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Boro Stalwarts

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Ken Smith
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Having completed my history of top Boro goalscorers my next project is entitled ‘Boro Stalwarts’ on this new page. Here is the list of Boro players who have made over 250 appearances for Boro which I hope to review in due course excepting those top goalscorers marked * which I’ve already reviewed on a previous subject:-

1.  Tim Williamson  602      
2.  Gordon Jones  532
3.  John Hickton  499 *     
4.  John Craggs  488       
5.  Jim Platt  481  
6.  Robbie Mustoe  454      
7.  George Camsell  453 *        
8.  Jacky Carr 449 *        
9.  Mark Schwartzer  446    
10.David Armstrong  431 *      
11.Tony Mowbray  424        
12.Stephen Pears  424        
13.Dicky Robinson  416   
14.David Mills 398 *        
15.Stuart Boam 393      
16.Bernie Slaven 380  *
17.Colin Cooper 379        
18.Bill Harris 378 *     
19.Wilf Mannion 368  *
20.George Elliott 364 *                                                                           
21.Tony McAndrew 358           
22.Willie Maddren  354      
23.Rolando Ugolini  335    
24.Ronnie Dicks 334         
25.Stewart Downing  334   
26.Billy Forrest  333        
27.Bill Gates  332         
28.Frank Spraggon 332        
29.Curtis Fleming  316     
30.Harry Bell 315       
31.Stuart Ripley 312         
32.Steve Vickers 310        
33.Maurice Webster 281       
34.Eric McMordie 277        
35.Bill Brown 274        
36.Mark Proctor 273       
37.Gary Hamilton 272      
38.Lindy Delapenha 270 *      
39.Bobby Stuart 270         
40.Micky Fenton 269 *
41.Alan Kernaghan 268      
42.Bobby Baxter 266

That’s a lot to get through as you can see in order of appearances, although my first review will be of a person not on that list because like Wilf Mannion and Micky Fenton the Second World War interrupted his career or else there’s no doubt he would have been. That is George Hardwick who only made 166 appearances, and I will start with him before continuing with Tim Williamson downwards. As you will see, five goalkeepers appear on that list which is hardly surprising.

This topic was modified 3 months ago 2 times by Ken Smith

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Ken Smith
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GEORGE FRANCIS MOUTRY HARDWICK 1937/50

George Hardwick was born in Saltburn in 1920 and attended Lingdale School and joined Boro when aged 13 on schoolboy terms and signed amateur forms after leaving school two years later. He was chosen to represent Cleveland FA before moving to South Bank in his late 20s playing for South Bank East-End mainly as a winger. He worked as a costing clerk at Dorman Long in his early days at Ayresome Park and made his first team debut as a full back in December 1937 in a 1-2 defeat to Bolton Wanderers in which he scored an own goal. George made 10 appearances that season, but then enlisted with the RAF becoming a sergeant when the Second World War broke out. He made his name while guesting for Chelsea playing in two War Cup Finals as well as 17 internationals for England, although no caps were awarded. His blossoming career was threatened however when he was wounded in both legs during an air raid on an RAF base on the Isle of Sheppey, but he made a full recovery to fulfill his early promise. 

A classy cultured defender, he became England’s automatic left back when peace was restored and captained the side in all 13 of his post-war international appearances. However the pinnacle of his career was when he was chosen to captain Great Britain in a victory international against a Select side representing the Rest of Europe at Hampden Park in 1947 before a crowd of 137,000. Wilf Mannion scored twice as the hosts won 6-1, and Boro were the only club to be represented by more than one player. George would certainly have won more caps if he hadn’t been injured, as Billy Wright succeed him as captain and became the first to reach over 100 caps for England.

Post-war football started in late 1945 with Boro entering in the Third Round in January 1946 with all matches played over two legs. George played in all 7 matches as Boro beat Leeds United 11-6 on aggregate, Blackpool 6-5 after three matches, but lost 1-2 to Bolton Wanderers on aggregate.  Boro made a great start to the 1946/47 season sitting second in the League after beating Grimsby Town on New Year’s Day. However they only won 4 more matches to finish 11th with George having played another 33 matches of which 9 were as the centre half from which he scored his single goal for the season.  George also played in all 7 Cup matches with Boro beating QPR after a replay, Chesterfield, Nottm Forest again after a replay, then the Quarterfinal defeat to Burnley after yet another replay. Gentleman George as he became to be known went on to make 166 appearances and scored 5 goals.

Then at the age of 30 George surprisingly put in a transfer request after being approached by Third Division Oldham Athletic to become their player/manager which Boro reluctantly agreed to for a transfer fee of £15,000 which represented a record sale for a full back. However he played more games as a winger in his 190 appearances, actually more than he had played for Boro, and scored 14 goals for the Latics as they gained promotion. However after Oldham were relegated George spent 8 years abroad, initially coaching the US Army in Germany before accepting roles as coach to PSV Eindhoven and Director of Coaching for the Dutch FA, during which time he introduced the original version of ‘total football’.

He then returned to Boro in the early 1960s to coach the club’s youth team before becoming manager of Sunderland, but was sacked after 28 games. He then managed Gateshead for a while before retiring altogether. Gentleman George Hardwick died in Stockton after a long illness aged 84 in 2004. 


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Ken Smith
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REGINALD GARNET WILLIAMSON 1902/23

Williamson was born in North Ormesby in 1884 and attended Coatham Grammar School in Redcar where he played centre forward for the school team. He also later played for Redcar Juniors as a centre forward and Redcar Crusaders in goal sometimes on the same day. He was training to become a draughtsman with Teesside Bridge and Engineering when Boro approached him to sign professional forms as a goalkeeper. Williamson agreed as long as he was allowed to complete his apprenticeship to qualify as a draughtsman. His first game for Boro was for the reserve team against Crook Town in the Northern Alliance, and made his debut for the first team in a friendly match against the Irish club Cliftonville as a 17 year old. He then made his League debut on the 19th April 1902 in a 2-0 home win against Bristol City in the penultimate game of the season as Boro celebrated promotion to the First Division. However it wasn’t until midway through the following season that he made the goalkeeping position his own.

By now the Boro fans had started to call him ‘Tiny Tim’ after the Dickens’s character from ‘A Christmas Carol’ though at 5ft 10 he couldn’t have been particularly tiny, only as perhaps for a goalkeeper. From then on even his colleagues called him Tim instead of Reg, so shall I in future. Boro played their final game at Linthorpe Road against Stoke City on the 25th April 1903 and Tim Williamson was one of only five players to play in the next match at Ayresome Park five months later. 

When Boro were awarded a penalty in the final home match of the 1909/10 season Boro were a goal behind to Liverpool and without Robert Young the designated penalty taker, so Tim Williamson remembering his time as a centre forward decided to take the penalty and scored as Boro drew and avoided relegation. In the third match of the following season when Boro were awarded another penalty up stepped Tim to convert in a 3-0 win against Bristol City, but he missed his third attempt so decided it was too much pressure to then run the length of the field back into his own goalmouth, so he never took a penalty again. However he did score 5 own goals in his career, but I suppose that’s not too bad in 602 appearances.

Surely Tim’s 602 appearances will never be beaten, and but for the loss of 4 full seasons during the First World War he might well have reached 750 appearances. Clever at anticipating shots, he had quickly establushed himself as one of the country’s top goalkeepers and became the first Boro player to represent England when he appeared in a 1-1 draw against Ireland at Ayresome Park in February 1905. Unfortunately, he was to blame for the visitors’ goal and had to wait a further six years for another international cap, making seven caps in all.

His final game for Boro was in a 0-1 defeat at home to Cardiff City in March 1923. Once retired he never watched football again, spending his time playing golf or fishing. He died in 1943 aged 59 in North Ormesby Hospital and is buried in Coatham churchyard. He might have been nicknamed Tiny, but he was a giant of a man in the history of the Boro.


Powmill-Naemore
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@ken

Williamson's history makes a very interesting story Ken. Like many in here I'm sure,  I had never heard his name before, but I'm fascinated as goalkeeper he would be taking penalties.

I wonder how often that happens generally.


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Ken Smith
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@powmillnaemore  

Only one I can recall was by Stephen Pears in his testimonial match, and I think it may well have been the last ever goal scored at Ayresome Park, although I don’t wish to take any credit away from John Hendrie as his goal against Luton was by far more important.


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Ken Smith
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Recapping on George Hardwick, very few wingers got the better of him. As I mentioned before Stanley Matthews was always mysteriously injured when Blackpool visited Ayresome Park. However as a schoolboy I remember being so disappointed that George should ask for a transfer and that it was granted. He was still only 30 at the time. When Wilf Mannion’s request for a transfer was refused he went on strike for 6 months or more. Something didn’t quite sit easy with me at the time.  George had ambitions to be a manager and as I mentioned he not only achieved that, but also went on to make more appearances for Oldham than he did for Boro, whereas Wilf seemed to have a genuine grievance as he thought that the club reneged on a promise of providing a club house for him and Bernadette. Would that offer have set a precedent? Probably, but Wilf was adamant that the offer had been made. We shall never know the answer, but in those days players seemed to be pawns to their clubs and were treated just as badly by the FA having to make their own way with a third class rail ticket to meet up with their colleagues when playing for England. It all changed when Jimmy Hill became the PFA chairman with Johnny Haynes, one of his Fulham team mates becoming the first £100 a week player, but today footballers hold the power, maybe too much power in my opinion.

The most hideous thing about the FA in those days was their treatment of their players in ordering them to give the Nazi salute before the match against Germany in a friendly match in Berlin against Germany in May 1938. When the German players gave that salute before Hitler, the England players followed suit to thunderous applause from the capacity crowd of 110,000. Apparently the players were only informed of the decision to reciprocate the Nazi salute in the changing room before the match. What kind of signal that must have made to people back home? It was a match that should never have been played. 


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Powmill-Naemore
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@ken

Yes, I recall Pearsy taking that penalty, but I was thinking more of goalkeepers taking penalties in competitive fixtures, not including penalty shootouts.

It is a very unusual thing.


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Ken Smith
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@powmillnaemore 

I can confirm that no other Boro goalkeeper ever took a penalty except for Williamson but I’ve no idea whether a goalkeeper of any other club was a regular penalty taker. However there were perhaps extenuating circumstances about Williamson’s two penalties. First of all as I mentioned centre half Robert Young was Boro’s designated penalty taker and had just converted 4 in successful succession against Blackburn (match 27), Forest (match 29), Villa (match 32) and Sunderland (match 33) but was then transferred to Everton for a record £1,200.

Match 37 against Liverpool Boro were 1-2 down and it was a vital match for them as they were fighting relegation and no other player had ever taken a penalty for Boro,  even the great George Elliott who had scored Boro’s opening goal in this particular match. One might have wondered why as an international centre forward why he didn’t fancy taking the spot kick, so perhaps Williamson who had started his career as a centre forward was the only Boro player to put his hand up  for the penalty. The following season Boro were already 2-0 up against Bristol City in the third match of the season so not under too much pressure so Tim might have thought that anyone could score a penalty so decided to have another go which he did successfully. I don’t know in which match he missed a penalty, suffice to say he never took another one.

Writing about Boro goalkeepers in a match against Arsenal in December 1946 Dave Cumming was so incensed about foul play from centre half Leslie Compton (who was also the wicket keeper for Middlesex and elder brother of Dennis Compton, one of England’s finest batsmen)  thumped him stone cold, took off his jersey, and walked off the pitch even before being ordered to by the referee. However Boro still won 2-0. I didn’t see that match but wonder if Len did.


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lenmasterman
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@ken

No, Ken, I didn't see that game. 1946 was a bit early for me. I started going in 1947.

Nevertheless, the Cummings incident was legendary and I was very familiar with it, since people spoke of it for years later, and always with great approval.

Apart from our north-east rivals, Arsenal were always one of the most hated teams to visit Ayresome Park. A team representing privileged and relatively prosperous Southerners at a time of post-war austerity for everyone else in the country, but especially the north-east.

To add insult to injury Arsenal were thought of as a particularly dirty team with Leslie Compton and later Alex Forbes being serial recidivists in this regard.

Hence the general approval and even delight around the Boro for many years that Dave Cummings had given Compton his well-deserved come-uppance.


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Philip of Huddersfield
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The only player to ever captain a Great Britain team.

I remember that he also played cricket, following his retirement from football, playing in the North Yorkshire and south Durham league for Saltburn.

As an umpire in that league I wasn’t surprised that he was the captain and led the team with complete authority but in a friendly manner. Quite a gentleman.

Philip of Huddersfield 


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Ken Smith
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@philip-of-huddersfield

Probably before your time, but inside forward George Dews regularly played cricket for Worcestershire and wing half Harry Bell had a long career as opening batsman for Durham in the Minor Counties League also occasionally for Middlesbrough in the NY and SD League.

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Ken Smith
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GORDON EDWARD JONES 1961/73 

Gordon Jones was born in Sedgefield in 1943 and it was his own initiative that brought him to Boro when he wrote to Ayresome Park asking for a trial. He was signed as an amateur after the club’s officials had seen him in action for just 10 minutes of a trial game and signed professional forms for Boro two years later. After making his first team debut in a 3-4 League Cup defeat to Cardiff City in October 1960, he was handed his league debut by manager Bob Dennison in a 2-3 away defeat to Southampton in January 1961 and kept his place at right back until Mick McNeil was transferred to Ipswich Town in 1964 after which he switched to left back for the rest of his career at Boro making 532 appearances including 5 as a substitute and scoring 5 goals, thus making him the player with most postwar appearances.

Although a strong tackler, Jones was never sent off in his career and only booked twice. He was also a model of consistency,  excellent particularly under the managership of Raich Carter, although his good form couldn’t prevent relegation in 1966. An astute skipper, he had a great left foot and was a great crosser of ,the ball, a skill he displayed to good effect as a main supply for the aerial dominance of Hugh McIlmoyle. Maybe his lack of pace denied him of full international honours, as there was little doubt that his overall game made him a match for most opponents. He was given a much-deserved testimonial in 1969 but remained a stalwart of the Boro side until 1973 when he was given a free transfer to become an assistant coach/player position with Darlington, for whom he made 85 appearances and scored 5 goals in 3 seasons, although he admitted that he didn’t particularly take to coaching excepting the club’s youth set up.

Whilst at Boro he opened a newsagents shop in Stockton, and after retiring from football had opened 4 more general dealer shops. He also is one of the leading lights as a match day host for Middlesbrough’s Former Players Association.

This post was modified 3 months ago 2 times by Ken Smith

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Ken Smith
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JOHN EDWARD CRAGGS 1971/82 

John Craggs was born in 1948 at Flint Hill, County Durham and started his football career as a right back playing for Newcastle United. He was at the Magpies for almost 5 years but never considered as a regular first team player, making only 52 appearances and in the shadow of David Craig. When Boro came calling he was delighted, but it cost Boro £60,000, a record transfer fee at the time. It was mainly financed by the sale of Hugh McIlmoyle to Preston North End after a fallout between the player and Boro manager Stan Anderson. He made his debut in a 2-1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday on the last day of August in 1971 and was a virtual ever-present missing only two matches in Stan Anderson’s last two seasons, and retaining his position throughout Jack Charlton’s tenure. He proved to be a great acquisition, being an attacking full back in the truest sense, with a sweet right foot and an excellent long throw.  He also had the capacity to get back to his defensive duties very quickly, and was an integral part of Big Jack’s team.

His final match for Boro was against Liverpool on the last day of the 1981/82 relegation season and was granted a testimonial during that summer against his former club Newcastle for whom Kevin Keegan made a guest appearance. He had made 488 appearances including 1 as substitute and scored 14 goals for Boro, the 4th highest of any player. He then returned to Newcastle playing in another 12 games before finishing his playing career at Darlington with 54 appearances. He then took up a position as assistant manager to Cyril Knowles at Hartlepools but following Cyril’s untimely death, Alan Murray was appointed manager and brought in his own staff leaving Craggs with no job. 

That became the time when he realised that football was a precarious occupation, so he spent the rest of his life working for Sports Direct on Teesside.

This post was modified 3 months ago 4 times by Ken Smith

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jarkko
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@ken Excellent. Gordon Jones is more like a name from the Boro history but at least I was able to see Craggsy. Not often as I live abroad. And reading a lot about him, too. In the 1980's and early nineties I read every match review written by the Echo or Gazette.

So thans, Ken again. Looking forward to the next one already. Up the Boro! 


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Ken Smith
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JAMES ARCHIBALD PLATT 1971/83

Jim Platt was born in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland in 1952 and as a teenage goalkeeper went on trial with Liverpool hoping to secure a contract with the Scousers as a reserve to regular keeper Tommy Lawrence, but Bill Shankley signed Ray Clemence from Scunthorpe United so young Jim realised his chances of some first team football would be remote.  Harold Shepherdson had seen young Jim in action in Ireland and identified him as a rising talent so recommended him to Stan Anderson, and he was promptly signed by Boro for £7,000 on the proviso that he be allowed to play for Ballymena United in the Irish Cup Final before taking up his career with Boro. It was not an easy transition for the Ulsterman though, as after six weeks he became homesick during which his form dipped. His homesickness was so bad that every Friday he made the five-hour drive to Stranraer to catch the ferry back to Ireland. He really found it difficult to settle on Teesside and was doubtful whether he should return even though he had still one year left of his contract. However a meeting with Bertie Peacock, an ex-Irish international, persuaded him to return to Ayresome Park and get stuck in which thankfully he did.

He eventually replaced Willie Whigham as Boro’s goalkeeper in early October against Blackpool keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 home win and thereafter 125 successive matches, and eventually played 481 times for Boro making him 5th in the list of all time appearances, and 2nd amongst Boro’s goalkeepers. He even scored a hat trick as a striker for the reserve team against Lincoln City and was voted Boro’s player of the year twice in 1972 and 1981. He was awarded a testimonial match in 1982 against Sunderland with George Best guesting for Boro, and won 23 international caps for Northern Ireland which would have been considerably more except for the brilliance of the Spurs goalkeeper Pat Jennings who still holds the record of 119 caps for his country. 

Jim Platt’s final game for Boro was in January 1982, an FA Cup replay against non-League Bishop Stortford and thereafter was replaced by Kelham O’Hanlon. In his final years with Boro Platt was sent on loan to Hartlepools (13 appearances) and Cardiff City (4 appearances) before returning to Ireland to play for his home town club of Ballymoney, and then two more seasons for Coleraine. After retiring he managed Ballymena United, Coleraine, Ballyclare, Assyriska (a Swedish club), then back to Teesside to manage Darlington jointly with David Hodgson, and then to Tyneside to manage Gateshead.

He later took up an appointment as chief coach at Boro’s Football Committee Centre and ran a private football school for local primary schools in Middlesbrough and Stockton. In 2009 he was appointed as Darlington’s goalkeeping coach, but only for three months following Colin Todd’s dismissal. Jim is also an ambassador in Boro’s hospitality suite on match days, and recently became a Local Government Independent Party councillor for Middlesbrough’s Kader Ward.

I think it’s safe to say now that he has got over his homesickness at the age of 69. A fine goalkeeper and a fine gentleman who obviously wants to give something back to his adopted Teesside.

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by Ken Smith

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jarkko
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@ken I keep in touch with James (his wife and I call him as James). As Boro played a pre-season match against Reipas of Lahti, Finland in 1970's, James bought her a juvelery in Finland that she still wears.

As I have told I arranged a match for my team versus former Boro players (where I tried hopelessly mark Bernie Slaven as a defender) in 2015. Jim Platt had arranged the match for us and played as a striker as he says he has played too long as a keeper.

Towards the end he went to play in goal and we were allowed to have a couple of extra men (score was about 10-1). I  went up for a corner and scored with a half-volley. Against the great Jim Platt! I have scored about five goals in all my career as a defender and one against the great Nothern Ireland International. My proudest moment ever in playing!

I think Jim Platt has played on the second round of the World Cup in Spain in 1982. I wonder if any other Boro player has reached the second round and played except Juninho.

Jim is a real gentleman and I have met him a few times. He does a lot of work for the former players assossiation at the Riverside. A club legend. Up the Boro!

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by jarkko

jarkko
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PS. I have watched a Boro match together with Jim Platt, too. I had a meal with him pre match as well as OFB was there, too. Both great gentleman helping me there. Never forgetting your help, Bob!

Also James joined my team for a dinner after the match where he played against us in 2015. We were in the restaurant run by Gary Gill and his wife in Maltby.

I love the club. Always friedly - their fans and the club. Always, up the Boro! 


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Original Fat Bob
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@ken

Hi Ken it’s a great post and I’ve sent a copy to Jim and his wife Sharon

OFB


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Original Fat Bob
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And a message from Jim

Thank you

Painful watching Boro right now.


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Powmill-Naemore
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I recall going to the pictures as a 16 year old with several of my mates in the mid-seventies to see Woody Allen's comedy "Everything you ever wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask".  After the film was over we saw that Jim was there with his girlfriend and I approached him to ask for his autograph. That movie was x-rated and none of us should have been in there of course, so I had to pretend I wad old enough and as I asked him I said that it was for my younger brother, when really I wanted it for me!

I have to say that despite being interrupted on his  night out with his young lady he was very relaxed about this and very pleasant and obliged with a wee written message and signature to our Paul.  (And yes, I did do the right thing and I gave it to Paul the next day..)

A very nice man indeed.

This post was modified 2 months ago 4 times by Powmill-Naemore

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lenmasterman
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Great post, Ken.  Thanks so much.

With excellent follow ups  by Jarkko, Bob and Powmill.

Archibald,eh?

I bet Jim the Keeper keeps that one quiet.

The issue of homesickness and loneliness for young footballers barely into adulthood who are living far from home is a major issue that is very rarely discussed.

There is a wonderfully written book in which this a major theme, The Boy on the Shed by Paul Ferris. Ferris  was, like Jim and Eric McMordie, a young Irish lad who suffered agonies of homesickness. He had signed for Newcastle but the problem affected not only his form but every aspect of his life.

Whenever I am tempted to criticise a player I think back to Paul Ferris's book, and also to A Life Too Short by Ronald Reng, about the life and death of Robert Enke, the German international keeper, who finally succumbed to depression and took his own life, after criticism in the media and from fans.

When someone has a poor game, makes a bad mistake, or goes through a patch of indifferent form it can be all to easy for us all to pile in with  criticism that can sometimes be cruelly personal.  We neither know nor care about what is going on in the player's life off the field. 

I don't think it would harm any of us to think again and reflect upon the fact that sometimes there are things that young men may be having to cope with that transcend football.

I'd recommend both books.  They are literate and literary works which themselves transcend conventional football biographies. They certainly widened my horizons.

Reng's book, incidentally, was the Sports Book of the Year way back in 2011.

 

This post was modified 2 months ago 2 times by lenmasterman

Original Fat Bob
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@lenmasterman

Good post Len and one that should remind fans that all those in the public eye are human and have feelings which    are injured when subjected to hateful bile and comments.

There are far too many who have felt the pressure and taken their own life and we should all be mindful of the personal comments we make.

OFB


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Powmill-Naemore
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I'll echo OFB and say what a good post thay was Len and how right you and Bob are about how it is all of our responsibilities to think before we criticise people in the public eye.

 


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Forever Dormo
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Good afternoon, fellow sufferers.

Thank you, Ken for the stories about the players' careers which you have posted so far, and to other contributors for their replies. Obviously I'm too young to have watched "Tim" Williamson (I thought that WAS his Christian name) but I met George Hardwick when he came, together with Wilf Mannion and Albert Lanny to the "Murdered Stoat" to knock down a pile of coins for charity some years back.  George was a real gent, and he and Wilf were a delight.

Craggs, Platt and Gordon Jones were regulars in the team at a time when I was interested in Boro, but before I concentrated my attentions on other things than football in general and Boro in particular.  By the time I came back into the fold in the 1990's, their careers with the club had ended.  But I have to say that Gordon Jones was the quintessential "Mr Dependable". 

And Len's post at 9.21am today is worth careful thought.  We might be quick to be critical of players.  Whether critical or not, there is absolutely no justification for abusing the players, whether from the stands (remember being able to watch the match from them?), or on social media.  Thankfully criticism on this blog has tended to be in measured terms rather than abusive.  I wonder whether any of the current players ever read it, as opposed to Twitter, Instagram etc...?


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Ken Smith
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MARK SCHWARZER 1997/2008

Mark Schwarzer was born in North Richmond, a western suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in 1972, the son of German parents who had emigrated there in 1968. He attended Richmond North School and Colo High School but played for Marconi Stallions when he was 18 for four years.  Not surprisingly he spoke fluent German so signed successive one year contracts first with Dynamo Dresden, FC Kaiserslautern and Bradford City for whom he made 13 appearances. Bryan Robson was looking for a goalkeeper to replace Alan Miller and during the search Boro were relying on the inexperienced Ben Roberts to fill that position.

Schwarzer was signed from Bradford City for £1.25m and actually made his Boro debut in the 1997 League Cup Semifinal First Leg match away to Stockport County and retained his place three days later for the League meeting with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. However an injury against West Ham meant Mark missed the rest of the season including the two Cup Finals and didn’t reappear until the following September at Sunderland after Boro had been relegated. Unfortunately Mark was injured again in the following February and Boro first signed Andy Dibble on loan but his two appearances resulted in successive large defeats 0-4 at Nottingham Forrest and 0-5 at Queen’s Park Rangers as Boro relinquished their top place. Marlon Beresford was then signed as Boro then beat Swindon 6-0 to get the show back on the road until Schwarzer returned for the last eight League matches and the League Cup Final.  

Mark Schwarzer’s stand out moment was saving a Robbie Fowler penalty in injury time against Manchester City in which not only earned Boro a point in the final match of the 2004/05 season, but 7th position in the League table and a second successive season in the EUFA Cup Competition. It also resulted in Boro commentator Ali Brownlee declaring that he had become the greatest Australian since Ned Kelly. However on the 6th of January 2006 he was granted a transfer request, but 14 days later withdrew it and signed a new two year contract. Another injury, a fractured cheek bone, almost seemed to have ended his season but he wore a protective face mask to enable him to play in the EUFA Cup Final against Sevilla in Eindhoven. 

His last match for Boro was the final match of the 2007/08 season when Boro beat Manchester City 8-1 and although he was offered another new contract he decided to look elsewhere. He played a total of 446 matches for Boro making him the 8th highest in appearances for Boro. In 2009 Mark was awarded The Medal of the Order of Australia, but whether the aforementioned Ned Kelly was awarded one, I very much doubt. 

Mark Schwarzer decided to sign a contract with Fulham and stayed there for four years. In April 2013 he made his 500th Premier League appearance to become the first foreign player to do so. He went on to make 172 appearances for Fulham, 4 for Chelsea and 6 for Leicester.  Ironically if he had remained with Boro, he would have exceeded Tim Williamson’s 602 total appearances, but probably he wasn’t aware of that. In November he announced his retirement from international football having earned 109 caps for his country. At the moment he is doing some work as an interviewer and occasional reporter for the BBC. Was he the best goalkeeper in Boro’s history? It’s hard to say, but he’s one of six goalkeepers to have made over 250 appearances for Boro.

This post was modified 2 months ago by Ken Smith

Selwynoz
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Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 182
 

@ken

Just to round out your excellent piece on Mark Schwarzer, he is a regular commentator on Australian TV being the European based correspondent for the company that owns rights to EPL, EFL, Champions League, etc etc.

keep well


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jarkko
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Thank you, Ken again for the excellent piece. Schwarzer and Platt are among the best keepers Boro have had. Untill recently, we have had a lot of good goalkeepers.

Over 15 years ago, I was in Boro with my son only who was aged 11 or 12. Cannot remember the excact year but Juninho missed a penalty versus Spurs but scored from the rebound.

On Friday, I wanted to show the Rockcliffe training facilities for my son. We drove down there and when arriving a gentleman came out and asked if he could help. We told we came from Finland and just wanted to see the building. He said please come in.

When inside, we met Mark Scwartzer on the lobby. He had ended the last training before the match and was not in hurry, so we talked for a long while about football. A nice gentleman, Mark. (We were shown around the whole complex, too and met Gareth Southgate in the changies. "We never take visitors the day before a match. Pity you just missed the training, though.")

On Saturday we saw the Spurs home match and Juninho. After the match we went close to the players' entrance at Riverside to see the nice cars they have. We were not in hurry. Then Mark came out and headed to our way. All the other fans looked at us like we were VIP's or something. He asked if we had enjoyed the match. What a nice guy!

Yes, I like both Jim Platt and Mark Schwarzer a lot. Both excellent 'keepers but cannot say which one is the all time best. I like both players to bits, me.

Up the Boro!

 

This post was modified 2 months ago by jarkko

jarkko
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Posts: 593
 
Posted by: @selwynoz

@ken

Just to round out your excellent piece on Mark Schwarzer, he is a regular commentator on Australian TV being the European based correspondent for the company that owns rights to EPL, EFL, Champions League, etc etc.

keep well

Is he living in England or Germany now? UTB! 


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lenmasterman
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Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 222
 

Thanks, Ken, for another evocative piece and some impeccable research.

 Schwarzer would make my team of the best Boro post-war X1.

I had the good fortune to see him playing in the lower leagues for Bradford City, where he stood out, so I was delighted when we signed him.  

Funnily enough the same applied to Dimi. He stood out at Pools, and like MS was a big commanding figure who was also a great shot-stopper.  There was a lot of negative comment when Mowbray, I think it was, first signed Dimi ("Why are we going to Hartlepool?" ) and he only got his chance  under Karanka when Tomas, his favourite, was crocked.  But he more than proved his worth.  Yet he remained somewhat under-estimated and taken for granted right to the end, in spite of being a great club man.

 

 


Martin Bellamy
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Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 180
 

My only discussions with MS were online about, of all things, our Campervans. He bought one like mine also with a matching trailer, although his was white over black, with every extra you could think of - he told me that he intended touring Europe with his wife and children. 

Funnily enough, it’s recently been sold by a dealer I know and still looked great after 10 years. I don’t think it had done many miles. 


Liked by 5 people: Ken Smith, lenmasterman, Andy R, jarkko and Powmill-Naemore
 
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