In2views: Harry Pearson

The latest in a series of profiles and interviews, Orginal Fat Bob gives his personal view on the life and career of a footballing guest, before sitting down for a chat and asking a few questions. Our Diasboro special guest this week is Harry Pearson.

1. The Overview – the man and his career

One of the nicest things about doing these In2Views articles, is that the bloggers on Diasboro quite often put in a request for someone for me to talk to, that they themselves hold in high regard. One such request came from our own Jarsue, who holds this man’s writing and works in such affection. John tells me that Harry bought from him, one of his little hand printed and hand cut Jack Russell Books and that he’s a top man.

Harry Pearson was born in 1961, in the village of Great Ayton, a few miles outside Middlesbrough. Synonymous for being the village where Captain James Cook the famous explorer went to school. Harry remembers that he was born and brought up in a house on High Green. He told me that this was in the same row as Artie Suggett and Donald Petch but says ruefully, “though I never got free ice creams, or pies.”

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with Great Ayton, Suggett’s were and still are, noted for their Dairy Ice Cream Shop and Parlour. Petch the butchers however, are famous for the quality of their Pork, Steak Pies and Pasties and many people travel far and wide to queue up and buy.

Harry Pearson 1The Great Ayton born writer is well known for his regular column in
The Guardian as well as being the author of many popular books

We swapped a few names of people we both knew in the village. Jim Pearson (no relation – OFB) was the local builder who worked hard and slaked his thirst each evening in The Royal Oak. I mentioned to Harry that Jim, being a master stone mason, had constructed a large stone trough for me, which I still have today. Harry agreed and said “Yes, he was a lovely man. Did a fair bit of work on our house over the years.”

Harry was educated by kindly Quakers and can still sing all the words to the Society of Friends’ rousing anthem Baggy, baggy britches/Shaggy, shaggy locks/You are pulling down the pillars of the world George Fox. It is on record that his attempt to become a journalist foundered when he failed to get onto an NUJ course because his spelling wasn’t considered good enough. After many years working in shop jobs,his life was altered forever by reading an article about Boro’s Alan Foggon in “When Saturday Comes (WSC).”

Since then he has written many well regarded books including The Far Corner: A Hazy Dribble Through North-East Football, Dribble: An Unbelievable Football Encyclopedia (described as an A-Z of credulity-twanging facts and stories about what Pele once memorably dubbed ‘my bloody job’ ). Also for his sins, Harry has even written books on cricket, notably The Trundlers: Underrate Them at Your Peril and Slipless in Settle: A Slow Turn Around Northern Cricket – as well as being a contributor to many others books too. He has written for WSC for 20 years and has been a weekly columnist on the Guardian since 1997. It has been said of him that his spelling remains erratic, but it is still much better than his punctuation. He is a former sports columnist for the Guardian, a former travel feature writer for Conde Naste Traveller and Contributing Editor of GQ. Incidentally, it should be noted that his book; The Far Corner was the runner-up in the 1995 Sports Book of the Year awards.

Like myself and a lot of other football supporters Harry loves Northern Non-League Football. After being involved with it myself, firstly as a referee and avid supporter, then subsequently watching my family and friends play. you seem to get more personally involved with the clubs. You cannot be a neutral or be a silent bystander. You must be vocal and be a true football fan. One cannot but admire their dedication and how much it means to each village to have their own successful team and it has to be sampled, to know why it compels and is so addictive.

Juninho evades PallisterHarry was a great admirer of Boro legend Juninho, who is pictured
here evading a challenge from Man Utd duo Pallister and Giggs

Harry also loves the professional footballers as well, here is an extract from his blog about TLF.

In mid-afternoon the players’ tunnel at The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough is shaded by the West Stand. Last Saturday Boro’s Brazilian midfielder, Juninho did what he always does before running onto the field. The 27-year-old, dipped one knee, touched the turf by the touchline with his right hand and then crossed himself before passing from the shadow into the sunlight. It may be the last time home fans see that characteristic gesture. Juninho’s loan spell from Atletico Madrid, the club he left Teesside for in a £12 million deal in 1997, comes to an end at Goodison Park at the weekend. No one, including the 1994 Brazilian Footballer of the Year, knows if the club plan to make the move permanent, or not.

The supporters are more ambivalent than might be expected about the future of the player they voted the greatest in the club’s history three years ago. The chant of “Sign On Juninho” (a phrase that seems less open to misinterpretation when shouted than it does in print) may have echoed round the Riverside Stadium on Saturday, but a poll published  in club fanzine Fly Me To The Moon found 40% of respondents thought Boro shouldn’t pay the £5.9 million asking price.

2. The Interview – a quick chat

OFB: What year did you start as a professional writer?

HP: 1988. I got made redundant from my job working in an off-license in Soho and used the money from that to get on the Enterprise Allowance Scheme, which was one of Thatcher’s ideas to get people off the dole. So you have her to thank for what followed….(and for that we are grateful – OFB)

OFB: Where did you live at that time? Did you rent, or did you live in digs?

HP: I lived in a rented house in Golders Green, that I shared with a Czech friend of mine who was mad keen on Subbuteo. We used to play a game every night, much to the annoyance of his wife.

OFB: What was the first Boro game that you ever saw, and do you still remember it?

HP: It was against Carlisle United, Boxing Day 1968. John O’Rourke scored a hat-trick. I went with my Grandad, Harry Fixter who was born and brought up in Essex Street. All the seats in the Bob End had been sold, so we had to stand in the Chicken Run. I was seven and spent the whole time whining that I was cold and couldn’t see and so my Grandad took me home after an hour.

OFB: Who was your favourite Boro player and others that you have watched over the years?

HP: The winger David Chadwick was an early hero, partly because the kid I used to go to football with back then – Deano – was a year older than me and had baggsied John Hickton. Back then there were lots of strange friendly matches played at Ayresome. I saw Eusebio play for Benfica and I went to the English League v Scottish League game which was more or less the 1966 World Cup winner v the Lisbon Lions. I wish I could remember that game better – so many great players, but the only thing that sticks in my mind is that Ronnie Simpson the Scotland keeper wore a tweed flat cap.

OFB: What was the most memorable game, or your own best experience watching a football match?

HP: Probably the Hartlepool v Blyth Spartans FA Cup tie in 2014. I went with a German friend – a big Werder Bremen fan who works in Newcastle. We’d been to watch Blyth a few times together, so we were supporting them even though we were sitting in the Millhouse. It was a Friday night, freezing cold, yet at half-time these Poolie lads in day-glo mankinis invaded the pitch. They were chased by the oldest fattest steward I’ve ever seen, while H’Angus the monkey ran about waving a plastic banana in the air. I laughed until my sides ached. Blyth scored two superb goals late on to win it. My German friend says it is the second best game he ever attended, after the World Cup semi-final of 2014. He went to the 2014 final too, so you can see how great it was. His wife says he still sometimes wakes up in the morning chortling and says, “Ah Hartlepool, fantastic!”

OFB: What was the worst game or experience that you have experienced watching football and why?

HP: Back in the late eighties it was generally pretty grim going to games. I suppose my worst experience was going to see Boro play at Swindon in about 1990. They’d made the away end all ticket and Middlesbrough Supporters South didn’t have any tickets so we tried to go in the home end. The police let every Boro fan in except me. I’d like to think that’s because I look really hard. But obviously I don’t. So instead of watching the game I had to spend two hours wandering around Swindon. It was a long two hours.

OFB: Which is the best non-league football ground you have visited and why?

HP: Ironworks Road, Tow Law is pretty fantastic. It feels like it’s perched on the edge of the world. Jarrow Roofing’s ground is good too. It looks like one of those allotment sheds your uncles knocked up out of old doors and bits of packing crates. The old lady who runs the tea bar also does the announcements, often while serving hot dogs. They should do something similar at the Riverside – save money.

OFB: Which team in the Northern League do you like the most and why?

HP: Dunston is the easiest club to get to from where I live, so I go there more than anywhere else. I sit with an old fella named Jimmy from Hetton whose father played youth team football with Bob Paisley and Harry Potts. Jimmy and his family have been involved with the Northern League all their lives. He knows every player and every bit of gossip. You say, “That team won the title not so long ago, how come they’re so hopeless now?” and he says, “Well the bloke as owns them ran this big drug pub up the coast and the police shut it down, so they’ve nay money anymore”.

OFB: Can you tell us any amusing anecdotes, either about football, or in your professional life?

HP: You don’t have time or space. Well, a couple of weeks back I was waiting for a bus coming back from Ryhope Colliery Welfare v Marske and the two young women behind me started talking about some bloke. One said, “He’s gay, you know” and her friend said, “I don’t think he’s actually gay. I think he’s just bi-culiar!”

OFB: Is there a game that you wished you had watched and been there as a spectator, either for Boro or another team?

HP: I’d love to have seen that Boro team from the late 1930s – Wilf, Hardwick, Mickey Fenton.

Bruce RiochHarry’s vote for best Boro manager of all time went to Bruce Rioch,
who’s seen here outside the unlocked Ayresome Park gates

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

HP: Bruce Rioch. To manage the club during the insolvency and keep the players together must have been really difficult. His team played attractive football and were successful too, and he had no money to spend. That was my favourite Boro team.

OFB: Who was in your opinion the hardest player you have ever seen on a football field and why?

HP: Mick Harford. Just typing his name has given me a bruise above my left eye.

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

HP: I fear any team that arrives off a record breaking string of losses, never having won away for two years, or having conceded seventy goals in their last ten games. Boro were invented to break such runs.

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

HP: Juninho. Obvious, I know. Not just because of his talent, but because he was brave and big hearted and was always so charming about Teesside. I can’t help thinking about him without misting up

OFB: Who is your current favourite Boro player, if you have one and why?

HP: I’ve got to an age when the words ‘he seems like a nice young man’ pop into my head unbidden, so George Friend.

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

HP: It’s changed beyond all recognition. Up until the mid-1990s the experience of watching football for me was just about the same as it had been for my Grandad when he first went to a game at Ayresome before the First World War.

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

HP: I think I’d prefer not to know.

OFB: What is your happiest memory of watching or being involved with Football?

HP: The 1998 World Cup. I had a press pass through When Saturday Comes and also wrote three pieces a week for the Guardian. I had an inter-rail card and travelled all over France, saw pretty much a game every day for three weeks, ate great food and had fantastic time in the press stands. It’s wonderful when you are watching a game and the old bloke next to you starts telling you what he thinks is going on and after a few minutes of chatting, you suddenly realize you are talking to Rinus Michels. (For those who may not remember, Marinus Jacobus Hendricus “Rinus” Michels was the former Dutch football player and coach who played his entire career for Ajax, then later coached them and was regarded as the architect of ‘Total Football’ – OFB)

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

HP: I’ve been lucky and just done what I liked and got paid for it. There were times when I earned good money, nowadays, not so much, but still it’s better than working.

The Far Corner ImageIt’s now over 25 years since Harry penned his famous book
on North-East football that helped to launch his career as a writer

OFB: I know that you go to Northern League games these days, but do you still follow the Boro and their results?

HP: I’ll always be a Boro fan. So that’s the first result I look for.

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

HP: Hexham in Northumberland. I’ve been here 27 years now. When I split up with Catherine about five years ago I thought of moving down to Saltburn or somewhere and making a fresh start, but our daughter chose to live with me (which was both scary and marvelous) and she was still at school and I felt she didn’t need any more upheavals, so I stayed put. Now she’s at university, but I met someone else who lives here and her kid is still at school, so it seems I’ll be here for a while yet. And to be honest, it’s a pretty nice place.

OFB: Whom have you made a lifelong friend through football, or your career as a writer?

HP: Almost too many to mention through football, in fact probably 90% of all the men I know and a fair few of the women too, I met through the game one way or another.

OFB: Your books are a great favourite with our Diasboro bloggers, do you have a particular favourite and why?

HP: The Far Corner. It changed my life. I met dozens of friends through it and made a career. But what’s really nice for me is that people think of that book with affection. I wrote it so long ago – 25 years more or less – that I have no idea now where it all came from. It’s like someone else wrote it, which in some ways they did.

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

HP: I’d probably still be working as a shop assistant in some sort of specialist shop – wine, records, whatever. It’s a nice life. I enjoy talking to people and I don’t like too much responsibility.

OFB: A huge thank you Harry, for taking the time to talk to Diasboro and our readers.

84 thoughts on “In2views: Harry Pearson

  1. Great interview

    You can tell he is a true Boro fan, the line about Boro were invented to end peoples losing streaks made me chuckle.

    Brilliant OFB.

  2. Great read OFB from some one a know very little about. I shall certainly put his books on my reading list.

    I, like Ian, was highly amused by his comment that Boro were invented to end people’s losing streaks. Sums up our beloved team exactly.

  3. Great interview, OFB. Loved it.

    His two books are on my table near my bed. When I have finished the current book, one of Harry’s next. So thanks, Dormo for the books!

    I feel partly local, as I have stayed so many times in Great Ayton than I recognised all the places and the pie shop, too. Only Archie Stevens and Jack Charlton were missing – but they lived there later than Harry did.

    And something positive about Thatcher, finally.

    I love this blog, me. Up the Boro!

  4. Congratulations, Bob, on a great interview and a major coup.

    Along with today’s amazing compilation by Ken of the best and worst games of every season since the war, and Werder’s generous archiving of Ken’s material the blog just gets better and better.

    I am just one of a number of bloggers on here who have been plugging Harry’s work whenever we can over the past few years, and I particularly appreciated the links that were provided here last year (sorry, I’ve forgotten by whom) to Harry’s own blog and his more recent work. It would be really good if Harry could keep us up-to-date on here with whatever he is producing. He’d certainly find an appreciative audience.

    For the few who haven’t yet seen it, it’s worth repeating that The Far Corner is by some distance the funniest book ever written about football, with laugh-out -loud passages on every page. But it is also wonderfully well-written, with a real warmth and affection for its subject, which is largely north-eastern non league football, but with evocative coverage of Boro, Sunderland and Newcastle matches too. I really liked the book’s format. Each chapter covers a different game, the match itself being the hook for observations about its location, the crowd, the atmosphere ,and the problems of getting to and from the match. A real treat.

    Racing Pigs and Giant Marrows, Harry’s account of his travels around north country fairs isn’t half bad either. I’m eternally grateful to GHW for recommending it to me some years ago.

    Thanks again, Bob. And to Harry too.

  5. Nice one again,OFB!
    I thought “who the Hechs he”!
    But you certainly brought the best out of interview , and I’ll be buying a copy of one of his books to sample his style.

  6. I used to love Harry’s, slightly more occasional than usual, column in the Guardian. Even though he would right esoterically about a range of topics, you always got a little hint that his allegiances lay with the Boro. He has an amazing way of describing events and people in a very northern-English type of way.

    I love this description of following Boro on one of his more partisan articles:

    The Victorians believed that sport prepared a young person for life. The only existence following Middlesbrough would ready anyone for is one of endless repetition, working on an assembly line or being Alan Hansen, perhaps. It is a steady drip of minor frustrations. Like the drops of water in the infamous Chinese torture each is nothing in itself. Added together, however, they are agony and every once in a while you just have to cry out.

    Brilliant interview OFB.

  7. I see that TP is, by implication, putting the responsibility for towel-gate firmly in the hands of the ball-boys. These cheating little perishers not only take matters into their own hands, but seem to follow TP around from club to club.

    Kids today, eh? No moral compass, but what can you do?

  8. Of course we all like a good winge at times, we are “Typical Boro” after all, but trips on the horizon to Fleetwood, Accrington and Wycombe in front of 3,000 crowds can’t be much for Sunderland fans to look forward to. At times under Strachan and Mogga it was a possibility for us too, but for them it’s likely a reality, sobering thoughts.

  9. Excellent interview with a Boro fan with a great sense of humour. I particularly liked his take on the invention of Boro being to end other teams losing runs. When you’ve followed the Boro’s fortunes and misfortunes as long as I have, never a truer phrase has been spoken in jest.

  10. In today’s electronic age although having it’s pluses, does blanket the personal experience of wind,rain,and snow.
    Watching as a seven or eight year old your dad or uncle playing on a Sunday morning for your local club,on a muddy pitch lined with sawdust, no nets, helping at halftime with the hot tea.end to end crunching tackles and a 4-3 win. Sixty or so locals trudging off home or the pub, happy,
    We forget how we got here.
    100,000 at Wembley for an amatteur cup final, 40,000 at Ayresome for a replay ,
    The Electronic world ,well yes I guess so, but?
    Thanks OFB
    Made me think .

  11. Made me think as well !

    Being a ref then a father then a grandfather in those conditions!

    Some pitches in Durham were exposed to the elements and it was “Baltic “ even in summer !

    Thanks for the comments


  12. The Far Corner is a superb book, but of course like a lot of Harry’s writing its not just about football its about the North and its people.
    To concur with those above, the line about the reason for Boro’s invention was genius, very funny.

    Good one OFB, thanks.

  13. Absolutely top job OFB.

    I loved his description of a Border Terrier, I paraphrase ‘wearing a flat cap, fag in mouth and Racing Post tucked under his arm. You knew he could start a fight in an empty barn’. We had one like that for seventeen and half years and my grandson son asked why is Rufus called Rufus and that bloody dog?

    Great interview OFB, thoroughly enjoyed that, cheered me up and you need cheering up when builders are in the house.



    PS Werder and Redcar Red well done on the Bristol City article, I’ve just caught up!

  14. Another great interview OFB. Thanks.
    You know, I always imagined Harry Pearson would be a mature gentleman, until I read this only to realise he is more ages with my kid brother than my late grandfather!!

  15. Once again OFB a great interview. Thank you. Loved the comment from Mr Pearson saying Boros best manager was Bruce Rioch.
    Under the circumstances at the time Bruce was fantastic. For me the best manager that Boro have ever had.

  16. Great stuff OFB.
    Bruce also tops my list for the same reasons outlined by Harry, although the 73/74 promotion experience places Big Jack a close second for bringing 20 years in the wilderness emphatically to an end.
    Off piste and revisiting VAR, it was interesting to hear the views of the Mainz player regarding the “half time penalty” he scored. Sums up my antipathy to VAR. Goal line technology ok but VAR no.

  17. Many thanks OFB for giving us a very enjoyable article to read and Harry sounds like a great bloke to have a chat with while enjoying a beer. I’m also amazed at how he can keep finding original things to write about after what must be getting on for 30 years of quality material behind him – especially given I now know how hard it can be to find an angle on something after just 15 months. The spelling and the grammar is the easy bit – but having the drive and inspiration over such a long time takes someone with genius. He must have great powers of observation, plus a great appreciation of the subjects he gets absorbed by.

    I also found it a little ironic that one of his good mates was a big Werder Bremen fan who enjoyed his trip to Hartlepool as one of his best ever games. It actually sounds like Harry is also more happy in the obscure world of small village clubs and doesn’t get too caught up in all the hype that surrounds the multi-millionaire world of top-level football. It’s possibly this aspect that make me sometimes wonder why with all the money and resources available to try and create a team that the supporters can be inspired by do so many managers and clubs end up deciding to play what can only be described as more a case of anti-football.

    Perhaps a question for another day, but whether your team is playing good or bad, at least we can ultimately find some amusement from the trials and tribulations they put us through – then try to remember it’s just a game, beautiful or otherwise!

    1. Werder

      I can see why you write such deep and artistically interwoven articles
      It’s because it gives a sense of achievement and stretches your capabilities to provide an insight that others enjoy.

      Your writing has developed over the past year to such a high standard that we are all amazed at the creativity and ingenuity of the posts that keep going from strength to strength.

      Long may they continue and a special mention to Si and Redcar Red for making this blog what it has become.

      Coupled with the erudite posts and wit and the sagacity of our elder bloggers and the stats of Ken this is a must ready daily blog.


      1. Cheers OFB for those kind remarks – I just take one blog at a time and hopefully I’ll think of something to write each week. Thankfully, we have plenty of talent on the blog who make some great contributions too.

        Talking of which, another shout for Ken’s compilation of ‘Best and Worst’ Boro results since the war that I’ve put it into a page so that Diasboro bloggers can easily reference it in future.

        Just to remind those who may have missed it on the previous blog, 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

  18. I used to hate when there is no mid week matches in the Championship. But not anymore. These intrviews are magnificent. At least better than seing Boro losing at Sheffield United. Keep it up, OFB. UTB!

  19. Just been catching up on things this morning.

    One word Bob “Brilliant” best in2view yet.

    Only problem is now that you have raised the bar trying to emulate it going forward is going to be tough! No pressure 😉

  20. I read elsewhere that Derby fans are clamoring for Richard Keogh to be brought back in for Boro on Saturday in order to rescue their slide. They must be in a really bad state when they want one of the most “Rick” prone defenders to grace the game in the last decade to be recalled.

  21. OFB,

    Perhaps, using your powers of persuasion, you could persuade harry Pearson to write an odd article or two for DiasBoro? Any thing on Teesside or the North East in general would be brilliant.

    I’m delighted that so many people enjoyed your interview, the best yet so life just gets harder!



  22. Great interview, takes our mind off the next 10 days when all will be revealed.

    I read cornerflag and saw that I was not a lonely freak but one of a band of brothers – especailly with the chart ticking off the games needed to be mathematically safe from relegation – sad really as 40 years later I still do it every year.

    Keep up the good work.

  23. Redcar Red

    The Derby fans are simmering, if things don’t go well some think things might get toxic.

    Like you, I think Keogh has a rick in him, he is there equivalent to George Kinnell, I wont use the far east version for his name.

  24. OFB

    Thanks for another top notch In2views. I’ve read a lot of Harry’s books and without exception have laughed out loud at some point during each one.

    On a flight with Mrs FAA off on holiday, i forget where, I was re reading The Far Corner for at least the third time and had to stop several times to wipe my eyes. All the while Mrs FAA shaking her head and giving me withering looks and as a non cricket fan I think Slipless In Settle is an absolute brilliant read.

    I was first introduced to Harry’s writings on a 9 month Far East deployment in 1997 by a Norwich supporting oppo. He gave me The Far Corner to read with the words; “You’re from up that way, you might enjoy this”. Thanks Keith you were right.

  25. FAA

    Absolutely agree. I had a similar experience with my missus. It was probably even worse for her since I insisted on reading bits of The Far Corner out. Every couple of minutes.

    I wish I had been able to get away with a few withering looks.

    The only belly- laugh I got out of her was when I said that this bloke was the Boro’s answer to Oscar Wilde.

    Her response: “I suppose you have to be courageous to come out up there”

  26. I have noticed that all the talk about “IF” we make the playoffs, would we rather have Fulham or Cardiff in the second automatic promotion spot but there is a very good chance that Aston Villa could clinch it and leave both Cardiff and Fulham in the playoffs!

    If Fulham lose or draw at Millwall and Cardiff dont beat Forest, a win for Villa at Ipswich would mean 2 points separating 2nd, 3rd and 4th with two matches to play, could be Avery interesting finish to the season and the playoffs.

    Come on BORO.

    1. I’m not sure if that is you being ‘heavy’ handed with me, or if your bad pun just ‘evens’ things up on the scales of justice….
      Talking of keeping things on the level, I hope the sea is kind to you and Exmil and respective better halves on your cruise🚢

  27. I resemble that remark though you have to be wary of the wardrobe pixie on cruises. They sneak in and put tucks in your clothes while you are sleeping. What is spooky is the fact they know what you are going to wear next.

  28. LOVE the work of Harry Pearson.

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this Bob. Very, very well done.

    Harry was one of my early inspirations as a writer. Off the top of my head I recall reading his column in the one and only copy of Riverside Roar! I ever had (it was sold in Ireland from roughly November ’96 to April ’97. Imagine my astonishment at picking up a Boro publication for the first time) on “the last time we won at St. James’s Park” in the aftermath of the 3-1 loss (the one with Beardsley’s double, Beck’s Ronny Rosenthal miss and the prelude to the international break where Emerson went AWOL).

    I think he wrote that Paul Wilkinson had many fine qualities as a striker but lightning speed wasn’t one of them. That Wilko pulled a hamstring chasing his daughter’s pet tortoise. And that when he reached the D, several had turned blue while holding their breath before the shot and collapsed due to lack of oxygen. Or something.

    Then he shot into the corner of the net. We won. Wonderful. But I do believe “you lucky swines” was heard out around the Gallowgate end.

    Also loved this piece on Alves and the history of Boro’s expensive failures…

    Great work again Bob.

    1. Many thanks

      The plaudits should go to Harry for the spirit in which he responded to the Interview and also thanks to Werder for his Editorship and Ilustrative input


    2. Thanks Simon. That’s the first time I’ve seen that article, but having seen old photos of Alf Common I had to agreel with Harry’s description of him. Also his reference to Boro’s signing of centre forwards to supplement and subsequently replace the aging Mickey Fenton is on a par with his stating that Boro were invented to help winless teams recover.

      Harry didn’t actually mention Mickey Fenton by name but when one considers the centre forwards Boro purchased post-Fenton such as Alex Linwood, Andy Donaldson from Newcastle (when we really wanted Jackie Milburn), Ken McPherson, Peter McKennan and Neil Mochan, then again post-Brian Clough with the likes of Afonso Alves, Maccarone, Kris Boyd and Assombalonga to name a few, we certainly were adept at buying goal scoring forwards and turning them into non-scoring ones. Fabrizio Ravanelli might have been the exception, but even he found it difficult to score away from the Riverside Stadium.

  29. Thank you OFB for your in2view with Mr Pearson. Did not know that much about him, Great Ayton!! and potted history, only having read his famous “Far Corner” and one or two others. A great journalist and appears underused at the present?

    Thanks also to Simon for posting up his Guardian article, very much “Typical Boro”. Nothing changed much there over the years including of course the current “questionable recruitment staff”

    Noticed that Martin Braithwaite finally got of the mark with a goal his tenth game for Bordeaux. Ten games, one goal and one assist. All this in 575 minutes of total playing time under Gus Poyet. I cannot see them buying him for any reasonable fee, if at all. Could be another one still on the books come the summer rehash of the squad. We are going to have a plethora of Mr Pulis unwanted players who know one will want to buy. Certainly at the fees and wages we forked out.

    1. I think Fletcher will like as not try and rebuild his confidence at Barnsley if they would have him back or maybe even Leeds (Paul Heckingbottom link) with Boro picking up 90% of his wages. Hopefully the lad will find his feet and deliver for whoever and wherever he ends up and proves the doubters wrong.

      Braithwaite is a bit of a conundrum. I can’t see him wanting to come back here and I can’t see Pulis requiring him but I can’t see Bordeaux forking out the sort of cash we splashed last Summer, I expect “an undisclosed fee” is in the offing.

      Unless Britt looks up the word “composure” and ends the season as a hero he is another who I suspect will depart for “an undisclosed fee”. Grant I suspect will end up at either Sunderland or Forest but I suspect the former.

      Whilst Gestede looks like a Pulis type player I suspect that TP will look for an upgrade (Hugill perhaps if we stay down?). Paddy I suspect has done and shown enough that what he may lack in the ideal Pulis physique he more than compensates for with battling qualities and of course goals which are always a surefire winner with any Manager.

      There are a few “no brainers” for differing reasons like Johnson and Fabio in the squad. What division we ultimately end up in will determine how many more come and go with regards to the likes of Adama and George and maybe even Ben and Dani. Then we have the middle ground of Howson, Clayts and Downing of which only Clayts I think would be wanted by TP with the other two accommodated at best.

      1. RR

        Ill go along with that and of course we need a keeper either Ripley or another.

        I’d also like to sign Besic as he shows promise and has played with an injury for past three games

        Traore well that’s another question entirely. I’d like to keep him but I think if we sold him then the money could be used to buy a good midfield player who can create


      2. Does anyone know if Traore is happy living in the North like Friend does or even Juni did? How is his English?

        I think Pulis could be an attraction for Traore for one extra year. He needs to be playing after the first year at Boro or his only season with Villa. He did not play more than once for Barcelona.

        I am not saying likely but still possible. Sir Gibbo will say no need to sell. He loves players like Traore.

        Just saying, like. Up the Boro!

  30. Interesting to note that Mirror Group Newspapers have wielded the axe on Gazette staff and people leaving which include

    Gazette Editor a Boro lad

    MGN NE MD which includes the Journal &Gazette another Boro lad who is a good friend of mine

    Interesting who’s next ?


  31. Traore is fine and likes it here. He has teamed up with Paddy and Britt and can be regularly seen together or playing Xbox games against each other


    1. Traore spent the whole 11 minutes beside Paddy when he was treated. So they must be close.

      Hat off to Traore that we still played well after the accident. As Bernie said it is always hard to see your mates injured.

      Up the Boro!

  32. OFB
    Talking of the gazzette you should get hold of Eric Paylor ,and do an interview ,he must have stories to tell?
    We know it’s a changing world, but you wonder when outlets cut to the bone their products, do they really think it’s for the better , a poorer experience for the consumer in the end will erase any savings for profit because people will stop using it,
    People didn’t line up at the local newsagents on a Saturday evening, to buy the pink gazette to just read about the game that day, it was the pages of articles,of all sports, including the letters and regular inputs from your teesside Tommy.
    I wonder at it’s peak the sales at the time?
    I wonder even today would there still be a place for it again , you can’t beat quality, it just takes vision and hard work.

    1. That’s a great idea and a great post

      As he still works freelance for the Gazette I’m not sure if he would be able to give an interview but I’ll try

      Doug Weatherall has agreed to do a series of interviews with me on players he knew and on football matches he reported on

      If anyone has anything they would like to have as a theme for one of the interview let me know


      1. OFB
        Re your proposed future interviews with Doug Weatherall l have some questions that you might like to put to him, though only suggestions.

        1. Did Doug see the famous Mannion match as a reporter or a spectator? This was the 4-0 win against Blackpool on 22nd November 1947 in which Wilf admitted that he wanted to impress his fiancée and future wife Bernadette. It is rumoured that Wilf ran almost the length of the field with the ball on his head but maybe an exaggeration, although he probably did run a few yards repeatedly heading the ball without it touching the ground. It’s also rumoured that both teams formed a guard of honour at the end of the match, or was it that they merely ushered him forward to take the crowd’s applause before they left the pitch?

        2. Does Doug think that the reason why Len Shackleton only won 5 England caps and Raich Carter only 7 was because they were not team players, or rather that Mannion was a better partner for Tom Finney?

        3. Does Doug think that Duncan Edwards would have won as many England caps as Bobby Charlton had he not lost his life in Munich?

        4. Was John Charles the most complete footballer of his time?

  33. OFB

    You wonder if it is because they are local lads and not corporate enough.

    The quality of the Gazette hasn’t lowered, it has collapsed. The website is virtually unreadable, you get the same mini video over numerous articles, some of the links they suggest are to articles when AK was in charge. A lot of the articles are clearly syndicated and seem to have little link to us,.

    Don’t get me going on sundry pop ups.

      1. Having no access to the club is the main reason they are suffering.

        I find it hard to believe they don’t know why journalists were banned.

        1. I was talking to the club media guys a couple of weeks ago and they said it is out of their. Hands to offer an olive branch

          The Ban comes from the very top and it only affected two journalists one of whom (jonno ) has now left the Gazette

          It was the Gazette decision for all their four journalists not to attend press conferences and to not carry out any interviews


  34. Anyway, at Turf Moor a typical Burnley performance. Chelsea 60% possession and leading 1 0 with 9 shots to Burnley’s 1 only for a deflection to allow Burnley to equalise – Chelsea’s goal was a bit dodgy as well.

    A repeat of what I have said for three season’s, Burnley score from few shots, you have to shoot and defend well.

    Chelsea have gone 2-1 in front and you couldn’t argue with that being fair.

  35. Hi everyone.

    Len asked me earlier “how do (I) do it”…

    And I simply don’t know!

    It’s sort of like that moment in Roald Dahl’s Matilda where the prodigious title character is asked to explain her multiplication skills.

    And all she can say is: “I . . . I . . . I simply put the fourteen down in my head and multiply it by nineteen. I’m afraid I don’t know how else to explain it.”

    I can’t explain how I was able to read before I went to school (my parents’ words), how I’m able to remember so many a football score, scorer and event, etc. Back when I was doing GCSE English I could, and still can, quote large parts of Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice… analysing was the problem. That would all come, but not for many more years and a lot of natural reading and thinking later.

      1. In this modern world one need to KNOW what one is looking for to find it. We have so much information. If you know a good quote, you can find it.

        It is like genealogy. You won’t find your great uncle’s cousin and his name easily, if you do not know he ever existed.

        But I think you are using your knowledge while googling, GHW, too.

        Up the Boro!

    1. i guess it comes down to one’s interests. I’ve always been a stats man especially regarding certain sports. Apart from football and Rugby League I still keep statistics of Yorkshire CCC batting and bowling averages, final scores going back several years of the Open Golf Championship and Boro Bears (formerly Teesside Tigers) speedway results, though I stopped keeping those records when they left Cleveland Stadium. Despite the internet I still keep updating weekly records and league tables of all four English Football divisions, all four Scottish League divisions, the three National leagues, and the Northern, Southern and Ryman leagues. Pretty boring to most people!

      I have always purchased yearly football handbooks and recorded the results match by match therein since 1956, and by entering the scores can remember each result for days on end – a photographic memory which I unfortunately only retained on subjects that interested me. I even have a record of all my holidays going back to 1970 of places I have stayed or visited. I didn’t particularly like Geography at school, but since travelling home and abroad, I can look at say the French or German football league tables and know roughly the location of the football clubs.

      The happenings in life from years ago stick with me much longer than what occurred a year ago. That’s why nostalgia plays a big part of my thoughts, a sure sign of getting old, yet I generally only remember the happy times not the sad ones. I reckon most people have a photographic memory of things that interest them. It’s just a shame that one often can’t recall facts or events which are probably more important than football.

  36. Nowadays you can. But you didn’t always use to be able to. And I don’t always use it.

    Apologies for rubbing you the wrong way, GHW. As always it was not intentional.

    The short, sharp answers you get for simply trying to be friendly and being honest about yourself… (sighs)

  37. Why do football fans allow the authorities to persecute them but not other sports fans?

    The latest refusal to stop WBA bringing safe standing in. The ridiculous alcohol in view of the pitch ban. Heavy handed stewarding. If fans got serious and started boycotting games I think we would soon see a change in attitudes.

    1. There is an element within Football fans that spoil it for the majority. The booze fuelled macho neanderthal doesn’t seem as interested in following Rugby or Cricket for example. Contrast Rugby or Cricket Internationals with the forthcoming Football World Cup and the nailed on totally predictable nature of what will happen. Sadly it’s not even a case of “if” there will be incidents but a case of how many hospitalisations or much worse!

      There is a rush to the bar at the Riverside (and every other ground) ten minutes before the end of the first half where individuals care more about lukewarm slops in a plastic cup than the game itself. Until Football fans (albeit a tiny minority) respect one another instead of embracing a two hour mob mentality and understand the difference between passionate support and GBH then they themselves provide the backdrop for their own fate.

      Football almost exclusively attracts an element that think letting off flares in crowded stadia, hurling missiles or vile chants is acceptable yet 30 minutes after leaving Stadiums they wouldn’t dream of behaving like that in the high street unless of course they are still within the confines of a huge mob. What other Sport attracts individuals who believe attacking team buses or chanting about historic plane crashes or child abuse is just harmless “bantz”?

      The “persecution” is a consequence of fans own actions albeit a very tiny minority who spoil it generally unfettered and unchallenged for the majority. Meanwhile throw in petty stewarding at clubs tackling minor issues, making mountains out of molehills whilst same clubs and authorities ignore the Elephant in the room and you create the perfect storm of resentment and self righteous indignation.

      Recent scenes at Anfield vandalising their opponents bus whilst in tandem remembering quite rightly the 96 shows the extremes in football fans attitudes sadly.

  38. “I know that players and managers are schooled in brushing off supporters’ comments, but for heaven’s sake, they are still only human beings.

    “I know the frustration of never seeming to satisfy some people despite the most obvious and clearest of evidence that you are making progress. As you mature in your role you become more relaxed about it and realise that the people who will never be satisfied are actually not important.”

    — I think I know where KookaBoro was coming from in 2015. He was talking about football players and managers, but he may as well have been talking about some fans too.

  39. RR

    Agree with that, I saw a video clip from inside the Citeh team bus and it was not a couple of bottles thrown at it, it was a barrage.

    There is a tiny minority at most clubs but of course, if you have 50,000 or 75,000, that tiny minority becomes a worrying crowd.

    I remember posting about some spittle flecked Borons at Brum who spent the whole match staring at their counter part morons in the blues fans.

    Why don’t they just buy a pack of beer, put the match on the radio, stand in front of a mirror and hurl abuse at the reflection?

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