BORO NOSTALGIA overload! The Gazette library is the single biggest depository of old images of the Boro in the known universe. Back in the Dark Ages before football’s Year Zero and the wall-to-wall coverage we now take for granted, the Gazette were the only organisation that bothered to turn up week in week out to take pictures of all the players and scenes at Ayresome Park. It is a fantastic chronicle of the club’s history.
Just about every striking old picture you can ever remember seeing of Mannion, Hardwick, Clough, Hickton, Souness, Maddren, Jankovic and Paul Sugrue are all Gazette images. The padlocks on the gates, Bernie up on the fence, Mogga leading the lads out at Wembley, Juninho sobbing on the turf at Elland Road… all amazing Gazette pictures. As are many of the photos that pop up in the programme and club publications like Doom To Boom and almost all of the images out there skipping through copyright law in cyberspace.
And I have just spent a fascinating week lingering lovingly over thousands of them. Big piles of brilliant, unique photographs that are crucially important artifacts and revealing snapshots of our cultural history, many of them never even published. And soon YOU are going to get a chance to see some of them too.
To fil the yawning gap of those long Boro-free summer months the Gazette Sports team have decided to dip into the memory hole. We are doing an eleven week series of four page photo-spreads in the Pink that focus on some of the key moments in Boro’s spectacular 20 year rise from the brink of oblivion to the UEFA Cup final. And thats given buggerlugs here a wonderful excuse to avoid the cricket by wading through piles and piles of frozen moments of mononchrome magic in the name of vital research.
The series starts today with a look back at 1986-87, the campaign that started in exile at Hartlepool and ended in a glorious promotion. Some of the pictures are incredible. Archie Stephens in full on battering ram mode. Boro playing competitive football on level terms with Darlington. On loan no-mark Ronnie Coyle stood in typical signing pose in front of the main stand, the old 80/- clock accurately predicting the value of his contribution to the season.
And there are reproductions of the Gazette front page on the day the consortium finally secured the lifesaving thirteenth hour agreement with the Football League and were given their reprieve too. The headline screams ‘SAVED’, the text is passionate and evocative and still prompts sighs of relief even now.
Most striking of all the page it includes a picture of Steve Gibson that shows exactly how young he was when he engineered the Houdini act. Gibbo looks a fresh-faced 17. He was already running a fast growing business then valued at about ÃÂ£5m and is probably in his mid twenties but he seems so young. Even with his posh jacket on it looks like he would struggle to get past the bouncers at Gaskins.
Believe me, there are some unmissable photos coming up over the next few weeks in the Sports: the Boro bugler, Brucie requests, the Battle of Stamford Bridge, Wembley, Lennie’s lions, Robbo and the Riverside Revolution… fantastic, this is our history. You’ll love it.