In2views: Mark Proctor

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 Mark Proctor…

1. The Overview – the man and his career

Mark Gerard Proctor, or ‘Proc’ as he was more commonly known, is another one of the Boro Juniors that I worked with whilst acting as a referee for Harold Shepherdson – who managed the Juniors at that time. Mark was a natural leader, even at an early age and was always polite and respectful, his mass of thick curly locks bobbing around the field, making him stand out.

I saw him a few years later, during his second spell with the Boro, as he and his family came to live close-by at Marton, near Fairy Dell. He’s moved away now, but still lives on Teesside and always has a close bond with the Boro. His record includes being a former player, coach and as assistant manager under Tony Mowbray.

Mark Proctor PitchAfter graduating from the  juniors, Mark Proctor made 229 appearances and scored 18 goals in his two spells at Boro (1978-81 and 1989-93)

I still see him now at the Riverside Stadium, where he acts as a match day host and representative. His best pal today is David Hodgson (Hodgie) as it was in those days. He laughs when he remembers that when his manager John Neal negotiated pay rises, that both he and Hodgie were called into the office together, as in John’s words “you’ll tell each other what we’ve offered you anyway!”

He made his debut for Boro in 1978 and played 109 games for us until 1981 scoring 12 goals.

He later joined Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest in 1981 for £440,000 before moving on to Sunderland in 1983 where he was their player of the year in 1986. He remained with them for four years before moving to Sheffield Wednesday in 1987 for £275,000. After two years in Sheffield he returned home to us 1989 for £300,000. He went on to play another 120 games scoring 6 goals.

Talking to him, I asked what games stood out during his playing career with Boro. Without hesitation he said “three games I remember particularly that I will never forget;

“The first is when I made my first team debut as a raw seventeen-year-old in August 1978, when we beat Birmingham 3-1 away from home. I’d travelled down with the team on the coach as a way of getting some experience and being with the senior players. I had no idea that I was going to play that day and when I did I made sure that I would remember every minute of it. I had played a couple of friendly games with the first-team in Scotland so was familiar with the lads, and we all travelled down on Monday, one day before the match. John (Neal) never told me anything about the team selection, so we went to the hotel to prepare, had a sleep in the afternoon, and it wasn’t until about an hour before the game that I found out I was in the team. I didn’t have time to be nervous. I was just so excited to be playing. I remember John came up to me before the match and had a reassuring word. He said he knew my ability and told me to just go out there and do what I normally do. It was great to make my debut – but to do so in a winning team was extra special.

The second game that I remember well is when we beat Chelsea 7- 2 in December, was four months after I made my debut. I recall it because it was in this game that I scored my first league goal for the Boro and also it was such an impressive score-line. John Neal’s team were a well-established First Division force with a good blend of experienced pros like Stuart Boam, John Craggs and David Armstrong augmenting the development of a host of young players like myself, Craig Johnston and Terry Cochrane. Micky Burns scored four on that day and every ball he hit seemed to go into the net.

Proctor and Mogga TeamMark Proctor captained Boro for the final of the 1990 Zenith Data Systems cup after an injured Tony Mowbray could only lead the team out.

Then of course the last one that was so important to me, is when I was the Captain of Middlesbrough and led the team out at Wembley for the Zenith Data Services Cup Final at Wembley. Tony Mowbray, who was injured, took the place of our manager Colin Todd at the head of the team. Toddy felt Tony should be there and it was a marvelous gesture. I just loved the atmosphere and the roar of the crowd.

Proc later had moves towards the end of his career leaving us in 1993 to go to, Tranmere Rovers, South Shields and Hartlepool United before retiring in 1998.

His managerial career began when he proved to be an outstanding founding member of our hugely-successful Academy. This produced Premier League stars like; Stewart Downing, David Wheater and James Morrison under the careful Directorship of David Parnaby. He coached our youngsters to the FA Youth Cup in 2004, before winning it in 2005, then becoming our reserve team manager. He then left and became assistant manager at Darlington and wondering how to make the next step in his career, he phoned Mowbray who was the Hibernian Manager for some advice. Tony said there could be a role for him at Hibs and he subsequently became a coach there.

He was manager of Hibernian on a temporary basis for two matches between the departure of Tony and the appointment of John Collins. After leaving Hibs in the spring of 2007, he was appointed manager of Livingston during the 2007–08 season, he helped engineer Graham Dorrans’ switch from West Lothian to West Brom during his time as Livingston boss, but was sacked on 3 June 2008. He came back to the Boro in September 2008, as our under-18 coach. The former Lions manager kept a keen eye on the football fledglings at his old club however and he said;

“Andy Halliday was a player I identified and flagged up to our recruitment people,” he admitted. “I actually gave Andy his debut when he was just a schoolboy, I’ve kept an eye on him and heard good reports about him this season.”

Proctor and Mogga - CropMark eventually returned to Boro in 2008 when he was appointed as under-18 coach before being promoted to the first team set-up by Mogga

Mark was eventually promoted to first team coach by the then incumbent manager and his friend and former captain Tony Mowbray. After Mogga was relieved of his duties by Boro in November 2013, Mark also left the club.

Today, he still has a broad smile on his face, like he has had throughout his life with the Boro and he readily agreed to talk with me and give his answers to the Diasboro questions.

2. The Interview – a quick chat

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

MP: I signed for the Boro in 1978 as an apprentice professional. I was about 14 when I signed for Boro, but I had been going to training long before that. In school holidays I would train with the club all the time as I had a relative who lived on Warwick Street, near Ayresome Park. I remember in the summer holidays I stayed there for six weeks, training with the club every day and I loved it.

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

MP: I lived with my folks initially at Priestfields then we moved up to Ormesby Bank and shared a bedroom with my brother. Later, Hodgy (David Hodgson – OFB), my best friend at the Boro came to live with us when his mother died. So, it ended up with the three of us sharing one bedroom, but we had a great time.

OFB: What football were you playing at the time?

MP: I played for St Anthony’s which was my own school, the County and I also used to play for Nunthorpe on a Sunday morning.

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

MP: I can name quite a few, John Hickton, Graeme Souness and Bobby Murdoch. I was about eight years old when I first went to watch my hometown town team play and one of the players who stands out from that time was John O’Rourke. I also enjoyed playing with Craig Johnston. He was my old midfield partner, he taught me to be driven, the importance of having energy which resulted in performance and goals, that was Roo, a class player!

OFB: So, to be specific, and to narrow it down to one, who is your favourite Boro player of all time and why?

MP: John Hickton, because of his goal-scoring achievements whilst playing for Boro.

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

MP: Craig Johnson was the best trainer and the worst has to be Pally! (Gary Pallister  -OFB). He’ll probably have a go at me now if he reads this, but he was the worst!

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

MP: We mostly travelled by bus, at least 99% of the time unless the weather was bad and then we would use the train.

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

MP: There were about thirteen or fourteen players and sometimes Directors would travel with us as well.

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

MP: We always stayed in very nice hotels. When I played for Forest we always went to a big, posh hotel and get a huge steak for a pre-match meal. All the players would wait for the steak whilst sat around the table. Cloughie and Peter Taylor would walk in and following behind them was a waitress carrying a huge platter of chips.

Cloughie would then point his finger at various players saying, “You can have chips, you can have chips, you can have chips …” but this was said to all the players who weren’t playing! That’s how he told us who was in the team. It was brilliant!

“I got a big plate of chips and ketchup – so I knew was dropped! You never got chips even in the 80s pre-match.”

OFB: Who did you room with at Boro for away matches?

MP: It was Hodgy until he left to go to Liverpool and then Bernie (Slaven – OFB).

OFB: Who was the joker in the team?

MP: Billy Ashcroft

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

MP: No!

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

MP: I cleaned the boots for most of the senior players including Graeme Souness.

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

MP: I loved Colin Bell at Manchester City and thought he was the most complete midfield player and tried to be like him.

Colin Bell CropGrowing up, Mark Proctor was a great admirer of Manchester City midfield legend Colin Bell, of whom he tried to model himself on

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

MP: Leading the Boro team out at Wembley as Captain.

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

MP: Unfortunately, it was losing in the Quarter Final of the FA Cup to Wolves.

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

MP: No

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

MP: It has to be Bruce Rioch

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

MP: Bobby Murdoch who took me under his wing from being a junior right through to the first team.

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

MP: Liverpool; they were just awesome with some fantastic players who included, Dalgleish, Souness and Ian Rush to name just three who were at the top of their game.

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

MP: I always enjoyed playing against Tottenham Hotspur and liked Glenn Hoddle as a player.

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

MP: I still work at the Boro and I’m not going to be accused of any favouritism!

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

MP: I don’t think it’s really changed at all from when I played football. You still have a ball, two goals and eleven players for each team.

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

MP: Pep, Jose also Antonio (Conte – OFB).

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

MP: Yes, when I went to Forest I was too young and could have developed more whilst playing for them. I look back on those days with great fondness because it is nice to say I worked with one of the greats. It wasn’t a massively positive experience for me if I am truthful. I was only 20 years old and Cloughie was a bit too abrasive for me, when I probably just needed an arm around me. You had to stand on your own two feet. Had I gone a couple more years later in life, then I think I would have been ready. The experience however, stood me in good stead for the rest of my career really.

OFB: Do you still follow the Boro and their results

MP: Of course, I’m a Boro lad!

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

MP: I live at Eaglescliffe and work as Director of Football at the Premier Player Academy with Neil Maddison and Graham Kavanagh. I also act as a host and Boro representative on home match days. I remember when I was a lad, lan Peacock had a newsagent shop in Ormesby Village on Cargo Fleet Lane. Someone told me he used to play for Boro, Leeds and England, so I made a point of going to his shop to buy my Gazette to try and see him. Now I see him every matchday at the Boro where he works as a Boro ambassador.

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

MP: David Hodgson.

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

MP: I’m not really sure what I would have done except being a footballer. I was only 17 when I made my debut against Birmingham in August 1978 and haven’t really known anything else. Can you imagine what it was like playing alongside big names like; David Armstrong, David Mills and Stuart Boam? It was my dream come true.

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

272 thoughts on “In2views: Mark Proctor

  1. Thanks OFB. Another imperious in2view. It is nice to see people you watched and admired as a player come across as decent guys in your interviews. Mark Proctor certainly does.

  2. I have met Proc twice very quickly – first I was touring the Rockcliffe Park training facilities with my son. Proc was training some juniors and asked my son to join in. My son declained as he was just eleven, a bit shy and his English was not good enough. But Proc was brilliant.

    Second time I was on the pitch of Riverside before a game as HalifaxP knew I was celebrating my birthday of 50 years at Teesside (where else?). So Pete had arranged me and my wife to be there when the players run out. Again a few quick words with Proc when he had finished warming up the players before the match.

    So he was one of my favourites when he played but definately one of my all time favourites now. A real gentleman in the Mogga style.

    OFB, thank you for the gems. Great to read about the players one worshipped as a player. Well done. I can hardly wait for the interview with Hodgsy. Facinating to hear that the chaps were like broters having lived together in a same bedroom as kids.

    Up the Boro!

  3. Nice interview of a player I assume that all of us on this forum have seen play for the Boro. I well remember the 7-2 win against Chelsea as it was featured on Match of the Day, and later on a video cassette of a compilation of all Boro’s matches on MOTD which also recorded Proc’s great friend Hodgy destroying Swansea 5-0 in a FA Cup tie at the Vetch.

    On another topic I notice that League Cup matches finishing as draws after 90 minutes are no longer to go to extra time, but straight to a penalty shoot-out presumably to save players’ energy. A touch of irony here by the sponsors of an energy drink don’t you think?

    Also the gremlins seem to have affected my iPad yesterday. I had intended to continue the history of Middlesbrough FC starting with their matches in the Northern League especially agains their rivals Ironopolis. However following the sad demise of Stan Anderson it would be remiss of me not to extend my condolences to his family, and if my iPad behaves itself I hope instead to write an article about his years as Boro manager later today, and hopefully continue the ‘history lesson’ of Middlesbrough FC next week before my holiday in Budapest.

  4. Another very good read Bob, much appreciated in this barren spell of football.

    Proc was on BBC Tees having a chat with Bob Fischer (I think!) a couple of weeks ago and came over as a nice guy who was keen to talk about his career.

  5. Thanks for that OFB
    Mark was a player I followed closely as he moved into the road off Ormesby Bank where I live and as I had worked with his farther Marty and his uncles Peter and Steve in the building trade. It was great to see him with a ball at his feet running rings round the other kids from round the area. And when he was older him and Hodgy still doing it with the local kids, it was like our own private training sessions in a little narrow road how windows or cars survived who knows? You knew when a big black car arrived outside Marty’s house John Neill had arrived, the other players I have seen there were Craig Johnson Stuart Ripley plus Colin Cooper was courting a girl “ now his wife? “ further up the bank. For My better half it was the only time she has followed football…!!! So you can imagine why I look upon this time as my favourite time following the Boro.

  6. Are Juninho and Jack Charlton the only World Cup winners with a Boro connection?

    Interestingly Christian Ziege was there with for Germany in 1998 and 2002 but the winners were France and Brazil in those years.

    Having said that I found that Christian Karembeu was included in the 1998 winners squad. Did he play during the tournament?

    The same applies to Branco in 1994 – but I suspect he did not play much in the tournament. Did he receive a medal, though?

    All the Boro players or coaches who have been to the World Cup can be find at the Gazette:

    I hope we sign a World Cup winner again. Up the Boro!

    1. Jarkko

      You missed out Nobby Stiles who was a World Cup winner and played (i use the word generously) for the Boro toward the end of his career.

      1. And also missed out Jack Charlton himself.

        Jack still registered as a player and played in the reserves twice during his first season


      2. Yes, my bad. I missed Nobby Stiles. I could blame the Gazette because he is missing from their list, too!

        OFB! I did mention Big Jack. I wouldn’t forget his highness. Ever. Up the Boro!

    1. I knew Shep very well and he was always a gentleman and courteous.

      He was no fool though because when Stan left The club Shep almost got us promotion


  7. Proc is such a lovely guy, I bet that it was a pleasure for you, OFB, to do that interview. And you certainly got a brilliant result.
    It fully gets the message across of who, and what he is about, and brings out his quiet manner and laid back style- that he shows both on and off the pitch.
    Good one, again, OFB.

  8. OFB,

    Another great read, thank you. These interviews with mostly local ex-players show the pull and hold the club and fans have on them, and a some from a long way away too. keep it up.



  9. Stan Anderson has the best ratio of wins to matches played of any of the 30 men to manage Middlesbrough FC, albeit that all his seasons were outside the top division. I can just hear Kammy shouting “Unbelievable Jeff”, but the statistics of the top 5 below prove that point:-

    Stan Anderson 132 wins in 298 matches = 44.30%
    Jack Charlton 74 wins in 168 matches = 44.05%
    Aitor Karanka 71 wins in 164 matches = 43.28%
    Bruce Rioch 69 wins in 164 matches = 42.07%
    Bryan Robson 99 wins in 261 matches = 37.93%

    Of course Jack’s wins apart from one season, and Bryan’s wins apart for two seasons were all recorded in the top division, but a win is a win in whatever league it is recorded so due credit should be afforded to Stan Anderson. However wins divided by defeats give a slightly different result with little between Aitor 1.543 and Jack 1.542 with Stan on 1.483, but I prefer to use the formula of wins divided by matches played which is used by almost all statisticians.

  10. The previous blog was my third attempt at posting as the gremlins resurfaced, so forgive me for posting some paragraphs before continuing. So hopefully to continue.

    Stan Anderson was appointed to succeed Raich Carter in 1966 as Boro were relegated to the Third Division for the first time in their history. I have previously written about Stan’s first season in some detail, but to summarise Boro won only two and drew two of their first ten matches and languished in 21st position with a paltry 6 points. Suffice to say that 15 wins 6 draws and only 4 defeats in the next 25 had elevated Boro up to 6th, but then came a run of 4 defeats in 5 matches which threatened to derail any promotion hopes. However 4 wins and a draw at Brighton followed before the coup-de-grace in that never to be forgotten final match at home to Oxford where the official attendance was recorded as 39,683 although various estimates suggest it was much higher. In fact the average attendance for that season had been a disappointing 14,000 until the last 3 matches with the previous highest crowd recorded against Darlington on 27th December (25,213) and subsequently beaten for the visit of Torquay (27,160), then Peterborough (32,503) and finally Oxford.

  11. The following season Boro finished a creditable 4th after taking some time to adapt to the higher division. A crowd of 25,916 saw the opening 0-2 home defeat to Ipswich (the eventual champions) and Boro failed to win any of their first five home matches, and a sole 2-0 away win at Hull was followed by a 1-6 reverse at Birmingham. So having dropped to 17th before the visit of Plymouth crowds had dropped below 20,000 such was the fickleness of the Boro faithful. Boro won that match 5-0 against Plymouth but lost 0-3 at Cardiff ten days later. By now crowds had fallen below 17,000 despite a vast improvement in results up to Christmas. In fact Boro won the next five matches with goals aplenty – Preston at home 5-0, Derby away 4-2, Palace at home 3-0, Ipswich away 2-1, then the Saturday before Christmas with the usual large festive crowd of 27,952 for the visit of Carlisle when four second half goals including a John O’Rourke 🎩 trick in a 4-0 win had elevated Boro up to 8th place.

    However Boro lost four of the next five matches and were back down to mid table. What’s more the goals had dried up – 18 goals in those 5 wins were followed by one sole Hickton goal in the next five matches. Boro did recover though with 9 wins in their last 15 matches but, apart from a 2-1 home win against top of the table QPR, the season ebbed away with crowds around the 13,000 mark.

    As I said to start this 1967/68 season, I reckon it was a satisfactory season and helped to stabilise the club in a higher league. The highlight of the season though was probably the 2-1 League Cup win at home to First Division Chelsea in September before a crowd of 30,417. In fact Cup ties in those days recorded much bigger crowds than today – 28,509 against Hull City and 29,086 against Bristol City when the league average was less than 19,000.

    1. Unfortunately the gremlins have returned and wiped out my final chapter, but nil desperandum, after a short break I hope to conclude the Anderson years. The problem seems to be a temporary loss of power when the screen just disappears despite the battery level being ok, so I’m hoping that connecting to the electricity supply will solve the problem, so here we go again.

      I have previously reviewed the 1968/69 season on this forum earlier this year, so suffice to say that this looked like becoming the season when Boro might reach the promised land. Boro were never out of the top six, and indeed from the 24th January until the 25th March only twice were they outside of the top two. But following a 5-3 home win over Hull City, Boro collapsed over Holy Week and the Easter period by only accumulating four points in a winless 7 matches to the end of the season. In fact Boro hadn’t lost at home all season until succumbering 2-3 to Bury in their final home match. Boro thus finished 4th with 49 points only one behind Charlton but seven behind second placed Palace.

      The following season Boro again finished 4th with 50 points and only three points behind second placed Blackpool, and with five matches remaining after Alex McMordie had scored a late winner in a 3-2 home win over Watford they were second, but two away defeats at Hull and Villa put paid to any chance of promotion. Boro’s home league form in those two seasons and indeed in the next two seasons was remarkable :-
      Played 84 Won 57 Drew 21 Lost 6 Goals 140/54 Points 135
      Yes only six defeats:-
      12 April 69 Bury 2-3
      27 Sept 69 Blackpool 0-2
      26 Dec 69 Carlisle 0-2
      29 Aug 70 Oxford 0-2
      20 March 71 Orient 0-1
      6 Nov 71 Preston 0-1
      and typically Boro only the Blackpool defeat was against a top team.
      However in contrast Boro’s away form was abysmal – 7 wins in 1967/68 reasonable, but a total of 18 in the next four seasons well below par for a team hoping for promotion.
      Under Anderson’s management Boro had finished 6th, 4th, 4th, 7th, 9th and 4th. John Hickton had scored 91 goals in the first four of those seasons, but only scored a total of 25 in the last two. Nevertheless Stan Anderson had left his successor with some fine footballers as we all well remember.

      Finally I have to make a confession as I had forgotten that Stan Anderson had resigned following a FA Cup defeat to Plymouth on 13th January and I inadvertently included the last 16 league matches in his statistics. In fact Anderson therefore won 124 league matches as Boro’s manager out of a total of 282 giving him a win ratio of 43.97% which places him second to Jack Charlton. I there apologise for that error, but it cannot be overstated that Stan provided Jack with an excellent squad of players, and for that we owe him our eternal gratitude.

      In memory of Stan Anderson, may he rest in peace.

  12. Whilst Ken’s recollections may have revived KP’s teenage years, sadly they were quite a while before my time – nevertheless they were interesting to read and many thanks for the posts.

    However, OFB’s excellent In2views article on Mark Proctor has revived my own teenage years as this was the time I started watching Boro from the Holgate as a 16-year old. I remember Proc as a classy midfielder who was way ahead of his years in terms of presence and ability and he was part of the Hodgson-Johnson-Proctor trio of young exciting Boro players who emerged under John Neal – who I thought was a much under-rated manager for Boro and our demise began when he departed.

    I still remember the alternating chants of Hodgson-Johnston from the Holgate and Proctor was also part of that feeling the club were unearthing real gems who could take the club forward. Sadly all were sold all too soon – with Hodgson and Johnston heading to Liverpool and Proctor joining Clough at Forest.

    The anecdote of Clough letting his players know who was in the starting XI by allowing those not playing chips for the pre-match meal was priceless – it was a kind of reward for not being deemed quite good enough – a whole new meaning of ‘fries to go’

    Incidentally, I remembered that Boro had a great home record back in those days with Boro losing just three home games back in the 1980-81 season and winning 14 – imagine if Karanka had managed to win 14 home games in our last effort in the top tier we would have been ecstatic.

    Having said that, this was in the era before the Premier League had sucked the competition out of football for all but the big rich clubs. The top six in the top tier in the 1980-81 season was:

    1. Aston Villa
    2. Ipswich
    3. Arsenal
    4. West Brom
    5. Liverpool
    6. Southampton

    Boro finished 14th out of a then 22 club top division and were let down by their away form but at least held the record that season for the biggest win with a 6-1 battering of Norwich. The team included Proctor, Hodgson and Johnson as well as as former In2viewees Ian Bailey and Jim Platt – plus club legends David Armstrong, John Craggs and Bosko as well as captain Tony McAndrew, David Shearer and young prospect Mike Angus in defence with Billy Ashcroft as sub.

    Anyway, here are the MOTD highlights (with Motty commentating) on YouTube of that 6-1 victory – in truth we could have scored a dozen…

  13. Great clip, Werder. A young, talented and fearless attacking team. Miles away from what we have even aspired to, let alone achieved, over the past few years. And it highlights the sadness of where we are now, and the poverty and limitations of our current aspirations.

    All credit to Southgate for at least attempting to get a squad together that mirrors some of these qualities from the distant past. I wish them well and hope they can at least do something which has been conspicuous by its absence in every competition England have competed in since Euro 96 – giving it a real go, and playing with energy, enthusiasm, creativity and attacking intent. I’m almost constitutionally indifferent to how England do, but I’ll be happily cheering this promising young squad on. Whatever happens they cannot possibly do worse – one knockout win in major tournaments since 2002 – than the old lags and overly cautious management approaches of the past. I hope they strut their stuff.

    Come on England.

    1. And to think I was misguided enough to promote that caution and lack of individual expression. For years.

      Probably because I was buying rather heavily into two popular football myths…

      1. The right results and the right statistics are most important.
      2. It’s not about an individual player’s ego or performance, it’s about the team.

      Ties in nicely with my talking point on selfishness.

  14. Thanks, Werder. I was a fan when Charlton was manager but I made my first trip abroad in 1980 to see Boro. So this team is the first I saw live at Ayresome Park. I would like to add Terry Cochrane to the foil in here. He is the first Boro player I ever talked to. I admired David Armstrong, too and met his mother and sister after a match at Ayresome.

    Hodgson and Johnston, they were terrific, too. Somehow I felt at the time that if a player presented England U21 team, he was an exceptional footballer. Like Hodgson or Johnston etc.

    But we have to remember we have Dael Fry now. I hope to see him and Gibson together at Riverside next season.

    Up the Boro!

  15. Just to follow up on Stan Anderson. I always remember him as a wing half/midfielder but surprised to hear him described in the Gazette as a centre half. I can’t recall his playing in that position for Boro, but maybe he started his career there. What does come through though are the fine tributes from Gordon Jones and Alan Peacock, and all three along with Mark Proctor described as ‘gentlemen’. As a club we were lucky to have them as players, and still lucky to have the three still alive as ambassadors for not only our club, but also our area.

    One interesting fact that Gordon Jones mentioned about Stan Anderson, was his disillusionment with modern football where possession seems to be all important and that he wouldn’t compromise the way he wanted Boro to play just to maybe improve Boro’s dreadful away record. I’m not going to criticise Stan for that, but Jack Charlton obviously thought differently and, with many of Stan’s players, absolutely ‘smashed’ the league. Just like Brian Clough did, get the defence right by playing ‘boring’ football, and then play the Anderson way when all other teams fear you. Jack’s team didn’t score too many goals in its first 10 or 12 matches, but once he was confident that the defence was almost impregnable (not withstanding the 1-5 defeat at Forest) the midfielders could be given licence to play more forcefull and penetrative football (successive 4-0 away wins at West Bromwich and Fulham, then the 8-0 annihilation of Sheffield Wednesday).

    There’s probably a good lesson for Tony Pulis there, but will he become more adaptable, or remain too stereotyped? We await the outcome of that with more than a little interest.

      1. Sorry, Ken! Heavens, my head’s away with it today. Either that, or autocorrect.

        Many a story I have heard about Jack Charlton suggests he was brilliant with names. Allegedly, in “Charltonland”, Jim Beglin became Jim Belgium, and Liam Brady became Ian Brady.

        There was also: “Scotland beat Romania one-nothing. Or was it Bulgaria?”

        I’m now convinced he did it deliberately.

  16. The odd thing about the team that Jack Charlton managed was the fact it had six attacking players.

    Sounness, Murdoch and Armstrong were all forward looking players. Up front we had Hickton, Mills and Foggon.

    It was hardly a park the bus team but Craggs, Boam, Maddren and Spraggon looked like they were hewed out of granite, Despite that Craggs could attack and Maddren was a fine footballer.

    1. Ian,

      I always felt that Craggs, Boam, Maddren and Spraggon sounded like profiles for girders. You know, I’ll take 60 feet of 12″ Craggs, 30 feet of 18″ Spraggon and so on. Funny how the same thought struck us both in different ways!



  17. Elsewhere, Spain have sacked their coach because he is going to Real Madrid.

    Rearrange the following

    Nose off spite cut face nose your to your.

    This competition is free to enter, there is no prize.

  18. Nope, keep trying.

    Elsewhere, England play Australia in the 3M Sandpaper one day international.

    In their team are Root, Bairstow, Willey, Rashid and Plunkett, all from Yorkshire.

    Noe are available for Yorkshire in the Royal London Cup quarter final on Thursday.

  19. In hindsight, after the Spanish FA’s decision to sack their manager, perhaps SG should have got shot of McClaren when he agreed to take the England job.

    1. In hindsight I think he should have got shot of him but what really stinks is how the FA conducted themselves during the entire business. It might be that huge Teesside Chip on my shoulder but I doubt if it had been a “Top 6” Club the announcement would have happened when it did.

      Meanwhile I notice that an alternate bunch of incompetent footballing buffoons managed to award the 2026 World Cup to the US/Canada/Mexico. Strange how it was the FBI that investigated their corruption and brought them to their knees and now the US have the World Cup. Maybe instead of sending Becks and Wills over to court favour with FIFA the FA should have sent MI5 instead.

      1. Trump’s threats of economic retaliation against African countries who failed to support the US bid should, in itself, have lead to its disqualification.

  20. Simon,

    Jack never bothered to do even the most basic homework when he was used as a TV pundit. Never used any of the names of the opposition. It was always a case of, “We have to watch out for their little number 7″, or ‘The big lad up front can’t control the ball” etc.

  21. Booby Robson was supposed to be awful with names and I seem to recall Fabio Capello asking a newly called up Shola Ameobi what Bobby Robson called him at Newcastle.

    His reply was ‘Carlton Cole’

    It may not have been Carlton Cole but that is the essence of the story

  22. I read when Jack signed George Reilly for the Toon, within days, hours even, he had to ask Reilly who he was!

    “Oh, I always knew George Reilly as the big laird.”

    Or something.

  23. Ridiculous that the World Cuo should go to USA/Canada/Mexico.

    Good luck to the fans trying to traverse those three massive countries to follow their teams.

    1. Think of the, er, inducements to give it to that colossal geographic area. As an official everything will have to checked and re-checked. Ridiculous. The ghost of Septic Splatter still stalks continents.

      A side show. The Emperors syit of clothes.

      Back to the Championship.



  24. Well I shan’t be around to take any interest. It’s bad enough having 32 countries participating this year, but 48? Where will it end – 96 countries by 2034 participating in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam?

    1. Or even Finland, Ken. We have never qualified yet.

      But seriously, the 32 countries taking part this year should be the maximum. I cannot watch more football!

      Perhaps I must take cold baths, have a coach and forget beer before the Mexico, USA and Canada finals will start?

      No, this 32 should be absolute maximum. Too big for anyone to handle. But most probably FIFA will soon change it to be very second year as well!

      Up the Boro!

  25. There was never any need for three countries to host. Especially these three together.

    USA hosted a brilliant tournament on their own in 1994.

    Mexico hosted two highly regarded competitions by themselves in 1970 and 1986. Even today, apart from Maradona (ouch) we still talk about Lineker’s instinct and Danish Dynamite, among other things.

    1. Agreed, I remember Mexico hosting the 1970 World cup in some fantastic stadiums (and some not so great) especially when compared with Ayresome Park as a comparison. There were sixteen teams in those finals, the holders England and hosts Mexico plus fourteen others who won the right to compete by qualifying. Sixteen teams was fine then and would be now but in those days there wasn’t the same level of Global TV rights cash floating around.

      The USA in 1994 had plenty of suitable arenas albeit a bit of a challenge to make them suitable for “Soccer”. If I’m not mistaken I think the USA finals still holds the highest attendance levels despite the US themselves not exactly setting the footballing world alight. I’m sure that Canada would also likewise have enough suitable stadiums to do a great job as hosts.

      If we are to ever see a World Cup on these shores again maybe it needs to be done as a joint England/Ireland/Scotland/Wales bid. Now that it seems to be a vote between nations rather than Committee members who could “perhaps” be swayed there may be less anti UK bias.

  26. Following OFB’s interview with Doug Weatherall reference was made about the book and film of ‘The Damned United’. I wasn’t aware at the time, but ‘The Red Ladder Theatre Company’ are on tour at the moment performing a play of the book principally in West Yorkshire with Andrew Lancel (formerly DI Manson of ITV’s long running drama The Bill) playing the part of Brian Clough. I know that the play is being performed in at the Castleford Rugby League Ground tomorrow night, but wonder if anyone knows whether The Riverside Stadium is on the itinerary.

  27. I have been busy winding down for retirement, ()if that makes sense!) so haven’t had too much time to comment. Whether retirement will give me more time depends on how many jobs Mrs BBD finds for me to do!

    Anyway, thanks to OFB for the last few articles and interviews, fascinating reading as always.

    Onto the World Cup, 32 teams are plenty and in some respects, the way that qualifying works, it is not even the 32 best teams in the world! To be fair, I am not sure that there would be another way of arranging it but to have Saudi Arabia, to name but one, in the mix is a nonsense to my mind.

    How far will England progress? I would expect us to get through the group stage but then go out in the next round unless we can up our game.

    Time will tell although I can’t get too excited about it all any more, a sign of advancing age perhaps? Unlike when I was a kid and had the sticker books, wall charts etc. I drew the line at purchasing “Back Home” though!

  28. Still no transfer news at Boro apart from Adrian Bevington.

    So while waiting for the World Cup to start, I looked at the players we could keep and where we need to invest.

    As you know, I want as few changes per a transfer window as possible. We need to learn that ten is too much per season. We have seen it in the past two seasons! I hope to see maximum four players to arrive in this window.

    Goal: Randolph, Ripley (Dimi?)

    Friend + Fabio
    Gibson + another
    Fry, Ayala
    Shotton, another

    Downing, Harrison (extended loan as suggested in Jan by TP)
    Braithwaite, another, Lewis Wing
    Clayton, Howson
    Traore, another, Tavernier, (Chapman)

    Bamford, Britt and Gestede

    So I think we need a reinvented Barragán (a more attacking alternative to Shotton) or a new right back. Fabio can play on both sides. We definitely also need a squad player at left CB if Gibson will be injured.

    I would sign Besic again and another attacking midfielder there. Clayton and Downing would be the only midfielders I would carry on from the Karanka era. We still suffer from that time in midfield.

    So that is my thinking. I have kept Braithwaite as he is still our player and good enough. If he will be sold – that wouldn’t surprise me – we need one more midfielder. As said I would keep the changes to minimum, though.

    I would invest in quality rather than quantity. Let’s buy a really good attacking midfielder first and of course I hope Traore and Gibson will stay. Up the Boro!

    1. I made a howler in here (above). My system was 4-1-3-1 and one outfield player missing. So it seems that I cannot count!

      So there are two players missing if we want to keep two per position. So if I consider the 4-5-1 as our system (a minor tweak from 4-2-3-1) I need to reshape the midfield.

      Downing, Harrison (new, extended loan as suggested in Jan by TP)
      Braithwaite, another, Lewis Wing
      Howson, Another
      Clayton, Leadbitter
      Traore, another, Tavernier, (Chapman)

      So looks like we need two loan and three permanent acquisitions. (Or with 4-4-2 another striker).

      Up the Boro!

  29. We could set up a completion on how many new players will arrive in this window. I will go with four (but hope it will be just three if Braithwaite is kept).

    Up the Boro!

  30. Jarkko

    Last summer many of the clubs in the championship had a similar turnover to ourselves. The main difference was they settled their formation, style of play and team line up a lot faster than we did.

    Gary Monk was tinkering during the whole of his tenure. We played all of pre season in 4231 then switched to a 433 for the last pre season game and tweaked thereafter.

    1. Ian
      Condemned by his own action.
      To play your brilliant young centre back for ten! consecutive games, and drop him because he made a mistake ( that is one mistake) tells you why we fail to develop our own super stars, and even more damaging, never get top dollar for our players.
      Some one should have told Monk that you can only improve by playing, that and being told that mistakes are par for the course.
      The practice of telling talent that they will not amount to a row of beans until they are twenty three must stop.
      I expect to see Fry installed as part of our central defence on day one.
      I expect to see Gibbo set out on his rout to the top of the game.
      By the way, this week at least four very ordinary players from the Champ. Are being merrily touted for twenty million, so Boro should give their head a shake, or change their recruiter.

  31. Yes, that is true but I refer to the last summer with Aitor, too. That did not work either.
    So I try to keep the changes to minimum per one window. Long term there should be more changes if needed.

    A good team needs half a season to gel or more. We cannot go back to the times when Charlton was here. But solid progress as per when TP came.

    Up the Boro!

  32. OFB…..thanks for another great In2View with “Proc”.
    I think as he said himself his transfer to Forrest came to early. Also in my opinion he was a little one paced, and so struggled at the higher level. Would of been OK with AK though.

  33. Interesting choice of models for the new kit, I wonder should we read anything into it or were they the only two around the building at the time.

    In terms of it being Red and having the White band full marks. The Collar looks a bit “distracting” though and not in a good way, the fit looks somewhat akin to a wetsuit rather than a Football shirt but that may just be down to the use of six bulldog clips on Rudy’s back for the sake of the glamour photo shoot. Personally I’m not blown away by them but its light years better than the dross Adidas couldn’t bother their backsides about for the last few years. When you look at the shirt fans across the country will at least think Boro first rather than Forest/Liverpool/Barnsley/Charlton etc. so for that I am grateful at least.

    The Away shirt is functional in that its not Red but it wouldn’t have hurt to have made it a little more inspirational than just drab Navy. An white Away Shirt with a blue/Navy band for me would have been better or even revisiting the Navy and Blue striped shirt of old.

    If the fit is as streamlined as they look then I would guess that they are going to run out of xxl and xxxl’s in the Club shop very quickly. Overall 6/10, good but could do better!

  34. Yep, just seen Rudy and Ben modelling the new kit.

    No arguments from me. White band in the right place, good colours. I’ve always preferred it when there’s blue in our away kit.

  35. Not alone in admitting that I expected much better from the Adidas spell, 2009-2018. That said none of their kits was an outright disaster barring the horrible diagonal stripe around the waist.

    I have one Errea shirt, the 2006-07 home model that I bought at the Riverside. The material wasn’t the greatest but I liked the design.

  36. Enjoyed your post earlier, RR, about the World Cups in Mexico and the US.

    Though I would add that the tournament meant more to the US than even I thought.

    As Eric Wynalda, who scored that wonderful free kick to earn the US’s first point in the World Cup since… er… 1950 and the 1-0 win over England (!!) recalled…

    “We were a story, we were relevant. Regardless of the fact that we lost – and we did lose to the eventual champion – there was hope.”

    If only we could all see it that way – building on the positives of learning experiences and going a step further next time instead of forever lamenting it as “failure”.

    Here’s the full piece, featuring recollections from the US squad of 1994. Stick with it, it’s a cracker.

  37. Redcar Red

    I always liked the blue and black striped away kits, they looked mean.

    A bit on the c word, there were sales of squares of sandpaper with 4’s and 5’s on them outside the Oval yesterday. One thing irritated me watching the end of the one day match

    Ian Ward from Sky, a southerner advised us that Essex would be without their captain for todays match. Somehow forget to mention half the Yorkshire team were with England in front of his very eyes.

    You football only Boro fans think you are bitter and twisted, add in being a Yorkist as well.

    We still remember Phil Sharpe being taken off the pitch at Essex and being sent to Headingley for England in a test match only to carry the drinks as Keith Fletcher from Essex, the gnome, played instead.

    God is a Yorkshireman because the gnome dropped a sitter in the slips – Phil Sharp was one of the best slip fielders I have seen. The cherry on the cake was when the gnome got a duck.

    One player became England captain, played 56 tests with a batting average of under 40 and took 54 catches – under one a game

    The other played 12 test matches at an average of 46.23 and took 17 catches – 1.5 per game.

    Here is the tough question, which one played for a home counties team and which one played for Yorkshire?

  38. Just received an email declaring 32Red ‘as our principal partner’ with a link for the full story on 32Red as our front-of-shirt sponsor for the coming season.

    The 32Red Story

    The more observant among you may have noticed the main problem with this email is that it came from Aston Villa, who I’m seemingly still on their mailing list after signing up to watch the live stream last season on AVTV…

    1. Werder, Just got the same email and thought, oh a mix up here, but then realised it was AV.
      Ian I also thought that the blue and black stripe was great. Would of liked that or RR version of white shirt.

  39. Werder….likeyou keep getting the emails from AV, Rams, Forrest etc always. Was giong to unsubscribe but then thought better wait until after Wembly before I delete them.

    Just aswell I didn’t. Will need them all again.

    1. Exmil, I will order mine next week. It is fabulous – some fans say it is the best ever in internet.

      When you get yours, Exmil, will you hint me about the sizes. I am some where between XL and XXL because I am 6 ft 4 in tall but slim. Usually I buy XL as XXL is ofter too “wide” for a slim guy like me. So if you can please inform me if the Hummel sizes are “smaller” or “larger” than general norm I would be gareteful.

      And no, TP has not contract me yet for the vacant left back position. I keep practising my throws meanwhile as I sure can head a ball.

      Up the Boro!

      1. Jarkko it will be a pleasure, I usually take a size L, so I will try on before I buy and let you if I had to go for a different size.

        Come on BORO.

  40. On the subject of emails fro other clubs and whether to delete or not I too decided to continue to subscribe on the basis that i will probably need to subscribe again this season for streamed games.

    I have refrained from contacting MFC to see if they will be streaming games themselves or via IFOLLOW the coming season as I will only go off on one when I receive yet another feeble excuse as to why they are not doing so!!

  41. The shirt is better, much better, than I expected. Like Redcar Red I would have loved more blue, preferably stripes in the away kit but they are way better than any offering from Adidas in the the last three years. Thumbs up from me and as RR said at least they are BORO shirts with some subtle detailing.



    1. My only issue with the Home shirt is that it either needs more white around the Collar to frame it better or a wider White band but that is pure nit picking and even I acknowledge that. Being a perfectionist isn’t easy but somebody has to do it 🙂

      What is important is that both Hummel and the Club have learned from that disastrous insult of a gastric band that Adidas literally fobbed us off with. That gut busting band was prophetic in that it summed up our Premiership Season from the off, just one huge embarrassment.

      This shirt, love it, like it or even just accepting of it (I think its pretty universal that nobody actually dislikes it) is undeniably not a generic Sunday pub teams shirt with some EFL badging. It is uniquely Boro, it has an identity, a brand and the Infant Hercules text reinforces all that.

      1. For the record, after Big Jack’s shirt my favourites are the Errea ones. Some of the styling was a bit avant-garde but they certainly didn’t look anything like anyone else’s at the time. They almost put me in mind of American Football style shirts, big and brash and in your face.

        The 2006 Eindhoven one lives on in my memory as the most stylish yet overtly and undeniably Boro. Errea was everything that I usually don’t like yet somehow couldn’t help falling for, the “high maintenance” of footballing shirts if such a thing could possibly exist!

        Contrast that flamboyant Italian styling with the Germanic staid predictability which followed and for me it’s a no contest. A bit like a Maserati versus a Mercedes choice, ruled by your heart or ruled by your head?

        I still have an Errea “Dial a phone” shirt from Cardiff that seemingly hasn’t endured the fabric problems of others (possibly because I don’t fit Kitchens in it nor do Plastering in it). I wear it, wash it, put it on a hanger and restore it carefully to the wardrobe. In fact it looks as good as that day in February all those years ago when I debuted it and of course the memories that shirt invokes will last a life time and it doesn’t even have a band.

  42. Way back when, as I remember,Boro away kit was always white with red trim,
    Wouldn’t mind seeing it again, however we weren’t all that successful with it.
    So maybe not.

  43. In between all the Kit talk and the excitement from 70th ranked Russia playing 67th ranked Saudi Arabia this afternoon in the finals of the best 32 nations in World football it may have have gone under the radar that Sheffield Wednesday’s Barry Bannan has been linked with Boro.

    1. He might look like a younger SD, but he needs to be taught how to drink a pint proper, only girls sip at the froth like that man! Any how, looking at the flat beer I reckon it was a shandy.

  44. Another vote for the shirt which retains the white band and as for the Infant Hercules, Very good. Hopefully it will inspire the players………… maybe not as it probably doesn’t mean anything to most of them.

    I can still remember getting my first Boro kit, it consisted of a generic red shirt, white shorts and red socks, no sponsor, not even a brand. Mind you we are going back to the last century. If I recall correctly, I had to work hard to persuade my parents to even consider a pair of Gola boots rather than Woollies finest!!! Other closed down shops are available!!

  45. Elsewhere, Yorkshire defeated Essex and the commentators had the good grace to mention the five players away with England and the one missing that I had forgotten, overseas player Pujara, who was on test duty with India.

    As we play Hampshire away in the semi’s I wonder if there are any last minute call ups for England. Maybe they will make us play with ten men?

    1. Ian
      To be fair Robert Key usually has good things to say about Yorkshire cricket. I know it’s frustrating to lose so many players to England but I can’t understand why batsmen particularly need resting so much, although I can see the reason for resting bowlers and all rounders. The major problem in my opinion is the scheduling of important County white ball cricket competitions at the same time as England matches.

      It seems to me that the County Championship which after all provides the basis for Test Match Cricket seems to now be devalued with one clutch of matches scheduled in the early spring when pitches are ill prepared due to adverse weather conditions, then another clutch in September where again the weather can be inclement and there is also more likelihood of play finishing early because of bad light. It will probably get worse after the advent of City franchises in the so called 100 ball league. I do understand however that attendances for County Championship matches are poor nowadays as most people want the excitement of one day cricket, but why then deprive Counties of their best players for the knockout stages?

      As for Yorkshire the youngsters are doing the County proud. Ben Coad and Matt Fisher are fine young bowlers, and along with young Matthew Waite the fast bowling looks well set for the future. Spin bowlers generally take longer to develop but I’m sure Karl Carver will only get better. We still have experienced bowlers such as Jack Brooks and the much underrated Steve Patterson who not only bowled beautifully yesterday, but also impressed me with his captaincy. What does disappoint me though is the treatment of Tim Bresnan by Yorkshire in offering him reduced terms for next season. He is only 33, and although he didn’t have such a good season last year, he and Patterson are our senior players and Bresnan should be afforded the same respect as Ryan Sidebottom was given. At the moment a disappointed Bresnan is said to be considering his options. I’m all for youth being given its chance, but experienced players are vital too.

      As for the batting the likes of Alex Lees and Jack Leaning seem to be so inconsistent. Potential Test Match Cricketers a few years ago but not so now. They score many runs for the Second XI, but flounder somewhat for the First XI, but I’m hoping the promise shown by Harry Brook and Jonathan Tattersall in the Second XI can be duplicated in the First XI. The trouble now seems to be that if Yorkshire’s young cricketers reach Test Match standard they are practically lost forever to Yorkshire. We now have the situation of Matt Fisher and Tom Kohler-Cadmore being called up by England Lions, so both will be unavailable for Yorkshire’s County Championship matches against Hampshire and Surrey.

      I’m also disappointed with the attitude of Adil Rashid, David Willey and Liam Plunkett. I wouldn’t renew the contract of Rashid. I find it unreasonable for him to give up County Championship Cricket so we may as well write him off. As well as being an excellent spin bowler, he is also a talented batsman and he won’t get much batting in one day matches, so Yorkshire have lost a batsman also. David Willey feared his contract wouldn’t be extended after missing the early part of the season due to his participation in the Indian League. He couldn’t wait to leave Northamptonshire to play for Yorkshire, and is a very lucky boy. His first priority should be to his County. The same goes for Plunkett, although he had injury problems. Surely Yorkshire should veto any future participation by any of their players in the Indian League.

      I don’t suppose any of our England cricketers will be available for Yorkshire’s semifinal on Monday, but if they were the only one I would consider would be Johnny Bairstow as Joe Root’s form when playing for his County isn’t good. Keep the same team for me, we don’t need them. We’ve got momentum with four successive wins, three of them away from Headingley. Two more away matches to come with the current team for me – Hampshire, followed by Worcestershire or Kent. No problem!

  46. A thought about the new Hummel kit.

    As they were lauched yesterday, the players involved were Gestede, Gibson and Traore. The later was with Gill, Pally and Bernie on the Hummel video.

    So all the current players involved are the ones some tips (or even hopes) to leave this summer. OK, might be that the marketing do not consider these things at all, but there would have been other players available as well. If I had made my mind up about leaving (Gibbo) I would have declined the duty.

    Perhaps TP and Steve Gibson will do their utmost to keep these three players at Boro. At least I believe they will stay as long as told otherwise. Up the Boro!

  47. Maybe Traore was used because if the ball isn’t at his feet he will stand stock still.

    Any golfers out there?

    I watched a bit of the US Open last night and must admit I prefer watching golf in testing conditions. I do find some of the tournaments boring where a golfer can hit a horrendous drive of the tee missing the fairway by dozens of yards and still have an easy shot in to the green.

    Maybe it is because I don’t play but surely you reward the player who keeps it on the fairway and above ground. Easy for me to say, I guess golfers may have a different view.

  48. Back in the land of sand after an extra couple of weeks at home due to a faff on with my visa renewal.

    I must add my 👍🏻 to the new shirts. After the bland and downright awful efforts from Adidas they really do look pretty good. Obviously I won’t be getting one as I’m too old and too broad (ahemm!) to look anything but wrong wearing one.

    Onto the World Cup and if Russia are as poor as they have been reported just how bad were the Saudis? I couldn’t watch as I was at about 35,000 feet. If an example were needed on why increasing the number of teams to 48 in 2026 is a rediculous idea then last nights game must be it.

    It’s getting to be like schools sports days where everyone’s a winner and no one really loses. Rewarding mediocrity is obviously FIFAs way of engratiating their way into numerous football federations enabling them to keep their sticky fingers into the footballing till.

    1. For me the World Cup Finals should be the best 16 or if they must insist the best 32 teams in the world. No disrespect to some of the nations who have “qualified” but they are only there because of Geographical political correctness gone mad.

      All these regions where the standard is somewhat less than is required for the World Cup finals should be made to Play Off with the best of the rest from South America and Europe. I’d much rather watch say the Netherlands, Chile or Italy as examples than Costa Rica, Egypt, Senegal, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Tunisia etc. Fair enough if they qualify and beat the best of the runners up from Europe and South America but yesterday was just an illustration of what a farce it is when a Pub Team in a generic Adidas kit could have done better.

  49. jarkko, I went to the MFC shop at 1400 hrs to find that all home shirts were sold out and very few away shirts left but I did get to try an away shirt for sizing and the shirts are a smaller fit than last few seasons, so I have ordered an XL rather than an L to collect tomorrow. Apparently they are getting another delivery overnight, so I queued for half an hour to pay in advance and book my shirt to collect tomorrow.

    For those buying on line, I would order one size larger than you normally get.

    Come on BORO.

  50. It depends on how you view the World Cup. Yes it is the biggest tournament in the world, but it is also an advertisement for the game.

    The minor nations struggle to generate interest in the game in their home countries so if they qualify then interest tends to rocket.

    It’s strange that people who complain about the elitism in club football in England and around Europe are complaining about the smaller ones competing. It’s all about giving them the chance to experience football on a world stage and promote the game everywhere.

    I’m more concerned about awarding the tournament to USA/Canada/Mexico. That’s all about selling tickets. If Morocco had been awarded it, then the interest in football throughout Africa would have been tremendous. Plus the investment required to stage it would be a major shot in the arm for Morocco, and provided several years work for migrant workers based in the continent.

    Will Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria, Egypt etc win it? Highly unlikely but the experience is invaluable.

    Once the group games are over and we enter the knockout stages we will see the best teams competing against each other. I shall be watching Morocco vs Iran this afternoon, hopefully a good game. Who’s going to tell the players involved that they don’t deserve to be there.

    The big winner will be the game of football, the more the merrier in my opinion. Plus the development of players around every country in the world can only happen if they have something they can aspire to.

    1. GHW

      Agree with your general comments, but I thought that the hosts had to foot the bill for the whole shooting match,( can’t see the people at FIFA copping for the bill ) I doubt if they pay for their round in the bar?
      Which sort of handicaps the small countries and stops them from bidding for it.

  51. I think the enduring words of Harry Pearson from sixteen years ago – some words retain their validity over time, some don’t, but these do – are important here.

    “The World Cup does funny things to people. Take the reaction in some quarters to the departure of so many favourites from the tournament. If Manchester United and Arsenal were both beaten by lower-division opponents in the third round of the FA Cup would the pundits fret that we would not see more of Henry and Beckham in the latter stages?

    “Of course not. In domestic football such upsets are taken as part of the romance of the Cup, and if Rochdale and Carlisle can have romance so, surely, can Denmark and Sweden.

    “Apparently not. The keening for the fallen greats that filled the sports sections at the weekend was loud enough to rattle the windows. Their departure has, it seems, drawn the magic from the competition and left us all bereft.

    “Who would you rather see in the quarter-finals of the World Cup: Rui Costa or Landon Donovan? The answer, you might think, is that it depends where your sympathies lie. Doubtless there are people who are pleased that Raul and Gaizka Mendieta will, in the parlance of the star-worshippers, ‘grace the quarter-finals with their presence’ instead of Kevin Kilbane and Mark Kinsella, but I doubt you will find many of them in Dublin.”

    “…It’s hard to have much sympathy or regret (for the established performers). They are out because they didn’t do what they are paid to do – dominate games. It is hard to imagine, for example, that Diego Maradona, a man who cared to the point of mania, would have let Argentina play in the half-baked way they did for the first hour against England.”

    “…Footballers nowadays are famous in a way that would have been unimaginable even a decade ago. They are as feted as film stars, and film stars tend to take unkindly to having their scenes stolen by ratty-haired unknowns with spotty cheeks.

    “…If Luis Figo spent Portugal’s brief spell in the competition looking like he was disappointed not to be playing on an oil tanker with a silver ball, a funky soundtrack and Eric Cantona as the referee, you can take his point.”

    “…Many of the outsiders – Senegal stand out – and some of the established performers – Ronaldo, for example – play like they love football. Unfortunately many of those who have gone played like they loved only themselves.”

  52. Just watched Egypt match, and, yes, you guessed it, really difficult to score. Frantic defending all round, the winners were lucky to get one, but they made sure that the losers did not score.
    We will see plenty more of the same in the qualifiers.

  53. It is the ‘World Cup’

    2002 Japan and Korea – Far East GMT +9

    2006 Germany – Europe GMT +1

    2010 South Africa – Africa GMT +2

    2014 Brazil – South America GMT -3

    2018 Russia – Europe but almost a continent in its own right GMT +3 sort of

    2022 Quatar – Middle East GMT +3

    Looking at that, North America almost seems sensible at GMT -6’ish.

    1. Maybe we can now look forward to a joint Tonga, Cook Islands and the Pitcairn Islands hosting of the World Cup at some future point to extend that GMT+?

      1. Redcar Red

        Maybe you can but it looks like that part of he world was due to host the competition. Like it or lump it that seems fair. Australasia would look like a decent shout next time round, the logic says that.

        You have to share the competition around, it isn’t just Europe and South America, that is like moaning about the premiership gravy train or the Barca/Real tandem and none of us like that.

        We can be as cynical as we want, can you pick holes in what I posted logically not because you don’t like the fact it went to USA? I just looked at past tournaments, the list happened to start with Japan/Korea.

      2. My problem is that the FA Cup or most other knock out tournaments see the best sides reach the quarter finals, semi finals and eventually the final. Due to some fortuitous draws or giant killing acts we do see and indeed very much enjoy the romanticism of watching say a Hereford knock out Newcastle but the Herefords of this world don’t have weighting in their favour, what they achieve they achieve on their own merits and industry.

        Saudi Arabia, Iran and Morocco have already provided perfect contrast to Portugal and Spain tonight. These games are supposed to be the finals, I have no problem with a romantic smaller nation punching above their weight. What I have a problem with is nations which would like as not struggle against a Conference side being elevated way above their capabilities at the expense of better sides. If it is truly a World Cup why regionalise the qualifying rounds especially now that these days it is truly a global sport with more overseas players than UK players in the Premiership just as one example. The same can be said for other leagues but to a lesser extent including the US and now China.

        I enjoyed watching Peru in 1970 and being gutted when they went out. I enjoyed the heroics of Iceland and Wales of more recent times punching above their weight in the European Championships but I don’t enjoy a tournament filled with nations that are nowhere near the best in class. The greed of the Premiership is finance related but nobody is going to tell me that Brazil for example are the richest nation in the world especially when compared to say Saudi Arabia. In footballing terms they are certainly richer but that is down to hard work, dreams, practice, more practice and excellence. Don’t even start me on Qatar being awarded the tournament. If that really is to boost the popularity of Football in the region then I’m clearly missing something which is probably A4 sized, brown in colour with the open end gummed.

        That the US is once again awarded the tournament is an insult. For me Australia offers the footballing world as much if not far more than the US right now and is more than capable of hosting a safe and well run tournament backed up with excellent facilities and like as not provided without the use of slave labour.

        Northern Ireland and Wales in Sweden in 58 was before my time but I recall Gerry Armstrong, Norman Hunter and Co. in Spain in 82 and Pat Jennings pulling off some great saves against all odds. They qualified on merit and they fought defiantly until in the end class told and they came undone against a much superior French side.

        Archie Gemmil’s goal against the Dutch in Argentina in 78 stands the test of time but Ally’s army were there on merit. Cameroon’s Roger Milla provides indelible goal celebrations (and he’s probably just about old enough now to be linked with Pulis this Summer). The World Cup has provided many memorable moments during my lifetime but I don’t like to see it cheapened.

        This joint award with the US means that Mexico will have hosted the finals three times. Maybe I’ve missed something but If Germany/France/Italy get it twice, the US twice, Mexico three times why have England and Spain only been awarded it once? For the record I think there are enough Nations for nobody to have been awarded it more than once. Portugal and the Netherlands and indeed Ireland Scotland and Wales have brought plenty to the world of Football yet have received nothing. Turkey and Greece could also put forward arguments of it being unfair.

        I agree it should be shared around but it should be shared around on merit, fairly, openly and evenly. Finals Qualification should be based on sporting endeavour not by selective handicapping or increasing numbers to “accommodate”. These are the Finals, the World Cup has had many games prior to this week in which all interested nations have competed successfully or otherwise already.

      3. I think that the major stumbling block to having the World Cup here in Oz are the grounds. All except three of the A-league grounds, Adelaide, Perth and Gosford, which have capacity of around 20,000 are multi use and this time of year is peak season Aussie Rules and both rugby codes. It would mean a major shift for the administrators for those codes to not have access at all for the duration of the WC let alone the time before the competition. As well the grounds are owned by either State Governments or City Councils so that is another level of bureaucracy that would need to be dealt with. Also the bigger grounds are all the wrong shape, oval, not ideal for watching football.

  54. “Geographical political correctness” sums it up RR. It’s a competition to be won and not for teams to be awarded a patronising Brucey didn’t they do well.

    As for being there for the experience why bother with competitive games at all, just play friendlies.

    I like most Iove it when a minnow beats one of the top sides be it in the world cup, FA cup or any competition but increasing the number of teams at a tournament dilutes and devalues it imo.

  55. FAA
    Agreed. We all enjoy the underdog sticking it to the favourite, as long as the underdog has got there on merit and not by manipulation.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly with Redcar Red, FAA Now in Saudi and Steely. Instead of Continental qualifying zones lets have an open draw. In my opinion I think that winning the EUFA European Football Championship has more prestige at the moment.

  56. Redcar Red
    I think most of us agree with your sentiments. I’d have only the top 16 ranked teams in the World participating, and if for some reason England or the host nation were ranked outside of that, so be it. The First World Cup in 1930 took place in Uruguay but only 13 teams took part and every match was played in the city of Montevideo. There were no qualifying matches, but the four seeded countries were kept in separate groups. The winners of the four groups (three of 3 teams, and one of 4 teams) went into the semifinals, but only Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia from Europe took part due to travel complications. Uruguay beat Argentina 4-2 in the Final. There was no playoff for third place, but as Brazil were eliminated by unseeded Yugoslavia, third place was awarded to the USA the other seeded country to win their group.

    The 1934 World Cup in Italy attracted 29 entries, all of whom including the hosts had to qualify for the 16 places. The holders Uruguay refused to participate in Europe as they felt slighted that only four European countries had participated in Montevideo four years previously. Notable first qualifying country was Egypt. Italy beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 in the Final.

    The 1938 World Cup in France attracted only 25 entries due mainly to the fact that South American countries boycotted the tournament feeling it should have alternated between South America and Europe. Notable first qualifyers included Cuba and Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Italy retained the title by beating Hungary 4-2 in the Final.

    England had refused to become a member of FIFA so were effectively barred from entering the World Cup before the Second World War (one could say a 17 year exile). Whether that was because of the insurgence of fascicism in Italy in 1934 and the imminence of war in 1938 who can tell?. However there were suggestions that the Football Association felt that England had nothing to prove to the rest of the World, but that they should be considered World Champions as of right. Well if that was the case they were in for a shock. FIFA had decided that the Home Championship winners and runners up should qualify for the finals. England easily beat Wales 4-1 and Northern Ireland 9-2. That meant that both England and Scotland would qualify for the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. However Scotland decided that they would only go to Brazil if they beat England at Hampden. England won 1-0, but insisted they would still have gone to Brazil even if they had lost. Scotland declined, and after several other withdrawals a new format for the 15 qualifiers was drawn up. England as one of the three groups of 4 teams beat Chile 2-0, then sensationally lost to the USA 0-1, and were finally eliminated after a 0-1 defeat to Spain. The four group winners then played a series of matches against each other, so actually there wasn’t a World Cup Final. The decisive match of the final group was Uruguay beating Brazil 2-1 before a crowd of 199,850 in the Maracanã in Rio which I had the pleasure of visiting in 2011 when it was under reconstruction for the 2014 Finals.

    The 1954 World Cup in Switzerland was the first one I remember being televised. There had been 35 entries and both England and Scotland (for the first time) qualified. Although there were four groups of 4, the two seeded teams in each group didn’t play eachother, so each team only played twice. Scotland lost 0-1 to Austria and then 0-7 to Uruguay. England drew 4-4 after extra time with Belgium and then beat the hosts Switzerland 2-0. Hungary were the strong favourites and beat South Korea 9-0 and I remember watching them beating West Germany 8-3 who nevertheless qualified for the quarterfinals having beaten seeded Turkey 4-1.
    England lost to Uruguay 2-4, whilst Hungary went their merry way with 4-2 wins over Brazil and Uruguay after extra time. I recall one high scoring match where Austria beat Switzerland 7-5, but how West Germany were not seeded I’ll never know, for despite that heavy defeat to Hungary they subsequently beat Yugoslavia 2-0 then Austria 6-1. After England had been eliminated, because of my German heritage I desperately wanted them to beat Hungary in the Final. However having suffered that 3-8 defeat in the group stages and despite having scored 12 goals in their three wins, they were massive underdogs, moreso after going 0-2 down after eight minutes in the Final. However they were level by halftime and scored the winning goal in the last few minutes.

    I missed the 1958 World Cup in Sweden as I was doing my National Service in Singapore and television hadn’t reached the island at that time. However all four Home Countries qualified for the last 16 out of 47 entries. Scotland finished bottom of their group, but the other three Home Nations were all involved in playoffs, England having drawn all their three group matches against Brazil, Soviet Union and Austria, lost 0-1 to the Soviet Union. Northern Ireland twice beat Czechoslovakia, once in the group match and then 2-1 after extra time in the playoff. Wales after drawing all three group matches with Hungary, Mexico and Sweden, then beat Hungary 2-1 in the playoff. In the quarterfinals Northern Ireland lost 0-4 to France, but Wales lost only 0-1 to the eventual World Cup Champions Brazil who beat Sweden 5-2 in the Final. This World Cup of course saw the introduction of Edson Arantes do Nascimento known the World over as Pelé.

    The 1962 World Cup in Chile attracted 53 entries and England, having lost 1-2 to Hungary, then beat Argentina 3-1 and drew with Bulgaria 0-0 to qualify for the Quarterfinals where they lost 1-3 to Brazil, who then went on to beat surprise packet Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the Final. This World Cup is remembered for our own Alan Peacock’s England debut.

    England’s World Cup win at Wembley has been well documented, and subsequent World Cups live in the memory of most of us suffice to say that the number of entries has reached 53 in Europe alone and 107 World wide. If Europe has half the entries and 12 finalists, surely on a pro-rata basis 24 finalists in total should be the maximum number, although I would prefer only 16. Only eight countries have won the World Cup and another four have reached a Final. Furthermore probably only half a dozen or even less have a realistic chance of winning it this year, so in my view over half the results of the matches may prove academic. Thank goodness there are some summer sports to enjoy.

    1. Anthony Vickers like many Boro fans seem to have been bored with the close season, but are now getting excited after the launch of Red32’s confidence trick in getting Boro fans to pay for the privilege of acting as walking billboards for their company, and is now looking forward to the start of a new season and a Carabao cup tie with the mighty Notts County. Life is good, and there’s nothing wrong with that until you get to my age when nostalgia takes over. You rarely look back at the bad times, but thank God for all your happy memories. The present is what you live for, but the future you sometimes dread. I hope that doesn’t sound too melancholic because I’m a very philosophical sort of person, but nevertheless am drawn to the poem of WH Davies’s ‘Leisure’ :-

      What is this life, if full of care
      We have not time to stand and stare.
      No time to stand beneath the boughs
      And stare as long as sheep or cows.
      No time to see, when woods we pass
      Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
      No time to see, in broad daylight,
      Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
      No time to turn at Beauty’s glance
      And watch her feet, how they can dance.
      No time to wait till her mouth can
      Enrich that smile her eyes began.
      A poor life this, if full of care,
      We have no time to stand and stare.

      1. How very true Ken. Very apt for me as today marks both my birthday and the first day of retirement.

        The content of this blog is fantastic.

        Back to the World Cup, the Portugal Spain was entertaining although I couldn’t help but think that Ronaldo, shall we say, “created” the penalty and free kick. Still a well taken free kick, mind.

        Finally as a follow up to my football boots bit, I didn’t say that I succeeded in getting Gola boots but it was what I aspired to!

  57. Redcar Red

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying, the problem is the World Cup is shared around and they do it by ‘continent’

    South America have several options, Europe many more. North America really have USA and Mexico.

    I suspect the North American bid will have been technically very strong with good transports licks and stadiums.

    As for the home nations, there is always the fear that if they work together they would be looked upon as one team. Remember the worries over a GB team at the Olympics?

  58. Ken Smith,

    Red32’s confidence trick in getting Boro fans to pay for the privilege of acting as walking billboards for their company

    Ken, reference your above comment, I was under the impression that the company paid MFC to have their logo on the shirts. In fact if I remember correctly when MFC were in financial difficulty Ramsden came forward with a deal to give MFC a seven figure deal per season to have their logo on the shirts.

    The fact that Ramsden have continued their sponsorship, albeit on the back of the shirt suggests to me that 32 Red are paying more millions.

    I don’t understand what you expect a sponsor to do, I can’t see any company saying “We will give you x amount of millions each season but you don’t have to put our logo on your kit”. Can you name a team that sponsored by a company but do not have the company logo on their kit.

    As far as the logo being on the shirts that fans buy, to my mind a “replica” shirt is meant to be the same as the shirts the players are wearing.

    Come on BORO.

  59. Just watched Iceland take a draw out of Argentine, it does your heart good to watch them go about their business, no fuss, no nerves, just solid endeavour.
    Meanwhile the usual qualification tango, lots of hard slog, very few easy wins.
    Notice that the giants have plenty of muscle at hand should things get difficult.
    Costa was his usual self, ( elbow in the throat,) leading directly to their foul said the electronic monitor. Hhhm!, and this is a man who cry’s like a baby if someone floors him.
    Ronaldo? What a player, watched his face as he waited to take his free kick, the opposition were toast and never had a chance to stop it. Still, that’s what hours of practice gets you.

  60. Actually Red32 do not use their logo on the Boro shirt, just their name. Their actual logo is 32 surrounded by a circle followed by Red (in handwritten form) with the words ‘online casino’ printed below in lower case all in white on a carmine coloured background. The company was actually taken over by Kindred owned by the Unibet Company for £175.6m so any sponsorship deal negotiated with Middlesbrough FC would be a small percentage compared to overall sales, and a pittance compared to the company’s turnover and profits. Using the Red32 label the company formerly had sponsorship deals with Aston Villa from 2006/08, Swansea City 2009, Glasgow Rangers 2014/17, Leeds United also in 2016 and currently with Preston North End this year.

    The way that advertising works is making profits from consumers by using the name of their products on ladies handbags, clothing, or whatever. In effect the consumer is not only paying for purchasing a product, but also paying for the privilege of advertising it. I accept that most consumers or customers are happy to do that, but there are also many like myself who aren’t, especially for a company promoting gambling.

    1. I can see mileage in this one purely for the fact that McNair is 6ft which is an upgrade on Grant in the height stakes. I think the move could work out well for both clubs. McNair is on the rise and possibly too good for the Championship, Grant is a Makem through and through and I doubt they would find any player willing to run through more brick walls for their cause than Grant. I’d be sad to see Grant go but happy to see him go home and take on the huge challenge at the SOL.

  61. Just looked at his stats and it appears that he only played 19 times last season in the league and at International level. 5 as a substitute but managed 5 goals which is probably a better return than most of our midfielders.

    Question mark must be around his fitness and susceptibility to injury.

    Seems expensive if we are paying £5M plus Grant as others appear to be offering around £3.5M/£3.75M. Happy to pay a similar sum to other offers and offer Grant to clinch the deal which would suit us and Grant.

  62. K P I don’t think the offer is £5m plus Leadbitter but the package is worth £5m which is the valuation that Sunderland have put on him.

    Come on BORO.

  63. As forecast on here, the qualifiers are proving very difficult to breeze through, and I am speaking about the very top of the football tree.
    In fact torture would be the word of choice, Spain, Germany, Brazil, all having to deal with teams who refuse to be beaten.
    Remember, we are going to go out there to blast our way to the knockout stages.
    It is going to be interesting, to say the least.

    The boy having collected an injury, it looks very much like Vardy will be in at the start, which will give us a chance, gulp!

  64. Having been away for the weekend I have caught up with the posts.

    A recurring theme has been the money in football.

    Firstly there is shirt sponsorship. A vex issue. Most of us don’t like sponsors logo’s on kit.

    I am not a lover of sponsorships being displayed at the ground.

    There are many complaints about the way TV money dominates football, we often lambast the Premiership and its bloated finances.

    There are several strands to consider.

    We are one club and the finances apply to everyone else as well as us. I have not seen a Jarrow style march on the Riverside demanding we refuse the money nor have I seen the ground besieged by people waving their savings books asking the club to take those rather than the filthy money on offer.

    The reality is the fact the Championship is one of the richest leagues in Europe. You can add that the division of spoils in the top flight is fairer than the likes of Spain.

    What is clear is the fact not all of the overseas ownerships work well.

    Villa and Liverpool believed that Gillette and Lerner were far better than the Glazers at Manu. Those views were seriously debunked.

    It is what it is. The Boro will always be the Boro, the corporate being that is MFC will change.

  65. Spot on RR. The internet are now quoting 7mil wanted by Sunderland and you cannot blame them if some dumbo club is willing to pay that and of course McNairs over paid wages.

    We also have the Gazette telling us what will possibly happen with their insider knowledge. Now the end up correct, if you run enough stories, one will come true. Just hope it is not Bamford to Forrest, but then that would not surprise me. He is only TP’s third choice after all. Plus he wanted the Newcastle guy .

      1. He is the best striker at the Club and probably the best player even including Traore. Adama has more potential and could be incredible but until he interacts, engages and reads the game he will be what he will be. Meantime Bamford can head, run, twist, turn, link up and score goals. Britt can score goals and Rudy can jump but after that its pretty limited by comparison. If played regularly Bamford will get 20 goals next season, Britt perhaps could hit 20 but probably not and Rudy, well Rudy can jump and one of those jumps will lead to something by the law of averages.

  66. Going by the comments on here with reference to Paddy McNair, we should stay well clear of the “injury prone ?” player and leave him to the other interested clubs such Brighton (who have had 2 bids rejected so far) Wolves, Derby, Stoke and Norwich, as well as rejecting a bid of £3.75m from an unnamed London club. After all none of those clubs can have any ambition for this coming season if this is the type of player they are looking to add to their squad.

    Yes, he was out for 11 months with a cruciate knee ligament damage then suffered a few minor injuries but what player doesn’t on return from a serious injury. He then finished the season playing the last 8 consecutive matches scoring 4 goals in a poor Sunderland side. When he joins another club and becomes their player of the season I wonder if people will say we should have bought him.

    Of course Sunderland are going to try to get as a high price as they can, the same as the buying clubs are trying to pay as little as they can but the type of clubs looking at him makes me believe he could be the type of midfielder we are looking for in our price range and I will trust Pulis’s judgement.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Well if he does join us Exmil or any other club and goes on to play 30+ games and is player of the season, then I will be one of the first to acknowledge my doubts were wrong.

      There is one thing we all probably agree on……the need for a good young-ish forward passing midfielder with goals in them.

    2. We gambled on Huth and Woody before and got them playing regularly. In fairness despite all the stick, that is one thing that the club does seem to do very well.

      1. RR
        We took three seasons to get Huth through his ( mystery) foot injury, then Southgate sold him, cue a run of wonderful form ( prem title) .
        We have no idea, really, no idea,
        The battle over Traore by top top clubs, and what will we get 18 million less Villa’s cut.
        And we are routinely quoted 10- 12 million for aged, broken down crocks, which is bad, but what is worse, we buy them.

        We should hold Traore to his contract, which might force his price up.

    3. Emil
      The only time you have any power in the transfer market when buying is when you pick who you are going to buy.
      No one expects perfection, but there must be some guide lines to follow, those clubs who are brilliant at the game must follow some simple rules.
      A few suggestions just to set the ball rolling.
      Have you watched him at least twelve times (unannounced)
      Have you got a check list of his attributes, and did he pass that check list.
      Does he pass your own club rules, you know, the usual, is he under 24
      Is he at least 6-2
      What is his playing record, ie consecutive games played.
      Is he robust and strong.
      Is he a good character?
      Forget other clubs bidding for him, all sorts of tricks are played on unwary clubs by the sellers(with the aid of the press)
      If selling a very good player, have nothing to do with make weight players coming the other way. Cash is the name of the game, and if they have no cash then they should not be bidding for any players, particularly ours.
      Lastly, about this release clause, which mysteriously means we do not get to cash in on our crown jewel.
      Somewhere, sometime, some club has escaped this trap.
      Find out how it was done, and do the same.
      And do not enter any release clauses ever again.

  67. Now the Gazette are reporting that The Sunderland Echo are reporting that Boro’s bid for Paddy McNair has been accepted.

    And I was reporting it here now. Finally some transfer news.

    Up the Boro!

  68. Would like Bamford to stay, obviously. I think he’s our finest forward of the decade.

    As Tom Flight has put it…

    8 league goals in 14 starts for Derby, in 2013-14
    17 league goals in 34 starts for Boro, 2014-15
    11 league goals in 23 starts 2017/18, 2017-18

    One more last season and that is, at the very least, a 50% strike rate in each season. And I’ve been told that in 2017-18 he was playing on the left in eight of those starts.

    But if Pulis disagrees – we move on. It is what it is…

  69. Just been on one of the pages of whats left of the Gazette, (first the “Evening” went and now “Gazette”) or should I say “Teesside Live” as it desperately reinvents itself to cope with todays media and tech savvy generation in a final effort to not become an irrelevance. Why on earth do they have a need for videos on the pages all the time and then have it keep popping up on the right hand side as you scroll down adding to the already interminable time to load up. If the video is the topic of the article or vaguely news related then fine I suppose (my preference is to have a link to it and choose) but the article itself was interesting and enjoyable to read or at least it would have been had it not been for all the garbage loading up and slowing things down making it a painful chore to access.

    Perhaps those responsible are sat with plugged in and revved up WiFi along with a five grand memory laden computer easily accommodating the slavering sebaceous fuelled adrenalin buzz an irrelevant video provides. The article was from AV our erstwhile blogmeister about TP’s reputation for building soild functional teams but also adding pace and a service aspect to his Striker. Worth a read despite all the aggravation of a loading video of an interview TP gave while at Stoke.

    From the same stable there is also an article in the “Chronicle Live” (no doubt due for a re-brand to “Tyne Live” as “Wear Live” could be open to some debate after last season at the Stadium of Light) on Boro’s offer apparently being accepted for McNair. The comments from their fans are all very encouraging, recognising that he is a class above and despite possibly moving to Boro no ill will felt, accepting gracefully that its the result of dropping down into League 1. A few have of course expressed wishes that Grant goes the other way but all in all I think its a very good measure when fans have a good word to say about a departing player.

    1. RR

      I just hope the Sunderland supporters are better at judging players than some of our recruitment team based on their previous track record!

  70. Like others, I’ll be really disappointed if Bamford goes. I agree with RR’s assessment of him. Hope TP has recognised the same attributes.

  71. Watching England and just gone 1-0 up.

    The talking point for me was earlier when Sterling made a shocking attempt at a tap in but Young was flagged offside. It doesn’t matter we would normally say but with VAR you will have to put that sort of chance away because the officials may review it if it was a borderline decision.

    Unlucky Tunisia keeper has had to go off and to be fair he had been a busy man before then.

  72. England. Good grief, just like watching Boro. Don’t take your chances, give away a silly penalty, don’t get a stonewall one yourself.

    Ten minutes left.

    1. Traore’s quicker, stronger and a better dribbler. Sterling has the far better all round game including, crucially, movement off the ball. But yes, a reasonable comparison I think.

      England will get pelters for not crushing Tunisia but I’d take that kind of performance from Boro every week.

    2. Ian
      Sterling will never be strong, Traore will be in a great team this season, then we will see just who is a great player, wonder who figured out his contract plus release clause? Cost us a bundle.
      Just a thought, once the release clause is activated, why should we not declare an auction with him going to the highest bidder?

  73. Going back to what RR was saying about the Gazettes web site, my view is that the amount of advertising etc, is due to the fact that it is a “free site”.the journalists and all the support staff have to be paid somehow and nowadays, we all expect something for nowt. My wife complains about the local rags web site but given that she stopped paying for the paper copy years ago, means that the paper has less funds.

    In the absence of payment, then any paper or web site has to generate revenue from some where. And that probably means adverts which I agree don’t always work well on certain compluters. My laptop is so slow (mainly cos it is old and I prefer not to buy another one just yet) so I have to live with that.

    We can complain as much as we like but everything has to be paid for somehow. Problem is when you pay and don’t get a good product – just like some of our signings!

    Anyway, enough of that, onto Boro – McNair sounds like a good buy if the price is right and whilst Grant has been a good servant, time stands still for no man and he is antithetical year older and not as mobile or fit.

    Finally, onto England, a mixed performance I felt and whilst overall, we deserved the win, there were times when we were ponderous in the build up and some comedy defending which A better team would have caplitised on.

    Rashford is the better option and Maguire gave me a few worries at times but a win is a win and fingers crossed that we will progress to see how we perform against true world class teams as with all due respect, Tunisia and Panama should not be in the World Cup. Arguably, neither should England?

    1. Maguire had difficulties occationally as he is right footed. Lost time hen switched ball to his right foot. Otherwise he was OK in my opinion.

      Should have played Ben Gibson instead! UTB!

    2. Fully agree BBD in that the “Papers” (that word will soon be lost in history) have to generate revenue somehow as we all need to eat and pay bills. My concern is that in its present Teesside Live guise it is actually a deterrent and a barrier to attract readers. As in all things a balance must be struck and if I can click on a page that has ads down the side etc. but doesn’t slow things down to the point of having to click on something else elsewhere to read and then go back to it then thats fine.

      I’m sure there are those far more IT literate than I that can determine what is optimum load on a page maybe even detecting what type of device is loading the content. Problem I suspect is that there are so many different ways to access from tablets to laptops and smart phones all with varying technology and speed. There are other papers who are now blocking (Echo group) unless you register or pay a subscription fee. Problem is that I can find more or less find what I want and need via social media (sometimes more and faster) and other free sites. I’m happy to use sites with advertising and even turn off my ad-blocker for them if the sites don’t freeze my laptop or require walking away and making a cup of coffee. The ridiculous videos I suspect however are the main drain rather than simple PPI or double glazing ads. Ether way disenfranchised customers are not a good means to generate income.

  74. I was just getting worked up for a good winge and looking forward to a refreshing rant with long moan thrown in for good measure, – when Kane scored. Ruined my evening.

    Not to worry August will come soon enough.

    Read a good piece on the Chicken Run – didn’t realise that it was the South Stand where I had my season ticket. No wonder I am a well balanced and objective supporter.

  75. Looks like the end of the road for Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and Tim Bresnan at Yorkshire. The first two have let the county down badly, but certainly not Bresnan. David Willey is a lucky lad to have his contract extended, but there would appear to be ‘trouble at t’mill’ with the Chairman under investigation in his capacity as Audit partner with accountants Price Waterhouse. Meanwhile on the field of play the youngsters had done Yorkshire proud with 5 successive wins before a step too far yesterday.

  76. Looks like Brighton has given up the hunt for Paddy McNair. So if personal terms can be agreed on, he will be a Boro player soon.

    I wonder what his best position is. I know he can play at both centre back positions but also as a right back as well as a defending midfielder.

    Then I read McNair scored five goals in 18 matches last season.

    So is he a Ayala type centre back scoring goals from corners or – even better – a younger Leads with a goal-scoring touch from midfield. I haven’t seen Sunderland playing for a while nor McNair for Northern Ireland.

    At least he is right age. Up the Boro!

    1. The reports from the journalist at Newcastle Chronicle was on the radio this morning and was quite enthusiastic about him

      I think he’ll play in midfield


      1. A Besic type or more like Clayton, that’s what I am wondering.

        I always thought he was a midfielder before googling more about him. Perhaps his position changed from defence to midfield while at Sunderland.

        Up the Boro!

      2. I think he is an ideal player who can cover RB, CB and Midfield all at a decent level of competence apparently and 6ft 2″ as well. My guess is that he will have to fight for a place and prove his value by taking someone’s shirt be it Shotton, Gibson or one of the midfield berths. Great competition for places and keeping player on their toes.

  77. Allan in Bahrain
    Yes, that last minute winner spoiled my rant too.
    As Ian observed, it was Boroesque with early chances spurned and deteriorating to the laboured build up, some dodgy defending, etc., but we got the win, so everything in the garden is Rosy.
    Our view of proceedings conflicts with Lineker and friends, so we must be wrong.

  78. HA! Thanks for cheering me up Ian.

    Re: England, it was what it was. Stormed out of the blocks in the very early stages, as England tend to do (see: England v USA 2010) but failing to put the opposition to bed, dodgy defending and lack of fluency in their passing dominated their game before you know it.

    For all the chances, England never seemed in command or control and owe a lot to Kane. On the other hand Tunisia offered nothing up front so it’s hard to say they warranted a point.

  79. Is Lewis Baker still with Boro? And If so, why?

    “If there is any sentiment at play then Boro may have a stronger pull. Bamford is massively popular at the Riverside with fans, is well settled in Teesside and seems to be an integral part of the group – he has been on a pre-season luxury LA boot-camp, working out with Britt Assombalonga and Lewis Baker.“

    1. I don’t think there is anyone at the Boro at the minute other than Admin. Playing staff will have long since departed for sunnier climes. Paddy will have come through the ranks at Chelsea together and also suffered the same fate of being constantly loaned out so probably have a lot in common therefore are mates like as not. Paddy and Britt obviously get on well together and therefore the three young single males have gone on a holiday together. Much rather that they are in a pre season luxury LA Boot Camp than in the Dentist’s Chair in Magaluf/Ibiza etc.

      Had we read that they had been in a Hong Kong nightclub strapped into a leather chair, while a barman poured Drambuie and tequila down their throats I think we should have cause for concern. I’m sure the lads are enjoying themselves but upmarket LA Resorts do not tend pander to young drunken Brit culture so fair play to them. The caveat here of course is that they haven’t combined it with a trip to Vegas in which case I would guess they would all be on hat tricks by now in the scoring stakes!

    1. Andy, when he came I thought it was only for a season long loan. Of course then there was all the talk of him going back to Chelsea in the January window.

      A wasted season for Lewis.

      RR….I think Britt is married, well has a child? But then these days!!!

    1. I don’t think Paddy is the raucous, drinking, gambling type and whilst I know little about Lewis perhaps he puts his career before booze and wag culture. As Ian points out maybe its a family affair with Britt or perhaps Mrs Britt has given her blessing considering the company is more Southgate than Gazza or Merson.

  80. Good win for England last night, one Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Spain would have been delighted to get.
    To put it in context only the third time England have won their opening World Cup game.
    Job done, every chance of making the knockout stages now.

  81. We are all aware by now that Middlesbrough FC was founded by some members of the local Cricket Club wishing for some way of occupying the winter months to keep fit; indeed Middlesbrough Cricket Club was founded in 1855 some 21 years before Middlesbrough FC. It is worth recording here that some form of organised village cricket had been played in Kent since 1611. The first cricket internationals, as opposed to Test Matches, had been established since 1844 and the first official County Championship was in 1873. In fact Cricket was England’s national sport for many years.

    Now for a brief history of football. The oldest football club still in existence is Sheffield FC founded in 1857 well before the two present league clubs United and Wednesday. The FA Challenge Cup was introduced in 1872 and 15 clubs entered including Queens Park of Glasgow. The Wanderers beat Royal Engineers 1-0 after the Scottish club withdrew being unable to afford the expense of sending a team to London for a replay. Thus The Wanderers actually only won one match before reaching the Final. The following year they retained the Cup after only one match as the other clubs staged the usual knockout system won by Oxford University who then ‘challenged’ the holders at Kennington Oval. The word ‘challenge’ was therefore important, so perhaps the concept was that the winners would always be ensured a place in the following years Final. In fact in my youth The FA Challenge Cup was the terminology still used, although of course not strictly correct.

    The big problem for Football, as opposed to Cricket, was that there was no system of league matches, only friendly matches until the English Football League Championship was formed in 1888 with 12 clubs from Lancashire and the Midlands. The following year the Northern League was founded and Middlesbrough FC were one of 10 clubs to enter. Darlington St Augustine’s became Champions on goal average over Newcastle West End, Stockton finished third by goal average over Newcastle East End, and Middlesbrough FC finished sixth. It should be noted that Stockton completed the double over Middlesbrough FC with two 4-0 wins, although Middlesbrough FC did defeat Stockton before an estimated crowd of 9,000 in the Final of the Cleveland Senior Cup which was quite a prestigious competition at the time. However Middlesbrough FC lost 3-4 to South Bank in a qualifying round of the FA Cup.

    The following season saw a reduction in the Northern League to a mere 8 clubs, 4 withdrawals but the advent of not only Sunderland Albion, but also Ironopolis. The new team of Ironopolis won the league, a point ahead of Middlesbrough FC and the two teams met for the first time in competition on 1st November 1890 where an estimated crowd of 12,000 witnessed a 2-2 draw. However in the following March Ironopolis won 1-0 which proved to be the title decider. This time though the meetings with Stockton had reverse outcomes with Middlesbrough FC winning 5-2 away and 3-1 at home, but losing to them 1-2 in the first round of the Cleveland Senior Cup.

    1891/92 saw the League extended to 9 clubs with the inclusion of Sheffield United, although confusion is aroused as to whether it was made up of their first eleven. However again Middlesbrough FC finished second to Ironopolis who won both derby matches and also the Cleveland Senior Cup Final 4-0 between the two clubs.

    1892/93 saw the two Newcastle clubs merge to form the current club of Newcastle United, but by now the number of clubs in the Northern League had been reduced to only 6. Again Ironopolis were Champions with the newly formed Newcastle United second, Sheffield United third, and Middlesbrough FC, a poor fourth ahead of Stockton and Darlington. Again Ironopolis completed the double over Middlesbrough FC, but at least Middlesbrough FC beat the Magpies at home 4-0, and despite losing 1-3 on Tyneside in the League, alsoo beat Newcastle 3-2 away in the first round of the FA Cup before losing at Wolves in the next round. However Ironopolis reached the Quarterfinals of the FA Cup that year having beaten Marlow away 3-1 and Notts County at home 3-2 before losing 0-7 at home to Preston North End in a replay following a 2-2 away draw.

    Middlesbrough FC had never beaten Ironopolis; indeed in seven League and Cup meetings Ironopolis had become their bogey team with six wins and a draw with a goals record of 13-2. Meanwhile a Second Division of the Football League had been established with 12 clubs participating in the inaugural season of 1892/93, and as the Football League wished to extend the Second Division to 16 clubs it was envisaged that if the two Middlesbrough clubs would merge, an application would be accepted to join the League. Up to that time all the clubs competing in the two divisions of the Football League were all located in the Midlands and the North of England. However Woolwich Arsenal were the first London club, and in fact the only southern club to join the league. The other three teams to be elected were Newcastle United, Rotherham United and Middlesbrough and Ironopolis United although founder members Accrington withdrew leaving an odd number of 15 clubs. However Middlesbrough FC reneged on the merger (thus becoming known as the Scabs) and Ironopolis (know as the Nops or the Washers) were left to struggle alone without the word ‘and’ in their title as simply Middlesbrough Ironopolis.

    On the field Middlesbrough Ironopolis didn’t do too badly, winning 8 and drawing 4 of their 28 matches, thus finishing 11th out of 15 teams. They lost their first match 0-2 at home to eventual Champions Liverpool, but after conceding 12 goals in their first three matches, they recorded their first win 2-0 at home to Ardwick who the following season were renamed Manchester City. They also beat runners-up Small Heath (renamed Birmingham City) 3-0. In the FA Cup they beat Luton Town 2-1 in the First Round, but lost 0-2 away to Nottingham Forest in the Second Round. However off the field the financial burden proved too onerous and they resigned at the end of the season.

    Meanwhile having returned to amateur status out of sheer necessity, Middlesbrough FC at last won the 8 club Northern League Championship two points ahead of Stockton. After four rounds of qualifying matches they reached the First Round of the FA Cup but lost 0-4 at Newton Heath (now Manchester United) and won the Cleveland Senior Cup by beating Darlington 2-0. However the next season of 1894/95 became the most successful at that time for the club. They won the Northern League for the second time with only one defeat 1-2 away to Stockton, and after five wins in qualifying rounds, they beat Chesterfield 4-0 in the First Round of the FA Cup before losing 1-6 to Sheffield Wednesday.

    IHowever a new knockout competition for the country’s amateur clubs had been established the year before and was known as the FA Amateur Cup and Boro had only lost after extra time against the Old Etonians, a two time winner of the more prestigious FA Cup. So when in the following year of 1895 Boro won the FA Amateur Cup in its second season by beating Old Carthusians 2-1 at Headingley, it was heralded quite rightly as a great achievement. A large crowd greeted the team’s arrival at the railway station but without the cup. Apparently Old Carthusians had arrogantly assumed the final to be a formality and hadn’t bothered to bring the cup with them to Headingley.

    In the following year Boro only finished third in the Northern League four points behind Champions Darlington, lost to Newcastle United in the FA Cup, lost in the Second Round of the FA Amateur Cup to the Royal Artillery Portsmouth (who eventually lost to Bishop Auckland in the Final), but did beat Saltburn Swifts 3-0 at Darlington in the final of the Cleveland Senior Cup. The following season they again won the Northern League title and also retained the Cleveland Senior Cup by beating Darlington 2-1 at Stockton.

    1897/98 proved another disappointing Northern League campaign with Boro finishing in second place to Stockton, but Boro went on to win their second FA Amateur Cup Final. The achievement of this second win was against all the odds and an even greater achievement than the first one. A smallpox epidemic was sweeping Teesside during the early months of 1898 and it was no surprise when the local population of Darlington protested against the Semifinal against Thornaby being played in the Quaker town. They were obviously concerned that the arrival of hundreds of football supporters would bring the infectious disease to Darlington. The FA held an emergency meeting and sent a telegram to Middlesbrough FC suggesting the club should withdraw from the competition and forfeit the match. Middlesbrough officials were furious at the suggestion and refused to withdraw, and eventually three weeks after the scheduled date for the fixture, Boro were forced to play the match against their will in secret and behind closed doors at Brotton. Boro duly won 2-1 after being a goal behind at halftime and prepared for the Final against Uxbridge at Crystal Palace with friendly matches against southern teams. Of course Boro beat Uxbridge 2-0 rather easier than the score suggests. This time Boro did bring the cup home and a grand celebration at the Masham Hotel followed. The club later received a cheque for £39 being their share of the proceeds from the Final.

    There was a downside however to the FA Amateur Cup win as several players attracted attention from professional Football League clubs, so Boro’s last season in the Northern League produced a mere third place finish 7 points behind the Champions Bishop Auckland. What’s more Boro didn’t win a single cup match, beaten 0-1 away to Hebburn Argyle in a qualifying round of the FA Cup, 0-1 away to Thornaby Utopians in the First Round of the FA Amateur Cup, and 0-1 at South Bank in the First Round of the Cleveland Senior Cup.

    But Boro had bigger fish to fry – a successful application to join the Second Division of the Football League the following season and promotion to the First Division within three years. I hope to review the following seasons in two or three weeks time after my break in Budapest.

  82. Sorry to rain on anyone’s parade, but, after a lot of thought, I have come to the conclusion that any club that puts a release clause into a contract, is not fit to be in charge of a welk stall.
    If the player insists on such a proviso then by all means insert one, but make it so large that it will never be reached ( thus negating it)
    As I see it, because of our own stupidity, we are now forced to give away our passport out of the Champ.
    We knew we had a winner on our hands, why did we fail to offer him a huge rise and extended contract ( with enormous release fee, of course)
    Surely you tell anyone as good as him, that you will only sell him to one of the giants of the game, and that he will command a great fee when that happens.
    If the fans knew how good he was, then the club must have known.
    Of course when your manager ( Monk) is still maintaining that anyone who is late for the team bus is automatically out of the squad, period, then words fail me.
    This was, observably, our most influential player, and how.

  83. Plato

    I can understand your frustration but I think you need to accept that release clauses are all part of the game and that to include one which is too high would soon get short shrift from the player and his agent when negotiating the deal to go to a club.

    You are also posting with a degree of hindsight as AT was certainly not the player he is now when he arrived, and has clearly improved under the guidance of TP, so any clause would have to be viewed with a degree of guesswork at that time.

    I think also that you wax too lyrical about his abilities, he is still far from the finished article and leaves a lot to be desired with regard to his reading of the game and has yet to show how he can overcome, with the aid of colleagues, close man marking by a number of players.

    Remember how little influence he had against Villa. Teams are starting to work out how they can combat his blistering pace and how to negate his impact on the game. To suggest that he is our passport out of the Championship is disrespectful, in my view, to his colleagues as it is after all a team game.

    I hope that you are correct and that he will be a major influence for us next season but I am still far from convinced and a substantial offer may have to be accepted and used by TP in restructuring the squad. We have to accept that players will come and go, so it is what it is.

    1. KP

      His stats are outstanding, his speed is outstanding, his strength is outstanding,
      His dribbling ability is outstanding,
      When playing with Bamford he released such a flood of goals that no one expected that they would have to wait until the dregs of the season before they would be together again ( you could perhaps explain that to me, because I cannot)
      We at no time tried him in the middle, we at no time tried giving him the ball in front of him, we never tried him as our outlet when the opposition were in our half of the field.
      It has been quite funny seeing the bottom fishers desperately trying to sign him with cheap offers.
      It has been obvious from the start that a giant will sign him, and will make none of the above mistakes, he will of course be a sensation and we will get to see him on the television.
      Remind me again how much we paid for Assalongba

  84. Been doing some more reading.

    I think I remember implying once myself that it seemed churlish and ridiculous to turn on a manager for refusing to start two forwards for one game, especially considering said game hadn’t been played yet (for the record, we won, too) and that there was a squad of over twenty-five that needed our support over the whole season.

    A series of games over the whole season and a whole squad need our support, and some get upset when one or two players are dropped for one game? Why?

    I was also reminded of the great Albert v Adama debate in this very comments section, and how, in a way, it relates to this example from 1996.

    In Euro 96 the French national side weren’t all that exciting. To put it mildly!

    They didn’t lose a game in qualifying and the finals, conceding a mere four goals in fifteen competitive matches, or 1410 minutes. (That’s from memory, so feel free to tell me if I’ve got it wrong.)

    Yet they took four games to score a goal in qualifying. Their final tally, 22 in 10, doesn’t sound all bad, but it is bloated by a 10-0 win over Azerbaijan in what I believe was their first competition.

    How does this relate to the great Albert v Adama debate? Not to mention the “dropping two forwards” incident? Well…

    I reckon neither the popular David Ginola nor the even more popular Eric Cantona were the most popular with manager Aime Jacquet by Euro 96. The former had declined to keep the ball in the corner in the last minute of a famous USA 94 qualifier with Bulgaria, instead overhitting a cross that enabled Kostadinov to drive the final nail in France’s coffin and send Stoichkov, Balakov and co to the States… where they reached the semi-finals.

    The latter? I’ve read he arguably never regained his place after the kung fu kick at Selhurst Park.

    So what did Jacquet do? He picked the then domestic based Zidane and Djorkaeff, and France only scored five goals in the whole of Euro 96.

    My argument in favour of Jacquet would be that he was ultimately vindicated – Zidane and Djorkaeff were stronger for their experience, and both would be lifting the World Cup and the Henri Delaunay trophy before you knew it.

    Did that wash with supporters in 1996 though?

    Of course it didn’t.

    Banners of “No Ginola. No Cantona. No Support” were visible at St. James’s Park that year. Prior to France 98, “wrong coach, wrong tactics, wrong team” was a headline aimed at Jacquet – and it was mild!

    How easy is it, in the head, to try and convince supporters that “we’re slowly building towards something special” and “given time, we may profit from what we’re doing immensely, financially or otherwise”?

    This was arguably true of both France and Adama.

    But the alternative argument is – “at what cost”?

    While a coach cannot be blamed for finding a forward too difficult a character to deal with, and may choose to build a new team in which a player doesn’t steal headlines for playing or not playing – overshadowing what ought to be a team effort – it can simultaneously be argued that a coach ought to be strong enough to deal with his most talented mavericks rather than pretend they don’t or no longer exist.

    This is where Sir Alex, for all his faults, earns praise – he never gave up on Cantona (or Rio Ferdinand) and was ultimately rewarded.

    I feel a Talking Point coming on.

  85. So we start at Millwall – a tough opener, and collect the championship trophy at home to Rotherham on 5th May.

    Our season doesn’t end there because we have the Emirates Cup Final at Wembley where we defeat Chelsea, Bamford scoring the quickest ever goal at Wembley. Poetic justice.

  86. For those who are planning to travel to Boro matches, below are the announcement dates for Sky TV live matches that could affect your arrangements:

    Remainder of August Selections for 11th August to 25th August by 28th June.
    Selections for 1st September to 29th September by 27th July.
    Selections for 3rd October to 10th November by 24th August.
    Selections for 17th November to 8th December by 12th October.
    Selections for 15th December to 12th January by 9th November.
    Selections for 19th January to 2nd February by 14th December.
    Selections for 9th February to 2nd March by 4th January.
    Selections for 9th March to 30th March by 1st February.
    Selections for 6th April and 10th April by 1st March.
    Selections for 13th April by 8th March.
    Selections for 19th April to 22nd April by 15th March.
    Selections for 27th April by 5th April.

    Hope this is of use.

    Come on BORO.

  87. Exmil

    As we speak nor are MFC providing a streaming facility. They have still not joined IFOLLOW albeit a relegated team like West Brom have managed to do so!

    I have emailed the club to enquire if they will be providing a stream or will we have to again spend out extra funds and obtain streams from other clubs!

    Watch this space but do not hold your breath!

  88. I see the club have put out a video clip of us scoring five at Millwall a few years ago. It would be nice to repeat that.

    While watching the clip, while it was Vossen that scored the hatrick, Bamford scored one and was very involved in another. I will add my voice to those that would build the team around Patrick next season. For me, he should be the first name on the teamsheet, and he should be in the centre forward position.

    I can’t claim to have read the article, but from a sub headline I believe Bernie was suggesting in the Gazette that all the forwards are dispensable because none of them are quite a TP type forward. I would hope that a proven, intelligent, goal scoring, team playing forward would be exactly what TP would want to see in that position. I think Patrick delivers on that specification.

    1. Would endorse those words Albert, however our current Manager does not appear to agree with both of us.

      If he can off load Bamford and possibly Britt or Gestede, whilst having a better class of the latter on the radar as a realistic option to bring in, then it would be more surprising if he did not go down that route.

      Not knowing the player contracts, they may as has been said, difficult to move on, especially if Patrick and Gestede are still on abliet lower level EPL wages.

      Bamford will be the easiest to move on I think. He will have more interest in him than Gestede, in fact I cannot see anybody been interested in him. Britt will be expensive to move even if you halved the fee we paid.

      1. I suspect it will be difficult to offload many of the players I would like to move on to free up the space for better alternatives. I think it is the major obstacle to the restructuring that is required. Of the current forwards I would only actually keep Patrick, but i wonder who would want the others?

  89. As Billog72 told me nearly a year ago – and this still holds true today, in my view…

    “The 2014/15 team played some fantastic stuff at times.

    “The slick interplay between Tomlin, Vossen, Adomah and Bamford was often sublime. There’s some great one-touch counter-attack goals in the highlights package of that season, and those particular players cost us peanuts in today’s terms.

    “They played with a smile, a swagger and a dollop of arrogance until the pressure of possible promotion started to choke the creativity.”

    Always the way. Fearful of trouble, the team plays it safe. It happened as far back as the Robson years when, after being promoted again in 1997-98, he settled for players who’d “do a job”. We attained highly respectable points tallies of 51 and 52 at the turn of the millennium, but the football wasn’t great – to be blunt.

  90. Wages, and the transfer packages involved, are going to count.

    When we were skint, didn’t we try to offload Gary O’Neil before he made the appearance that would trigger an extra payment of £2 million or so?

    Then there was Scott McDonald. Statistically the best striker we had at the time, he was still not value for money. Who knows what kinds of bonuses were written into his contract for appearances, goals and wins, in addition to an already expensive (at the time) £30,000 a week wage? Of course, it wasn’t his fault, but his* presence on the wage bill hampered recruitment.

    *And Nicky Bailey’s, and arguably Stephen McManus’s.

  91. It’s hardly surprising that VAR has a negative impression at the moment when the so called, “expert summarisers “ don’t even know the correct procedures for it.

    Speaking of these “ experts” I think I can safely predict the England Ladies football team will win bugger all as long as Phil Neville is the head coach.

  92. Its official the Gazette , is now a washed up rag, their talking points on Boro are neither fact based or relevant,
    Would any other local club writers be talking like two twelve year olds at the back of the class, on each players value?

  93. If anyone’s been looking at the photographs of the Boro players in Austria enjoying the bike rides and running has anyone noticed that Danny Ayala is missing ?

  94. I see Danny has a calf strain and wasn’t to be risked on the hills in Austria

    Britt didn’t play last night as he had a niggle

    It was called a Tony Pulis

    1. I am here!

      MFC and BC FC have settled their court case over GM’s backroom staff. It’s a bit like one of our player transfers the terms are undisclosed and covered by a confidentiality agreement!

      Played golf today at my local course La Finca today to find the tractor boys (Ipswich Town) have taken up residence and making use of the attached training facilities. There were some very big guys in the squad so I can now understand a little bit more about the physicality of the Championship. Just hope our big uns are bigger than their big uns!

    2. OFB why are you still posting on here when we all moved to your Colin Todd interview on 21st June, which has now over 410 posts.

      Come on BORO.

  95. From PT in the Gazette ref Traore and that clause ?

    ” We were speculating in the office this morning that Pulis sees Traore as a vital part of his team next season and will be desperate to keep him. It’s certainly not a given that he’ll leave. As for a clause? The word we’ve heard is that there isn’t one. If there is one why haven’y a suitor ‘tested Boro’s resolve’ by bidding that amount? “

  96. In this void period with not much happening in the transfer market I was thinking of some purchases many years ago.
    Does anyone remember these and would they get in today’s team. They are in no particular order
    Ian Gibson, from Bradford, – very talented forward
    Willie Fernie, Scottish inside forward . Good passer of the ball.
    Dick Neal, from Birmingham, excellent in pinging 50 yard passes but looked grossly unfit.
    Ronnie Waldock, one of the fittest players I saw but useless. Only player who could make a poor 15 yard pass and then race to tackle the opponent before he could move the ball on !!
    Taffy Orritt. Workmanlike player who took some time to blossom .
    Mel Nurse, classy centre half. I seem to remember Clough giving him the run around and a few days later (an international?) Clough hardly got a kick.
    Arthur Kaye, a nippy winger, from Blackpool,if only he had been a bit bigger!
    Hugh Mcilmoyle ( spelling wrong ?) from Carlisle. Excellent header of the ball.

    Who was the player who played in the era of Bill Harris and Arthur Kaye ? – a Scottish midfielder, good tackler, a butcher by trade, who when he ran it seemed as only his legs moved and who would never shoot but always passed to his winger – Arthur Kaye.

    1. whilst working on a shell offshore project in Holland in 1979 Ian Gibson was one of the riggers on the construction site

      He used to join all the lads in the bar on a night reminiscing about his days in football

      Pity he had to work so damn hard after he retired from football sadly he has now gone to the football field in the sky

      Hughie McIlmoyle was one of my favourite Centre forwards and had that uncanny knack of all great headers like Wyn Davies of having the ability to seemingly hang in the air before heading the ball.

      Seems to be a dying art these days


    2. #OnThisDay 1975: Brian Clough and Lawrie McMenemy joined sports writers John Gibson and Doug Weatherall to debate the eternal question; is the North East really a hotbed of football?

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