Champions Boro Lift The Silverware

ALISTAIR Griffin! Sign him on! He can’t do any worse than Dong Goal Less. He lacks the pace and first touch maybe but he has showed he can handle the physical stuff and carpet burns and that he can slot the goals away when the pressure is on.
Griffin got the winner and earned forgiveness for ‘Hallellujah’ as mighty Boro lifted the first silverware of the season – and some of the glum from Goodison – with a spirited display in a 3-1 victory over West Ham in the Premier League All Stars final. Yes it is contrived celebocentric Murdoch circus, Sky Sports flimsy Americana with a clunky pro-am format and incongruous powerplay and sin bin concepts borrowed from ice-hockey but blimey, it was entertaining!


In the Vickers’ household the boy was allowed to stay up for the final even though it was well past bedtime and there was school in the morning and we were all bouncing up and down on the settee and punching the air. It was a light-hearted antedote to the turgid and toothless defeat at Everton that left a sinking feeling. It was fun.
“Is he a legend Dad?” asked the boy pointing to Beck as he fired wide from the edge of the box. “Sort of,” we laughed. “Is he a legend?” he asked after Tony Rovardi put in a knee-melting two footed tackle on Frank McAvennie. “He is now son.”
The format was daft and I started the week determined not to watch this ersatz bastardisation of the beautiful game. The Masters is bad enough without throwing wheezy former singers of Musical Youth and c-list actors into the mix along side fast fading godlen oldies. A first viewing confirmed my prejudices: it was rubbish. Fat lads trundling about and red faced former stars showing that contrary to popular belief, you do lose that instinct in front of goal.
But it was Wednesday night that reeled me in. I was sat in a multi-media overload with the game away at Spurs on the radio and the All Star on the telly while surfing the net. At kick-off at White Hart Lane the radio was loudest and commanded most attention. By half-time I was losing the will to live and then Boro came out to flashing lighst and pumping music in the arena to take on Newcastle and gradually the focus switched from real life to entertainment.
Bernie was fired up, snarling and arguing over every stray pass (indeed, he had caused a row before the tournament even started because he never got the number seven shirt). Higgy was the understated hero as he beavered away and showed some neat footwork. Beck was strangley lightweight, even up against bankers and air bag manufacturers, and he missed more than his fair share. It was just like old times.
Except it wasn’t because as well as those three and wrinklie shot-stopper Jim Platt there were other people buzzing around: Griffin, former world speedway champion Gary Havelock, an Actor from a soap I wouldn’t dream of watching (Mark Stobbart according to the other half) plus some fired up fans included one lad I’ve seen walking around the Coronation shops and a heroic figure playing through the pain barrier after breaking his ankle in training.
So, a classic pouchers goal off the shin for Bernie earned a 3-3 draw with Newcastle (including John Beresford, Warren Barton, Anthony Hutton from Big Brother and a brilliant fat lad who has scored 30 goals in a season in the Northern League at some point in the 80s) and Beck got the winning penalty in a shoot-out.
Then Boro cruised past Birmingham to claim a place in the semi-final against Sunderland (Gabbiardini, John Byrne, Andy Meville and Liam from Big Brother) and a cracking toe-poked curler from Bernie plus a string of thundering tackles that left almost every player bleeding and Havvy with a suspected broken wrist.
In the final against West Ham – barely an hour after beating the Mackems and only 30 minutes respite for the Hammers – Boro were under the cosh for a spell and leaked a goal and it looked bleak, especially after the news that Higgy and Beck had had a dressing room bust up at the break. But the lads dug in, especially the highly motivated supporters who were putting in some barely legal bone-juddering tackles, and got a break as Higgy got a spawny leveller, a low shot going through the keeper’s legs, then after he stretched back to claw away with his hands it squirming through them too until the last drops of momentum saw the ball squeeze away from his fingernail and trickle over the line.
Inspired Boro staged a barnstorming finish and Griffin missed a sitter before the clock ticked down to power play – when the lighst flash unnnervingly and goals count double – then with 40 seconds to go some excellent work by Beck set the Fame Academy man up for the winner and he controlled neatly then held his nerve eight yards out to slot under the advancing keeper.
It was a glorious moment, not least because Ian Wright and Co so clearly wanted the media darlings and home side West Ham to win. Yes, it is only a bit of fun but we’ll take whatever silverware you’ve got and it is a nice little £50k payday for the Butterwick and Teesside Hospices. And, let’s be honest, there is precious little to cheer about elsewhere.

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26 thoughts on “Champions Boro Lift The Silverware

  1. Being at university in liverpool. It was a double blow for me yesterday firstly losing but then putting up with all the abuse i had from my evertonian mates.
    So when i found out we had won the Allstar cup it brought a bit of pride back into my pro boro ego i had built up here.
    I reckon we should get bernie, keith lamb and gibson to kiss and make up and sign bernie on. Can’t do as bad as we are doing up front at the moment.

  2. Felt exactly the same may myself, AV.
    Fake plastic razmatazz, some truly awful presenting (Ian Wright? So bad he made me laugh constantly) and a rabidly lodon-centric favoritism towards West Ham made me desperately want the boro to win.
    Funny how I jumped off the sofa when we scored the clincher, the most emotion I have shown watching the boro in a while. Shame we had to win it in that god-awful kit, though.

  3. Funny how ‘daft’ programmes like this can lift the gloom that is all pervading at the moment.
    Yes, I was ‘chuffed to bits’ when I found out we had won. Turned on with 15 mins of the programme left; the footy was all over but I had no idea who’d won until the end credits. ‘They’ were obviously gutted that we won and that for me makes it all the sweeter.
    I dont get downhearted at the constant sniping that we get from all and sundry; it goes with the territory. However, it only makes it more pleasurable to rub ‘their’ noses in it, and bring much needed cash for local charities.
    Not quite 29th Feb ’04 but we won, and on national T.V. So, to all the Boro detractors; ‘IN ‘YER FACE’!!

  4. It was heartning to see that the Boro had won the Premier League All Stars final especially after the debacle by the Boro’s so called proper team at Everton.
    Bernie’s comments after the final couldn’t have been more pointed when he suggested that he would have done better than the strikers on show at Everton, but then said only joking so he wouldn’t upset Keith Lamb in particular.
    How pathetic the latter must be for deriding Bernie in the way he has. Bernie only says things out loud that most Boro supporters have been thinking for years.
    Southgate is totally to blame for the chances that Boro make but miss. How can he justify replacing a 36 goal per season strike force with a Sumo Wrestler, two so called attacking midfield players and Dong Goal Less?
    I’ll bet if he could turn the clock back he wouldn’t have let Maccarone leave and that takes some saying!
    It is pathetic and on the form the Boro are showing it’s going to be a long hard season yet again, but this time we may just slip through the trap door. If we do it will take a heck of a long time to get back.

  5. AV
    My respect for Bernie Slaven is immense and no-one loves the club more than he, because a heart is a heart forever.
    Sometimes things are said in jest, which may quite often appear to go against the grain, when they arrive in certain ears.
    However, nothing exists in football’s many fields of life that cannot be ironed out amicably.
    I do not need to comment further, because I have covered every blade of grass befittingly.
    My first clout against GS is now going to be said, because it’s cards on the table time.
    Kid Curry (Donk-ley) must surely have played his final game and I mean final.
    If GS does not place George Boetang on the bench, then move him on in January,he will end up with egg on his face.
    We need Cattermole working hand in hand with O’Neil immediately. The lad is so very direct and will score goals, because he has excellent vision when striking a ball.
    Gareth has stated that Cattermole is the next Steven Gerrard. Therefore, it is bloody treason on the highest sea, that he has closed the door on both his game and his sparkling future.
    You touched upon George being the weakest link in your pre-season Blogs, on more that one occasion, because you could see very much what was coming.
    Now it is a complete break in the chain and I just hope GS looks at commonsense, not loyalty. George has been a great servant to the club but cannot compete with the new influx of pace, which every team in the Premiership will punish.
    Alistair scored a circle and our team are now charity champions, because Teesside is a winner.
    I am driving the open top bus, so please tell the Editor, to get the sarnies ordered?
    **AV writes: According to Havvy they are planning an open top Boro taxi’s mini-bus parade.

  6. Very clever Mr Vickers, creating an article deflecting the attention away from another boro defeat. Has Mr Lamb been on the phone, telling you to tone criticism down? ;o)
    **AV writes: Oh yes, Lambie is always on the blower dictating stuff to me.

  7. “So when i found out we had won the Allstar cup it brought a bit of pride back into my pro boro ego i had built up here.”
    Yerjokinarentyer!
    Sheeeeeesh!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Missed the match, having NTL (sorry Virgin Media) it isnt available.
    The comments about southern bias struck a chord. I get the Telegraph (Sunday and Daily) for sport because it does have something about the Boro for those living outside the North Eastbut we reached a low over the weekend.
    In Sundays sports supplement our sum total of coverage was a short article article about Everton in which the only mention of Boro was ‘should beat an average Middlesbrough’.
    Normally they have nearly a good half page for the 4.00pm kick off. In this mornings paper our match was covered by one of best football journos around, Henry Winter. It was 99% about Everton and mentioned briefly Lee’s header against the bar.
    Oh well, Citeh to look forward to. Gate is right that we cant change the way we play because with the unfit state of our strikers unless we get goals from elsewhere on the pitch we wont get any.
    I had touted a fluid 451 for Everton but clearly Mido was only half fit. Until we know who is fit it is difficult to talk about Citeh match yet.

  9. dave
    This Blog is about a team of winners.
    The only thing therefore, which is deflected are your eyes.
    Keith Lamb and those around him have done a first class job, and I dont deliver his milk!!!
    The players are dictating games and not winning, which is the only fact alive.
    So, its down to them to put the ball in the back of the net instead of wasting well made chances.
    I trust you wont want a ticket for the open top bus that I am driving for our Charity Champions.

  10. Most of us on this blog seem to agree that DGL is not up to PL football. However GS seems to disagree and so we are going to have to suffer him being in the team until the other strikers are fit.
    Below is taken from todays Racing Post, its a neutrals view on Boro and I fear he might be right
    “Many pundits were tipping Boro for the drop ante-post and Gareth Southgate’s side could face a long winter if yesterday’s 2-0 defeat at Everton was anything to go by.
    “Boro are as short as 9-4 to go down, and while everyone is focusing on their injury problems up front, it is defensively where they have major problems.
    “Boro have kept just one Premier League clean sheet and they have now shipped 12 goals in their last five outings, conceding at least two in every one of those games.
    “Mark Schwarzer has long since stopped being a reliable goalkeeper, while Jonathan Woodgate is the only classy defender and we all know how injury prone he is.
    “Further forward, Mido and Jeremie Aliadiere are sidelined which is no surprise seeing as both players have had a long list of injury problems. It looks as if the gamble on the duo will backfire on Southgate. ”
    If you are conceding too many and not scoring enough at the other end then the Championship awaits.

  11. Never happy
    At this stage of the season we tend to look for three teams worse than us. Luckily there are several candidates but unless we nail the chances in games we will continue come a cropper.
    I go back to my posting on the previous blog, the gilt edged chances in the early part of yesterdays game were missed by PROFESSIONAL footballers. That means they get paid, that means they work day in, day out at their jobs.
    If one of us missed one of those in a Sunday morning match, after a night out, playing on a park pitch, we would be sat on our own in the corner of the bar.
    But players are human, and things happen far quicker than we could ever believe. Just hope someone starts scoring.

  12. Boro’s biggest attacking problem has been the same for at least a year or two… Namely, the “tactic” whereby the expert finisher provides the “assist” to someone who cannot finish.
    Last Season, we had Viduka and Yakubu out on the touchline providing the ball to Parnaby and Boateng who would put the ball over the crossbar.
    This Season, we have Mido and Downing out on the touchline providing the ball to O’Neil and Boateng who would put the ball over the crossbar, wide or tamely into the hands of the keeper.
    This may have been a clever bit of deception the first or second time, but seeing as we don’t have a Lampard or a Fabregas who can bury the ball into the net from midfield, we need to have our finishers IN THE BOX.
    We also desperately need Gary O’Neil to wear a device that will give him a painful shock if he enters the box himself. 🙂
    PS Next season, don’t even bother to play Mido during late September, Early October as it is clear you cannot fast and also be fit. He tries very hard, but was clearly yards off the pace yesterday.

  13. Premier League Allstars-
    To be asked to be involved in the Allstars tournament and play for the Boro was a great honour. To train and play with Higgy and Bernie was a dream and to have ‘Stobbart 6’ on my back as i misplaced 80% of passes was hysterical.
    But first and foremost, to be part of a ‘committee’ that has just raised a 100k for Butterwick and Teesside Hospices to share gives you a sense of achievement that you can’t put a price on. Let’s just hope Gareth doesn’t get us relegated so we can defend the trophy.
    And finally…..
    I’ve never been in a soap, i’ve only ever being in television dramas that put the North East in the spotlight it deserves. Call me C-list when I’m pulling pints in the Rovers Return. Maybe if i’d been been in the Big Brother house you’d know who i was……..
    **AV writes: Legend! You are a rare breed indeed, a cup winner in a Boro shirt. Thanks for posting, I bet you are still buzzing. Sorry to insult your thespian credentials but I was taking direction from my other half. You will have to go some now to make better television that that.

  14. A couple of weeks ago, on another blog of AV’s, I said that we should have bought another striker in the transfer window. Somebody else, namely Nigel, said that was being premature. Now, everyone is stating that we need another striker. That was patently obvious to me back then as we didn’t (and don’t) have what I would call a natural striker; a right time, right place goal scorer.
    We were linked with Alfonso Alves during the transfer window for around £6M and apparently, he was keen to come. Honestly, this club is useless at spotting an opportunity when presented to them. He would have been an excellent acquisition. But, the Boro seem to have an aversion to buying goal strikers.
    When the transfer window re-opens, we must buy a GOAL SCORING striker (for once!) with a PROVEN record of scoring goals.
    So, would other readers like to put forward suggestions for who they think we should sign (realistically). Also, who do you think would be a good signing, AV?
    Hopefully, GS and/or SG will read this and think about it.
    **AV writes: To be fair to Boro they spotted Alves early – in the pre-season friendlies the summer before last but his club have jacked the price up beyond reason.
    I’d like a proven Premiership striker who is up to the pace and physicality of this league, who doesn’t have any baggage, who has something to prove and who given a good run of games will chip in with ten a season but also work hard for the rest of the team too – Robbie Keane, Peter Crouch, Mikeal Forssell, maybe even Shola Ameobi or Kevin Davies at a push. There’s plenty to choose from.

  15. Sorry but for me the fault lies at the people above the manager, the third rookie manager in a row who has to be given time to prove himself? In how many years time will this be?

  16. Getting very fed up with insipid, limp away performances from Boro. It’s been the case for far too long, for too many seasons. Why do we hardly ever travel with confidence? Not something even that miracle-worker Bill Beswick could solve, unsurprisingly. Until we start to compete away from home we’ll never be a top ten (top six!) side and we’ll always be anxious about the drop.
    And why do we have to wait for the transfer window to sign a striker? A week ago GS was talking about bringing in someone out of contract. Well bloody well do it, then, and spare us any more of LDG.

  17. We’ve had numerous opportunities to sign Robbie Keane over the years but never taken them. Worst was when Gibbo was making a point about agents. That’s called cutting off your nose to spite your face.
    He’s an awesome player but we don’t have the money to afford him now. When he was available for 4 million just 12 months ago it was a different story…
    Now, the fact is this season we are playing lovely football. Passing and entertaining to the bitter end. However, we need to learn how to “win ugly” when away from the Riverside. Pack the midfield and launch the odd ball over the top. I know it sounds draconian but the bus ride home is much nicer knowing your team is bringing 3 points home.

  18. Malc
    It is all well and good saying pack the midfield and launch the odd ball over the top. That begs the question who to?
    A half fit Mido? Tuncay and Aliadiere are unfit. Use Simba? Craddock?
    Who is the central midfielder who is going to appear in the box and knock in the chances – Boat, Rocky, Cat, Shawky, Arca on crutches?
    As I have posted before you can win ugly if you have the players to do it and at the moment it doesnt look like we have.
    Onto another topic. Last week, in my daily paper there was an article about who took the most points off the top four amongst the also rans. Over the last five years it is the Boro, to many not a great surprise. The way we are dropping points we will have to do the same this year because of our failure to take chances.
    We can point to our lack of strikers but many of the chances we have had should have been buried by professionl footballers.
    In the next three tough games we need to score when the opportunities arrive. Two of these games are against the ‘top four’ where we have picked up something in the past. We will need to do so again, if we get to 11 games with 8 points we will be getting into stick bum country.

  19. Mark Stobbart
    Some of us knew who you are and what you had been in the past. Oz’s son in Auf Weidersehn Pet I believe!!
    Well done – great entertainment and the win did lift spirits after the afternoon performance at Everton.
    Fingers crossed you can defend next year

  20. There is a fine line between being a hero and a dud for premiership footballers, DGL was 2″ away from being a potential hero, when he crashed his header against the bar. That said he had virtually an open goal to aim at.
    He may come good but I’m not holding my breath. He is not a player who intimidates defences.
    The chance Boat missed might have gone in if it had been Arca on the end of it.
    We had chances to score and didn’t which is a worry, but my biggest worry are the goals going in at the other end.
    The first goal was a joke, the defence was all over the place. One down away from home and its a hard struggle.
    The second wasn’t much better, Everton were average, we dominated possesion and should have got a result.
    The injuries to the strikers are bad news, Mido clearly wasn’t fit and shouldn’t have played.
    My only straw to clutch at for the City game is that they have won four in a row at home and are due to drop a point or two!

  21. Despite the ‘still in the frame’ messages coming out of the Club via the Geeeee-ze-e-ette it seems that Mido done a self-certified sicky for the Man City game and the international game for Egypt in the following week.
    We can’t (please!!) play Lee again. It’s simply not fair to him or us. If Tuncay is fit then he can play – but there is, to say the least, some doubt about that too. So, if Tuncay is fit, then Tuncay and Craddock up front and 4-4-2.
    If Tuncay doesn’t make it and we can get Johno back from Watford (don’t know the terms of the loan) why don’t we partner Craddock with our top scorer this season – Stewie – and replace him with Johno on the wing?
    If Johno can’t be got back then I see no alternative than a 4-5-1 converting to a 4-3-3 when we go forward with Stewie and O’Neil either side of Craddock.
    Given that Citeh under Sven have been re-modelled as a play-on-the-break side with real pace and guile we have to be able to nail the threat of Petrov on the left wing by doubling up O’Neil and Young whenever we lose the ball.
    Stewie and Tayls are going to have to watch Richards breaking or give him so much to think about in defence he can’t think about venturing up front.
    The other main threat is Elano and either of their 2 very quick forwards through the middle.
    If we play a narrow 3 in the middle of the 5 then I would suggest that one of the 3, someone we can trust to be the most disciplined (who the hell would that be?), is detailed off to man-to-man Elano and disrupt his game.
    It will need Woody to pick up his form and get a grip on their breaking forwards with Wheats, intercepting where they can, rather than letting them get on the ball and turn.
    Given the way they are now playing and their form this season the message from Gate (echoed by Woody) about giving 100%, being disciplined and compact and attacking and defending as a team unit are even more important than usual.
    We also know that, being Citeh, they will give us chances in the game too. To echo Ian’s points about pro-footballers, when the chances come we must nail them.
    I think we could (only this once) listen to Fat Sam’s comments about going there to entertain. He said that he’d heard plenty about the game being entertaining when they played there but when he woke up on the Sunday morning and read the newspapers they’d still lost 3-1.
    He said that he, the players and – he had no doubt – the fans would rather have travelled back with a point or 3 from a game where they’d stifled Citeh.
    Away from home it’s their job to entertain – it’s ours to get away with the point we started with or more. That starts with stopping them playing before we look for the opportunity ourselves.

  22. What was sad to see as a Boro fan was that non of our ‘legends’ were local lads. Bernie- A Scot, Beck- Danish & Higgy- A Scouser. It would have been nice to see a couple of local legends like Pally or Rippers or Phil Stamp Berwick Hills Boro!

  23. John
    Yes we have to be tight but that will have to come the pretty way by doing what Arsenal do so well.
    We will be unlikely to have anyone who can hold the ball up other than young Craddock. That means a midfield five, constant movement and passing. They will have to work their socks off and keep the ball. If we hoof it, the ball will come back with interest.
    Arsenal dont play wonder balls, they have people moving all the time and pass into space. They dont ‘know’ that van persie etc are there waiting for the pass, they have faith in the fact the players will make the runs.
    We will rely on ONeill, Stewie plus whoever is up front to do the running into space. Rocky will provide the ammunition. Cat and Boat will look after the shop, covering if Tayls and Young press forward.
    It is 451 in defence, 453 when we spring forward.
    **AV writes: If we can get away with 453 we are laughing.

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