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Boro v Brum
 

Boro v Brum

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BORO v Birmingham City (The Championship, Riverside Stadium, 21.10.2023 KO 3pm).

Should one come down from the rarefied atmosphere at the top of the mountain that was represented by the 4-0 away win at Sunderland? Should one descend slowly and cautiously, to regroup at basecamp?  Or should one look from that recently climbed summit towards other, higher, ridges which were previously hidden but which are now revealed in the gaps between the clouds ahead?

We know from experience that Boro's players and management will say the usual things prior to the home fixture against Birmingham City: that we are pleased with recent progress but will take each game as it comes, that we will take nothing for granted, that we still have a very long way to go before any proper views/aims/targets can be specified etc. We are not being blinded by our recent results.  You'd hardly expect any suggestion (a) that Boro has now turned the corner and that the team is right up there with a good chance of automatic promotion, any more than you'd expect the opposite view, in mid-September when we were all looking up from the bottom of the league table, namely (b) that Boro would start next season in League One.  The views expressed will be more measured, some might suggest vague.

So what can we say about Boro v Birmingham City to be played on Saturday 21st October 2023?

In the previous 6 league games for each club since the last two-week International Break - which sadly seem much more common these days than Bank Holidays - we see the following. I shall give the most recent results first:

BORO               v   Sunderland (A)     -    W

                          v   Cardiff        (H)    -     W

                          v   Watford      (A)    -     W

                          v   So'ton        (H)     -     W

                          v   Sheff W     (A)    -      D

                          v   Blackburn   (A)    -      L

BIRMINGHAM  v    WBA           (H)    -      W

                          v   Hudd'field    (H)    -     W

                          v   Norwich       (A)    -     L

                          v   QPR            (H)    -     D

                          v   PNE            (A)    -      L

                          v   Watford       (A)    -      L

 

In their last 6 matches in the recent group of games, Boro has therefore won 4, drawn 1 and lost 1 whilst Birmingham has won 2, drawn 1 and lost 3.  Interestingly Boro's wins are in the 4 most recent league games whilst Birmingham's wins are in their last 2 games.  It might be said that Boro's winning streak is longer but both teams have been winning their most recent games and must feel lifted up by that.

On the other hand there is a two week gap between the last fixtures and the Birmingham game.  In many ways one would have liked to strike whilst the streak is at its hottest, to have switched over to the next gas bottle and moved on to the next ridge after a restoring night's sleep and a decent breakfast. Sadly there are things we can control and things we can't. We can't control the two-week absence from the group suffered by any international players in the respectives teams' squad so no work can be done with those players for a fortnight, no strategies worked out with them on the training pitch, no dead-ball routines practiced. Two weeks for the "feel-good" factor which must be present in the Boro squad slowly to dissipate.

The team Boro defeated so comprehensively on 7th October remains in a healthy 4th position in the League despite that 0-4 home defeat.  At the time of typing this on 11th October the team which Boro next plays finds itself in one of the play-off positions in 6th place (therefore TEN places higher than Boro). Those two  games might a few weeks ago have both appeared like a mountain to climb although, on the north face of it, one would have thought the ascent of Sunderland (away) offered more arduous climbing than the lower level scrambles and gently-sloping saddles  which the home game against Birmingham City might offer.

In reality, of course, most things can't be judged on numbers alone, however helpful those figures might be in a giving an initial impression. Annapurna at 8,091 metres (26,545 feet if we prefer Imperial measures) and K2 (8,611m or 28,251ft) are considered by most mountaineers to be amongst the very hardest mountains to climb and even such tiddly European peaks as the Eiger (3,967m or 13,015ft) with its fiendish north face, and the slightly more lofty Matterhorn (4,478m or 14,692ft) feature on lists as being more difficult mountains to climb than the very highest mountain of all  above sea level - the iconic Mount Everest (8,848m or 29,029ft, since you asked). Even in football figures are not defintive indicators. By way of example, Sunderland v Southampton played on 2nd September 2023 was a game in which the possession stats show 31.7% for Sunderland and 68.3% for Southampton, yet the result was 5-0 to Sunderland. And if we looked at the records for last year, or a couple of years or so, there'd be little point playing out the fixtures for this current season - Manchester City would win the Premier League (again) whilst Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham/Villa/Newcastle would be chasing them in high positions to claim the remaining UEFA CL places. Better not tell Brentford that, then, as they did the League double over Manchester City last season despite finishing much lower down the table.

There are other factors which might arise in all aspects of life, to upset apparently obvious calculations. Back to the mountains! The Grampians and the North West Highlands in Scotland are relatively modest in (world) terms of altitude yet offer significant challenges: An Teallach (NWH) which  is a molehill in comparison to those mountains mentioned earlier has a maximum altitude of only 1,062m (3,484ft, so not quite as high as Mt Snowdon) yet it has been described as the most impressive in Britain and has 10 distinct summits within its ridge, all over than 3,000ft, whilst Ben Macdui (Cairngorms) was thought to be Britain's tallest mountain at 1,309m (4,295ft) until Ben Nevis was finally shown to hold that title in 1846-47. Yet the weather can change very suddenly so that anyone foolish enough on a Spring morning to attempt to climb the "relatively modest"  An Teallach or Ben Macdui (or several of the major hills in the Lake District, for that matter) in Tshirt and training shoes and without proper gear in their backpack could very easily be placed in serious danger, and end up either as statistics themselves or users of the Mountain Rescue Services. Now, I wonder what sort of sudden change in the weather might occur in the football world?

UPDATE  - close attention to the Breaking News (thanks, Jarkko, for your post at 1.25pm on 11.10.23 on the previous "Sunderland derby match" thread) makes it clear that Birmingham City, having sacked their manager John Eustace following the team's WIN against West Brom 5 days ago, has now appointed one Wayne Rooney as the new manager. Wasn't that a coincidence following his very recent resignation as the manager of DC United in the United States?

Rooney, 37 years old  "began his full-time managerial journey with Derby County in January 2021" (according to the Birmingham City club website), guiding the club to Championship safety by the end of that season. However the following season he was unable to stave off relegation with The Rams, the club having been deducted 21 points for financial iregularities - so not something that could be laid at Rooney's door. Some people felt that he'd done reasonably well with the club, having to rely heavily on the club's youth players in light of financial strictures. He resigned from Derby in  June 2022 and was appointed to manage DC United (yet ANOTHER United!)  3 weeks later. That remained the position until he resigned from DC United then joined Birmingham this week.  The "Standings" of the Major League Soccer (Eastern Conference) show that DC United were 9th out of 15 in their league, having been eliminated from the play-offs.  Rooney and his new club are expressing high hopes and ambitions at St Andrews.

But the biggest change is that, like Mt McKinley (North America's highest peak at 6,190m or 20,310ft), Birmingham City will change its offical name. In 2015 President Barack Obama, despite some showing discontent, authorised the change of name for the mountain from Mt McKinley to Denali (following local practice in Alaska for the previous 40 years - Denali being the name of the mountain in the language of one of the many First American Peoples/Tribes in Alaska). In the same way Birmingham City FC will be known as "Wayne Rooney's Birmingham City", or WRBC, when authority is given by Henry Winter. It may sound like an American radio station but, then again, WRBC now has American owners.

The big issue here is that a new manager CAN have an effect on the atmosphere at a club, on its playing staff and the attitude of its supporters.   No doubt enthusiasm for the club will reach new heights (*see what he did there?*) when the players run out for their first match under Rooney's command. No doubt the game will be given increased prominence. No doubt the staff at the Riverside will have to buy in larger stocks of the Smoked Salmon, Lobster Thermidore, Venison Stroganoff and "Parmo-in-a-Bun" meals  provided for the Press boys (and girls) who will descend on the ground in unprecedented numbers. Anthony Vickers used to complain that by the time he got to the Press Lounge at the Riverside at half-time, all the good food had been snaffled.  Well for this fixture just keep an eye out for which of the Leviathans of the (former) Fleet Street  are wearing sprinting spikes a-la-Usain Bolt.  Remember - "a shy lad gets nowt".

Immediately after the full-time whistle at the Stadium-which-shall-not-be-Named, I think the mythical "Five pound bet" would have been firmly placed on a comfortable home win for Boro against Birmingham, despite the away team's higher league position.  Now, in light of the unexpected change in the weather on the upper slopes, let alone the name change, the bookies in Small Heath and Sparkbrook will be flooded out with bets for the Blues.  The WRBC website now proclaims the club and its new manager, will have "an identity and clear no-fear playing style that all Birmingham City teams will adopt and embrace".

Time will tell.  In light of these recent developments let's not make a mountain out of a molehill. In facing a team now led by an eager and enthusiastic young (in age if not looks) manager, will Boro now be anticipating the seriously arduous trek and then the technical and exhausting climbs through rock faces and ice that Kangchenjunga, K2 or Annapurna represent? Or perhaps a less challenging but still notably serious An Teallach, or a pleasant summer day's afternoon stroll up Wainwright's favourite Cat Bells with a picnic to eat whilst looking at the lovely views?  Or mabye even a quick toddle up Cat Nab or a literal stroll in Locke Park (other parks like Albert and Stewart are also available)?

Me?  I thought you'd never ask! I'm sure WRBC will come out of the traps, enthusiastic and desperate to please their new manager, and that intial surge will have to be controlled. But if Boro does that, there will be much pleasure to be had enjoying the views, taking the air, and contemplating other, steeper mountains that lie in store for an intrepid explorer like Michael Carrick.  But major mountains are not these days conquered by go-it-alone heroes, let alone celebrity managers - a disciplined team of porters, sherpas, support climbers and summiters is usually required.  I'm not saying this game will represent a serious complex and technical Himalayan peak or Aconcagua, which clearly have the capacity to defeat even the most competent and well-prepared team of climbers (those challenges might lie in wait later in the fixture list), but neither will it be the sort of Boro goal-fest that a gentle stroll in the park would represent. I think it more likely to be a serious bit of exercise and a chance to practice Alpine skills but, if we are properly organised, it shouldn't be life-threatening. Maybe a 2-1 An Teallach or a 3-1 Great Gable (with maybe a few pints of real ale at the Wasdale Head Inn whilst the pleasure sinks in afterwards).

Forever Dormo 


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Forever Dormo 

A great opener and you’ve certainly scaled the peaks with this one. Great stuff !

OFB


   
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Powmill-Naemore
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ForeverDormo.. What a read. Fantastic. Yet another quality take on what a thread opener can look like.

You wouldn't be called Munro behind your FD alias now would you?

This post was modified 6 months ago by Powmill-Naemore

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@powmillnaemore 

I think he’s called Sherpa Tensing or something like that ?

OFB


   
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Oh’! Almost forgot my forecast !

Drum 🥁 Roll🧻

Its the welcome return of Boro3 Roooony 0

OFB


   
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Powmill-Naemore
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@original-fat-bob 

Or perhaps he isn't really from Dormanstown, but really he is a man from Kilmarnock called Jaro...


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Thanks for the kind comments, guys.  And, yes,very interesting but also perceptive:  Munro does feature in my family FOUR times (people, not pets and not 3,000+ ft mountains).

This post was modified 6 months ago by Forever Dormo

   
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jarkko
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@forever-dormo Excellent stuff. I never thought it was you who would write the starter! A pleasant surprice.

I see the challenge more like Roseberry Topping. With a disciplined team of porters, sherpas, support climbers and summiters is usually required but is possible to reach. 

I like the positivity of OFB, but I will be happy with a 1-0 win and a clean sheet. I hope the porters and sherpas are happy with the work the team will do in getting a win. And that Leninhan and Fry are in fine form.

Anyway, we need the points. I predicted we would get automatically promoted in the Powmill-Naemore Challenge. I think the top six looks doable now but even for that we need picking up points. So I hope we can reach the three points in Roseberry Topping with the porters and all in supporting the team at Riverside.

Up the Boro!

This post was modified 6 months ago by jarkko

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@jarkko - I should have got a job as a porter. I have a lapel badge saying PORTER in gold on a maroon background. I think I bought it from the railway station at Leyburn (the Wensleydale line) or maybe at Pickering on the NY Moors Railway. I wonder where that badge is these days....


   
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Pedro de Espana
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BRILLIANT  Dormo, just brilliant. Another Headliner history lesson on a subject, I no now’t of (sorry Powmill)  Mountaineering.

The research must have taken hours and many pints. Well earned.

The law of averages, says we cannot go on winning forever, however, hopefully we can add one more.

Unfortunately, I will miss the game. A non Boro supporter decided not to consult the fixture list, before booking her wedding date.

 


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@jarkko 

I don't know about Roseberry Topping but Boro's win at Sunderland has certainly cured Cleveland ills.

Anyone arguing- him a liar.

Thanks and congratulations Dormo. Your leader reached the heights of Andy's.

 


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Forever Dormo,

That headliner had me scouring Ebay for some bargain crampons and rooting thorough the kitchen cupboards for some Kendal Mint Cake. Not that you need crampons in West Norfolk, people round here get to the top of the stairs and either feel dizzy or start a nosebleed.

A great piece and given some meat on it's bones with some great research and context. Well done, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Meanwhile the tumbleweed that is (another) the international break trundles on. No forecasts from me, just don't concede Boro, or lose, when the next proper Saturday comes!

Meanwhile I think I'll watch those Boro goals at Sunderland goals again.

UTB,

John


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@lenmasterman - Very Punny!


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@john-richardson - Thanks for that. Funnily enough, I re-watched the goals at Sunderland again last night. Might be due another go at it....


   
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Clive Hurren
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Excellent, Dormo. I really enjoyed that. Thank you so much!

As someone who regularly walks up mountains (though with increasing difficulty these days), I can attest with certainty - and from alarmed experience - that the weather at the top can often change in a matter of moments. My motto is ‘Never trust a mountain!’ So I’m not necessarily going to expect Boro to conquer the minor molehill that is WRBC. Who knows what hidden hazards we might encounter - slippery wingers, craggy defenders, a rock-solid goalkeeper - especially as Wayne will undoubtedly have them fired up. 

If we do go on to win, Boro will be reaching dizzying heights never before touched this season. Before long, we might need an oxygen supply! And that will be summit to celebrate! 


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@forever-dormo, Thanks for a really enjoyable read, I appreciate the time, trouble and research that obviously went in to the intro. On the day it will be interesting to see the style of football Birmingham will try to play, will it be “Derby” like or a continuation of Eustace philosophy. Will they get the “New manager bounce” or the post match Rooney “We have more work to do “, will his management team spend hours of the next 9 days pouring over Boro’s last 4 games pondering how to stop them or pouring over Boro’s first 7 league games to see how teams either beat them or drew. All will be revealed on Saturday 21 October, I can’t help feeling that Sky are kicking themselves for not scheduling this as one of their live games 😂😂😂.

Come on BORO.


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Brilliant opener thank you FD.  You have certainly left the next scribe a mountain to climb!

I hope we can continue with our positive momentum and will be happy to take a 1-0 win as I am expecting WRBC to be a tough nut to crack! CoB 😎


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@k-p-in-spain - Any win will do.


Martin Bellamy
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@forever-dormo Good work, FD - like a modern day Chris Bonnington, ascending heights of writing skills that few can match. As well as the summits, the standard of starters on here just keeping getting higher. Maybe we’ll be the men who went up a hill and came down a mountain.


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@martin-bellamy - Thanks, Martin.  It just so happens that our friends with whom we go camping regularly do serious trekking.  They won a competition in one of the magazines some years back and the "prize" was an hotel stay and a walk in Lakeland, up in the Fells, with Chris Bonnington, who later wrote a big spread about the whole experience in the same magazine.  I think it was "Trek and Mountain" but, if not, it was something similar.

Our friends are currently on holiday in the Andes (today Mrs Dormo received a message they had got to their campsite which I think is on the approaches to Aconcagua). There will be the opportunity to go to some of the Chilean wineries later. Arduous trekking and climbing first, then the touristy holiday bit, I think.

They really are serious about it. In previous years they have been to the Himalayas, the Karakorams (K2 is in this range to the West & North of the Himalayas), and the Alps (Mont Blanc for example) and in better times they were able to go up Europe's highest mountain (Mt Elbrus - 5,642m or 18,510ft).  I can't remember whether last year they went to Nepal or to Bhutan but I know they've been to both and have a few stories to tell. Fat Americans (other nations have fat people, too) who insisted they are experienced climbers/trekkers but after a day it is clear that is nonsense and they have to cadge a lift on the back of some poor mule or donkey whilst the porters end up carrying more, until the Tour Leader calls a halt to it and they must go lower down etc. My mate must be the only person to have had constipation in India.

Now ... I can see the joy to be had in little jaunts to the Dales or NY Moors, Snowdonia or Suilven, Canisp and Stack Polly (English spelling), let alone the big guys in Scotland, but the REALLY high and dangerous stuff they do, well it's certainly not to be messed with.  Premier League.


   
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Posted by: @forever-dormo

BORO v Birmingham City (The Championship, Riverside Stadium, 21.10.2023 KO 3pm).

[...]

But the biggest change is that, like Mt McKinley (North America's highest peak at 6,190m or 20,310ft), Birmingham City will change its offical name. In 2015 President Barack Obama, despite some showing discontent, authorised the change of name for the mountain from Mt McKinley to Denali (following local practice in Alaska for the previous 40 years - Denali being the name of the mountain in the language of one of the many First American Peoples/Tribes in Alaska). In the same way Birmingham City FC will be known as "Wayne Rooney's Birmingham City", or WRBC, when authority is given by Henry Winter.

[...]

Forever Dormo 

Great opener, Dormo.  *thumbs up*  Don't forget, however, that Boro has suffered a similar fate to WRBC, having been tarred after Michael Carrick's appointment by the same infuriating media brush as "Michael Carrick's Middlesbrough", or MMC.  *rolls eyes*

Further examples of such "media tarring":  prior to Master Wayne's association with Derby County, when it was generally known as "WRDC", or "Wayne Rooney's Derby County", it was of course "FLDC", or "Frank Lampard's Derby County" & Mr Lampard then went on the manage FLC (twice!) & FLE...

P.S.  It's "official" - sorry, couldn't resist!  😉  Very common typo.

 


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Posted by: @forever-dormo

@k-p-in-spain - Any win will do.

I read that and couldn't help myself. With apologies to Tim Rice, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jason Donovan..

Any Win Will Do

We went up north
To close the curtain
On Mackems hurtin’
When we scored a few

Deep in the stands
Their fans were leaving
At the same time weeping
Our dream come true

We wore our scarves (we wore our scarves)
Bright red, white lining
Boro colours shining
Scoring two plus two

In the North East (In the North East)
Records were breaking
With Black Cats quaking 
Our team will do
 
We scored a goal, and scored one more
Got up to three, and then to four
Their fans all faded into Tearside
Ours were left alone

When we return (when we return)
From internationals
We'll still be smiling
And any win will do

The league at large (the league at large)
Is out there wary
'Cause we are scary
When any win will do

Any win will do
(Any win, any win, any win)
Any win will do
(Any win, any win, any win)
Any win will do
(Any win, any win, any win)

 

 


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@stircrazy - Nice one!  I thought I'd seen a typo after the piece was posted, but I can officially confirm it wasn't THAT one.  I had some recollection when I finished it that I had put a superfluous  "s" on the end of a word but when I read it again, I couldn't find it.  My fault for not noting down "Para X, Line Y" when I first spotted it, rather than simply telling myself I'd come back later to it, only to search in vain to find it.  There may be others. I kid myself that it's a bit like Kit Williams the artist, author and illustrator (not Kit Calvert without whom we'd no lomger have Wensleydale Cheese),  who in 1978 had a book called "Masquerade" published, which he said contained clues as to the whereabouts of the place he'd buried an 18 carat golden hare. Lots of copies of the book were sold and there was quite a frenzy about the search. It was discovered by people who'd worked out the clues but he didn't see it again until some 30 years later when it was brought back for him to see, on loan from the possession of its East Asian owner. It was also exhibited in the British Museum.


   
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@powmillnaemore - OUTSTANDING!  If I could give it three thumbs up, I would.


   
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Powmill-Naemore
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@forever-dormo 😊 thank you


   
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Clive Hurren
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Dormo

@powmillnaemore - OUTSTANDING!  If I could give it three thumbs up, I would.

So, for your starter and for Powmill, here they are, three each! 

👍👍👍       👍👍👍

 


   
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Posted by: @forever-dormo

@stircrazy - Nice one!  I thought I'd seen a typo after the piece was posted, but I can officially confirm it wasn't THAT one.  I had some recollection when I finished it that I had put a superfluous  "s" on the end of a word but when I read it again, I couldn't find it.  My fault for not noting down "Para X, Line Y" when I first spotted it, rather than simply telling myself I'd come back later to it, only to search in vain to find it.  There may be others. I kid myself that it's a bit like Kit Williams the artist, author and illustrator (not Kit Calvert without whom we'd no lomger have Wensleydale Cheese),  who in 1978 had a book called "Masquerade" published, which he said contained clues as to the whereabouts of the place he'd buried an 18 carat golden hare. Lots of copies of the book were sold and there was quite a frenzy about the search. It was discovered by people who'd worked out the clues but he didn't see it again until some 30 years later when it was brought back for him to see, on loan from the possession of its East Asian owner. It was also exhibited in the British Museum.

Dormo:  it's so easily done.  I often edit my posts shortly after I've submitted them because I've spotted a typo I failed to see before I clicked on the "add reply" button & am such a perfectionist that I simply cannot let it go.  Then again, they're never as long as your starter!  That said, I often wish the editing option remained available for longer than it does, as I equally often spot a typo hours after I've put up a post & would dearly love to do something about it.  A case in point:  I see that I managed to muck up "Michael Carrick's Middlesbrough" earlier as "MMC" instead of "MCM", but it's now too late to rectify the error! 🙄 😣

I remember the Kit Williams Masquerade story - I seem to recall that there was an article about it at the time in The Sunday Times Magazine - but not how it ended.  Didn't Bamber Gascoigne have some sort of connection with it - or is my ageing memory playing tricks on me (again!)?   

 


   
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The golden hare WAS found by a couple of chaps who had worked out the clues and dug it up. I don't recall Bamber Gascoigne being involved, though.  Must have been worth a lot of money if (1) it is now owned by a (rich?) East Asian collector and (2) it was worth being exhibited for a period in the British Museum. 


   
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jarkko
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Posted by: @forever-dormo

@jarkko - I should have got a job as a porter. I have a lapel badge saying PORTER in gold on a maroon background. I think I bought it from the railway station at Leyburn (the Wensleydale line) or maybe at Pickering on the NY Moors Railway. I wonder where that badge is these days....

After your starters in the blog, I think you could have had a job as a reporter, too. 😅 A near miss in many ways. Up the Boro!

 


   
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The commentators were very complementary about Hackneys performance last night, I fear we may have to enjoy his performances for us this season because he will probably be gone in the summer and good luck to him.


   
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