In2views: Jeff Winter

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 Jeff Winter.

1. The Overview – the man and his career

I have known Jeff since at least 1984 (or even before that date), when we used to be refereeing colleagues. I know it was at least 1984 because a group of fellow referees including Jeff and I, went to Wembley to see one of our colleagues who had been appointed as an Assistant Referee for the FA Charity Shield in that year. For those who require the full facts, it was won by Everton 1-0 against Liverpool and our colleague had a great game. It was a memorable occasion and all eight of us travelled down to London in two cars, one of which being my own. A subsequent multi-car bump just outside London resulted in my car sustaining damage, so I do remember it well! I sold the car three weeks later, so it was quite an expensive trip.

Jeff Winter 2004 Cup FinalMiddlesbrough born Jeff Winter started refereeing at 23 and reached the top of the game before retiring as a professional after the 2004 FA Cup Final

I also seem to remember Jeff acting as an assistant to me for a local league cup final, when I was in the middle of the pitch as the referee. I may of course be wrong, but then my memory is a bit hazy to say the least these days. Let’s not forget, we are talking about a time nearly 35 years ago.

Jeff and I still see each other regularly down at the Riverside on match days and at social evenings. I was at the Riverside recently, when he hosted a football quiz on refereeing decisions, based on various incidents that can occur during a game. The room went unusually quiet and various theories about what should be the correct conclusion to questions were put forward. He told me not to say anything, then when no one knew the answers, he swooped on… me! Fortunately I could still remember enough about the laws of the game to give the right answers (phew!)

We also communicate and tweet on Twitter, so we keep in touch at least every week. Hopefully our love of football will shine through with our In2View and show that referees are human!

A man of many talents he was a bank manager, then a financial advisor before becoming a full-time referee. Jeff took charge of the 2004 FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Millwall, his final game as a professional referee before retirement. He supports Middlesbrough and Rangers. It is rumoured he was due to officiate in the 2004 Football League Cup Final, only to be ruled out due to Middlesbrough appearing in the final against Bolton Wanderers, so was there instead as a fan. He has also appeared as an official on the BBC TV programme Superstars.

Since 2006, he officiated in the annual series of national six-a-side tournaments called Masters Football, referees for which are FA endorsed. This competition features ex-professional footballers chosen by the PFA.

He also worked for TFM Radio on Teesside until June 2008 and currently writes many columns for local and national media, all of which can be found on his official site. He tours the country acting as an M.C. and host with other football personalities and can certainly control a crowd. He also has his own web site “JEFF WINTER The ref fights back.”

2. The Interview – a quick chat

OFB: What year did you start refereeing and did you always set out as your target, to be at the top of the profession?

JW: I started refereeing in 1979 at the age of 23, nowadays if you want to get to the very top starting at that age would make it very difficult. When I first started, I had absolutely no ambition to get to the top, it was merely a way of getting fit and being involved in football.

OFB: What made you decide to be a referee, were you any good at football?

JW: There was only one thing that prevented me getting to the top as a footballer, that was a distinct lack of ability! I’m better nowadays at Walking Football, but I would never had made it as a footballer, at any decent level back in the day. I fell into refereeing almost by accident. A customer at the bank where I was working, was the North Riding County Football Association secretary and he talked me into taking the course. Boro were having a poor time and he suggested that instead of going to the away games at the end of the season, that I reffed a few local games. I enjoyed it and at the start of the following season, I decided to commit fully. It was a very strange feeling, driving to ICI Wilton football ground on a Saturday afternoon, with the crowds heading the other way towards Ayresome Park. I almost turned the car around, but fortunately I didn’t.

John O'RourkeOne of Jeff’s early Boro favourites was John O’Rourke, who is pictured here
scoring against Oxford in the final game of the 1967 promotion campaign

OFB: Who was your favourite Boro player at that time, when you were just a spectator and others that you have refereed in friendlies?

JW: I had started going to Ayresome in the “Bob-end” around the early sixties. My first real memories were of the promotion winning side in 1967, John Hickton and John O’Rourke were amongst the stars of the time. Probably the best time for me as a supporter was watching when Jack Charlton was in charge. What a side we had back then, Graeme Souness was clearly destined for great things in the game.

The days under Bryan Robson were also very special and whilst we had a fair few top players none could match the one and only Juninhio.

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

JW: I love to see local lads do well for their hometown club, so Ben Gibson, Dael Fry and Stewie Downing are clear favourites in my book.

OFB: As well as being a Boro fan, you are also a keen Rangers fan and travel a lot to see them home and way. I know that it was because of the legendary Jim Baxter, but how did you come to support them?

JW: You are correct that as a youngster, Slim Jim was one of my favourite footballers. When I discovered Rangers history and what the club and its supporters stand for, it was an easy decision. They are a “British club” and their loyalty to the Crown and support for the Armed Forces, fit in with so many English supporters.

OFB: How many miles do you rack up going to watch football these days?

JW: I’ve never really thought of counting them to be honest, but last season I went to 119 games. I’m not a ground hopper type, I just go to watch games I want to. I saw Boro play 49 times last season, pity it couldn’t have been 50 with the last one being the Play-off final! I usually manage circa 25 Rangers games a season. When Boro or Rangers aren’t playing, I get to a fair few Hartlepool games and quite a lot of local non-league matches too.

OFB: Who are your current favourite Rangers players and why?

JW: After having to completely rebuild the team after being demoted to the bottom tier of Scottish football, there have been many players who have had the honour of wearing the shirt, that in better times would never had enjoyed that opportunity. At present, we are at the start of a new era with many new faces heading into Ibrox. I am excited that Steven Gerrard is at the club. He made his senior debut for Liverpool when I was the referee. He also made his senior debut for England at Wembley, when I was the Fourth Official. Obviously, he is not coming to the club as a player, but he has the ability to attract some good players to the club. I will always support every player who wears the shirt, for any side I am supporting.

OFB: When you and I were colleagues, we often talked about the actions of the late great Ray Dowle a revered local referee. Can you tell us any of the amusing anecdotes or pranks that happened to him?

JW: How long have you got? I was asked to do a piece for the Gazette when he sadly passed away, it was difficult to keep it clean. I stated at the time that despite what I achieved in the game nationally, I wasn’t even the best-known referee on Teesside, that honor was certainly well and truly deserved by Ray. He was a legend, his one liners were often imitated badly by many referees, myself included!! I was a poor imitation, but I must admit I tried to copy his sense of humour, to try and de-fuse situations on the pitch.

OFB: Did you try and emulate your style of refereeing, on any individual referee and did you always watch televised games for pointers?

JW: I was very lucky that many senior referees locally, offered help and guidance. We had a few colleagues who were assistant referees on The Football League, the likes of Stuart Louden, Bernard Elland, Ray Pallister and Fred Bond who helped Myself, Terry Lynch and Paul Henderson, when we made the jump to that level. I was very fortunate to meet George Courtney early in my career and his charisma and dedication helped me no end. I also had great respect for Keith Hackett. He used his physical presence to impose his authority on games, in much the same manner as the great Jack Taylor had done many years earlier. Sharing their build (it’s also very similar to mine OFB!) I tried to copy their style.

Whilst I did watch football on TV, I felt I learnt a lot more from being at games and I travelled with senior colleagues when I wasn’t officiating myself. That showed me a lot about their attitudes and performances both on and off the field.

OFB: In your opinion, who was the greatest referee you have seen in recent years and why?

JW: When he was first promoted onto the Premier League list, my bosses asked me to room with Howard Webb and get him used to life in the Premiership. It was very clear from the outset that he had everything to get to the very top. He was a class act and a great guy as well. In return for me being his agony aunt, he had to listen to me, fine tuning my fledgling After-Dinner Act, as I was due to retire at the end of his first season. It has always filled me with pride when he reffed a major game and Howard never forgets those nights when we shared thoughts and experiences. He should oversee the Referees in this country, be his own man and use his experience to help the next generation.

OFB: When it came to the time to become a full time official, was it an easy decision?

JW: It was brilliant! I never have regrets in life, so was happy to be in the first group of full time officials in this country. It’s easy to say now that I wish they had been introduced earlier, but at least I was there from the outset. To be paid to train each day and referee at the highest domestic level was absolute heaven.

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

JW: Believe it or not I just loved refereeing, even whilst officiating on the Premier League I still refereed locally. At the highest level obviously, doing the FA Cup Final in 2004 was the most important game, but my career was littered with many important fixtures. At my time of refereeing, Leeds United against Chelsea was always a tasty encounter, I did it seven times during my time on the Premier League list. Probably one of the stand out games, was an afternoon at White Hart Lane when Spurs were 3-0 up at half time but contrived to lose 5-3 against Manchester United. At the same ground, the first time Sol Campbell returned to play for Arsenal against his former side, it was a game played in one of the most venomous atmospheres I ever encountered.

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

JW: To be honest I was lucky. I had bad games but was fortunate not to have a career defining incident that is remembered to this day, unlike some of my former colleagues. Probably my worst incidents were nothing to do with my refereeing, a few were linked to the Hillsborough disaster. I refereed an anniversary game at Anfield against Aston Villa and it was very emotional for everyone before the game.

OFB: Is there a game that you wished you had refereed?

JW: Like I said earlier, no regrets. But, I thought that I had the mental strength and courage to officiate in the most hostile of atmospheres, so some of the games played in the cauldrons of European football would have been a challenge that I would have relished. Perhaps an Old Firm game would have been good as well!

Gordon Strachan - cropJeff’s least favourite manager to referee was Gordon Strachan, who he regarded as an absolute nuisance and has had to send off in his time

OFB: Who was in your opinion the manager or manager that you just couldn’t get on with?

JW: The names left off this list will surprise as much as those on it. I didn’t get on with Laurie Sanchez or David O’Leary and always found Arsene Wenger to be sullen and unapproachable. This was even though I must be one of the very few referees of my generation, that never sent off an Arsenal player. My all-time nemesis though was Gordon Strachan, a decent man away from the cameras, but an absolute nuisance when in front of them.

I prefer to speak of the gentlemen that graced the technical areas, Sir Bobby Robson was the best, a lovely man and sadly missed. I also had a lot of respect for Joe Royle and Gareth Southgate was always a pleasure to be involved with. He was only ever dismissed once in his career and guess which prat did that?

OFB: Which opposing team and which player did you not like refereeing?

JW: Refereeing is about man management and with most players you could engage and enjoy a bit of banter. A few though I just didn’t get on with, West Ham’s Igor Stimac was always difficult, as were Steve Staunton and Danny Mills. Craig Bellamy always liked to have his say, I did get on with him though and he is a totally different person when he’s off the pitch. Much the same could be said about Alan Smith, at Leeds, he was a nightmare to Ref, always full of aggression and nastiness.

The worst teams were always the best teams football wise, they were that used to winning that they expected everything to go their way. When they didn’t, they were a handful. During my time, Fergie’s Manchester United always proved difficult, they thought that they were beyond reproach. I probably cautioned more of their players for dissent than any other side.

I don’t think I ever had a good game at Rochdale or Hull City’s Boothferry Park!! I am sure that a few supporters will be keen to add a few other grounds to that list though!!

OFB: Which opposing team and which player did you personally like refereeing?

JW: My favourite grounds were White Hart Lane, Anfield and Goodison Park. My favourite players were Gianfranco Zola, a real gent on the pitch and ironically some of the characters in the game such as Paul Ince and Alex Rae were great, and I always found it easy to enjoy some banter with them.

OFB: There was controversy this season, when a referee who was a self-confessed Sunderland fan, awarded a penalty against Boro in extra time. You quite rightly said, that it made no difference to a referee and that you had officiated at all the senior clubs in the North East. Do you think that referee will be seen at the Riverside next season, or will the FA discreetly keep him away from the fans?

JW: No one complained on the many occasions that he refereed Boro in the past, including last season when he was in the middle, in our victory at Bolton and when he substituted for an injured referee in the second half of a victory at The Riverside. Boro fans didn’t like Newcastle supporter Mark Clattenburg either and he didn’t end up having a bad career, did he? There was never a more self-confessed Boro fan than yours truly and that didn’t stop me refereeing many Sunderland and Newcastle games, including the last ever Wear/Tyne derby at Roker Park. Sunderland also asked me to take charge of the their first ever game at The Stadium of Light against Ajax. I also refereed Dickie Ord’s testimonial game for Sunderland against Steaua Bucharest.

No club or indeed its supporters should be able to dictate who the referee is, when you go out there you do your job and the conspiracy theories are just sheer stupidity.

OFB: As a self-confessed Boro supporter, who was in your opinion the best manager that Boro have ever had and why?

JW: Jack Charlton, it was a magic time for the club and their supporters.

Juninho 2 - cropJeff’s favourite Boro player of all time is the Brazilian Juninho,
who he described as a magician who became one of us


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

JW: Juninho, a magician and a man who became one of us.

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

JW: It has changed drastically mostly due to the money now involved. At times it’s more like a business than a sport. Players are very clever and their ability to draw contact from opponents is almost un-detectable.

OFB: What do you think about the latest technology to aid referees decisions?

JW: Goal line technology is brilliant, it proves how virtually impossible it was for officials to get it right with only the naked eye. Regarding VAR, I am afraid, the jury is still out. I am not a fan, but it’s here to stay, so we’ll have to get used to it.

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

JW: Any team managed by the so called “Special One”, I don’t like him. and it would be interesting to listen to what he has to say.

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

JW: NO! No regrets!

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

JW: Sadly, we lost Terry Lynch just over a year ago, a real character and a great friend during our time refereeing. My first roommate after the advent of Full time refereeing was Eddie Wolstenholme, I went to see him last weekend, he’s had a few health problems recently and my thoughts are with him.

OFB: A huge thank you to Jeff, for taking the time to talk to Diasboro readers and hopefully they will understand how referees think and act in the modern game. They should also appreciate that we start and then carry on officiating and talking at length because we love the game!

223 thoughts on “In2views: Jeff Winter

  1. Well after several extremely busy weeks (months? years?) I’ve finally made it on holiday and am currently sitting in a bar in the city of Fulda (which is just about the geographic centre of Germany) with a beer and my laptop with some internet access – so I’ve took the opportunity to prepare OFB’s latest In2views piece for publishing, in which he talks to fellow referee and Boro supporter Jeff Winter. I’ve just read the article and it’s another gem from OFB so I’m sure you will all enjoy it!

    It will hopefully be a timely piece with England’s World Cup destiny likely to be defined by the man in the middle or if not him then that other group of referees sitting in the VAR room! It will also hopefully help to remove a bit of confusion on which blog to post on (Colin Todd or Mark Proctor).

    We’re heading off to Munich next for a couple of days before arriving in northern Italy, where I may finally get some time to relax and maybe start thinking about Boro’s next campaign – though hopefully not before looking for a venue to watch England in the World Cup Final!

    1. I hadn’t realised that some folk were still blogging following the OFB interview with Mark Proctor. Bob asking if anyone’s there, and some of us wondering following the Colin Todd interview where Bob had gone. Anyway all’s well that end’s well.

      Philip from Huddersfield asked if anyone remembered about Boro signings of the past. One he mentioned was Ronnie Waldock and I reckon anyone who saw him play will agree with Philip’s analysis. He was a terrier of a wing half, fast as a whippet, but the butt of the crowd’s frustration as he was probably the worst footballer I have ever seen wearing a Boro shirt.

      Arthur Kaye though! What a winger, born and played for Barnsley before Blackpool signed him as a prospective replacement for Stanley Matthews. He only stayed there for a couple of seasons and Boro were lucky to sign him to add to the regular wingers of Billy Day and Eddie Holliday. Kaye was a contemporary of Mel Nurse and Taffy Orritt, but not sure of the Scottish player Philip refers to. Could it be Willie Hamilton who sadly died aged only 38, or perhaps Bobby Hume who was shot dead at the wheel of his car in Johannesburg in 1997? Two tragic deaths!

  2. We will be in the middle of the North Sea on Wednesday evening, hope the ferry has a tele. Then if we get through to Sunday, we will be in Belgium. That may be difficult choosing the right bar, depending who we play if we make it through.

  3. OFB,

    Really excellent piece, thank you, and obviously thanks to Jeff Winter too. I’m sure there’s another interview somewhere in all those experiences. Some of the subjects are poles apart but the content is always interesting no matter which side of the touchline their careers came from.

    Only one complaint though, when are you going to start supplying a few beers with the interview?



  4. A day of nostalgia today for all those bloggers on this forum who were ex-RAF servicemen either regulars or National Servicemen as the RAF celebrate its 100th anniversary. I remember being on parade on its 40th anniversary as a mere SAC dressed in khaki drill at RAF Far East HQ in Changi, Singapore. The endless drill of marching, the orders of present arms, slope arms, shoulder arms, stand at ease, stand easy. Was it really 60 years ago? Britain still the best country in the World at presenting pomp and circumstance. I really enjoyed the BBC presentation, especially the 100 plane fly-past.

    I must say I didn’t always appreciate my time in the RAF, but the camaraderie, the togetherness was something one never forgets – a bit like the team bonding that Boro players enjoyed recently in Austria. As Paddy McNair said, will be beneficial in the long run, glad he did it, but glad it’s all over.

    Today though, brilliant timing by all the servicemen, so well done the RAF, and well done the BBC!

  5. Thanks OFB for another interesting In2View with Jeff. It’s great that Teesside has and had many sporting heroes, Jeff being one of them.
    I always think that when somebody on TV mentions a names and is from Middlesbrough or Teesside it gives the area a boost.

    That is why I would be very happy to see all three (big) North East teams in the EPL

    It must also be about time that that OFB started throwing in some guarded transfer rumours. In that is. A number 10 would be nice to start with..

    1. Don’t forget it’s the close season so I’m in the dark as I’ve not seen or heard from anyone in the Boro fraternity for some weeks !

  6. Well done on another great piece Bob. An interesting insight to someone who clearly has a passion for the game and as much as I slate officials, when I think they have been poor, we wouldn’t have this wonderful game without them. I do give praise as well by the way. Honest!

  7. A great interview, Bob. I’ve seen JW do his after dinner speech in Preston at a charity event and very entyertaining he was too. He signed a copy of his book for me (the only Boro fan in the room), which was a nice touch.

    1. Jeff does a lot of after dinner speaking but what a lot of people don’t know is how much time he devotes to charity fund raising events

  8. Learnt two things today.

    Gareth Southgate is older than Sir Alf Ramsey was in 1966.

    Gary Lineker is paid £1.7m to host MOTD. ( bear that in mind when you pay your licence fee).

    1. Hard to see why Lineker is deemed to be worth so much as I’m sure he isn’t the reason why everyone tunes in to watch MOTD – seems more like the ‘going rate’ for anything PL football related. Incidentally, I personally prefer Mark Chapman as a presenter on MOTD2 – I wonder how much he is paid?

  9. Just back from a day out at Munich zoo ahead of England’s semi-final clash tonight – not many omens to report other than…

    Got asked by a group of German teenagers “Croatia or England?” – which was an easy one to answer and got a loud cheer – result: England victory tonight…

    I asked a boy in the zoo who was wearing an England shirt with Rashford’s name on the back if he was looking forward to the game – he said “Yes” before adding he was actually from Austria and wanted France to win the Final – result: England to win semi but lose final…

    Whether the sight of the fearsome alpha male in the baboon enclosure displaying his excited bright red private parts before putting them to use several times has any significance is not certain but he certainly scored a couple of times before we ushered our 8-year old away to avoid him asking any more awkward questions – result: England to score at least twice…

    A group of English teenage school children just arrived at the place we are staying, with some wearing England shirts – result: England victory but with my chances of a decent seat in front of the TV diminished!

    This was by no means a scientific analysis but on what I’ve seen so far it could be going England’s way…

  10. Thanks OFB for another interesting and informative interview. Had not appreciated that JW in a former life was in the same line as myself, i.e. Banking.

    Btw. Your comments re Besic do not surprise me if the figures of £6/£7M are correct. In my view the longer he played for us the less he looked like being head and shoulders above the rest of our midfield and like a number, struggled against the better organised sides.

    The search for an effective No 10 goes on!

    1. KP

      Jeff was a manager of a Lloyd’s bank in Middlesbrough and when they were taken over he started out as a self employed financial consultant whilst also refereeing part time.

      All of us in the ref fraternity knew that he was destined for the top and with the advent of the newly formed premier league and professional refs he was one of the first.

      Never afraid to make a decision and a firm belief in his own ability he was a first class official and we could do with a few more like him.


      1. OFB

        Thanks for that. I didn’t even know that in fact he was employed by Lloyds Bank.

        I joined Lloyds Bank in Billingham straight from school having previously had a job interview at Lloyds Bank in Linthorpe Road. This was probably prior to Jeff’s time.

        I left Lloyds Billingham in 1970 and by the time of the merger with TSB was a Senior Manager with the Bank’s Group Audit based in the South.

        Clearly for Jeff, as so often happens, as one door closes another opens and he certainly made a success of the latter job!

  11. Very happy that Gareth has put out the English team with everything going for them.
    Never puts a foot wrong when it comes to the outside things that have such an influence on events on the pitch.
    A master of preparation and it is such an important part of things.

  12. Apart from matches against the home countries England have played more matches against the former Yugoslavia than against any other country in the World, and with a reasonable record against them:-
    Pld 33 Won 9 Drawn 14 Lost 10 Goals 48-43
    Of course Croatia is one of the 6 countries that is now part of the former republic and England’s record against them is:-
    Pld 7 Won 4 Drew 1 Lost 2 Goals 18-10
    However England’s last meetings were in the World Cup qualifying group for the 2010 World Cup which resulted in a
    4-1 win in Zagreb followed by a 5-1 win at Wembley. I just thought I’d spread a little happiness for those of a nervous disposition, although in reality past results have no bearing on tonight’s game. Nevertheless I do think England will win.

  13. Sadly that’s it. But let’s be honest, when Gareth Southgate was given the post of England manager how many England supporters thought he was lucky to get the job and that he was nothing more than a stop gap appointment. I, like most of the country, think he has excelled himself and certainly Boro fans should be very proud of him. His calm demeanour, his compassion, his humility and his sportsmanship are qualities to be admired, and he has proved himself a far better manager/coach than we gave him credit for when he was sacked as Boro manager. Not only a good player, but a real gentleman, and now a proven manager, coach and tactician, and hopefully he receives due accolades from the national media that I feel he has earned.

  14. Gutted that England just couldn’t keep the World Cup dream alive – I really don’t know what the world is coming to when you can’t rely on an alpha male baboon’s genitals to appease the footballing gods! I suppose it’s also pointless now mentioning that there were actually 32 red-endowed male baboons in he Munich zoo enclosure – it was perhaps in hindsight not the anticipated sign of Boro success I’d been counting on for next season…

    BTW – watched the England game in a room with about a dozen Americans in it, who incidentally all whooped and hollered each Croatian goal like the USA had got to the final themselves – so much for the so-called special relationship! I suspect the UK may be deluding themselves if they believe they will find a cross-Atlantic friendship awaiting them post-Brexit – in fact most Germans in the room were rooting for England with a group of Turks also backing Croatia instead.

  15. Lack of quality sadly did for England in the end. It was something of a battle of pace against vision, with the class and physique of the Croats ultimately telling.

    What a contrast from a first half where, every time England attacked, they seemed genuinely in with a chance of taking the lead or increasing it. I recall contemplating those missed chances at the break and thinking that I hope England didn’t live to regret them.

    Turned out that this, and how the game ultimately panned out, isn’t a Southgate thing so much as an England thing. I’ve read that it’s habitual for England to charge out of the gate, run around and exhaust themselves well before matches is over – tiredness led to just enough gaps for a mostly profligate Croatia to eventually exploit.

    It’s a strategy which most nations or clubs on the “continent” are well versed in – pacing yourselves and patiently controlling the flow of the game until you most likely end up on top.

    There are signs that Gareth is looking to incorporate elements of this. There were times when England would try and keep ball in a tippy, tappy, tempo-killing pattern – an attempt to draw the sting out of opponents and demoralise them. That’s fine, so long as (a) it’s not all you have to offer and (b) you can actually keep the ball. England had plenty of pace but by the time they applied this tactic, at 1-1, they were visibly tiring.

    Positives, though? Plenty. So long as the “lessons learned” (c. Gareth) from this experience aren’t a false dawn. The team has lost a semi-final and the World Cup won’t be coming home, but this is still miles away from Iceland circa 2016.

    1. Pretty much concur with all that Simon. The first half was controlled and measured but failed in killing the game off as a contest. Second half was do or die for the Croatians and unfortunately they only had a gentle slope to climb and not a mountain.

      Lots to take away from this tournament and lessons learnt plus older and wiser. Well done Gareth Southgate.

  16. Just like watching a Boro game.

    Real lack of quality in crossing and the final ball and a failure to take our chances when they did come. Lots of players failed to perform to their best and to be fair Croatia were better all over the park. Pickford again was my motm. But imo he didn’t have much competition.

    Like the Boro it’s the hope that kills you.

    1. Exactly how I felt, too. Boro before Pulis time.

      The players England have were not good enough. Especilly so in midfield. There were no damger for Croatia and England just had one shot on goal in 120 min.

      I expected much more from Alli, Lingard and Sterling but they just did not start playing. Defence and Henderson were good, except Stones yesterday. But that is football.

      Up the Boro!

  17. It was the lack of a red shirt that did it. England never win world cup semi finals, let alone finals, wearing a white shirt. Sad about the result, but Gareth did get more out of the players and further than anyone would have thought. They are sure to improve from here, unfortunately can’t see Germany, Brazil, Italy, Argentina and the rest not improving.

    I’ve enjoyed the World Cup this time and now can not worry about upsetting my young French nephew and niece who will be with us on Sunday because I’ll be cheering with them and not against them.

    1. Excellent new. I must concratulate them club on the effort. Well done and makes my life much easier next season.

      Happy days. I am sure we will be there in the top part of the league all season. Upthe Boro!

      1. Thought that when we burst up field and took the lead early on, that they were still feeling the effects of their two consecutive extra time and penalties.
        In my opinion we could and should have gone for it big time and finished it then, before they had run the stiffness out of their legs.
        Our clever passing movements were just what they needed to warm up their tired muscles.
        I did not see by desire to have snap shots by us( did we have a shot)
        In the second half we allowed any of them to practice centring from out wide, and plenty did. Our foolishness did for us in the end.
        final thought, would France have kept the game open with a world cup final in the bag? Don’t think so, it would have been a jammed six yard box and some tasty breakaways.

    2. A good spot, thanks for that. Typical Boro to announce it after I spent some time a few weeks ago registering under iFollow on all the opposition team’s websites that provide the iFollow package so that I would be able to watch the matches!

      At least I should now be able to register for a season pass with my own club and save a few euros!


  18. Totally agree with FAA’s early morning post, it was Typical Boro in England garb.
    Despite quite a few under par displays, we should have had, at least, a two goal cushion before Croatia started to play.
    Perhaps we should stop hoping and we’ll maybe live longer!

  19. Hi Powmill.

    Can’t argue with your points about England, except… England *did* win a World Cup semi in white. The most famous of them all.

    A crowd of 90,000 at Wembley. Nobby Stiles stifling Eusebio. Bobby Charlton scoring a couple of beauts. And Big Jack matching Jose Torres – before giving away a late penalty with an act of volleyball that would be frowned upon by so, so many today.

    It was England’s first concession in the finals. Jack wasn’t even booked, as yellow and red cards weren’t to be introduced until Mexico 70. But think about it – had he tried that handball* in the modern game, he would have been given a straight red, and one of Boro and Ireland’s greatest managerial heroes wouldn’t even have played in the World Cup Final.

    (Sources: Colin Young and

    *It’s safe to assume that he wouldn’t have tried it had he been aware of the rules. Before saying his handball would have seen him miss the World Cup Final today, one needs to consider it in the context of the times.

    Context is, actually, paramount. Something one ought to take into account when challenging a person’s views today against those applied to a different situation, in a heated moment, some time ago, without the benefit of learning and hindsight that everyone naturally gains after a period of reflection.

    1. After I posted my tongue in cheek comment I thought I wonder how long before someone picks me up. I expected one like me that was alive at the time rather than one so young 😉. Chocolate Jules Rimer (cos it was in 66) to Simon!!

      1. Nearly choked there Powmill after your “tongue in cheek” comment followed by your typo. Thought I was on the wrong website for a second! Phew!

  20. MW in Darwin

    Good news indeed 👍🏻. Just had a look on the MFC website and all we seem to be waiting for are the subscription prices. No doubt my neighbours won’t be too happy as I celebrate a Boro goal or berate another misplaced pass!

    My initials as well btw.

    1. MW

      The other good thing about the streaming facility is that it is bound to guarantee us promotion to the PL!

      Given Boro will have spent shed loads of money on infustructure/technology and a large payment to the EFL for streaming rights, which they will then not be able to use the follownig season as Sky will dictate screenings!

  21. Have to agree with Simon, FAA and Jarrko in that we lack real quality in sufficient numbers and also do not have the physique that other teams have.

    Up front we only had Kane who you can really say is world class. Ali, Sterling and Lingard of those that started are lightweight and limited.

    I think Vardy, if fit, would have provided more and Rose certainly more than a very lucky Young to have played in those last three matches.

    And when it came down to it, few shots on target, never tested any of the keepers and the defeat by Belgium got them to the semi’s.

  22. Paddy McCourt made his debut with the BBC Radio Foyle team tonight when they covered Derry City’s 2-0 Europa League loss to Dinamo Minsk, at home.

    I was lucky enough to see him in action for an hour or so when Derry reached the final qualifying round of the then UEFA Cup in 2006. They earned a credible 0-0 draw but lost 2-0 away, alas.

    Of course, we also remember McCourt for helping (sob) to drive the final nail into Mogga’s coffin as he ran rings around our tree stump defence. I read that around that time, Mogga was quoted as saying, “I tell (defenders) to head the ball, but they won’t – what are you supposed to do about that?”

    Fast forward to what AK was very lucky wasn’t the final nail in *his* coffin – Rotherham 1-0 Boro. I can imagine the Forest boss thinking, “Mierda. I tell Senor Nugent and Senor Rhodes to bury their one-on-ones when they get them. They don’t. What are you supposed to do about that?”

    The cycle of management.

  23. That’s excellent news about the streaming service. I hope that it will have a delayed screening option to cope with the part of the year when 3.00pm Saturday is 2.00am Sunday morning in Sydney.

    Anyway, it’s good to be able to give the money to MFC instead of all the other clubs.


  24. With about a month or so to go before the transfer window closes the ins and outs of Champions clubs so far not only looks sparse, but fairly grim. At the moment the standard of the Championship looks to be the lowest for many seasons. Apart from Stoke City, surely Boro have nothing to beat. Of course things might change in the coming weeks, but at the moment I could probably rattle off about 16 clubs who might be fighting relegation, and those same 16 clubs might be fighting to reach the playoffs. There are no stand out clubs like Brighton, Newcastle or Wolves, but nevertheless I wouldn’t be surprised if Stoke or even Boro rattled up over 100 points by the end of the season so dire the opposition seems to be at the moment.

  25. Ken
    I’ll be amazed (and delighted) if Boro rattle up 100 points.
    Forest seem to be going for it and there’s always a dark horse lurking but we shall see.

  26. Steely
    When you mention Forest as possible promo. team you are showing good judgement.
    A.K. Is pretty good when it comes to buying, and no slouch at selling.
    Their supporters can look forward to some tasty players coming their way.
    We certainly perked up in that department under him, including some fond memories of decent performances from some pretty fair players( Stuanie?)

  27. It is reported that Nantes will complete the signing of Fabio this week for €2m, fee agreed between the clubs and a 3 year contract agreed in principle with the player.

    Huddersfield are set to trigger the £18m release clause in Traore’s contract which could start a bidding war.

    Come on BORO.

    1. As GHW worked out a few months ago, there’s unlikely to be a bidding war in terms of a transfer fee as buying clubs only need to offer £18m (if that is the actual release clause) to talk terms with the player. The bidding war will only be on Adama’s personal terms as clubs try to persuade him they should join them.

  28. And Sam Ellis has joined Boro.

    The vastly experienced coach will take over as an assistant manager from Dave Kemp who continues his retirement in the USA.

    Ellis seems a temporary appointment to me, too. He will be 72 in September when the new season gets going. To me the appointment seems a bit strange – because he is not here for long. Experience is nice but we cannot become a dad’s army either.

    Up the Boro!

  29. Arrived in Italy yesterday evening and spent quite a few hours pitching the tent, gazebo – with all the various furniture, cool box, grills, kettle, coffee machine, hotplates, scooter, mini surf board that wouldn’t look out of place on the Generation Game conveyor belt – plus it all somehow fitting neatly into a standard family car with room for Mrs Werder and child to boot (no they weren’t in the boot in case you were wondering). This will be base for the next 12 days and a chance to relax and unwind!

    Anyway, great news about Boro providing a live matchday feed, which sounds like a service independent from iFollow and with 4 cameras, replays and commentary it will probably be one of the best services available.

    So well done to the club and a special mention to KP who I know has been lobbying the club to provide such a service and has no doubt helped influence the decision!

    1. Thanks for the mention Werder but you have more faith in my influencing skills than i do!

      In fact the response I received from Bob Tait a few weeks ago, when he advised me that a decision was still pending, led me to think it was another no!

      It is however a yes and they seem to be planning to deliver what he mentioned last year, a better offering than IFollow, which is great news.

  30. When Croatia scored their second goal against England there were still 16 + minutes to play. Time actually played amounted to 6 mins and a few seconds.

    Perhaps its time to relieve the referee of time keeping responsibilities? This might stop a lot of the blatant time-wasting, sorry, “game management “.

  31. I must say I am somewhat disappointed with the appointment of our new assistant manager.

    It seems to be a case of “old boys club” rather than an appointment for the future and a missed opportunity for TP to pass on his wisdom and help to develop a younger man.

    1. It would be interesting to know how long he has signed for, as TP only has 12 months left.

      Although I agree with you KP, someone younger but with lower league knowledge say. One that could develop for the future.

      Please anyone, do not say we have Woodgate.

  32. Do Curtis Fleming and Jonathan Woodgate not learn anything as first team coaches from TP, besides if and when TP is replaced it is more than likely that the “new” manager will want to bring in his own number 2.

    Come on BORO.

  33. We want promotion this season not in 5 years time hence the appointment of Ellis. Jobs for the boys to me is giving it to Woody or Curtis or any amount of ex Boro lads.

    Clearly TP and SG have a short term plan. We saw (as have other clubs) what happens when you factor in long term planning in Football, eventually the Manager inevitably disappears up his own haemorroidal induced tactical stranglehold.

    Even the Man City’s and Chelsea’s of this world have concluded the same with a ruthless rolling stone philosophy. As a cetain 1980’s Highwayman once said “stand and deliver”!

      1. I love the idea of a long-term plan. But it’s only easy to buy into if you’re following the club from a distance and not a season ticket holder / paying customer.

        Say if we draw a game 0-0, or lose 1-0, but there are positive signs in the performance. The long-distance fan or analyst can say, “we’re getting there” and if those 0-0s or 0-1s turn into wins and trophies, as they did, say, with France in the 1990s, he/she can say “See? It worked. All you had to do was wait.”

        But those who pay their money for tickets don’t have the luxury of simply writing off or drawing positives from disappointing results or performances.

  34. Two bitesize Talking Points today.

    The first is about unconscious bias. A trap that scouts and coaches all fall into. Even we fans and chairmen.

    It’s the tendency of making one’s mind up, very early on, about what he or she thinks of a player, and then filtering everything they see in that player from that moment on into a point-of-view that confirms the bias.

    When Giroud missed a chance at Euro 2016, analysts lept on that to prove that he wasn’t quite top class. If Griezmann did the same, though? “He was unlucky”.

    Probably because Griezmann got the goals. Six of them. But the significance of Giroud’s contribution should not be underestimated.

    It should also be noted that Griezmann himself had unconscious bias to wade through. As a teen, he was routinely rejected for being “too small”. As was Roy Keane, who didn’t get his big break until 19… you’ll hear more on that in my next post.

    1. Same reason that some folk rade the Grauniad and others read the Torygraph. I think you are right and it is a difficult trait, but not impossible with the desire to do so, to avoid.
      I think we see lots of examples of it in here if we are honest. The Stewart Downing debate for example. And there is the key word, debate. These subconscious predilections can and should be prompts to enjoin in good and healthy debate. It is when people, pundits if you like, refuse to debate their assertions this tendency (to see only justification of your opinion) can be a problem.

  35. On to my second bitesize “Talking Point”… which is not so much a Talking Point as a history of “late arrivals”.

    It could be the coach getting stuck in traffic, it could be the kit not arriving, it could be wearing the wrong kit… or it could be the gaffer not showing up!

    Sometimes these late arrivals don’t matter, like Brentford 1-2 Boro, and sometimes they do, like Wembley ’15. Though the debate over how different things might have been had Vossen’s shot gone in still rages in my head.

    Anyway. I’ve looked back in time and dug up three that didn’t help a team’s cause and three that made a dramatic difference for a team or individual. All, bar one, are related to Boro and Ireland in some way or another.

    Everton v Boro, Boxing Day 1995

    We’d somehow stumbled through a series of injuries and Juninho adding class but breaking up the understanding of the Midget Gems to find ourselves on the verge of going (yes) second. But, according to then physio Bob Ward, there was a mix-up over the travel arrangements, with the kit making a “late arrival” – less than half an hour before kick off. Out the lads raced into a 4-0 loss and the beginning of eight straight defeats.

    Man City v Boro, 1976

    We’d beaten City 1-0 in the first leg of the League Cup semi at Ayresome Park. But then came Maine Road and the journey there.

    The team coach got caught in traffic, and was late arriving. Big Jack felt the players never settled. “We got well and truly stuffed, four nowt. I remember thinking to myself, ”I can’t handle too many more nights like this.'” His famous Foggon tactic was being found out too – something Wrexham proved when they went and knocked Boro out of the FA Cup.

    Nottingham Forest 0-2 Sheffield United, 1993

    This was a particularly devastating one. It not only sent Forest down, in what would be Cloughie’s last ever home match as a manager, it also played its part in sending Boro down – Sheffield United were relegation rivals to both Boro and Forest.

    But the late arrival? Well, as it turns out, Cloughie had disappeared in the build up to this win-or-bust game after announcing that he’d be resigning at season’s end. Friday came and went, with no sign of him. Ditto more than half of Saturday!

    I’ll let Roy Keane, soon to leave Forest at the time, tell the rest of the story…

    “Returning to the dressing room twenty minutes before kick-off, we expected to encounter the manager. Even the usually unflappable Stuart Pearce was concerned…

    “As we were walking down the tunnel at five to three, Brian Clough suddenly appeared. He approached from the pitch-end of the tunnel, wearing his sheepskin coat, a pair of wellies, carrying a shovel. And whistling! I think the point he wished to make was that this was just another game. ‘Don’t worry, lads. I’m not worried.’ Bizarre. Pure Clough.

    “Sadly, on this occasion, the trick didn’t work. Sheffield United beat us 2-0. Acutely aware of the price of failure, too many of our players froze on the day.”

  36. In Madeira so absent from the blog, hope you all coped.
    If we assume that Traore has a fixed price then the syructure can be negotiated. We can play hard ball. Someome can come in with more favourable terms, we dont have to accept the first offer. Someone may blink.
    Thw fact is many would have got shot of him for chuff all
    If someone said we would get £18m for him last November they would have been laughed at even on here.
    There is a slim chance he will stay. Maybe sell and loan back.
    Anyway I like Madeira time, happy hour is brilliant. BOGOF. Hours that is.

  37. Continued…

    Belvedere Boys v Cobh Ramblers, FAI Youth Cup, 1990

    This one’s a favourite of mine. A Cobh youth team featuring a future Cork-born Manchester United captain, then 18, had drawn their home cup tie against top Dublin club Belvedere and had to travel for the replay.

    That day, it all went wrong for Cobh. The bus was late, the traffic was heavy – would the team make it on time? By the time they finally got to the ground there were only minutes to spare. Need I say it, Belvedere battered the knackered Cobh boys 4-0.

    But even when the future United captain knew the game was lost, he kept playing. The crowd were hostile, but he seemed to get a vibe from that and drove himself to earn respect from them. As a man possessed by pride, anger and frustration.

    It wasn’t enough to change the game, but it was enough to change history, when the vice-chairman at Cobh went over to the player and said: “Roy, there was a scout from Nottingham Forest over there. He said they’d like you to go over for a trial.”

    Ireland v Italy, 1994

    It is documented that the Irish team, before arguably their best result and performance under Big Jack, were instructed to face Italy in white shirts and green shorts. But by the time they encountered their Italian opponents in the tunnel of the Giants Stadium before the game, the Azzurri were also wearing white shirts! Someone had gotten the team colours mixed up. The referee was not happy.

    As Packie Bonner put it, there are pre-match meetings for this kind of thing, where kits are analysed and approved. Yet somehow, someway, someone had made a mistake and with ten minutes to go before kick off, both teams were wearing the same colour jersey.

    Bonner still doesn’t know who took the decision on who had to change. Perhaps it had something to do with Ireland having a hamper with green shirts. But it was Ireland who changed – and, thank heavens, Charlie O’Leary had the right colours for each player in that hamper.

    Yes, the match was delayed and the Italians were not amused – but I’m convinced this helped to lift the pressure off Ireland as they marched into the sea of green on the pitch and in the stands in New York. Where history was about to be made by Ray Houghton, Paul McGrath and many other heroes.

    Denmark, Euro 92

    Still miraculous, this. Eleven days before the tournament kicked off, Denmark’s footballers were on holiday, having failed to qualify. Manager Richard Moller Nielsen was just about to start redecorating his kitchen.

    But, civil war had torn Denmark’s qualifying group winners Yugoslavia apart, and UEFA decided they could not compete. So in came the Danes, minus Michael Laudrup, and the stage was set for an eventual and unlikely triumph that’s still talked about to this day.

    Big Jack concluded, years ago, that the very lack of pressure on Denmark as a team worked in their favour. Every other nation had been caught up in the tension and countdown relating to the big occasion, but Denmark? They weren’t even meant to be there in the first place. So you could argue that every point gained was a bonus, and as a result, they went from strength to strength.

    The win over Germany in the final was as convincing as the 2-0 scoreline suggested, and had a poignant element to it: Kim Vilfort, who scored the second goal, had just returned to the squad after journeying home due to his daughter’s illness.

    1. And the moral is all the way back to your first mini talking point, you can pick evidence to support you in your belief that being late and rushed will lead to inevitable failure 😪…or is it that being late and rushed fires you up to inevitable victory 😊

      Perhaps it all just depends on what side of the bed you got out of in the morning 😉

    1. After his under par play off performances I would go as far as £4m plus add ons. His value picked up with us over a relatively short time period but crashed back down again in an even shorter period.

      I have this gut feeling that had we put Fabio in there he would have been just as effective and possibly better.

  38. Having paid £5m a piece (?) for Flint and McNair – good players I’m very happy to have but not ones that address last year’s issues – I think £7m for Besic is a few well worth paying.

    Yes, we need more consistency from him than we saw last year but he’s exactly the sort of player we need and a full season, and pre-season, can’t hurt his performances.

    In today’s market, £7m isn’t a huge amount for a first-teamer of a top-end Championship side.

  39. I agree with RR that £7m seems a bit much when he didn’t perform in the “big” games. I’m also sure that Fabio could have slotted in nicely but, obviously, TP thinks otherwise.
    Hopefully, we are going to see some progress on the quest for creativity soon. It’s getting too close for comfort for me.

  40. Repeating myself, for me the wages are the deciding factor. Besic is not going to want a pay cut unless it comes with a long term contract. Possibly with increments for promotion.
    As RR said, 4mil is sufficient. There won’t be a boatload of interested clubs and probably none from the EPL. And he did fail against Villa when we needed a performence.

  41. I think besic was our best midfielder by a country mile. He is in a different league to the likes of Clayton, leadbitter or howson for that matter. I couldn’t comment on McNair but if we don’t sign besic as well I do not think our midfield will be any better than last years and for me it was our weakest area of the pitch.

    Despite this and even more worrying is that in every pre season game thus far gestede has been employed as a lone striker!! If that is a sign of things to come then it is a very ominous sign. A striker who scores one goal every five games leading the line. No thank you. I also can’t believe we are moving towards the pulis template of big players all over the pitch and the inevitable hoof it into the box approach that will follow.

    Funnily enough I had almost managed to erase from my memory the awful tactics employed by pulis in the play offs, but suddenly as I see our number nine, in permanent situ, I’m starting to worry.

    1. If Pulis sees Gestede as his main Striker as we start the season he will be gone by mid October and that is from someone who wanted him here (TP that is not Gestede)!

  42. Well sorry to precipitate on the excitable tabloids parade but I said a few games back when the hype was in overdrive that England didn’t look all that special to me and I haven’t changed my view.

    Played 7 games, beating the mighty Tunisia, Panama and Sweden, struggled against Colombia but eventually winning on penalties. Lost to Belgium (twice) and Croatia. England played slow, composed, predictable and comparatively speaking uninspiring football all tournament, relying totally on set pieces which once rumbled dried up.

    This “Young Side” caveat doesn’t for me answer the blindingly obvious that they are simply nowhere even remotely close to being good enough at this level either tactically or technically. Dele Alli’s club game revolves around cheating and diving, Gareth clearly doesn’t play that way thereby making everyones favourite diver after Tom Daley pretty much ineffective. Sterling taken away from his luxuriant World Class team mates is distinctly mediocre to garbage. Marcus Rashford is a marginally more talented version of Ashley Fletcher and no more. Lingard has the drive and determination of a 15 bhp Trabant. Henderson is decent but nothing special.

    Dier, Stones, Jones, Rose, Delph and Young are mid Premiership standard at very best despite their individual clubs loftier levels. Only Trippier (who waned as the tournament progressed), Maguire and Pickford look good enough to me at this level. Captain Harry Kane? for me good at attacking third rate nations and taking penalties but offered little else against the better sides. Gareth has done well judging by the history books but I wouldn’t want him back at Boro playing that slow passive, possessive, pretty, passing football. No doubt they have all learnt lessons but without, pace, drive, energy and creativity they will continue to be masters of Tunisia, Panama and co. and Spurs will continue to be almost but not quite!

  43. Just watched ( part) of the England game.
    A very tired display of ( very) slow passing, how they were ever going to score a goal of any description beats me.

    Note, for any future lead in a world cup semi final, Belgium made sure that no one got a shot at their goal once they were ahead.
    Never make any striker your captain, you try not to drop your skipper, you quickly drop your non scoring striker. He was ineffective in his last three matches, but played, not good.

  44. RR

    A good summary of the achievements and failures of this squad. They have been over hyped and whilst I will acknowledge that they and GS have done much to re-connect with the fans, they are light years away from being a world class team.

  45. Totally agree with that summation RR. I was going to post the same but you saved me the time. One player not mentioned was Phil Jones. If he was at say Watford and not Manure he would be nowhere near the squad. A donkey imo.

  46. RR

    Just reread your post and you did mention Jones. The man is stealing a living. I was pleasantly surprised by Stones. He only had a couple of his usual moments, unfortunately against Croatia which leads me to think he isn’t all that he thinks he is against the better teams.

  47. RR, I agree with you about the England team.

    I think Gareth has done a good job with the players he had. But one think I like to ask you, RR and others.

    Is there any players you think should have been in the England Team?

    What I am after is if there is really many good English players left out and how good is the level where the England manager could choose palyers from?

    Up the Boro!

    1. Jarkko I don’t think Gareth has much to choose from, its the best of a bad lot unfortunately.

      The Premiership is full of the World’s finest talent but not much of it is English. I’m sure that there will be some interesting stats out there somewhere on the amount of non English Players versus English Players appearing in the Premiership. The reality is that the Championship is now full of English Players that three or four decades ago would have been regular starters in the old first division.

  48. Last full day in Madeira and missed the England match,, oh dear, what a shame, never mind.
    The problems in the England have been there some time, our academies churn out steady eddies but the creativity, the wit to control a game is brought in from abroad.
    It has spread down the leagues, there is progress in England’s lower age groups but will it be allowed to flourish at club level. We see stockpiled young players go out on loan only to tread water and drift off in to never quite made it.
    Answers on a postcard.

  49. Ian
    It is a real conundrum. While the PL is awash with big bucks from Sky, etc., it will always go to foreign mercenaries rather than developing home grown talent.
    Don’t think anything will change during my lifetime, which, given my family history, only covers about the next five years.
    Hopefully, the “circus” will end sometime in the distant future. Meanwhile, we must accept our status as the “nearly” men.

      1. I remember many years ago a ref colleague was acting as an assistant ref at a football league match. He pulled his kit out of the bag in the dressing room and found he had mistakenly brought the kit which was due for the wash. Not having any spare he wore it and was marked down by the assessor because he had muddy socks. Although he was an excellent referee and still eligible age wise to be a football league ref for many more years he was removed from the list

      2. I was referrring to the fact that wearing socks “over the knee” is a fashion adopted by players because they think it’ looks good. It has no practical use..

    1. Had a really good afternoon at my nieces birthday barbecue this afternoon and spent a long time talking to Steve Agnew.

      I showed him the Jeff Winter In2Views piece and he said one thing that happened to him whilst was playing for Sunderland in a pre season game against a German Team.

      Jeff Winter was the ref and Steve was body checked by a German player and he immediately retaliated and laid the player out.

      Jeff came up to Steve and put his arm around him and said “I think it’s time you went and had a cup of tea Steve!”

      So he didn’t send Steve off he was merely substituted and Steve had no suspension carried through to the season which was starting the following week.

      Now that what I call Man management



      All other topics of conversation with Steve are I’m afraid off the record

  50. Alan Shearer thinks it wasn’t a penalty in the first half of the WC final, I thought it was.

    The difference being that the BBC pay Shearer £400k for his opinion, whereas they can have mine for free.

  51. In response to RR’s well written view on England.

    With the words “nearly but not quite” Gareth joins a large selection of Boro managers, namely Anderson, Charlton* and Robson*.

    *If you choose to acknowledge the view that getting the club into the top tier isn’t a particularly special achievement, as Boro are renowned for being a yo-yo team, then Big Jack and Robbo are very much part of that group. It depends, too, on what you remember most: the joy of the promotions, or the pain of narrowly missing out on Europe and/or silverware thanks to (a) Kevin Hector, (b) the coach getting stuck in traffic on the way to Maine Road, (c) Emile Heskey and (d) Chelsea.

  52. More thoughts on England…

    “England’s main attacking ploy once they were a goal up was to try to engineer one-on-one races between Raheem Sterling and the Croatia defenders. There was nothing wrong with this as the Manchester City forward posed problems, but it simply wasn’t enough.

    “None of this should really come as a surprise from a team which scored nine of its 12 goals from set-pieces – and don’t forget that one of the other three was an accidental deflection off Kane’s heel.

    “A craftsman of the Paul Scholes (or Modric) variety was badly needed. Scholes not only had the ability to create a goal with a neat pass or shot, but he also understood how to exert control when his team were a goal up. He would have gone looking for the ball and he would have understood when to shift the tempo lever up or down.

    “The hunt for Scholes’ successor goes on and it is no closer to a conclusion. Football won’t be coming home any time soon.”

    Graeme Souness. And I find it hard to disagree.

    1. Ditto – RR summed it up as well. Onwards and upwards although how much game time the England players will get remains to be seen.

      Anyway, onto Boro now, not long to go now before we see what improvements TP has managed to achieve over the close season!

  53. I didn’t think it was a penalty and Griesman should’ve been booked for diving. France received 2 goals due to, in my free to air opinion, poor officiating.

    1. It was a tough call, the Ref hadn’t spotted it, the French players asked the question although I do wonder , given the past performances, if VAR would have picked it up in real time.

      With ultra slow motion, then it looked deliberate but in real time, not so. That said, we have all seen less obvious ones given.

      The jury is still out on VAR from where I sit. There were instances when action should have been picked up and then the dubious ones where VAR gave some strange decisions.

    2. I thought it looked like a penalty in slow motion but in real time it looked like the defender’s arms were just on their way back down again after jumping and the distance between him and the French player was too small for him to have been able to react that quickly – if it had been a point blank reaction save from a keeper then it would have been hailed as brilliant such was the fraction of a second he had to deflect the ball deliberately.

      The problem is using slow motion VAR to judge intent probably skewed the decision.

  54. That penalty desision was tricky and I was happy there was VAR. The more I have been thinking about the accident, the more I am sure the refereers did the correct desision.

    So now the WC is over. We can start to concentrate on Boro again. The new season is here sooner than we realise. It is less than three weeks to the Millwall match.

    Up the Boro!

    1. Yes it’s pretty amazing to think that football season is almost upon us after being indulged with what I reckon was one of the best World Cup’s in terms of entertainment and excitement that I can remember. Hopefully we haven’t been spoilt into thinking we should expect more of the same from the Championship – with the standard of the players at this level we will probably only see more of the ridiculous than the sublime.

      Though any manager or coach watching should have noted that regardless of individual skill, it’s the best overall balanced team that has prevailed at this World Cup – for all the genius of the likes of Ronaldo, Messi and that amateur dramatic enthusiast Neymar, they were thwarted by better team performances.

      The question for Tony Pulis is whether he can create a better team this term that plays to the strengths of his players in a system that is fit for purpose – or even has the right players that fit the chosen system of play. As we saw last season it was quite hard to make significant changes once it had kicked off, Garry Monk spent too long trying to find his best team and by Game 10 it was obvious Boro were not going to be one of the pace setters.

      Pulis came in and tried to make the players he inherited fit his style of playing but you always felt he was lacking in some departments – the pressure is on to get it right from the beginning and make a few tweaks here and there but not embark on radical change. We will see from the Ins and Outs in the coming weeks whether Pulis will have a stronger team than last season.

      Hopefully he makes the right calls but some decisions may be beyond his control if the right offers come in for the likes of Adama, Gibson, Ayala or Bamford – the question is whether our recruitment department will be able to react accordingly to find quality replacements.

      The countdown has probably started now the World Cup is behind us – though it still feels like the football season has just finished rather than about to start…

  55. OFB

    Going by your account, the German team player should have been sanctioned by the referee, and Agnew should have sent off for thuggery.
    Laying people out has zero place on a football pitch.
    Winter wasn’t exercising good man management, he was failing at his job and Agnew deserved to be banned.

    1. And Steve Knew that, he said it was the first and last time he had been involved in something like that.

      Jeff had checked and the player involved wasn’t hurt and made a diplomatic decision


  56. Well as the French outdo the English in wrecking their own towns and cities in the name of football the makems are chasing ex Boro lad Charlie Wyke from Bradford while the Bantoms allegedly are wanting to replace him with George Miller if Charlie departs. To me Miller always looked like the real deal but at under 6ft 7″ his playing opportunities at Boro now would probably be limited. lets hope its a loan and not permanent. Personally I’d rather see him at Sunderland and maybe if the Wyke deal breaks down the Black Ctas might come calling.

    I see Ipswich are after “serious” money if anyone wants Waghorn. I seem to recall that prolific Strikers in the Scottish Premiership don’t seem to replicate the same productivity south of the wall, certainly not at the Riverside at least. He did have one decent (no more no less) season last year with the Tractor boys but remind me what happened to the last one season wonder striker just a few years back from Portman Road that managed one decent season and every lower Prem and Championship Club including Boro were linked with the ageing Pro?

  57. Into my fourth daily taking of 400 milligrams of the hormone drug of enzalutamide and already the side effects of lethargy, hot flushes, etc are taking hold. Tired, but can’t sleep for more than an hour at a time during the night because of frequent visits to the toilet, as well as the heat. I know the weather was hot yesterday, but for me it felt like my time in Singapore back in the fifties. Cooler this morning, but only because I’ve got the electric fan in full flow. I watched Yorkshire beat Worcestershire yesterday, but could only show a passing interest in the Scottish Open Golf which is not like me with the Open Championship taking place later this week.

    Then this morning I read an article from Anthony Vickers in the Gazette written two years ago and recalling ‘1986 and all that’. Most of us are old enough to remember that the obituary of Middlesbrough FC was about to be written. NOSTALGIA! Aah, that word again, when the elderly among us delve back into the past. But this got me thinking. What if Boro had died? There might then be some folk today who didn’t know that Middlesbrough FC once had a football club! What’s worse some might not even have cared! There are probably some people today that don’t even know that South Bank had three football clubs that produced, not only some of the finest footballers in the North East, but in the Country.

    As I said, the Gazette had Boro’s obituary already written in anticipation, but never actually had to print it. I myself wrote my own obituary a couple of years ago, but that one is merely on hold. Never one to show melancholic tendencies though I always used to tell folks that I’m alone but not lonely. Then along came, and I now realise that I’m NOT alone because I can share news and views of the Boro with people on this forum who as far as I’m aware, I have probably never met. When my body gets accustomed to this latest hormone drug, I hope to resume my articles of the history of the club that nearly died. In cricket terms I’m 80 not out, unlikely to reach a century, but it’s going to take a better bowler than Mr Prostate Cancer to stop me scoring at least a few more runs. So, it’s ‘up the Boro’ from me.

    1. Hope your body gets accustomed to the new drug quickly and side effects wain for you. There is definitely something to be said for having a sense of belonging and a purpose that comes with it.
      As always, looking forward to learning more of Boro’s history from you.

    2. If its any consolation Ken the heat and sticky humidity had me wiped out yesterday as welll as many others.

      Just think had Boro gone under Darlo may now be a Championship or maybe even a Premiership side with Boro’s demise their gain!

  58. It was a frankly marvellous World Cup, fit to rank up there with the top five tournaments I’ve seen since becoming a football fan. Those being, Italia 90 and every tournament since USA 94 onwards.

    If I had to pick a top five, High Fidelity* style, I’d go for (1) USA 94, (2) Euro 2008, (3) Russia 2018, (4) Euro 2000 and (5) France 98.

    It’s been said that a final sums up the entire tournament, though this doesn’t always appear to be the case (see: Brazil 0-0 Italy, ’94). I remember Germany ’06 started with seemingly every team firing in stunning goals left, right and centre before caution and fear of losing took over. (4th placed Portugal actually only scored – let me check – seven in the entire tournament and a mere two in the knockout stages.) One guy said, “For me, the final was like the whole tournament – started well then deteriorated into boring play.” I didn’t disagree.

    South Africa ’10 took the “caution” and “fear of losing” up to another level entirely, again after a reasonably entertaining knockout stage. Spain were deserving winners and I applauded them wholeheartedly at the time, shamelessly buying into the theory that a combination of Dutch brutality and Howard Webb hindered the fluidity and beauty in their play.

    Yet they only scored eight goals in seven matches. The argument against that would be that, having kept five clean sheets, they didn’t need to score any more. But still. Nowadays I credit the football fan who was brave enough to state that Spain couldn’t be absolved for a sterile final: “(their) football is nice, it’s pretty. (But) the lack of a cutting edge and inability to change tempo makes them one-dimensional.”

    Brazil ’14? Lots of goals in the group stages made me hopeful for exciting knockouts again, yet while we got a high tally overall (171, slightly higher than 2018) I found there to be a shortage of drama. Barring my shock at seeing Brazil torn to shreds by the Germans, I can only recall two thoroughly exciting spells in the knockouts – the extra time periods of Belgium v USA and Germany v Algeria. They were hinting at what we would see in four years time, and, indeed, with Leicester the following year – the “little teams” were no longer fearful of taking the “big teams” on at their own game.

    And you not only got that in Russia 2018. You got goals, you got drama, and you got lots of teams willing to “have a go” regardless of how lacking their final ball or finishing touch might be. The final had what you might call everything – goals, controversy, VAR, a striker scoring at both ends, commitment, individual opportunism, controlled possession (and its limitations), a goalkeeping howler, a botched trophy presentation… your mileage may vary, but there’s little doubt on how memorable it was.

    More than that, every team had at least two goals to take home. I myself will also take the memories of the host nation’s commitment and opportunism, especially that of Cheryshev, back from the international wilderness to grasp the opportunity of stealing the limelight with both hands. Japan being brave and exciting enough to take the Belgians on at their own game until they were outdone by a combination of physique, quality and a tactical switch. Cavani’s delightful double against Portugal. Spain’s 3-3 draw with the Portuguese (although De Gea’s positional sense was questionable for Ronaldo’s 3rd), a sign that La Roja might finally be moving beyond the limitations of tiki-takanaccio – until they were shown up and eliminated by the hosts. Neymar, sadly, being a total prick – which does no justice to his gifts. He may do many things a great player can do, but he also does what great players would never do. South Korea eliminating the Germans in rather comical and dramatic fashion. And, of course, an England team that for all their limits we could certainly be proud of. That Lingard goal was as good as any I’ve seen, even if it was only against Panama.

    Yeah, it certainly wasn’t all bad. (Lol.)

    *Words of wisdom I have taken from a brilliant film of a terrific book – “How can it be (wrong) to state a preference?”

  59. I dropped Bob Tait at MFC a thank you note, on behalf of all the ex-pats, for the streaming facility and his responses was as follows:

    “Good stuff Kevin

    We’re working hard behind the scenes to deliver as good a product as we can, within the constraints of the EFL licence, and having it in place for the start of the season.

    Kind regards

    Bob Tait | Head of Digital and Marketing Development”

  60. Additional thought. So sorry if I’m rambling, but I feel it’s a good point to make.

    No tournament is perfect, of course. Even my favourite, USA 94, was essentially marmite. With the help of Rob Smyth and other bloggers, I’ve uncovered several strikes against it…

    (1) As full as the houses were, there were times when the atmosphere did seem a little fake and over-produced.
    (2) The heat and humidity, for both players and spectators. I heard someone burned himself badly when he sat down to watch a game in Orlando – and pity the footballers, Steve Staunton especially, for being forced to play at a time when you’re not advised to sunbathe!
    (3) The goalless final. We can admire the masterful defensive showing from an unfit Franco Baresi on YouTube, but when you want goals…
    (4) The predictable semis. Both “underdogs”, Sweden and Bulgaria, ran out of steam against Brazil and Italy.
    (5) The absence of British teams. (Your mileage may vary on this – I didn’t mind, with Ireland present to conquer Italy, but still.)
    (6) Brazilian winners not fit to compete with the classes of 1970 and 1982.
    (7) The death of Andres Escobar. (Still hurts.)
    (8) Stefan Effenberg being a prick. (Even if you think you’ve been unjustly subbed or booed, you cannot gesture at your own supporters like that.)
    (9) Matt Lorenzo fronting the ITV coverage. (Personally I think Lorenzo gets too much flak – he did a perfectly fine job. He just didn’t hold a candle to Des or Bob Wilson, the latter of whom ITV quickly snapped up once the tournament was over.)

    I prefer to remember the average of three goals a game in the knockout stages (very high indeed), the exciting quarter-finals, and the inspirational “midget totems” – Hagi, Stoichkov, Romario and Baggio, none of whom were taller than 5 ft 9.

    More than that, as Smyth rightly pointed out, this was the last World Cup that represented a step into the unknown. Few foreigners in the Premier League, less coverage of international leagues apart from Serie A and no internet made it more of a surprise to us. Nigeria, especially… what a revelation. Gutted that five of that squad have passed away.

    Age has a lot to do with it too. I was fourteen and essentially new to football – while I’d followed Italia 90 my knowledge and interest in league action was sporadic at best, and had it not been for my then-United mad little brother I might not have followed the game at all. All that changed after America. And then, a year later, I discovered that team they call the Boro.

  61. Back to Boro
    The Asombolongo situation is a funny one.
    He is gurarenteed fifteen to twenty goals, so why sell him, his record for goals is not luck,obviously ,he gets in positions, Gestede looks the problem, for someone his size ,he doesn’t dominate his opponent’s, , Bamford is a better CF,
    I was all for TP, to come in, but I’m a little concerned about some of these transfer rumours,in and out, talk of wingers etc,when we are crying out for midfielders ,with the ability to run beyond the other teams and score goals,
    Hope I’m wrong.

  62. Enjoyed reading all the comments on the world cup, lovely.
    No intention of going over all the major incidents.
    A couple of stand out, obvious facts.
    England did a whole lot better against Croatia than we gave them credit for.
    In my opinion Croatia were streets ahead of France over ninety minutes, surely the only time we are ever likely to see a very good side 4-2 ahead blindly panicking, mind, they were quite right to panic, had Croatia got it to 4-3 I would not have given much for their chances of making extra time
    Now for a quick summery of what would help England by way of general team management.
    1 we must never again make a striker our captain, leader, and talisman. It was very foolish because it made him difficult to drop, which proved fatal in the later rounds.
    He was poor, playing virtually no part in the matches ( And missing a sitter)
    We had a very good striker with the party, quick and ruthless in front of goal, besides being good in the six yard box. Brought on with minutes to go, with the fastest man on the pitch being removed at the same time. Hhhm!
    When taking the lead in the most important match of your life, it generally pays to shut up shop, you will get more chances to increase your lead that way, at least that’s the way the smart money goes, after all you are pretty sure that the other team has no option but to pile men forward which must improve your chances of controlling the game.

  63. For those who want to see that Baresi masterclass vs Brazil, look here…

    Note that at 34, in his last World Cup, he had undergone a knee operation less than a month earlier.

    Second only to Paul McGrath’s superlative showing against the Italians for defensive masterclasses in ’94.

    Defence is as much of an art form as attack. The Italians have been teaching us that for years. If it’s not “especially difficult”, as some fans stated during the AK years, then why did we find it so hard to do beforehand? (Though I also understand their immense frustration and anger at the lack of intent.)

    Put Dani Ayala’s showings against City at the Etihad and Norwich at Carrow Road up there with the most memorable defensive masterclasses. And amongst the most undervalued – Tomas Kalas, vs Hull. Stepped into Ayala’s boots and helped carry to the team to a much needed victory during a crisis-ridden period.

  64. I have seen more helicopters today than in my previous live together. In my home town there is the international airport of Helsinki. So if you haven’t notices, both Putin and Trump visited our country and capital today. So a bit of hassle in the traffic but not much. Most of the people are on holiday in July – like me. At least Mr Putin was not wet anymore after the World Cup Finals yesterday.

    Only 2 % of Finnish people think Mr Putin has improved the peace and harmony in the World. But Mr Trump is not much better with only 4 % seeing an improvement. But we are happy to see the two presidents to talk. If nothing more.

    How boring. But at least the temperature was over 30 degrees today and warming. No news on Boro transfers, though.

    Up the Boro!

  65. Yes Jarkko, it’s a bit quiet on the transfer front at present. Hopefully, things will start moving now the World Cup is over.
    Whilst the two signings to date are welcome, we need to address the problems at the sharp end if we are going to be serious promotion contenders.
    Hope our revitalised Recruitment team have a couple of rabbits ready to pull out of the hat.

  66. Imagine my excitement at reading this morning “Boro being a shock link to Villa ace”?

    Albert perhaps or who knows maybe even Grealish but no its Birkir Bjarnason! He did a “Lee Tomlin” on Messi in the World Cup although I’m sure the diminutive Argentinina has since managed to get out of the Icelanders back pocket.

    When we have played against Villa he has never stood out for me as a Player I would love us to sign. Not sure he is what we need or indeed offers any more than what we have other than he is 6ft of course. More Magnolia than Marmite for me and don’t see him as being any more key for us than he was at Villa.

      1. It smacks to me of another potential Adlene Guedioura signing. My heart would wish him all the best but my head is left wondering and asking the question “is it an upgrade”?

  67. I’ve just caught up with the latest Tripe Supper podcast broadcast about a week ago, and the topic of conversation was about pre-season friendlies and their value. I can’t write about other clubs, but in the late fifties and early sixties I can’t recall Boro playing any opposition in such matches. The usual format under the old 2-3-5 system was a match featuring Boro’s acknowledged defence plus the reserve forwards against the reserve defenders plus the acknowledged first team forwards. This match on a Saturday was followed by a second match a week later between the Probables v Possibles, effectively the proposed first XI v the reserves (or the ‘stiffs’ as one used to call them in those days), and that was that, of course no substitutes during the matches. I often watched those games in anticipation of what might happen in the first league match of the season. It would seem an antiquated way of assessing players capabilities or form nowadays.

    Oddly enough Boro usually went on a post-season tour to Ireland for two or three matches. I seem to remember a match against Drumcondra was a regular feature. I believe they were a Dublin based team, though I never hear about them nowadays – no doubt Simon can enlighten us about them.
    The Tripe Supper trio questioned the merit of pre-season friendlies and whether they have any significance today. As Tony Pulis stated, the results are irrelevant. But try telling that to Hartlepool United who astounded the football world by beating Manchester United 6-0 in a pre-season friendly to the 1988/89 season. Admittedly to a certain degree the visitors didn’t field a full strength side, but it did include first team regulars such as Viv Anderson, Paul McGrath, Mike Duxbury and Norman Whiteside, plus youngsters such as Mark Robins and Lee Sharpe with the veteran Chris Turner in goal. It’s true that Fergie was yet to win his first league title at the time, but I bet he wouldn’t be best pleased.

    As for Hartlepool, it goes down as their greatest night ever, but was it a precursor to a great season? Well hardly, as Pools finished 19th in the Fourth Division that season.

    1. Ken, Drumcondra are a bit of a Irish version of a Milton Keynes/Wimbledon story. Named after a Dublin suburb they were one of the top sides along with Shamrock Rovers in the Republic but slipped after a few very poor seasons and found themselves struggling to pay bills. Another local side, Home Farm (who were well respected for producing great youth players) took them over in the seventies I think and eventually the Drumcondra of old went from “Home Farm Drumcondra” to simply “Home Farm”. Again from memory I think Home Farm didn’t have league status until the takeover of Drumcondra (but could be wrong)

      They have been restarted again playing in the lower leagues as they attempt to return to their former glories which included European nights (well the first or second rounds anyway if my memory serves me well) in the 50’s and 60’s.

    1. Thanks to Redcar Red and Simon about Drumcondra (Home Farm), something I wasn’t aware of. Boro also often played current teams like Shamrock Rovers, St Patrick’s Athletic and Shelbourne on those tours and it served them well with signing international players like Alan Moore, Graeme Kavanagh, Curtis Fleming and Alan Moore to name a few. Going back to the fifties we signed Frank Mulholland, Jimmy Hartnett, Arthur Fitzsimons and Peter Desmond who actually played for Eire in the team that became the first foreign country to beat England away. I seem to remember that the match was played at Goodison Park and Eire won 2-0; Mannion I believe was in the England team that day. There also used to be two clubs called Cork Hibernians and Cork Celtic; presumably they merged to form the current Cork City club.
      I can’t remember Boro playing in Northern Ireland at that time, although that’s not to say that they didn’t. They too seemed to lose clubs like Distillery and Derry City from their First Division, although the club from Londonderry being on the border of the Republic now play in the League of Ireland instead.

      1. Derry and Distillery both fell victim to the sectarian divides in Northern Ireland unfortunately. Distillery was regarded as a non sectarian club straddled between a Catholic and Protestant area with fans from both sides but the main stand was firebombed during the early seventies and that almost ended the club sadly and with it all their memorabilia and trophies etc. The Club did ground share for a while as they struggled to exist and did finally build a new Stadium in Lisburn well away from their original home.

        What was their former Grosvenor Park ground now forms part of a Belfast Motorway network which also conveniently divides the two communities. The new Distillery football club is now called Lisburn Distillery but their historical support has died (literally in many cases) and is no longer the club it once was. Players who once graced their white shirt include Bryan Hamilton, Martin O’Neil, Billy Hamilton and Derek Dougan.

        Of possible interest to us on here and linking it back to Boro is that as far as I am aware there were only two players to play for Distillery and Boro and that was way back in the 1890’s, Bob Crone and Jack Taggart. We were so bad at the time that attendances had seriously dropped (Typical Boro) and in February 1893, the directors informed all players on the club’s books that they must take an immediate pay cut. Several Players refused and left the club immediately including those two.

        Now what is interesting is that there does not appear to be any playing records for the pair of them during their time playing for Boro, appearances, goals etc. I’m wondering if they were wiped from the history books deliberately after refusing to take the pay cut, perhaps thats a question Ken can delve into?

    1. Redcar Red
      Thanks again for more information on Irish football. I must admit that I was merely writing from memory regarding Distillery and Derry, so I’ve since done a bit of research especially regarding the two Distillery players you mentioned.

      Robert ‘Bob’ Crone was described as a speedy fullback who made 41 appearances for Boro, 31 of which were Northern League matches, 6 in the FA Cup and 4 in the Cleveland Cup. He made his debut on the 6th September 1890, a 1-2 away defeat against Darlington, the first match of the season. His final match was in a Cleveland Cup match on the 25th February 1893, a 0-1 defeat at home to Stockton.

      John ‘Jack’ Taggart was a wing half who only played for one season. He made only 8 appearances 5 of which were in Northern League matches. He made his debut midway through the 1892/93 season against Ironopolis, a 0-1 away defeat on the 3rd December. His last game was in the same match as Bob Crone. However the final league match of that season occurred on the 4th April, another defeat 1-2 at Darlington, but records were sketchy at that time and the team lineup for that match was never established. In fact Boro scored 17 league goals that season and 15 of the goalscorers were untraced.

      As you say the club were in financial difficulties and players’ wages were reduced from 50 shillings a week to 30. Several players moved on; Crone and Taggert signed for West Bromwich Albion, and Middlesbrough FC returned to amateur status for the following season.

      1. Ken your knowledge knows no bounds, its incredibly how much information you were able to provide on Crone and Taggart.

        For me this is what separates this blog from not just other Boro blogs but all other Football blogs in general. In the quiet lull of summer we entertain ourselves in trivia about Boro and Football but where else would you get dialogue about a footballer from 1893 who only played 8 games for any club? When we on here are all long gone there are some real gems encased in Diasboro and Untypical Boro for generations to come.

    1. Ian, perhaps it was an omen?

      Southgate Tube station is in Zone 4 and England of course finished 4th!

      Before the next World Cup we need to find a manager who shares his name with a Zone 1 station. Maybe ex Scarborough, Cardiff and Grimsby boss Russell “Square” Slade might step up?

  68. Fabio is now confirmed as a Nantes Player. It will be interesting to see who comes in to fill his space in the squad as we definitely need cover/replacements at RB and LB. Personally I think he would have fitted in better either on the flanks or in the middle of the park where his combative tackling would have broken up attacks and the consequential free kicks there much less of a defensive problem.

    I wish him well as his energy and enthusiasm will be missed though not the free kicks on the edge of our 18 yard box.

  69. So long, Fabio. And good luck.

    He leaves with two goals to his name – one against Brentford and one against Scunthorpe in the cup.

    There was a nice feature on New Year’s Eve 2016 where Rafael Da Silva declared he’d be supporting his brother when he played at Old Trafford. It was on Football Focus.

    Fabio was benched for the game. Similarly, Adama had been dropped or benched when the media attention had escalated.

    Tied in with, were you a cynic, what seemed to be a classic Mouranka (JM/AK) rule: no player is allowed to steal the limelight in order to make the manager look as important as he can.

    That or our old Basque buddy wanted the Old Trafford game to be billed as Master vs Apprentice.

  70. Fabio featured strongly for the opposition in one of my favourite games of the AK years.

    Like Arsenal A and Bournemouth H, this was a match where the opposition came out and played, giving us gaps to exploit. Research has since told me that a lot of teams who came to the Riverside didn’t do that, hence the sideways passing sterility. Though we contributed to that sterility by not doing “something else”.

  71. Rhodes has had a stuttering career since he joined Boro.

    I remember when we signed him on deadline day and was really excited that we had him.

    His goals did help us to promotion but he never stood out as a player

    I hope he does well at Norwich

  72. Hindsight, of course, but I think those missed chances, and not just in that game – see also, Birmingham A, Ipswich H – came from the pressure of being the sole striking saviour under a manager who had been trained to believe that workhorses are best for that role. Stuani, give him credit, could handle whatever was thrown at him. Rhodes, having not played at Premier League promotion chasers before, couldn’t.

    A superb poacher’s instinct is a great asset to have at any level. Unfortunately, said poacher needs the team to be built around him, or, failing that, he needs more support up front to relieve the pressure.

    The kind that Gestede, at Blackburn, and Nugent, in those last few minutes at Bolton, provided. But also the kind that Eurocrats in general, not just Karanka, are unlikely to accommodate.

    Rafa Benitez got stick from the Toon Army for playing only one up front in their most recent promotion season. The amount of games his team had won by playing his way cut no ice. Poor Jordan wasn’t exactly a favourite of Carlos Carvalhal, either. Perhaps, like Aitor, Carvalhal didn’t know what to do with him?

    The mistake is to believe that one expensive forward is the answer to everything. No one could doubt Ravanelli’s record but if his supply line wasn’t temperamental or unreliable (Emerson) it was easy to shut out of the game by man-marking or smart defending (Juninho).

    The key area always has been, and always will be, the midfield.

  73. I enjoyed watching a hot air balloon inflating and then taking off this evening except it was spoilt by what looked like a pointless exercise conducted by disconnected grown men running around aimlessly in front of it. On a positive note Lewis Wing scored a cracker!

  74. The window shuts soon and the season starts. At this stage there is not much movement this far down the food chain.

    Tumbleweed at the Riverside. Of course if the Gazette could have reported the current situation by discussing the latin names and history of said plant. That is if they were speaking to MFC,

  75. Just popped round to a website to check the opening day… August 4! Just over two weeks to finish off two Talking Points. Better get to it. (Although neither ought to be affected too much by time.)

  76. Just had a bit of a shock. I was perusing the lists of transfers on the BBC and in the international section under Fabio to Nantes it said Jamie Mackie from QPR .to Middlesbrough. Shocked I clicked on the link but luckily he has signed for Oxford and not us.

  77. I recently watched some utube docs on non league clubs and their fans.
    It amazes me the loyalty these folks have to the clubs they follow.
    Some have crowds of less than 100 to some maybe 1500 to a couple a thousand, these clubs are well down the pyramid,
    Have we got any posters here who go to the odd non league game I wonder?
    I remember as a kid in the late fiftees ,going to the Vic at Stockton to watch the schoolboy salter and salmon cup finals,when there must have been a couple of thousand or so at them games,

  78. Good to see players getting t6heir chances in pre season including the likes of Fletcher and de Sart. Whether they get in to the match day squads is up to them to perform.

    When does the window close, 9th August?

    1. I think de Sart is an interesting one as he physically meets a lot of TP’s supposed criteria. The biggest question however is if he is technically talented enough, if he is then I could see him being given a squad number. He is 23 so now is the time to break through somewhere. His time at Derby seemed to start well then became “persona non grata” overnight.

      Watching the friendlies I can only assume that they art being used for fitness purposes rather than anything tactical. There is certainly no clear logic or rational thinking in the set ups and formations we have watched. That is maybe intentional to keep cards close to chest but it is also a bit of a concern when everything seems so “Monk like”.

      Adam Clayton is in todays Teesside/Evening/Morning/Gazette/Mirror talking about an advanced midfield role. Clearly TP hasn’t seen a highlights video of Clayt’s greatest ever shots on goal for Boro, its probably filed under Rugby Union on Youtube or worse still Clay Pigeon shooting!

      1. Whilst he wasn’t exactly prolific, AC came to the Boro as a goal scoring midfielder. Perhaps if he is allowed to get in to the opponents penalty area goals may follow?

      2. Clayts did undoubtedly have a few goals in him at Huddersfield before becoming Karankerised here but when he has had some opportunities with us his finishing is worth than shocking. So bad in fact that the North/South Stand universally embrace the crash position when he is about to shoot plus DTV Air Traffic control initiate a no fly zone. Even Police Helicopters take flight and clear off well out of the way of the potential trajectory.

        Hitting a ball and it going two yards wide or hitting a post or the back of a defender is one thing but when Clayton strikes the ball it has a mind of its own and even corner flags are not immune. He has absolutely no composure or ability to control the ball when striking it.

        After that damning condemnation the same can be levelled at far too many of Boro’s first team squad. I can only guess at the reasons but I have read/heard that Ronaldo practices shooting from all sorts of angles before and after training. To name another culprit Stewy used to be able to shoot on target and even take a decent free kick. If they both used to be able to score (I’d include Howson in with them as well while I’m at it) then how and why have they become so awful?

        I’m guessing that they do not practice, hone or improve their art, continually striving for excellence and would rather get on their Xboxes or Golf Courses after practice than be the best. Its more than just a coincidence that so many of them are so bad so I can only conclude that it is the culture within the club and worse still over successive Managers now.

  79. According to the Birmingham Mail the Blades have offered Ipswich a club record £5M for Martyn Waghorn! If thats the case the Tractor Boys should snap their hand off at that price for someone they picked up for peanuts from Sevco last year.

    He scored 16 goals in 46 games last season which was his best in England. His prolific period prior to that was against Queen of the South, Raith Rovers, Alloa, Dumbarton, Stranraer and Annan Athletic with his first hat trick coming against Greenock Morton! No disrespect to the lad but £5M for his track record is nothing short of astonishing.

  80. Does Waghorn meet the criteria of scoring against us.

    Elsewhere a Happy Gilmore moment at the Open Golf. I was working at home early doors and checked the golf before going in to the office.

    At 9.55am they showed a golfer on the driving range and a helicopter. Jhonattan Vegas had flown in to Glasgow from Toronto and landed at 9.00am, the helicopter had dropped him off at Carnoustie.

    His clubs had gone missing but his manufacturer cobbled a set together. He was on the driving range with his caddie who had an armful of clubs, he was trying different clubs and passing them back to his caddie.

    Behind him was someone unpacking a new golf bag, taking out the packaging ready for the clubs.

    He is 2 over after three holes, More like Johnny Vegas!

    Makes our trip to the play off final seem well organised!

  81. The Albert Adomah link is resurfacing today as part of a rumoured double Boro raid on Villa including Bjarnason.

    On the subject of Villa it was mooted in a few places (probably just cut and paste lazy journalism) yesterday that they have halved their valuation on Grealish to £20M. That to me puts him in affordability territory of a few Championship sides and also would indicate that if true Villa’s finances must be getting very close to imploding and desperation is setting in.

    Looking at Villa if Jedinak was just a couple of years younger he would be worth a punt at this level to beef up the squad.

    1. I also heard a strong rumour (but I forget exactly where I heard it!) That Steve Bruce is wanted by David Beckham to run his new football club in USA)


  82. Clayton had two great years alongside Leads. The axis was paramount when notching our highest Championship points tallies in years. But was that the Clayton we wanted to see?

    What I find relevant here is a quote I uncovered from a football fan when he looked back on Man U’s enjoyable 2-2 draw with Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona in 1994, the year I became a football fan myself.

    As well as Stoichkov and Romario, Barca boasted future managers Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique and Ronald Koeman in their starting XI. Along with future Boro target Nadal.

    The fan said: “This United team looked (far) superior to the Barca team. They match each other in terms of technique, but United played with a lot more pace, aggression, intent and drive. (The) Barca team were slow, and (all) too happy to pass around the back, going nowhere.”

    Pace, intent and drive. All key words. Now, it’s true that the merits of the backwards-and-sideways passing game have been discussed ad infinitum by football scholars and successful managers, the latter of whom will dump the stats and/or trophies in front of grumbling fans to back them up – but does that counter what the fan pays for and sees with his or her own eyes?

    The problem with AK!Clayton, and AK!Adomah, wasn’t AK himself. The problem was the culture that spawned him, that advocated a slower paced “wait and see” style to the fast, direct and committed style we fell in love with.

    I’m entirely in agreement with the reasoning that AK!Adomah was an all around better player than TM!Adomah – but the fearlessness and edge had been blunted for the sake of controlled professionalism. That’s not to say that AK!Adomah, and AK!Clayton for that matter, weren’t exceptionally effective and at times still special – more that in encouraging those players to be what he wanted them to be, AK suddenly lost what we, and he, had.

  83. According to the gazette Pulis didn’t want to risk Traore last night because of a “sticky” pitch and didn’t want to risk a knock.

    Looking after his players welfare or not wanting a salable asset injured? Hopefully the former but the Teesside cynic in me thinks the latter. Going to be a nervy couple of weeks until the transfer window closes.

  84. Saw this brilliant quote today…..

    “If Russia 2018 has taught us anything it’s that football hooliganism can be eradicated overnight, simply with the knowledge that the police will batter the absolute sh*t out of you”

    1. Fully agree GHW.

      Its amazing what happens on the streets when the forces of law and order take control and crucially backed up by the judiciary in eradicating pond life rather than listening to repetitive well rehearsed sob stories from social workers and legal aid which the law abiding amongst us have the pleasure of paying for and then to hear they have been bound over (usually with upwards of 60 or 70 previous offences).

      There is irony no doubt in that it was Russia but the fact remains that consequences are what influenced behavioural changes.

  85. Werder
    Thanks for the email informing me that you have kindly collated some of my thoughts and historical reviews on a separate custom page. That to me sounds to have been a very time consuming exercise and I’m very grateful for your efforts. As you are aware when you prepare your own historical comments as a preamble to Boro’s matches it’s accumulating all the historical data that can be quite laborious, but we must enjoy doing it. I’m fortunate that I have plenty of time on my hands and as long as folk are interested I’ll hopefully continue to resume the history of our great football club in the next week or two.

    1. No problem Ken, all part of the Diasboro service 🙂 Naturally it did take quite a bit of time to pull the various posts together, edit out any duplication and place in an article format, but I’m a great believer in the old saying that if a job is worth doing then it’s worth doing properly. It was something on my to-do list as I’m aware some readers may have missed your posts over the summer and then it’s quite hard to find them among the comments once the blog moves on to the next article.

      Time is always a little sparse, especially after the season finished and up until I went on holiday as I’ve been full-on working on some of my delayed projects and didn’t have hardly any time to devote to the blog – just kept it ticking over by preparing OFB’s articles for publishing, which has been much appreciated over the break as they’ve been great reading! I look forward to your further delves into Boro history and will add them to your new page.

      I’ll post the details and link to your new section a little later today as it’s now time to do some swimming or digging in the sand.

  86. During this transfer window rumours are abound of incoming and outgoing transfers. At the moment it’s only paper talk, but obviously everything will be settled within the next three weeks. But cricket is not immune from such rumours either. A lot has been written about how well Yorkshire have coped in one-day matches without their England players and tonight, with the exception of Jonny Bairstow, all are in the squad for the televised Roses fixture at Old Trafford. However the Yorkshire Post report that two of our bowlers haven’t as yet signed new contracts. It is rumoured that Adil Rashid would like to team up with Moeen Ali at Worcestershire and that Boro’s own Liam Plunkett could be Surrey bound at the end of the season. Rashid is even contemplating a return to Test Cricket. As often happens in football when players compare their wages with England colleagues when on international duty, I’m wondering if similar situations occur with Yorkshire cricketers on Test Match duty. Fortunately Yorkshire have some fine youngsters coming through the ranks, but will they become disillusioned if they have to lose their places to returning Test players? Thankfully Boro aren’t yet in that position, but it could well happen in the future with the likes of Dael Fry for instance. But let’s not worry about that for now as we concentrate on returning to the Premier League.

    1. It’s interesting Ken that you mention Dael Fry as one of our up and coming youngsters as he cropped up in my conversation with Steve Agnew on Sunday.

      Steve rated Dael very highly and said he had the ability to go right to the top. He also said that Dael is completely unspoilt or unmoved by being thrust into the spotlight.

      He compared Dael to another young centre back he worked with at Hull who had the same temperament and ability namely one Harry Maguire !

      Let’s hope Dael can play for England whilst still a Boro player.


      1. If only we had went that extra few million quid on Maguire way back then we may be still in the Premiership or at least sat on a gold mine. Either way its another big barbed stick to beat the recruitment team with. If only he had been christened Enrique Maguirez we would have went up to £10M no bother.

  87. Ken Smith Banner

    As mentioned a little earlier, over the last few days I’ve been busy collating some of Ken’s historical posts that he’s produced over the summer break and have made them into standalone articles. Some articles are as he has posted them with just the general blog chat removed, whereas others have been carefully spliced together from several posts and edited to remove duplicated content or slightly rejigged to maintain the chronology – plus I’ve re-formatted some of the lists and tables to be easier to read.

    I hope Diasboro readers, particularly those who may have missed them first time round, find them interesting reading and a valuable easy-to-access resource for future reference.

    So many thanks to Ken for writing and posting so much insightful and personal recollections of Boro’s long and interesting history. I hope to add further articles to the dedicated page, which you can access by clicking on the banner in this post and it can also be found at the top of the right-hand column under ‘DIASBORO LINKS’.

        1. It just shows how diverse this blog is it really is something special.

          Many thanks to Ken and Werder for making this archive a reality

          I wonder if this will become a reference point for journos ?


      1. Yes, I think it’s always great to read articles from people who genuinely have a passion for a subject and in many instances actually witnessed the events and can recall them as they were at the time – it brings history alive.

    1. Werder,

      Good work and obviously great work from Ken. The beginning of a proper Boro Archive, all I’ve got are 1966 posters and badges, sigh.

      seriously really well done the pair of you!



        1. Just another little snippet about my chat with Steve Agnew on Sunday. I must confess I did monopolise him for an hour until my niece dragged me away saying “Leave Steve alone he doesn’t want to talk football.” With Steve protesting that he did.

          Steve and I talked about the current Boro players and who he rated (secret) then we talked about promotion prospects.

          He said
          “I think we’ll do well and get promoted this season.”

          “Who Villa?”

          I asked warily

          “No the Boro.”

          “But it’s not your team”

          I protested to him.

          He looked at me and grinned.

          “Boro will always be my team”


  88. Werder
    Thanks for establishing this “Treasure Trove” in lasting form and thanks, of course, to Ken for providing the content.
    Ken, OFB and Si have kept the interest going during this otherwise barren period.
    Hopefully, MFC will end the close season with a flourish. Time will tell if our Recruitment Team has been revitalised.

  89. Sorry to hear of the hunt for Traore, but really! If you have no idea of the value of your players then you get done to a turn in the market.
    To think of bottom fishers rushing in with their 18 million in their grubby hands, joy bursting out of their scarlet faces. These people have never dreamed in their lives of fielding a player such as him, and the real treat for them and their clubs is the fact that he will be gone from them within a year, ( or less), but it will not be 18 but 48 million coming their way.
    A shameful episode in the clubs history, and the result of someone trying to imitate a wheeler dealer. It would have been better to have no release fee.

  90. Plato

    Twelve months ago some would have offered to drive Traore to whoever wanted him.

    I don’t know the exact figures but lets assume we paid £4m for him, no one could get him to contribute and that is historic from Barca to Villa to AK to Agnew to Monk.

    Suddenly we expect multi millions for him. Why do we have such expectations. If we accept a release clause of £18m how can we criticise the club?

    It is only a stick to hit the club with, I don’t agree.

    I have no problem with contrary views.

    1. Ian
      The job of the club is to come out on top of every deal that they do, that is a basic duty.
      We signed him believing that he had the background and talent to blast the Champ. So why did we install a contract that completely nullified our power as owners of his contract?
      What was the point of searching for a prospect, finding one ( and how) then letting someone? Take a wrecking ball to our ( very favourable) situation?
      With no release clause we would be our own master.
      By the way, from first seeing him the crowd were entertained and delighted, and it was shared by away crowds.
      If we regard this as acceptable behaviour then we deserve what we get from this malfunctioning club.
      How on earth do Southampton find a lot of stars and demand and get huge fees without a single word of protest from the buyers?

  91. Based on what he has produced to date, i.e. goals and assists for Boro and his previous employers then in my view £18M is way out of the ball park.

    Even if you were to factor in “future potential” then I would still find it difficult to get any where near the supposed figure being bandied about.

    I fail to understand how anyone can talk in such figures when he has not yet put together a full season under any manager and been seen as the major contributor to team performance and results..

    As much as I would like him achieve to those levels, part of me sees him going the same way as others before him eg Wildschutt, Fischer and Carayol.

    2018 is for me a make or break season for AT.

    1. Fully agree KP.

      If Adama continues on his most recent trajectory then he could fire Boro to promotion but we are talking about a maximum of 4 months with one Manager in an entire career to date where several other Managers (and Clubs) have given up. Last summer it was rumoured that he was on his way out and nobody raised so much as an eyebrow.

      The raw potential is definitely there but it has only surfaced in glimpses since TP took over. Those tantalising revelations are what we are hoping to see more of but if we are totally honest with ourselves if we see him next season in the Premiership being dissected on Match of the Day for standing still, not reading the game and frustratingly constantly running into blind alleys with little end product then it would be a brave man on here to claim he would be shocked. For me that is exactly the reason Adama should stay (provided the Manager and MFC want him).

      If he goes now he will be in the spotlight. Perform well consistently and he will be off again next summer for in excess of £50M to somewhere exotic. If however he goes and performs like he did against a geriatric veteran Villa defender in two legs then he will be forgotten come Christmas languishing in a Premiership reserve side playing in front of a few hundred fans in empty desolate stadia midweek.

      I have seen enough to think that there is something very powerful in him but more often than not he stands, looking lost, seemingly distracted by things irrelevant to the game itself. Adama is a footballing casino chip the question facing SG and TP is when do you cash him in? There is a danger that you keep gambling in the hope that you double and triple your money. This season he will have gone from unknown squad player to a Championship star player. Games that went unnoticed last season will be watched and recorded in infinite detail by onlooking statisticians reporting back to their respective clubs.

      The gamble is will Adama’s value soar or become a damp squib?

  92. Again thanks to Werder for collating my historical highlights onto a separate custom site, and to all fellow bloggers for their kind support. Healthwise yesterday was a bad day for me. The Open Golf has always been my favourite sporting event of the year. I even used to take two days leave from work on the Thursday and Friday to watch the day’s play when it was televised on the BBC, and actually travelled to watch it live on several occasions. As with Boro statistics I have 20 or so years statistics of the final day’s play.

    But yesterday I couldn’t concentrate, kept falling asleep, and eventually went to bed at 3.15 feelings pretty rough. Got up for something to eat, though just picked at my food. Watched the Cas match but straight to bed afterwards. I’m told the cancer is spreading, hence these new drugs, but informed they usually enhance life expectancy. But into my second week of treatment I’ll have the odd bad day, but to miss the Open Golf!!! Anyway after the usual hourly trips to the toilet during the night, I do feel much better and refreshed for more golf later today. Still determined to fight this and continue blogging on this forum, but it may be awhile before continuing the Boro historical theme. In the meantime thanks again for all your support and, of course, up the Boro!

    1. Keep strong Ken and keep fighting, the resting is just the body’s way of fighting that dreadful disease plus if you are up every hour during the night no wonder you need an afternoons kip!

      I see there are some dubious links to Icelandic striker Vidar Orn Kjartansson from Maccabi Tel Aviv. Surprised at this one as he seems a bit of a journeyman striker with nothing in particular to get excited about. There again this is Boro we are talking about and we do have a bit of a thing for strange Striker recruitment strategies.

    2. Thanks Ken, hope you start to pick up again soon and are not feeling under par for the Open Golf! Sometimes the medicine makes you feel worse before it starts to make you feel a little better. Just keep resting and recuperating.

  93. Thanks to Recar Red for his assessment of Traore which is spot on.

    The best advice to him must be to stay at Boro who are starting to develope him into a proper player who eventually will learn when to pass the ball etc. It is not certain that he will achieve his potential – a number of teams, Barcelona no less, tried for a number of years and gave up.

    To go to a Premier team will not guarantee him a starting position every week. Indeed he might only be used as an impact player.

    This coming season will be a big test for him as everyone knows his strengths – and weaknesses.
    It was noticeable that the longer the season went on last year that teams were doubling up on him and he became not as effective.
    To give him a chance it is essential that we get another decent winger so we have two outlets rather than the ‘ pass it to Traore ‘ way of playing.

    For what it’s worth, here at Huddersfield, they have a decent Championship winger who is not good enough for the Premiership, but will be an outlet and get you around 15 goals per season and rumour has it he could be available due to recent signings . Name?
    Ince. Cost – probably around £8m which is what they paid for him.

  94. Philip
    Like you, I agree that RR is spot on regarding Traore and I agree that we’ve got to have another outlet but I’m not sure about Ince (wasn’t he rumoured to be going elsewhere anyway?) as he has never quite reached the potential level expected when he first arrived on the scene. Having said that, I’m not sure who there is available out there. As I say keep saying “ad nauseum”, let’s hope our Recruitment team have something up their sleeve, apart from their arm that is.

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