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 Lauri Cox
1. The Overview – the woman and her career
Lauri is best known as a well-respected and experienced sports journalist. She contributes to UTB, the Boro matchday programme, compiling a six-page spread on the visitors. Now that I know this is part of her work, I read it avidly prior to watching the game as I can feel an insight into the writing.
She also does a behind the scenes interview, to give the readers more of a perception into things that people may not ordinarily see. She also works on a freelance basis as a Broadcast Assistant with BBC Tees and has been to around 80 different grounds. She regularly posts on Twitter expressing her views and her support for the Boro and since the interview, we now regularly exchange views and comments, together with our own Jarkko. Just your average typical Boro football fans, who share our love of the Boro.
She has always been connected with football, being the Daughter of Gordon Cox the Football Journalist and Broadcaster and also through her “Uncle Ali” Alistair Brownlee. Gordon and Ali both owned the publication house, Linthorpe Publishing, writing and printing works on Middlesbrough F.C. Their books included The Road to Eindhoven and The Class of ’86 and I have copies of these in my bookcase. Over the years, it is not therefore surprising that Lauri developed a love for all things associated with Middlesbrough and of course in particular, our very own football Club, the Boro. I have been working on this In2Views piece with Lauri for a few weeks and I’ve decided that this In2Views format will be a little bit different. I’ve done this as she has been so close to people who have suffered tragedy and it has impacted on all of us at Diasboro too.
I am not going to try and write about how much Ali meant to her, instead she has send me a post she did on twitter on February 18th, 2016, which says it all and probably expresses too the sentiments of many here on Diasboro…
Firstly, I would like to say thank you to all the well-wishers and thoughts that have come in this week. To apologise for the quietness, and if I haven’t replied, but they are very much appreciated.
Lots of people have sent love and asked about dad too – and on behalf of him I would like to say thank you, as he ‘doesn’t do social media’ ha.
Lastly; I would like to share some funny anecdotes that will hopefully raise a smile…
It’s not a secret that Boro gushed through Ali’s veins. On more than one occasion, if the family had stayed at ours after a party – he would wake up frightfully early, sprightly, stretch out and shout ‘UP THE BORO’ before going to read his morning paper. (Yes, really!)
There were the junior reds, run by him and dad – where I would be religiously, one of only 5 or 6 girls most times!
Or the parties at his house. Notorious New Year’s Eve gatherings – where we would inevitably spend more time round next door after midnight, after standing in the middle of the street singing Auld Lang Sine. It was always Christmas at ours, new year at theirs. That’s just what we did.
Everybody was welcome. Even if he had never met you, the door was open to join in the fun.
I remember too, he wanted to interview me about collecting advent calendars for his breakfast show – but decided he wouldn’t phone me until ‘later’ as I liked a lie in. He phoned at 8:30. Thanks for the lie in!!
You could always add in the lot of us, crowded round a tiny iPad mini screen at Ali’s wedding last year watching the play off semi first leg! Football, families and weddings!
I could go on and on, but this is just a short, sweet, and hopefully smiley memory to share – and a thank you to all of you far and wide for the love that has poured in.
I guess from the start in life, and with him and my dad in my life – I never had a chance really did I? Boro and football was always going to be a priority (otherwise I’m sure they would have had something to say!)
Teesside has lost a brother this week. But he was a brother to look up to. If I can grow to be half of the broadcaster he was, then I’ll be happy.
So, Uncle Ali, the Holgate in the sky awaits you. Slide in, two footed, shouting UTB & let them know you have arrived. Too early, undoubtedly, but being early was your thing wasn’t it?
It was an absolute privilege to not only know you, but to call you my family. You are an inspiration to so many, and the legacy you leave behind is a testament to the man that you are.
It won’t be the same without you, and you can never be replaced – but you can always be remembered.
I’ll see you soon, and in the meantime – I’m off round yours for a parmo.
Incidentally, my meeting with Lauri was also not long after the tragic accident that had eventually claimed the two daughters of her good friend Leo Percovich and she wanted to express in the interview the sorrow that she has felt towards him and his family. She told me that Leo became a good friend to her and her family and in her own words she says:
“Leo Percovich – we were close throughout his time here, a real loyal, fierce man. A man you love to have on your side. We stayed in touch when he left too, ‘friends always’ was our motto. In fact, it was ‘wherever, whenever, whatever, you have a friend in me’ we’ve been in almost constant contact since the terrible events too, my heart goes out to him and his family. You won’t meet a more loyal, genuine, man. An abiding favourite memory away from the sadness is him singing along to 500 miles behind the counter in the Mockingbird in Yarm.“
So, we have two poignant memories of what the Boro has meant to Lauri and her family and it helps to highlight that football in the end is just a game really.
2. The Interview – a quick chat
OFB: What was the first Boro match you remember going to see?
LC: It was at Ayresome Park, I lived on the same road as the ground – and used to wave at all the fans as they walked down my street! I can’t actually remember who the opponent was though! I remember going with my uncle, and as a young girl I didn’t quite understand the offside rule and he kept telling me that when the linesman put his flag up he had spotted a worm…
Oh, I couldn’t remember my first game but I do now! It was Boro v Spurs at Ayresome Park it was 3 0 and the Boro won!
OFB: Who was your favourite Boro player then and others that you watched at that time?
LC: John Hendrie! And Paul Wilkinson, he was a great forward. I used to think his cycling shorts were cool!
OFB: What has been your most memorable game, and best experience with the fans?
LC: It’s a tie between Steaua and The Carling Cup Final. I cried after both. I don’t think I ever thought I would see my team win a cup after three Wembley defeats as a kid. Eindhoven was special too, just being part of a European Cup Final was something I never imagined – despite the result. The Boro square before and after was excellent too, everyone was just in such good spirits.
OFB: Is your job as glamorous as it looks?
LC: Nope! Having said that, I now have the stats for every single Championship Player saved on my laptop! Oh, and last season’s Premier League Players. I have found out some very interesting quirky facts about our opposition over the last few years though which is always interesting.
OFB: Is your job as exciting as it seems?
LC: Nope! It requires a lot of deadlines, research and working out stats, which I do by hand. I tend to work out my stats sat at my dining room table, with pen and paper – old school! I actually found a piece of paper in my handbag the other day which was from a home game, where me and Sam (Loughran) were working something out, in tallies of five. Anyone else picking that up wouldn’t have had a clue what it was about, but I knew as soon as I looked at it.
OFB: What was your worst game or experience and why?
LC: Chelsea in the Cup Final when Di Matteo broke my heart after 46 seconds. I wasn’t that old and I was so excited leading up to the game. I just knew it was over after 46 seconds and it ruined the whole experience. I still don’t think I have forgiven him to be honest. Not sure I ever will!
OFB: Who was in your opinion the best manager that Boro have ever had and why?
LC: Although I wasn’t around at the time, I would say Jack Charlton. My dad wrote a book about him and from everything I know and have read he was brilliant. In my life time I have to say Steve McClaren; a cup final win, and two European runs (and a final) – just unbelievable. We hadn’t won a cup in 128 years and all of a sudden all of this was happening, it was hard to believe. I know he may not be everyone’s choice but there is absolutely no denying what he did for our club.
OFB: Who has been the greatest influence on your career and why?
LC: My dad and my Uncle Ali. I grew up with them and they taught me a lot about journalism, different aspects of it, and long hours travelling. I know I can send my dad anything I write now and he will be brutally honest, and he always has been. I’ve been around them that long I was around when match reports were done on Typewriters! A VERY VERY valuable lesson they taught me from a young age too is that your team is your team, and sometimes although it’s difficult to separate yourself from it – you have to. You accept what’s happened and move on.
OFB: Which opposing team and which player did you fear Boro playing against?
LC: Arsenal. Some of the best goals I’ve seen scored against us came from them (Kanu). Chelsea too as they ALWAYS beat us!
OFB: Who is your current favourite Boro player and why?
LC: Stewart Downing. I love the fact he’s a local lad who came back to his hometown club, he’s played at the highest level domestically and internationally and is still quite the player – even if he’s not as fast as he used to be. He commands the players on the field, his experience shines through and still has one heck of a delivery.
OFB: How do you think the match day has changed from the time that you started watching professional football to the present day?
LC: Well for starters it’s all seated now! Light shows and goal music (I’ll admit I’m not a fan of goal music) Also – money – the money in football these days is obscene and in my opinion prices some out of the game. The transfer fees bandied around these days make my eyes bleed. I think some of the money that’s floating around the game could be passed back to the fans by means of ticket prices etc. I’m really pleased we have frozen our season ticket prices for next season.
OFB: If you could be a fly on the wall, is there any dressing room you would wish to eavesdrop on?
LC: Any dressing room with Pep in. The man is an absolute genius, I want to know what he says to his players. He’s won pretty much everything there is to win, and I actually met him last season and he’s a really nice man to boot.
OFB: Do you have any regrets in your career, or missed opportunities?
LC: I don’t like to live with regrets – just lessons to learn from.
OFB: Who is the nicest person that you have interviewed or written about and why?
LC: David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd. We just laughed all the way through the interview. He’s brilliant, blunt, and just great. I was almost crying laughing when I asked him if he would rather be a referee or cricket umpire and he replied “Referee, take your tattoos and stupid hair and go and stand over there.”
OFB: Whereabouts do you live these days and what are your career ambitions?
LC: Still on Teesside! It will always be my home, but the end goal is Spain. I love La Liga, especially Barcelona, oh and it’s pretty much always warm!
OFB: Whom have you made a lifelong friend through football?
LC: There are too many to mention, but one who has become a very good friend is Peter Smith from Sky Sports Soccer Saturday.
OFB: Finally, if you hadn’t had your professional career, what do you think you would have done as a career?
LC: I qualified as a sports therapist before journalism, so I would more than likely be doing that somewhere!
OFB: A huge thank you to Lauri for taking the time to talk to Diasboro and all our readers, posters and bloggers.