manager was wrong for the task – this may no longer be the view after similar results under Pulis. OK, it’s not an exact science but too many players bought in the summer have not delivered what was expected and indeed many are probably not going to be around in a few months time.

    1. Excellent summary Werder and a reminder to us all that for the most part we were convinced the summer purchases were addressing all of the areas we believed needed addressing. A manager commanding more respect from the assembled talent might have made a better fist of it.

      Anyway we are where we are and we need to concentrate on what we need to do in the here and now, rather than navel gazing the past. Let us spend summer analysing what went wrong and why, but for now let’s just be as positive as we can be. I agree with Jarkko on that point.

      So for today… BTW Werder another first rate article. Hats off to you continually keeping a really high standard. Our thanks to Mrs. Werder as well for letting you get away with spending your time with and for us.

      Two of the breast for Bamford today. Maybe a little tit for tat from the Robins to pull us back to 2-1, but a late third on the break for a rejuvenated Howson to see us back in our best 3-1 winners on the day.

      1. Thanks Powmill, I guess we’ll never know if it would have turned out differently – I wonder if Braithwaite getting injured early season stopped Boro getting off to a better start. I think part of the problem was the expectations were that Boro were going to win the league and only being in the top 8 perhaps added to the pressure and both Monk and his players couldn’t handle it.

        Plus thanks for the comments on the article – Mrs Werder thinks the season is nearly over but she doesn’t know about the possibility of play-offs yet…

    2. Spot on Werder and equal to your weekly Headliners.

      As I have previously said, TP has been criticised, the players and certain players criticised, the recruitment staff and MFC staff. H

      However Mr Gibson has got off lightly to date. That is where it all has to start….at the TOP

  22. Weirder
    Great summing up,( but depressing)
    Only one point (there always is)
    “not spoilt with contenders”
    Wolves, Cardiff, Fulham, Aston Villa, Millwall, I make it one place available, the good news is we only have to beat Fulham and Millwall and we are home and hosed.

  23. We have had mixed results against Bristol City at the Riverside, today will only add to the mystery.

    A draw is not a lot of use to either side, a win for the Blades or Millwall would be a pain if we shared the spoils.

    Just give it a real go.

    1. Thanks Andy, hopefully the Boro will help you unwind after a busy week with a convincing victory. I fancy we’ll win today as all the talk has been on putting in a performance – if after all that the players start the game slowly then there is something seriously wrong with their mentality.

      I’ll go 3-0 with goals from Bamford, Howson and Ayala.

  24. A lot of derogatory things have been said about the Commonwealth Games in Australia, but try telling the competitors that their gold medals are inferior.

    Watched the boxing finals this morning and it wouldn’t hurt for the first team players to watch a rerun before kick off today. An example of what 100% effort can deliver, from the first bell to the last.

  25. GHW, I never derided the games or its competitors at all, I was slagging off the media here that broadcast it. When I said that they were the “Australian Games” I wasn’t kidding. If you’re not an Australian and you win a gold, forget any air time pal because it ain’t going to happen, these people are so one eyed in their outlook.

    When I first migrated here in the early nineties, we didn’t have satellite telly so we had to make do with the ad festered drivel that was on offer (BTW, it hasn’t changed any since), we missed the 100m mens sprint final so we could watch an Australian crawl across some line somewhere to finish fifteenth, what a hero! Until you live here you can’t appreciate just how dire the media is, it gives a whole new meaning to third world.

  26. Werder, brilliant piece again, thank you. Thanks also for the prompt about reposting Smoggies piece, which he’s already done, I just thought that it deserved a bit more air time and was very relevant to what’s gone on at the club over the last few years. My only input was to light the fire under him to write it.

    No forecast as usual, but what I always say and as Ian Gill has joined in, just get at them and give us something to get out of our seats for. Waiting for it to be screened live here, not too certain if that’s a good thing!

      1. Hi Werder, it might be worth making a catalogue of issues like this for discussion during the long dark days of the summer break, because I can’t see us discussing anything else once the season curtain comes down.

  27. Well the team is as you were with the exception of Clayts for Grant. I’m not fully on board with sticking with the same old same old but TP says he doesnt like to tinker.

    Lets hope Besic, Downing and Bamford are all fully fit and the side as a whole are functioning. I’m not sure I have either the stomach or patience to watch more unfit and/or underperforming “Footballers” giving their all for 45 minutes or less!

    1. It’s a problem Pulis has made for himself by continuing to pick the same players regardless of how they perform – I hope he at least make a first half substitution if they haven’t got the message.

      1. Werder walking up to the ground I ruminated about the possibility that TP knows darn well but has concluded that confronting them and therefore disengaging them even more just weakens further what he has to work with in the short term. If we scrape through and go up thats a bonus but either way I suspect that money he didn’t spend in January will be spent in five or six areas in the Summer. Meanwhile their market value hasn’t diminished (speculatively).

        My heart however has an entirely different opinion!

  28. PPinP
    You couldn’t be more right about Australian parochialism. It was just the same in the Winter Olympics. By far the best thing about Australian sport is Aussie Rules football which is a great game to watch and has truly excellent coverage on Fox Sports.

  29. Selwyn, Aussie rules footballers (it irks me to call someone that runs with the ball in his hands a footballer) are probably the fittest sportsmen I’ve ever seen, but their inability to kick a ball off the floor baffles me. Just finished watching the Eagles thrash Gold Coast, now that’s baffled that lot “Up Over”!

  30. Looking at today’s selection and subs, the thing that strikes me most, is that other than the players chosen, the cupboard is very bare.

    There are no players knocking on the door and it breeds a complacent attitude in the squad.

    Glaringly illuminated by the fact that Downing keeps his place. Staggering!

  31. Pleased for Curtis Main scoring twice as Motherwell reached the Scottish FA Cup Final. I thought he was still playing for Portsmouth. However I can’t believe though that only 1,847 spectators were interested enough to attend the semifinal at Hampden Park. Does every Scottish football fan only support Celtic or Rangers?

  32. Ah well, nothing changes does it, 1-0 down already and it could just have been 2-0 but for Randolph! I might as well go to bed now instead of watching this drivel.

  33. Great goal by George, but Patricks injury looks bad.
    defence still look jittery to me and not picking their man up. More goals in this I think.

  34. Some positive play going forward from Boro and some not so positive play around the 18 yard box. Shotton struggling and losing his man letting crosses come in from that side. Clayton the pick in mid-field IMO, Besic far too deep at times and playing too many short passes and not the one which may find Britt in a good position.

    Boro need to tighten it up a little at the back and start to get more balls into Britt around the goal.

  35. Well that was a massive three points and whilst it wasn’t pretty or even convincing the team had to get this win over the line – especially as Derby lost at Burton and Millwall and the Blades drew.

    Can’t say I was convinced by Assombalonga up front either and he’s now our only fit striker – sounded if Bamford is OK but since he lost consciousness on the field he will be out for a minimum of 6 days and may hopefully be fit for Millwall in two weeks.

    Boro up to 5th and another massive game next week against Derby!

    1. I agree about your interpretation regarding the minimum six day rule following loss of consciousness, but will Paddy have to be reassessed after six days to see if he would be allowed to play next weekend?

  36. Great result and delighted that the Boro proved my prediction wrong and also that the other results went in our favour.

    Hope Bamford is ok and will be available next week.

    Thanks to Werder and Pedro for posting the link to the match stream which enable me to watch the last 25 mins on the i Pad whilst listening to Radio Tees and also keeping one eye on Soccer Saturday.

  37. Right, I’m seriously off to bed, but before I go, is that bloke in the right back slot called ‘Shotton’ or ‘Shocking’? Twice Adama did his trickery and laid it off to Shocking and, well, the rest is history, he might as well just hoiked a punt into the box as to what he did, which was to simply give the ball away. I demand to know who scouted him, who authorised his contract and who the hell said that he was worth the cash we paid for him. If all he’s employed for is his long throw in, then we’ve totally lost the plot.

    Another thing, why wasn’t Adama given the spot kick responsibility (corners free kicks) sooner, he puts the ball right on the button and beats the man at the front post at corners, unlike others that will remain nameless.

    Now I am off to bed for real with us in fifth, FIFTH! After today’s performance I seriously don’t want us to get in to the play off’s, and heaven forbid, promotion, we simply aren’t good enough but, I’ll stay on the bus for the ride.

    Now, Smoggie, where were we?

  38. Aw, Allan, I had my foot on the first step (no, not to heaven because I can hear snoring from the matrimonial nest!) to bed, and you just had to go and post, didn’t you. I know something will go wrong but, you know what, this is the Boro and we haven’t got a clue as to what it is, right or wrong.

  39. Bamford came back to the ground and was walking around still in his kit with Boro coat on

    He will compulsory miss next match as he lost consciousness


  40. OFB, didn’t your tipster tell the jockey on The Dutchman that he needs to be on the horse at the finish. The horse was doing well until the jockey bailed out…!!

    Great win for the Boro today and now it’s squeaky bum time for the next few weeks…..!!!

  41. Werder

    Watching the highlights of the Fulham match and seeing the stats Brentford deserved at least a point.

    Derby lost at Burton. Blades and Millwall drew.

    On Monday, my colleague will say, this is the Championship.

  42. Watched the game back this morning. Just like PPP when their goal went in thought that’s it.
    Although we won we really didn’t create much. We had 20+ shots most of them high wide, and not very handsome. Agree with others that Shotten was poor today, particularly going forward. Also have been most underwhelmed by Howson. I thought that he was good buy, ticking a lot of boxes, good Championship midfielder who gets a number of goals, but just hasn’t happened.
    Also agree about the Comm Games and how the local TV only focuses on the Aussies. England won both 4×100 metres but all the commentary was about how the Aussies were doing.

  43. Came out of the National Youth Choir Of Scotland concert yesterday at 5 to find we had won 2-1. Brilliant. Even more brilliant when I checked all the results on the day.

    A long wait then till the essential reporting if Diasboro’s trustworthy eyes on the ground (thanks RR) was available to read. It must have been terrible to witness Bamford unconscious on the deck and stretchered off, even if the response from the teams emergency services was not as responsive as you would expect. So pleased that he is OK, but it is a blow that he will not be able to take part against Derby.

    Just now it is all about the result. We got the result, even if it was not convincing. The most interesting result of the day for me was Burton taking Derby down by 3 to 1. Perhaps that puts Boro’s result at the same venue into a little perspective. Any team in this division, especially with so much at stake for them, is going to be dangerous…

    Anyway, just now, give me the right result over the most entertaining performance; everytime. It is good that it is in our hands again.

    As for the Aussie coverage of the Commonwealth games. I have to say that I have been totally underwhelmed by the BBC’s coverage. Very low key, to the point that you would be forgiven for not knowing the event was happening at all. Regards the bias of the Aussie broadcasters, well any BBC coverage I have seen has been nauseatingly biased towards the “home” nations, so fair do’s to the Aussies. Just wait till the games in Birmingham, when we will see the BBC going into hyperdrive (cos it’s on their own door step).

  44. Just checked my spread sheet and on the final day before the last game we will be 5th and Brentford 6th on 71, with Derby, Millwall and Sheffield on 70 and then Bristol on 69. definitely squeaky bum time now.

    This is going to be so close and yes – now I am seeing rays of hope sneaking through and once more I am dreading the dashing of expectations and all the tears it brings.

    Anyway enjoyed the Sunday read again – Thanks RR – wish I had been there but at least enjoyed the match being live.

    Very strange but after Bamford went down in what I though was a reckess challenge you saw clsoe up that he was in trouble and the players around him on both sides were starting to panic and trying to help before the medics could get there and then the incident was never replayed to see what happened. Maybe it is policy in the event of a life threatening incident so full marks to the medics and anyone else who resucitiated him . It was touching to see Britt give him a kiss on the cheek as he cam on – shame the team didnt could up their game after that but a win is a win I suppose.

    I dont think we desrve to go inot the playoffs never mind get to Wembley or god forbid get promoted but I will take what ever gets dished up. At least there will be a chnce up till the last day!!!!


      1. I had a particular reason for asking this question because after some of the unpredictable results lately I thought I’d have another attempt at the Gazette’s League Predictor. I’ve always had Boro to lose at Sheffield United, beat Bristol City, and then finish with three draws. Never once with these predictions have I had Boro finishing higher than 8th until last night. Sticking with my original forecasts, which incidentally I admit have not previously been great, my final table came out as follows:-

        1st Wolves 104
        2nd Cardiff 93
        3rd Fulham 89
        4th Villa 86
        5th Derby 73
        6th BORO 72
        7th Millwall 72
        8th Brentford 72
        9th Preston 72
        10th Sheff U 71
        11th Bristol 70

        Only by anticipating that OFB would predict that every match might end 0-0 would I be certain that Boro could reach the playoffs (I know his predictions aren’t really meant), but I’m quite staggered that my giving what I consider to be reasonable forecasts that Boro could actually finish 6th with a mere 72 points although with a superior goal difference, but equally staggering is the closeness of the final points totals of 6 or 7 of the teams. So maybe winning one of our last matches (likely to be Ipswich) a total of 74 points would in my opinion definitely suffice. I think that away wins will be the key for any team from now on, and was quite surprised that Bristol City didn’t show more intent yesterday. However I doubt that Boro will win another match even if they do finish 6th as Fulham particularly will be too strong for us. But hey, what do I know, this is the Boro after all.

  45. Thanks for RR for the report and Werder for the excellent pre-match post. Excellent.

    Well, I quite enjoyed the match. Thanks for our Spanish sector, I was told that the match was live on Viaplay in Finland. And my son had access to it.

    Quite frankly apart from their goal that was comic defending from us, I think this was the best performance of Boro after Leeds home. By that I meant we played reasonably well for 90 minutes. Even the Bamford injury did not interrrupt our play.

    I admit we have played much better for 45 or 60 min this season but for a full 90 min this was the best performance so far after the rolling of the Dirties.

    We this brings us confidence. And who could have said we are now fifth in the table. As Derby Co have a game in hand, it makes the next match a very interesting in the midlands.

    Ian, did you say the table does not lie? We are where we deserve to be. And I hope Ian will be at his home town to support Boro on Saturday. And not some where in a ship filling himself with gin.

    How happy I am again. Up the Boro!

    1. Thanks Jarkko, I was wondering if you may have sneaked over to the Riverside given that we won – though I agree the goal we conceded was a bit of a joke and still couldn’t work out how it went in.

      1. Downing lost the ball and George was expecting him to play it forward for him and was out of position

        So it was a goal that could have been avoided just down to a simple mistake

  46. Our use of Traore is coming on by leaps and bounds.
    From early isolation on the wing, we soon had him in the thick of it.
    I noticed that we are giving him the ball very near the box, he is taking corners, very well.
    He is a very important member of the team.

  47. Thanks for the report RR although I didn’t think we were as bad as some have posted. Being able to watch us win a game was a nice little bonus.

    Firstly it’s really good news that PB was up and about back at the ground after what was literally a life or death moment after swallowing his tongue. The challenge by Flint looked a bit hefty to me but nothing too bad and to be fair to Flint he had a look of real concern on his face as Paddy was getting treatment.

    Of the starting 11 Shoton was a disappointment and I agree with RR that Besic was too deep at times. Brit again put his shooting boots on the wrong way round again and his falling over is a bit tiresome now. That being said at times he did hold the ball up well and bring others into play.

    I see our shooting hasn’t improved of late with 21 attempts at goal with only 3 on target and one of today’s culprits was Besic. The commentator mentioned he has yet to score in English football, today’s evidence shows why.

    My motm was also Clayts. He was back to his terrier like best breaking up opposition play and showing he is so much quicker around the pitch than Grant.

    On the referee and his “look at me” attitude. Is he the brother of top flight referee Bobby Maddley? Certainly not a homer by any stretch of the imagination but I thought he was lenient in only giving Besic a yellow for what was an off the ground out of control lunge.

    Overall I thought we played with a decent tempo which is something that’s been lacking in a lot of games this season. We deserved the 3 points and we move onto Derby on Saturday.

    1. Yes he’s the eldest brother!

      I had a chat with Jeff Winter about the use of a towel to wipe the ball before throw ins.

      There is nothing in the laws of the game that prevents the use bit it can be seen to be seeking an advantage if the same service is not offered to the opposing team. Perhaps the Boro could provide towels to all then there would be no problem

      The 4th official was getting chatty with the Bristol bench then marched up to the ball boy 20’.0”” away and demanded the towel.

      Very officious and unnecessary


  48. By my calculations Fulham, Villa and Cardiff are now guaranteed play off spots. Normally that might lead to one or the other taking their foot off the gas, an accusation levelled at Huddersfield last year. There are pros and cons, in the end Huddersfield won promotion so you could argue it worked in their favour, but I’m thinking that the intensity at the top this year will benefit us as the three aforementioned teams will be bursting every sinew to get that last auto place and there is bound to be some disappointment there.

    In an ideal world we will secure a play off berth before our last game, giving chance to rest some key players, but it’s highly unlikely that it won’t go right to the wire.

    Interesting times. Maybe the second half at Sheff Utd and going a goal down yesterday is galvanising the team somehow and creating some of the spirit that has been lacking for so long.

    1. Each week throws up a different scenario in terms of which results permutations are best for us. Villa won’t make the auto spots so will they take their foot off and cruise and in doing so lose momentum or try and play games in terms of predicting who they would prefer to play and finish third or fourth?

      After “Snowgate” I wanted Cardiff to thump Derby but now I’m off the opinion that I’d rather play Cardiff than Fulham in the play offs and For Fulham to win automatic. Also Derby seem fallible at the moment and reckon a high stakes game could see them bottle it.

      Derby have to play Boro, Cardiff and Villa before finishing at home to Barnsley who may be playing in a death or glory relegation survival match so I wouldn’t be surprised if Derby end up in tenth spot. Millwall have Fulham, Boro and Villa to finish off so their run of wins may come off the rails as Fulham have auto in their sights, we need the points desperately with home advantage and Villa may be desperate to secure third or tactically drop to fourth.

      Preston are home to Norwich, away to the Blades and finish up on the last day home to Burton who may be down or still fighting. The Blades are away to Garry Monks Birmingham, home to Preston and finish away to Bristol who face Hull and Forest in their other two remaining games. Lastly Brentford have QPR at home, Barnsley away and finish with Hull at home.

      My thoughts are that Millwall face a very tough run of fixtures as do Derby, Preston could sneak in or Sheffield or even Brentford should Derby implode. All we need to do is focus on our own set of results and try and build some timely momentum now.

    2. Smoggy
      It was not an accusation, in my opinion, they were rock solid third without the prospect of dislodging one of the leaders, and quite cleverly rested all their first teamers for the last two matches.
      They were always in control of the play offs, choosing to keep a firm clamp on each game they played.
      I thought then that they would survive in the champ. It looks as though they will.

  49. Great report as ever RR.
    I thought, Shotton apart, it was a good all round performance and there were several MOTM contenders. George had his best game for ages but I thought Clayts shaded it over Besic, Traore and Ayala as he was here, there and everywhere.
    More of the same required.

  50. Been away, so catching up, and appreciating RR’s and Werder’s fantastic contributions, and the quality of the ensuing discussions.

    However, TP’s “jokes” that Paddy was soft, and that it was a good job he went off because we improved afterwards, seemed to me to be singularly inappropriate. They were out of keeping with the crowd’s response to what was in fact a life-threatening situation. A measure of the man, in my view.

    1. Len

      I think it’s just his way of saying it’s not a big problem and he was trying to make light of it.

      I think also he wanted him available for next week without problems medically

      He seemed fine when he arrived back at the Riverside so hopefully he will be ok

      I hope so for the sake of the player who is more important than a football game

      Who knows if Bamford had stayed with us after the play offs final he could have had a greater career than he did


  51. Great report RR thank you which reflected what I listened to/watched yesterday.

    I also agree that MOTM could have been a number of players but my vote would have gone to George for his all round contribution.

    As we are in a period where equality and fair pay is high on the agenda. Do you think that some of our defenders should be asking for increases at the expenses of the mid field given they seem to be doing two jobs at the moment!

    I like you posted a few days ago that Besic is playing too deep and should be staying near the half way line to collect the ball not taking it off the toes of our defenders on the edge of our box.

    I like the new name for Shotten – Shocking. Very apt on recent performances.

    Rams up next and a game we need at least a point from but ideally three and certainly three from the home game against the lions.

    CoB 😎

  52. Can’t agree with you there, Len, but as we’re on opposite sides of the great TP debate as I suppose that is to be expected!

    I read his comments as signs of his relief and reassurance to the fans as if to say, “he’s absolutely fine. So much so I can even joke about it”.

  53. I agree Andy.

    A remark made when Bamford was back at the Riverside on his feet walking and talking, not in the immediate aftermath of him being carried off on a stretcher on his way to James Cook A & E. Depends what your own personal take on TP is I suppose.

  54. Does anyone know what the situation is with bookings. Who is in danger, is there any amnesty period coming up and do they extend to the play-offs?


    1. We’ve already passed the deadline for 10 yellow cards leading to a suspension, which was 2nd April. The next deadline is 15 yellow cards until the end of the season and at the moment Grant has 11 yellows and Clayton 10 – So they should be OK but not sure if this deadline is extended to include the play-offs.

  55. As usual, enjoyed reading RR’s match report and his amusing observations on all aspects of the game, including ‘Towel-gate’ and some of the least fit looking stretcher bearers witnessed at the Riverside, who I initially thought had placed Bamford back on the ground when carrying him off because they were going to borrow the oxygen mask off him.

    I think I would have gone for Friend as my man of the match as it was probably his best performance this season in a Boro shirt – plus a great headed goal too given that the ball arrived slightly behind him. I wondered this morning if the return to fitness of Fabio has maybe made George up his game and perhaps having a bit of competition for places a few weeks earlier may have avoided the lethargy that has crept into some of the player’s games.

    So all to play for with three games to go and every win will create daylight on a crowded race for the top six where everyone is seemingly playing everyone else in a kind of pre-play-off contest. It may well be it could galvanise those clubs who make it into slots 5 and 6 rather those who finish 3 and 4 trying to rest their players and losing momentum.

  56. Ken –

    On the six day rule for Bamford – as I understood it players who lost consciouness on the pitch are assessed in the following days and if they show no symptoms of after-effects than they then get the six days rest. During this time they will either do no or light training and will not be involved in practice games or anything that involved physical contact. It may still be possible that he could be available for next Saturday if he’s cleared today but the club probably should err on the side of caution and not select him next week.

    It does leave us with just Britt Assombalonga and his faulty goal radar for next week – though don’t know if we have any youngsters who will get promoted to the bench instead. Otherwise, goal machine Ayala would be an excellent choice to show what he can do when he’s hasn’t got the bother of also having to defend the six-yard box. Perhaps Traore will get a more advanced role if Pulis was short on bodies.

      1. Yes, I just saw that – it would be a worry if any of our strikers were ruled out of the play-offs if we got there. Maybe Fletcher will be coming to the rescue after his training at Sunderland…

  57. Looking forward to the Derby match already!

    The only thing I am worried is who we will have on the bench as a striker at Derby. I am Presuming Bamford cannot play in the next match because of being unconscious in the match yesterday.

    We have Gestede injured, Fletcher at Sunderland on loan and Braithwaite has joined Bordeaux on loan until the end of the season.

    So we have to put one of the kids from U23 on the bench. Let’s hope Britt will be fit to play at Derby and won’t get injured during the 90 min there.

    Up the Boro!

    1. I noticed that Tony Pulis played the injury down regarding the unconsciousness and this was perhaps because he wanted Bamford to play and be available for Saturday.

      Mmmm interesting..


  58. RR

    Another excellent match report thanks for your hard work it reflected the game performance accurately.

    The referee had no right in the laws of the game to demand that the towels be taken away

    Jeff Winter agreed with my comments


  59. You couldn’t frame laws to cover the kind of gamesmanship that Pulis gets up to.

    If I were a ref I would certainly intervene to stop any underhand practice of the kind that is TP’s forte, if I deemed it to be against the spirit of the game. Which it invariably is.

    This has all been played out before at Stoke. Pulis over-watered the pitch to prevent the other team playing football. He made sure that the ball boys offered towels to dry the wet ball to his own team, but denied it to his opponents, even when it was requested. When the practice was stopped then Delap started to wear an under shirt to dry the ball on. Ball boys gave the ball back quickly when Stoke were level or behind, but disappeared when Stoke were winning etc etc.

    Pathetic really. Does the club no credit. I’d prefer it if the coach’s ingenuity could be confined to more positive activities such as increasing the players’ skills


    1. Len

      Using towels, over watering and telling ball boys how to carry out their duties are the least of the issues in the game today. And as we all know Pulis is the only manager to employ these tactics.

      Endemic cheating, diving, deliberate attempts to get opposition players sent off, bullying of officials and poor officiating are in my opinion much more serious problems.

  60. It’s beginning to seem as though all the play off candidates have good chances of making it, plus Fulham/Cardiff have a further battle for second to see to.
    All have perceived weaknesses which will surely cost them dear, all must have high hopes, if only things go right on the day.
    All the above certainly apply to Boro, who must pray that they scrape past Derby next weekend.
    We certainly have the players, but they must perform.
    We can only pray Traore returns to scoring form, because I believe that the team rely on him to a large extent( strange, with him being so young, but there it is)

  61. Len

    I don’t like to say it but it sounds like TP wont be on your Christmas card list.

    A few years ago Everton had a ball for each ball boy to throw to a player. Oddly they only went to Everton players. They went 1-0 up against ManU and one of the coaching squad went round and collected the balls up.

    The season Leicester got promoted we went there in the New Year – it was the match when they scored when the ball was crossed from the stand. Adomah and Carayol had run them ragged in the first half but the weather was abysmal and the ball wouldn’t run.

    At half time everyone came out and forked the pitch. Not all of it, just the 30 yards from our goal. A Leicester sent me a text and apologised.

    There was the infamous Swansea v Chelsea match where the chairman’s son was a ball boy and boasted pre match that he was going tp do something.

    I am no Pulis fan but it looks a bit like you are waiting for anything to pick him up on.

  62. To be fair, all clubs get up to whatever they can to favour their team. I’m sueat Boro things like narrowing the width of the pitch to the minimum has been done and over watering the pitch in the playoffs against Chelsea to name a couple of things that had nothing to do with TP.

  63. I’m beginning to get excited again after a good performance against Bristol City and other results going our way. I’m starting to think we can do this, but we’ll need a point at least at Derby and a win against Millwall. If we play for 90 minutes plus in both games, and with the same intensity we showed against Bristol and in the second half versus Sheffield United, I think we can do it. It’s the hope that kills you.

    I think we could seriously dent Derby’s chances next week. So, being optimistic, I think the last two play-off spots will go to ourselves and Millwall. My guess is that Fulham will get the second automatic spot, Cardiff will finish third and Villa fourth. So, that means we desperately need either Cardiff or Villa to knock Millwall out. I really don’t want to face Millwall at Wembley. And not just because of their infamous team spirit, but also because of their even more infamous fan base.

  64. The bookies have us at 4/9 to get a top six finish, Derby are 1/2 and Millwall 11/8.

    An interesting thought that we play Derby on Saturday but are both odds on. Of course the odds are designed to reflect the bookies wish to make money rather than a measurement of current form.

  65. Just had a look at the table. Only the top four have won more games, only the top four have scored more goals, only the top four have a better goal difference.

    No matter our own obsession with how ‘well’ we have played this season, the table doesn’t lie.

    We are fifth and there on merit, if we end up 5th, 6th, 8th that is where we deserve to be.

    The teams in the play offs will deserve to be there.

  66. Can’t argue with that Ian.
    I am, as regulars should know, the eternal pessimist (to minimise disappointment) but the reality is that you finish where you deserve to finish over the full season.

  67. So Man City have tied up the Premier League title after Man United’s surprise home defeat to West Brom once more proving the unpredictability of football. Meanwhile congratulations to Wolves on their promotion, obviously the best team in the Championship despite the recent unsavoury shenanigans against Boro and Cardiff who, after the defeat at Villa, have surprised me by winning at Norwich after being outplayed for much of the match, the sign of a good team winning away from home when not playing well. I really thought they might have collapsed and allowed Fulham to replace them into second place. But as I said on a previous blog, what do I know?

    In the lower leagues Hartlepool are now only one win away despite Solihull Moors winning their last three matches, and both Darlington and Whitby Town seem safe now from relegation in their respective leagues whilst Harrogate Town seem a safe bet for the playoffs though unlikely to catch Salford City for automatic promotion. The club that has pleased me most though is little old Accrington Stanley who should confirm their promotion on Tuesday against Yeovil Town. The original Accrington club were one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888 but the current Stanley reformed after liquidation in 1960 were unlucky to lose in the playoffs two seasons ago, and of course their location sandwiched between a plethora of Lancashire clubs has always been a problem in attracting support.

    I notice in Europe that PSV have won the Dutch Eredivese by walloping Ajax 3-0 with the Amsterdam club having two players red-carded, and that my favourite German team Eintract Frankfurt (apologies to Werdermouth) have dropped out of the top six spots after taking only four points from their last five matches, Elsewhere there was a paucity of goals in Italy’s Serie A where five goalless draws, including the Rome derby, accounted for a mere 13 goals in the ten matches, and that in Portugal Benfica lost at home in ‘O Classico’ to FC Porto 0-1 when a draw would have probably won them the title. Estoril surprisingly won at Portimonense to give them a fair chance of avoiding relegation, and of course in Spain, FC Barcelona despite their European Cup exit, march on to another La Liga title after a 2-1 Catalonian win over Valencia.

    That just about covers the rest of the weekend’s football, and all that remains from my perspective is Boro’s next three matches. Will three draws though be enough?

  68. Jarkko

    I will be there but amongst the Derby fans, no away tickets left.

    By the way, my comments about the fact we are in the place where we deserve to be is also a reflection on the Championship.

  69. Jarkko

    I will be there but with my colleague amongst the Rams fans – main stand, not behind the goal.

    The Rams were truly dreadful against Burton and Andrew said he didn’t know whether his face was red or out of embarrassment.

    My comments about being where we deserve to be in the table is no commendation on how well we have played, it is however a reflection on the Championship.

    1. Ian
      Am I right in thinking that Burton would regard the match against Derby as their local derby. It was a surprise result considering Burton’s last match being a 0-5 home thrashing and that Derby had recently won at Preston and had beaten Bolton 3-0. However Burton did beat Derby last season 1-0 at home and drew 0-0 at Derby.

  70. Well, 5th place is something of a surprise, Derby away should be a tough game, unless the Burton result has dealt them a mortal blow. Here’s hoping.
    For certain a play off place looks far more likely than it did after the Blades match, but no doubt there are a few peaks and troughs to navigate before the end of the season.

  71. Thank you Redcar Red for your informative match report, which I managed to watch.

    I thought we rode our luck at times, especially in the last 10 minutes or so of the match, when Reid should probably of equalised. 20 shots by us and only 3 on target is very poor, but most were not within the box but from distance and not getting more of a cushion leaves you vulnerable.

    Glad to Patrick OK and I hope he is eligible for Derby as Britt was, well being Britt of late…..not very productive. In fairness he had very little real service into the box where he normally operates at his best. Something we are not good at the moment. The best passes now come from Adama when he takes the corners. he should take both sides as his are better than SD´s.

    I was really pleased for George as that was his best game for two seasons, beaten only by Clayton for MOTM. I thought Adam was immense and again back to his best. Ayala next up and becoming so important with his goals. How sad that we do not create anything else only from set pieces.

    I also agree about “Shocking”…. he is becoming a liability giving away the ball in poor areas, poor passing and long throws apart offering very little. Still I do not suppose TP would try Fabio there.

    Now onto Derby and try and pay my subscription.

  72. The Derby fans are very negative at the moment, they don’t think the players are doing it for the manager.

    Come Saturday and it is a different matter altogether, both sides are blowing luke warm and cold.

  73. Am I right in thinking that we are two wins and 75 points from a guaranteed play off spot (assuming GD would be in our favour)?

    I might be getting ahead of myself but with us on 69 points, Millwall on 69 and Derby on 68 and three games and nine points to go (12 in Derby’s case) if Fulham beat Millwall at the Den on Friday night and we beat Derby at the Snowdome then I suspect even a draw against Millwall at home could be enough to guarantee a top 6 spot on 73 points. The caveat to that of course is that the likes of Preston, Brentford and Sheffield don’t go on a three straight victory run.

    1. RR

      Yes the maths are correct but can we deliver the results?

      Boro in addition to having the best goal difference at present, also will know the result of the Fulham v Millwall game before our game against Derby as the FvM game is on Friday night.

      Ideally we want Fulham to win and then we get a draw or win at Derby and then beat Millwall at home and hope that the other teams all drop points.

      Typical Boro scenario would be for Millwall to lose, we get either a point or three at Derby and then lose to Millwall at home.

      This could then mean on the final day of the season it could come down to us possibly needing to win at Ipswich and Millwall dropping points at home to Villa which I don’t think will happen as Steve Bruce is liable to rest some of his squad prior to the play offs. This also still relies on the chasing pack not winning three in a row.

      It is as TP has said, we need to embrace the situation and take the opportunity presented to grab a play off spot through our own endeavours.

      CoB 😎

  74. Ken

    Burton v Derby is a strange situation. Most football supporters in Burton are historically Derby fans, they don’t have the long history of Darlo or Pools fans.

    The closest analogy would be Billingham Synthonia climbing the pyramid and then playing Boro.

    The young fans have grown up with Burton in the league and are more antagonistic than older fans.

  75. Strange goings on at Headingley as Yorkshire’s first County Championship match of the season is abandoned without a ball being bowled in the 4 days. The problem seems to stem from the Rugby field end where underground water is not evaporating due to low temperatures. Chief Executive Mike Arthur has denied that the ongoing rebuilding of the main stand is the cause but it seems strange to me that there has been plenty of play in the other County Championship matches and also that Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors was played on the other side of the grandstand and that the shirts of the rugby players were in almost pristine condition at the end of the match.

    Essex assistant head coach Dimitri Mascarenhas has questioned the Headingley groundstaff’s commitment in getting the ground playable. Now if I was a cynic I might think that Yorkshire CCC would be quite happy to take the 5 points awarded as with being without five seamers due to overseas white ball commitments and injuries, they might have expected a heavy defeat against the County Champions.
    Yorkshire have another 4 day fixture at Headingley starting on Friday so it is to be hoped that the forecasted almost tropical weather for the rest of the week will allow the ground to dry out before then.

    I realise that the winter and early spring has not helped cricket groundsmen anywhere this year, but I do think that those responsible for devising the County Cricket fixtures should ensure that the likes of Durham, Lancashire and Yorkshire have away fixtures in the first few weeks of the season. Batting especially is very difficult in damp conditions at this time of year as exemplified this morning at Old Trafford where Lancashire collapsed from 58 for 2 to 73 all out and Notts requiring only 10 runs to win lost 4 wickets in doing so. A total of 25 runs scored for 12 wickets in between showers cannot be good for County Cricket.

  76. Just bought my match day pass in the Derby website……easier to do than through the normal iFollow (Derby do not use iFollow)

    Now just it all connects on Saturday and we get a result.

      1. Someone blogging on the Gazette forum wrote that in Germany towels are provided at various parts along the touchlines. Some wag replied that the Germans are good at placing towels on strategic points, especially deckchairs. It made me chuckle.

  77. Braveheart, I followed the link but was unable to read the article due to one of those bloody annoying surveys that ask you totally inane questions before they pass you on to the relevant page. Don’t these people who compile these pages and advertisers absolutely do your head in, I’m not in the slightest interested in your surveys and no, I will not supply my details.

    Ken, Essex should be thankful they were at Headingly and not the MCG, at least there they wouldn’t get their balls tampered with.

    Further, I distinctly remember watching tons of water being thrown around the riverside pre-match and at half time, all when a certain Mr. Robson was in charge. No line was crossed and no rules were broken, I suppose you could call it pushing the margins.

  78. With no midweek match for Boro it looks like being a long week before the vital match at Derby on Saturday, so perhaps a bit of nostalgia might not come amiss. I have therefore picked out what might be considered the best and the worst Boro matches for each season since the Second World War, so here are my selections some of which I witnessed, but most from newspaper reports at the time :-

    1946/47 Best home v Blackpool 4-0 on 22nd November when Wilf Mannion was purpoorted to have ran the length of the field with the ball continuously bobbing on his head.
    Worst home v Burnley 1-1 in Quarterfinal of FA Cup when Burnley’s equaliser was pushed into the net by the centre forward lying on the ground.
    Highest attendance 53,025 v Burnley (ground record)

    1947/48 Best away v Blackburn 7-1 on 29th November
    Worst away at Arsenal 0-7 on 26th March
    Highest attendance 45,145 v Sunderland 2-2

    1948/49 Best home v Aston Villa 6-0 on 11th December
    Worst away v Preston 1-6 on 4th September
    Highest attendance 44,780 v Blackpool 1-0

    1949/50 Best home v Newcastle 1-0 on 27th December
    Worst home v Portsmouth 1-5 on 3rd September
    Highest attendance 53,802 v Newcastle 1-0 (ground record)

    1950/51 Best away v Tottenham 3-3 on 2nd December – eagerly awaited clash between the top two teams in the First Division. Even the London press said it was the best match of the season at the time. Spurs finished as Champions, Boro 6th. However the Best home match was definitely v Huddersfield 8-0 on 30th September
    Worst away v Second Division Leeds United 0-1 in the FA Cup on 6th January when half the crowd didn’t see the goal because of thick fog.
    Highest attendance 52,764 v Sunderland 1-1

    1951/52 Best home v Tottenham 2-1 on 18th August (first match of the season against the Champions)
    Worst home v Second Division Doncaster Rovers 1-4 in the FA Cup on 6th February (the day King George VI died)
    Highest attendance 44,434 v Manchester United 1-4

    1952/53 Best home v Manchester United 5-0 on 25th April
    Worst away v Tottenham 1-7 on Christmas Day
    Highest attendance 42,159 v Cardiff City 3-0

    1953/54 (Relegation Season) Best away v Champions elect Wolves 4-2 on 27th March
    Worst away v Charlton Athletic 1-8 on 12th September
    Highest attendance 39,416 v Blackpool 0-1

    1954/55 Best home v West Ham United 6-0 on 30th October
    Worst away v Blackburn Rovers on 6th November (just a week later)
    Highest attendance 45,271 v Leeds United 1-0 (many to see the great John Charles on Boxing Day)

    1955/56 Best home v Leicester City 4-3 on 8th October (Boro 0-2 down scored three times in 5 minutes just before halftime)
    Worst away v Bristol Rovers 2-7 on 26th November
    Highest attendance 26,275 v Fulham 1-1

    1956/57 Best away v Second placed Nottm Forest 4-0 on 10th November (I saw Brian Clough score a hat trick that day)
    Worst home v Barnsley 1-2 on 22nd December
    Highest attendance 42,396 v Aston Villa 2-3 (FA Cup)

    1957/58 Best home v Derby County 5-0 on 4th January (FA Cup)
    Worst away v Charlton Athletic 2-6 on 15th February
    Highest attendance 31,771 v Blackburn Rovers 2-3

    1958/59 Best home v Brighton 9-0 on 23rd August (first match of the season)
    Worst home v Charlton Athletic 1-3 on 7th February
    Highest attendance 42,866 v Sheffield United 0-0

    1959/60 Best away v Derby County 7-1 on 29th August
    Worst away v Leyton Orient 0-5 on 31st October
    Highest attendance 47,297 v Sunderland 1-1

    1960/61 Best home v Champions elect Ipswich Town 3-1 on Easter Monday
    Worst away v Bottom team Lincoln City 2-5 on Easter Saturday
    Highest attendance 27,458 v Sunderland 1-0

    1961/62 Best away v Newcastle United 4-3 on Boxing Day and home v Newcastle 3-0 on 7th March
    Worst home v Leeds United 1-3 on 18th November
    Highest attendance 35,666 v Sunderland 0-1

    1962/63 Best home v Champions elect Chelsea on 9th March
    Worst home v Huddersfield Town 0-5 on 25th August
    Highest attendance 43,509 v Sunderland 3-3

    1963/64 Best home v Newcastle United 3-0 on 26th August
    Worst home v Bradford Park Avenue 2-3 on 2nd October (League Cup)
    Highest attendance 43,905 v Sunderland 2-0

    1964/65 Best home v Southampton 4-1 on 12th December
    Worst away v Cardiff City 1-6 on 15th January
    Highest attendance 38,194 v Newcastle United 0-2

    1965/66 Best home v Wolves 3-1 on 18th December
    Worst away v Bolton Wanderers 0-6 on 11th April
    Highest attendance 21,107 v Leyton Orient 2-1

    1966/67 Best home v Oxford United 4-1 on 16th May
    Worst away v Gillingham 1-5 on 1st October
    Highest attendance 39,683 v Oxford United 4-1

    1967/68 Best home v Carlisle United 4-0 on 23rd December
    Worst away v Birmingham City 1-6 on 26th September
    Highest attendance 29,217 v Bolton Wanderers 1-2

    1968/69 Best home v Hull City 5-3 on 22nd March
    Worst away v Bristol City 0-3 on 11th January
    Highest attendance 29,824 v Aston Villa 0-0

    1969/70 Best home v West Ham United 2-1 on 3rd January (FA Cup)
    Worst home v Carlisle United 0-2 on Boxing Day
    Highest attendance 40,040 v Manchester United 1-1 (FA Cup)

    1970/71 Best home v Queen’s Park Rangers 6-2 on 26th September and v Manchester United 2-1 on 5th January (FA Cup)
    Worst away v Swindon Town 0-3 on 24th October
    Highest attendance 40,040 v Manchester United 2-1 (FA Cup)

    1971/72 Best home v Manchester City 1-0 on 18th January (FA Cup)
    Worst away v Sunderland 1-4 on 29th September
    Highest attendance 39,917 v Manchester City 1-0 (FA Cup)

    1972/73 Best home v Burnley 3-3 on 4th November
    Worst away v Sunderland 0-4 on 17th February
    Highest attendance 23,822 v Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 (FA Cup)

    1973/74 Best home v Sheffield Wednesday 8-0 on 20th April
    Worst away v Nottm Forest 1-5 on 2nd February
    Highest attendance 37,030 v Sunderland 2-1

    1974/75 Best away v Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 on 11th September (League Cup)
    Worst away v Birmingham City 0-1 on 8th March (FA Cup)
    Highest attendance 39,500 v Leeds United 0-1

    1975/76 Best home v Manchester City 1-0 on 13th January (League Cup)
    Worst away v Bury 2-3 on 6th January (FA Cup) and v Manchester City 0-4 on 21st January (League Cup)
    Highest attendance 34,579 v Manchester City 1-0 (League Cup)

    1976/77 Best home v Arsenal 4-1 on 26th February (FA Cup)
    Worst away v Sunderland 0-4 on 19th February
    Highest attendance 35,208 v Arsenal 4-1 (FA Cup)

    1977/78 Best home v Everton 3-2 on 28th January (FA Cup)
    Worst away v Leeds United 0-5 on 18th March
    Highest attendance 36,662 v Bolton Wanderers 2-0 (FA Cup)

    1978/79 Best home v Chelsea 7-2 on 16th December (BBC Match of the Day)
    Worst away v Peterborough United 0-1 on 5th September (League Cup)
    Highest attendance 32,314 v Liverpool 0-1

    1979/80 Best home v Arsenal 5-0 on 19th May
    Worst home v Stoke City 1-3 on 23rd February (only second home defeat of the season match 15)
    Highest attendance 30,587 v Manchester United 1-1

    1980/81 Best away v Swansea City 5-0 on 3rd January (FA Cup on BBC Match of the Day)
    Worst home v Coventry City 0-1 on 21st April (only second home defeat of the season match 19)
    Highest attendance 37,557 v Barnsley 2-1 (FA Cup)

    1981/82 Best home v Aston Villa 3-3 on 21st November
    Worst home v Coventry City 0-0 on 24th April (Relegation looming)
    Highest attendance 21,019 v Sunderland 0-0

    1982/83 Best home v Chelsea 3-1 on 11th December (Heine Otto scored after 23 seconds)
    Worst away v Queen’s Park Rangers 1-6 on 5th March
    Highest attendance 25,184 v Newcastle United 1-1

    1983/84 Best home v Arsenal 3-2 on 7th January (FA Cup)
    Worst away v Leeds United 1-4 on 31st December
    Highest attendance 20,175 v Bournemouth 2-0 (FA Cup)

    1984/85 Best home v Manchester City 2-1 on 20th October
    Worst home v Grimsby Town 1-5 on 1st September
    Highest attendance 19,084 v Darlington 0-0 (FA Cup)

    1985/86 Best home v Sunderland 2-0 on 28th December
    Worst away v Wimbledon 0-3 on 17th August (first game of the season)
    Highest attendance 19,702 v Sunderland 2-0

    1986/87 Best home (at Hartlepool) v Port Vale 2-2 on 23rd August
    Worst away v York City 1-3 on 1st January
    Highest attendance 18,523 v Wigan Athletic 0-0 (Promotion confirmed)

    1987/88 Best home v Chelsea 2-0 on 25th May and away v Chelsea 0-1 on 28th May (Promotion to 1st Division)
    Worst away v Ipswich Town 0-4 on 23rd April
    Highest attendance 27,645 v Leicester City 1-2 (last league match of the season)

    1988/89 Best away v Coventry City 4-3 on 1st October
    Worst home v Grimsby Town 1-2 on 7th January (FA Cup) and v Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 on 13th May (Relegation)
    Highest attendance 25,197 v Liverpool 0-4

    1989/90 Best home v Newcastle United 4-1 on 5th May (Relegation avoided)
    Worst home v Blackburn Rovers 0-3 on 17th March
    Highest attendance 23,617 v West Ham United 0-1

    1990/91 Best home v Leicester City 6-0 on 29th September
    Worst away v Notts County 0-1 on 22nd May (Playoff)
    Highest attendance 22,869 v Sheffield Wednesday 0-2

    1991/92 Best away v Wolves 2-1 on 2nd May (Promotion)
    Worst away v Portsmouth 0-4 on 28th December
    Highest attendance 25,572 v Manchester United 0-0 (League Cup)

    1992/93 Best home v Leeds United 4-1 on 22nd August
    Worst home v Nottm Forest 0-3 on 3rd February (FA Cup)
    Highest attendance 24,390 v Newcastle United 1-3 (League Cup)

    1993/94 Best home v Sunderland 4-1 on 17th October
    Worst away v Tranmere Rovers 0-4 on 4th April
    Highest attendance 17,056 v Nottm Forest 2-2

    1994/95 Best home v Luton Town 2-1 on 30th April (Promotion on last League match at Ayresome Park)
    Worst away v Luton Town 1-5 on 15th October
    Highest attendance 23,903 v Luton Town 2-1

    1995/96 Best home v Chelsea 2-0 on 26th August (first match at the Riverside Stadium) and v Blackburn Rovers 2-0 on 30th September
    Worst away v Chelsea 0-5 on 4th February
    Highest attendance 30,011 v Newcastle United 1-2

    1996/97 Best home v Liverpool 3-3 on 17th August and v Newcastle United 3-1 on 27th November (League Cup)
    Worst away v Liverpool 1-5 on 14th December
    Highest attendance 30,215 v Tottenham Hotspur 0-3 (Ground Record)

    1997/98 Best home v Liverpool 2-0 on 18th February (League Cup
    Worst away v Queen’s Park Rangers 0-5 on 4th March
    Highest attendance 30,228 v Oxford United 4-1 (Promotion)

    1998/99 Best away v Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 on 13th September
    Worst home v Arsenal 1-6 on 24th April
    Highest attendance 34,687 v Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 (Ground Record broken 4 times in the season)

    1999/2000 Best home v Arsenal 2-1 on 12th March
    Worst away v Wrexham 1-2 on 11th December (FA Cup) and home v Aston Villa 0-4 on 14th February
    Highest attendance 34,800 v Leeds United 0-0 (Ground Record broken twice more in the season)

    2000/01 Best home v Chelsea 1-0 on 16th December (Terry Venables first match? but first win for 9 matches)
    Worst home v Wimbledon 0-0 on 6th February (FA Cup)
    Highest attendance 34,698 v Liverpool 1-0

    2001/02 Best home v Everton 3-0 on 10th March (FA Cup)
    Worst home v Arsenal 0-4 on 18th August (Steve McLaren’s first match as manager)
    Highest attendance 34,358 v Manchester United 0-1

    2002/03 Best home v Manchester United 3-1 on Boxing Day
    Worst home v Aston Villa 2-5 on 28th January
    Highest attendance 34,814 v Newcastle United 1-0

    2003/04 Best v Bolton Wanderers 2-1 at Millennium Stadium on 29th February (League Cup Final)
    Worst away v Portsmouth 1-5 on 15th May
    Highest attendance 34,738 v Manchester United 0-1

    2004/05 Best away v Blackburn Rovers 4-0 on 16th October
    Worst home v Sporting Lisbon 2-3 on 10th March (EUFA Cup)
    Highest attendance 34,836 v Norwich City (Existing Ground Record for a Boro match)

    2005/06 Best home v FC Basel 4-1 on 6th April and v Steau Bucharest 4-2 on 27th April (EUFA Cup Quarter and Semifinals)
    Worst away v Arsenal 0-7 on 14th January
    Highest attendance 34,622 v Steau Bucharest 4-2

    2006/07 Best home v Bolton Wanderers 5-1 on 20th January
    Worst home v Portsmouth 0-4 on 28th August
    Highest attendance 33,308 v Manchester United (FA Cup)

    2007/08 Best home v Manchester City 8-1 on 11th May
    Worst home v Cardiff City 0-2 on 9th March (FA Cup)
    Highest attendance 33,952 v Manchester United 2-2

    2008/09 Best home v Liverpool 2-0 on 28th February
    Worst home v Chelsea 0-5 on 18th October
    Highest attendance 33,724 v Liverpool 2-0

    2009/10 Best away v Queen’s Park Rangers 5-1 on 5th December
    Worst home v West Bromwich Albion 0-5 on 19th September
    Highest attendance 27,347 v Newcastle United 2-2

    2010/11 Best away v Cardiff City 3-0 on 2nd May
    Worst away v Burton Albion 1-2 on 8th January (FA Cup)
    Highest attendance 23,550 v Leeds United 1-2

    2011/12 Best home v Southampton 2-1 on 21st April
    Worst away v Blackpool 0-3 on 2nd January
    Highest attendance 27,794 v Hull City.

    2012/13 Best away v Sunderland 1-0 on 30th October (League Cup)
    Worst away v Ipswich Town 0-4 on 2nd February
    Highest attendance 28,229 v Sheffield Wednesday 3-1

    2013/14 Best home v Doncaster Rovers 4-0 on 25th October
    Worst home v Accrington Stanley 1-2 on 6th August ( League Cup)
    Highest attendance 23,679 v Bolton Wanderers 1-0

    2014/15 Best away v Manchester City 2-0 on 24th January (FA Cup)
    Worst v Norwich City 0-2 at Wembley on 25th May (Playoff Final)
    Highest attendance 33,381 v Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 on 2nd May

    2015/16 Best away v Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 on 19th December and home v Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 on 9th May
    Highest attendance 33,806 v Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1

    2016/17 Best home v Manchester City 2-2 on 30th April
    Worst away v Bournemouth 0-4 on 22nd April
    Highest attendance 32,704 v Chelsea 0-1 and v Liverpool 0-3

    2017/18 Best home v Leeds United 3-0 on 2nd March
    Worst away v Burton Albion 1-1 on 2nd April
    Highest attendance to date 29,443 v Bolton Wanderers 2-0

    I realise that most of you will not have experienced the earliest post war matches, but hope some of these matches will bring back happy memories, but accept that others perhaps will bring back painful ones. I don’t anticipate that all these selections will meet with everyone’s approval, but will be interested to read any comments. This exercise has taken me several hours to complete and I will welcome for folks who spot any errors to let me know.

    Thank you, and happy hunting.
    Up the Boro.

    1. Thanks Ken for some fond memories and some not so fond!

      I remember well our league cup win at Tottenham in 74/75 as by then I was living and working in London.

      It was special watching the Boro trounce a team containing the likes of Pat Jennings, Steve Perryman, Ralph Coates and Martin Chivers.

      I also was at the Birmingham FA cup game were Bob Hatton scored, as he always seemed to do!

      Thanks for some great memories, too many to comment upon as I would be on here for weeks and Mrs P would be reminding me I bought the iPad for her!

      1. Thanks, Ken. The first Boro match I can remember was the 1976/77 Best home v Arsenal 4-1 on 26th February (FA Cup). It was a sunny day at Ayresome Park. It was shown live on Finnish TV (just two channels back then).

        I don’t know if I started to support Boro after that match or before. My brother has supported Arsenal since those days and I could remember the match also because we beat Arsenal. But definately a match I will remember always.

        In 1980 I visited Ayresome Park for the first time. It was Forest and Terry Cochrane match for me. Travelling was not that popular back then.

        Thanks for sharing, Ken. Up the Boro!

      2. 2014/15 Highest attendance 33,381 v Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 on 2nd May

        I was at that match with 12 friends from Finland. We also played against a Jim Platt Select Boro team that week.

        Happy day supporting Boro. Up the Boro!

  79. Re Patrick Bamford and his availability for the Derby game.

    This is covered under the FA guidance document for concussion injuries and for professional footballers is covered by the
    “Return to Play Pathway in an Enhanced Care Setting” guidelines which state that:

    “The minimum time in which a player can return to play in the Enhanced Care Setting is summarised by the table below. Each day comprises one 24 hour period. The pathway begins at midnight on the day of injury”.

    I haven’t been able to copy the table here but my understanding of it is that if PB meets all of the criteria then he is eligible to return to playing again after day 6 and should therefore be available for selection for the Derby game.

  80. Wow Ken that looks like it was a lot of work to compile – so I decided to copy your Best and Worst Boro results since the war and put it into a page so that Diasboro bloggers can easily reference it in future.

    You can find a link to this page just above the Exmil Challenge banner on the right column under the ‘Links’ section.

    The heading is: Ken Smith’s Boro Stats

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