Reasons to dislike 2020
A new strain of flu that has the potential to become pandemic has been identified in China by scientists.
It emerged recently and is carried by pigs, but can infect humans, they say.
The researchers are concerned that it could mutate further so that it can spread easily from person to person, and trigger a global outbreak.
They say it has "all the hallmarks" of being highly adapted to infect humans - and needs close monitoring.
As it's new, people could have little or no immunity to the virus.
As yet there is no evidence that it is transmissible human-to-human but apparently 1-in-10 of all pig workers have had the virus and they also say 4.4% of the population have been exposed to it.
So by my calculations that would mean if the population of China is 1.4 billion then around 60 million people have been infected by being in close contact with infected pigs if there is no evidence that it can be passed human-to-human!
The reality is a combination intensive farming with animals packed in confined spaces and people living in close contact with animals will mean the chance of zootonic transfer of viruses is going to become much more likely.
In addition, there is particular problem in China, where in February around 20,000 illegal farms were closed down that breed a wide range of exotic animals that are often sought after for traditional Chinese medicines as well as for the wet markets.
The reality is that as the global population increases there is more chance for new viruses to develop and spread unless strict standards are observed.
Hopefully Covid-19 will encourage countries to take the issue more seriously and clamp down on bad practices - including in the west where the demand for cheap meat sees many animals still existing in poor conditions and people also working in cramped conditions in meat processing factories where illnesses are easily spread. Not to mention the prevalent use of antibiotics in intensive farming that could lead to resistance and them becoming ineffective and that will be even worse than a global pandemic.
I was recently talking to Clive Hurren about looking for another project to keep me awake after finishing my project on Classical Music. I discounted Yorkshire cricketers as it’s history goes further back than even Boro’s, and Paul Dyson already does a good job of that on the Yorkshire CCC website. Clive suggested I do one on former Boro players, but even that seemed to involve too much research, but when I read that Dr Tosh Warwick is writing a book about George Camsell with the help of the Camsell descendants and that he considered that there’s now a growing wish from Boro fans about the history of our great club it came to me in a flash. I’d already reviewed Boro’s past season by season up to 2002 on the previous diasboro.worldpress forum, do why not restrict my next project to the subject of former Boro strikers as it appears that most Boro fans are not enamoured about our current crop of (non)strikers. But where should I start? Well not wanting to stand Dr Warwick’s toes I thought maybe I should start at the beginning when Boro had a plethora of strikers, many of them international players, so here goes with the earliest of these:-
JOHN BREARLEY 1900/02
Brearley, known as Jack, was born in West Derby, a suburb of Liverpool in 1875. He began his career with Kettering Town, before signing for Notts County, Oldham Athletic and Millwall Athletic where he scored 13 goals in 51 matches helping them not only winning the Southern League Championship but also reaching the Semifinal of the FA Cup. On the strength of that Jack Robson the Boro manager signed him for Boro where he made his debut in the penultimate match of the 1900/01 season. The following season he scored 22 league goals for Boro in 31 matches as Boro gained their first promotion to the First Division. Strangely though Boro didn’t retain his services at the end of the season and sold him to Everton. During the First World War he was interned in a prisoner-of-war camp in Ruhlben, Berlin and although surviving the war eventually ended his career at one of his former clubs Millwall. He was the first Boro player to score 20 or more goals in a season, and died aged 68 in 1944.
ALFRED COMMON 1904/1910 and
STEVE BLOOMER 1905/1910
Alfred Common known as Alf was born in Millfield, a suburb of Darlington in 1880 and signed for Sunderland in 1900. Although he only scored 6 goals in his first season for the Mackems, Sunderland won the First Division as Champions but at the end of the season Sheffield United paid the princely sum of £325 for his services. After scoring 21 goals in 67 matches for the Blades over 3 seasons he asked for a transfer back to Sunderland as he had business interests in the town. A fee of £520 was agreed , but Boro who were in dire straits nearly doubled that in securing his signature after only 6 months of his second debut for the Black Cats which incurred the wrath of not only the FA but of the whole country. Boro had been lingering in the bottom two of the First Division for over 3 months and new manager Alex Mackie was determined to keep Boro in the First Division at all costs in his first season. Common’s signing as the first £1,000 player caused such consternation in the game that the FA made it clear that they would take a dim view of any more high-figure transfers. Questions were even raised in the House of Commons about the ethics of Boro paying such a ‘ridiculous’ sum and more than one MP suggested that Boro should accept relegation as the right and proper thing to do rather than buy themselves out of trouble. Alf Common scored a penalty on his debut for Boro away to Sheffield United in what was Boro’s only second away win of the season in late February. He scored 3 more in his following 9 matches and Boro finished 15th. Nevertheless Boro were short of goal power and manager Mackie was determined to rectify that in the following season.
Steve Bloomer was born in Crawley, Worcestershire in 1874 and was already an established English international when Boro signed him from Derby County in the following season. He had already scored 238 goals in 375 matches for the Rams, but mindful of the FA keeping a close eye on any more mind-blowing transfer fees, how were Boro able to finance his transfer? When news of the transfer became public it was suggested that Boro and Derby had ‘massaged’ the figures to complete the deal. The agreed fee was £750, still £400 above the threshold. Boro and Derby got round that by Derby including a fictitious valuation of £350 on their reserve full back Jack Ratcliffe who had only made 16 first team appearances in 4 seasons for the Rams and went on to play only 3 matches in his 2 seasons with Boro. The transfer fee for Steve Bloomer was quoted as £400 so in essence Boro really only paid Derby’s valuation of £750 for Bloomer and a worthless full back.
Steve Bloomer was described as football’s first superstar and was aged 31 when he made his debut for Boro in a 1-6 thrashing at Liverpool but scored 6 goals in his 9 matches whilst Common was top scorer with 19 in 36 matches. Even so Boro again only just avoided relegation by winning 4 and drawing one of their final 6 matches with Common scoring 9 goals and Bloomer 5 in those 6 matches with an emphatic 5-0 home win over Stoke City and a 6-1 over Manchester City being the highlights. Andy Aitken took over as Boro manager and he stabilised Boro with finishes of 11th, 6th and 9th in his 3 years in control.
Alf Common finished with 65 goals in 168 appearances for Boro and 2 pfor England in his 3 appearances. He was reputed to be 6ft 8 inches tall and finished his career with Preston North End and scored a career total of 123 goals in 385 appearances. He died aged 65 in Darlington in 1946. Steve Bloomer scored 62 goals in 130 appearances for Boro and returned to Derby in 1910. His career ended with a staggering 352 goals for his two clubs in 596 appearances. He also scored 28 goals for England in only 23 appearances, and at a height of only 5ft 8 inches proved the value of a ‘little and large’ strike force for Boro at the time. He died aged 64 in 1938.
Continuing a history of Boro strikers which somehow I wrote about Alf Common and Steve Bloomer under the wrong heading (sorry about that) I come to:-
GEORGE ELLIOTT 1909/1925
George Washington Elliott was born in Sunderland in1899 but never played for his home team club, but started with Redcar Crusaders and South Bank but as a professional spent his entire career at Boro. He didn’t make an auspicious start making his debut as a 20 year old in the first match of the 1909/10 season in a 0-2 defeat away to Sheffield United as an inside forward. In fact he only made 15 appearances scoring 4 goals. Andy Walker was the new Boro manager and lasted only 6 months as his brief stay was overshadowed by controversy. Walker was suspended for 4 weeks and fined £100 for making an illegal approach to one of his former Airdrieonians players and was replaced by Tom McIntosh. Boro were in deep financial trouble with gate receipts £1,000 down on the previous season and were forced to sell both Alf Common and Steve Bloomer, so George Elliott became a regular in the following season scoring a mere 10 goals in 25 appearances as Boro finished 16th in the League after winning only 2 of their final 22 matches. The whole season though had become a disaster after a bribery scandal following a home match against Sunderland in December.
The Boro chairman Lt.-Col. Thomas Gibson-Poole was an ambitious man determined to be elected as Conservative MP for Middlesbrough in the forthcoming General Election, and it was felt that his chances would be enhanced with victory over the Mackems. The Liberals were favourites to win the seat with several Boro players including Elliott canvassing on behalf of the Chairman and the manager Andy Walker was rumoured to have offered Charlie Thomson the Sunderland captain £10 to lose the match, plus £2 each for the other Wearsider’s players. Thomson told the trainer who informed the Sunderland chairman who then reported the matter to the FA. The bribe was academic as Boro won the match and Gibson-Poole was beaten at the polls, but Gibson-Poole and manager Andy Walker were given lifetime bans. However the appointment of a new chairman Phil Bach and a new manager Tom McIntosh not to mention George Elliott provided Boro with the most successful period in Boro’s history.
George Elliott was converted into a centre forward and became the club’s leading scorer in 7 of the next 9 seasons finishing with 203 goals in 344 League appearances. His parents had wanted him to go to Cambridge University but he opted for football and won 3 England caps. Before he became a regular in Boro’s first team he once scored 11 goals for the reserves in a 14-1 victory over Houghton Rovers. He captained Boro from 1913 to 1921 and became the first Boro player to become the League’s top scorer in the 1913/14 season with 31 goals as Boro finished 3rd in the First Division, Boro’s highest finishing position. The First World War interrupted his career and afterwards despite receiving offers from Sunderland and Newcastle decided to retire to become cargo superintendent at Middlesbrough Docks.
George Elliott died aged 58 in 1948 and holds the position of 2nd in Boro’s history of goalscorers to George Camsell with 6 more goals than Brian Clough although all of his 203 goals were scored in the First Division.
JACKIE CARR 1910/1930
Jackie Carr (christened John) was born in South Bank in 1892 and was one of five brothers to play for Boro, Walter (a midfielder) and Harry (a centre forward known as Pep who scored 3 goals in his only 3 matches which all ended in defeats) both of them remaining amateurs, plus Willie (known as Puddin) and George (an inside forward and the youngest who scored 23 goals in his 70 appearances) who signed professional forms. However it was Jackie who stayed at Boro for 30 years and was the most successful and became one of the finest players in the club’s history.
Jackie was particularly adept at providing the through ball for centre forwards in those 3 decades. He didn’t establish himself as a first team regular until manager Tom McIntosh gave him his chance in a home game against Manchester United in 1912 when he scored 2 early goals, and it is rumoured that the cheering was so loud that it so disturbed the horses at Stockton Races that a race was held up for eight minutes, though I must say I doubt the veracity of the rumour as the crowd was just short of 10,000. His goalscoring record for an inside forward was quite favourable though as in his first season as he netted 19 times in 34 appearances supporting George Elliott who scored 25 times. He was capped twice for England and his final tally of goals during his 30 years was 81 in 449 appearances, but his assists though not recorded must have been substantial.
He later signed for Hartlepools as a player/coach for a transfer fee of £500 before taking over the managership of Pools in the following season. He also managed Tranmere Rovers for 3 years, and Darlington for another 3 years. Sadly he died aged only 49 in 1942 and was buried in Redcar.
ANDY WILSON 1914/1924
Andy Nesbitt Wilson was born in Newmains, Lanarkshire in 1896. Boro bought him from Cambuslang Rangers in 1914 but he only scored 5 goals in his first 9 matches before the First World War was declared during which he guested for Hamilton Academicals and Leeds City. He became known as the man with the black glove after the loss of his left hand during the War after he was invalided out of the Army when a German shell exploded near him in Arras in 1918 but never let the injury affect him, wearing a glove covering the damaged hand after he had returned to amateur status playing for Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish League. He was keen to stay north of the border and several other Scottish clubs were keen to sign him, but fortunately Boro still jlheld his registration if he wished to return as a professional player, so he chose to play for Dunfermline Athletic in the rebel Scottish Central League as an amateur and scored 104 goals for them in two seasons. However when the Fifeshire club joined the Scottish League he became ineligible to play for them so he joined a Scottish party on a goodwill tour of Canada and the USA scoring 62 goals. The Americans were so impressed by him that they christened him the “Babe Ruth of Soccer”.
Eventually he returned to Ayresome Park as a professional and in his first season in 1921/22 not only was he Boro’s top scorer with 32 goals as Boro finished 8th but the First Division leading scorer also. Of course Boro still had George Elliott on it’s books and the pair of them became twin strikers. However having scored a total of 57 goals in 90 appearances for Boro, in November 1923 Chelsea offered a substantial sum of £6,500 for his transfer which Boro accepted. He was again Boro’s top scorer at the time and he also finished Chelsea’s top scorer at the end of the season. He later played for Racing Club de Paris, and earned 14 international caps for Scotland scoring 17 goals. He died in Putney, London aged 77 in 1973.