Millenium Stadium Meltdown – Four Years On

IN KEEPING with the nostalgia overload on Teesside on this auspicious day, I have been rifling through the vaults for pre-enjoyed articles celebrating our day of glory at Cardiff.
The Boro website have a highlights package of Carling Cup final match action that will have the hairs standing up on the back of your neck while gazettelive have an excellent slide show that captures the colour and passion of the 40,000 strong Red Army there on tha glorious day and the aftermath back home, while today’s paper is full of features, memories and analysis of the impact of Boro’s Great Leap Forward. Even Fly Me To The Moon have reproduced their home page lead article from the following day, in which I get a namecheck.
On top of that, here’s the Gazette’s back page stories the following day in which graceful loser Fat Sam blamed everyone bar the CIA and six foot shape- shifting lizards for his defeat and triumphant boss Steve McClaren hailed his heroes. And not to be left out, here’s another chance to read what I hammered out live and direct from the Millenium Stadium press box through a teary haze of alliterative adjective heavy emotional hyperbole:


*****
WHITE HOT iron, red hot steel… Boro have finally brought the silver back to Teesside, writes ANTHONY VICKERS.
The 128 barren years of painful mediocrity and fruitless dreaming and those sickening ‘typical Boro’ kicks in the teeth are over and a glorious new golden age beckons.
And how could Boro have possibly failed to succeed this time urged on, as they were, by an awesome wave of tangible passion that almost blew the roof off the Millennium Stadium?
Rarely can a structure have had to withstand such an intense sonic boom as the aural explosion of emotion that greeted the final whistle and echoed again and again in the aftermath of a historic communal celebration of Teesside pride.
The fabulous red and white army were in ecstasy, mind-spinning, heart-soaring, dream-fulfilling ecstasy – and they made sure the entire nation heard the roar.
Television cannot convey the tangible wall of red and white noise that the Borotastic Teesside travelling army generated as they cranked the volume up to 11 as their club finally came of age.
The anxiously awaited whistle – this was Boro after all! – was greeted with the jubilant full-throated claim that Boro were “the finest team in football the world has ever seenâ€? – and for once there was the sweet, shiny proof to wave under the noses of all those who have sneered and doubted.
The spontaneous post-match Pigbag was the collective hymn of victory, a flag-waving, tear-jerking affirmation of faith, a communal celebration of long awaited success that will become the stuff of legend.
The air-punching Southgate Salute, cheered to the rafters, rammed home the emphatic message that Boro were now up there with the big boys.
The tribalistic taunt of the neighbours in the gloating chant “Are you watching, Newcastle?â€? reinforced the now obvious pride at being the first team in the North-east to bring back a trophy in over 30 years
And the poignant, insistent chorus of “One Stevie Gibsonâ€? showed that the supporters of this club were very much aware that the Brave New World that beckons is chiefly down to the drive and vision of the uber-fan and chairman.
Steve Gibson deserves to see his club succeed for his massive personal investment – but so do the fans for their equally hefty unconditional emotional investment over those long bleak years with little dividend.
The sweet taste of triumph is a long awaited payback for all those desolate trips back from Wembley and all the near misses that have teased us for generations.
And as usual, the Boro fans played a blinder.
We were louder, brighter, more colourful, more insistent than Bolton.
We wanted it more.
Boro fans had done the big day out, the gasps of awe at the impressive stadium and the “it’s nice just to be hereâ€? routine. This time Boro were steely and single-minded. This time we were here to win.
And it had been the same for the whole weekend as a determined Boro army occupied Cardiff to carve out their territory. Bolton fans were there, but in smaller numbers, and strangely muted.
Boro were everywhere. Boro were loud and proud, visible everywhere in Cardiff.
The heart and soul of the Boro, the Teesside Embassy in the Principality, was the Gatekeeper, a gigantic cavern of a pub 50 yards from the entrance to the Boro end with ample room to drape banners and acoustics perfect for belting out all the terrace favourites.
A thousand shirts of every design – Heritage Hampers ZDS specials, Dickens, Evening Gazette and ICI as well as newer models – merged in a sea of red united in the conviction that victory was imminent. Among the banners was one that said simply “Erimusâ€? – the town’s Latin motto which means ‘We Will Be’ – in a bold statement of intent.
Just before kick-off that prescient banner rippled across the back of the North Stand.
Nearby was the Come On Boro mega-banner, the biggest in the country, designed and funded on the Internet by the resurgent Red Ultras of the People’s’’ Republic of Teesside.
There were banners that proclaimed “Smoggies on Tourâ€? and “We’ve Only Come For the Fresh Airâ€?; banners that declared the owners to be Reds from Billingham, Derby, Perth, Yarm and even from just down the road in Gwent. There were the flags of Boro’s League of Nations squad: French, Italian, Brazilian, Cameroon and even Basque.
The Boro crowd were a magnificent spectacle in a magnificent arena.
Under the roof, with sunlight breaking through the corners the eerie atmosphere was added to by the billowing smoke left by the pre-match pyrotechnics.
Almost immediately the Red Army sent the decible level soaring as Boro got off with two goals in seven minutes. But, as usual, they were put through agonies as a dream start threatened to almost turn into a nightmare.
When Frandsen hit the post, the roof almost came down as the intake of breath from 30,000 plus Boro fans fearing a ‘typical Boro’ moment created a vacuum for a split-second. And there were further scares as Bolton pressed forward.
But there was no spoiling the long-awaited Boro party.
During the long pregnant four minutes of added time, the emotional intensity was almost unbearable. Airhorns hummed, whistles grew more urgent, Boro fans hopped from foot to foot in gleeful anticipation… then, Cardiff exploded in a wave of pure unadulterated long-overdue and well-deserved pleasure.
******
THERE is generally a certain gentlemanly decorum and studied objectivity about the match day press box. It is frowned upon to jump up and punch the air while screaming ‘gerrinthereyoueffingbeauty.’
Stuff that. This was Boro’s Carling Cup Day – Cardiff, February 29, 2004.
I was buzzing. I had my smoggy badge and Boro socks on. I was bursting with Teesside pride and passion. I wanted to win.
The professionally aloof tabloid rat pack may have directed icy looks as the laptop, notebook and all sense of journalistic detachment went flying roofwards in a glorious EIO after One Job’s goal. So what?
And when Bolo’s second goal went in, I turned to the assembled ranks of hacks to scream something unintelligible which meant “stick that up your ignorant, poisonous anti-Boro pipes.â€?
Undignified behaviour, I know, yet strangely satisfying.
The whole day was fantastic. The whole weekend. Boro were fantastic. But how fantastic were the fans! It was a privilege to be part of the 36,000-strong Red and White Army.
Cardiff was worth every penny – and more. For all those who stood by the club through dark days of liquidation and relegation, victory was an affirmation of the faith.
And for all those who never made it despite years of yearning, both players and fans – the likes of Wilf Mannion, Willie Maddren, Harold Shepherdson, Mike McCullogh, John Ovington, Fred Appleton, David Bingham, Tim Lloyd, Ken Sigsworth and thousands of others – the victory is a poignant tribute.

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41 thoughts on “Millenium Stadium Meltdown – Four Years On

  1. Hey thats me on those Gazette pictures. Drunk in the Gatekeeper. A total class weekend. Still brings a lump to me throat looking at the pictures, especially of Gibbo celebrating with the lads. Brilliant memories.

  2. Not exactly relevant to that memorable day four years ago, but another cause for celebration, in case no one else has picked it up yet (hard to tell when posts take a while to appear!) – from the Beeb site:
    “Wheater signs new Boro contract
    Middlesbrough defender, David Wheater, has signed a new three-and-a-half-year deal at the Riverside. The 21-year-old, who came up through the ranks as a trainee, has made 28 first-team appearances this season and was out of contract in the summer.
    Before breaking into the first team, he had loan spells at Doncaster, Wolves and Darlington. Wheater, who is an England Under-21 player, misses Saturday’s home game with Reading because of a ban.
    The emergence of Wheater was one of the reasons why manager Gareth Southgate allowed the more experienced Jonathan Woodgate to join Tottenham in January.”
    * Got that bit about the ban ever so slightly wrong, didn’t they? *rolls eyes* It’ll be good to have him & “The Wall” back in harness tomorrow. 🙂
    **AV writes: Gazette exclusive this morning!

  3. No tickets so I watched with Alex and his girlfriend in the local pub with people behind us having their Sunday dinners. There is normally a crowd of Liverpool, ManU, Arsenal, Spurs and even Derby fans to watch the match.
    That day we seemed to be isolated in a little cocoon in front of the tele. There was Liverpool v Leeds on before and those fans melted away, the buffoon behind the bar was adamant that it was on BBC but eventually, after a philosphical dicussion, he switched over to Sky as the match started.
    The first action we saw was Mendi sweeping the ball out to Zenden, Bolo switching it across the box and Job mis-hitting it into the net. I say mishiting because he hit with his right instep instead of his preferred method of shin pad, the net(?) effect being he couldnt clear the bar as normal.
    Cue EIOs amongst beef dinners. The purple rinses didnt know what was happening.
    Then Joseph miscontrolled a ball – again he contacted it with his instep – and the resultant turn totally confused the Bolton centreback because the ball went where a good striker would play it not where Job normally played it.
    Bang to rights pen. 2-0 to the mighty reds. 36 slow mos at half time showed the ball had been struck twice, shows how crap technology is because Sam in the stand and Phil Brown in the dug out spotted it.
    Swarz fumbles 2-1.
    Then it is the long wait, pressure repelled and chances repelled, chances to break away squandered. Ugo gets the benefit of the doubt and it is celebration.

  4. Great Stuff AV
    Is it a coincidence that the next home grown Boro legend has signed his new contract today?
    Does a 3 and a half year contract that is signed today tie him to the club for 14 years?
    C’mon Boro

  5. Hmm!
    An historic cup win in our ‘lucky’ all-red shirts!!
    As nice as the white band has been for the past 3 seasons, I wonder………..

  6. Fatsuma
    Fair point, all red shirts, the benefits of colour TV. Far better now, it must be over 40 years since I saw a team win a cup in Black and White.

  7. Your Cup Final piece has brought footballing shivers to every square inch of my skin.
    Seriously, AV, I’m almost welling up here.
    UP THE BORO!!!!!

  8. Fantastic that wheater has signed and it was on the cards realy that he was allways going to stay.
    Its a massive game for us today and lets hope we can go out there and play with some freedom and really work reading all over the park.
    They are on a bad run and it low on confidence so start with a high tempo get the ball down and play attacking football.
    We saw glimpses on wednesday of the skills alves posseses so get the ball to him at his feet and let him go for it and build some confidence..
    come on boro!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Well, that threw a spanner in the works. A lacklustre performance by all accounts.
    That puts us four points off the bottom three and back into the mix for the drop and crucially it was one of the matches that would see us edge to safety.

  10. Looking at Boro’s forthcoming fixtures, I feel that the FA Cup may well be an unwelcome distraction in Boro’s fight for survival in the Premier League.
    What worries me is that we have had a good run as opposed to those of Reading Newcastle and the likes, but are still only 1 solitary point above Newcastle who have not won since before Christmas.
    I hate football me.

  11. Loose to Chelsea in the final of the FA cup and go down , surely not?
    I hope the FA cup run does not cost us too much in league performances as todays result for Reading opens up a can of worms.

  12. Reading? It was woeful! Worst game of football I’ve seen since Liverpool v Chelsea!
    We were awful but they were worse. The only piece of half-decent football Reading played all afternoon and they scored from it!
    Priceless!

  13. I think Boro were simply too tired today and didn’t have the energy to get a goal, and would have happily settled for a draw, although i thought we should have beaten them.
    Of our few fixtures left Reading was one we had to win or at least get a point from. When we really need the points I think we’ll pick them up. we were missing Huth today who has being playing really well lately. hope he comes back soon.

  14. ” Reading? It was woeful! Worst game of football I’ve seen since Liverpool v Chelsea!
    We were awful but they were worse. The only piece of half-decent football Reading played all afternoon and they scored from it!
    Priceless! ”
    Woeful just doesn’t describe the utter direty that was this game.
    I thought we’d turned the corner ? ( according to AV and many others in here. )
    I thought we were playing attractive, attacking football ? ( according to AV and many others in here. )
    Yet suddenly we are yet again talking about a relegation fight. How is that possible if things are going so well.
    The truth is we’ve been limping along for quite a few games and this game demonstrated once again the, ” I wonder which boro gets of the bus today ” problem that we all know all too well.
    GS and Coops would be wise to point out that a game of football lasts 90 minutes + time added on.
    Our back four were already on their way home to get ready for Retro when they scored.
    Just how long will it take to cure the these problems ?
    For me the positive thing is that we have a squad of players that could push for a European place.
    The negative thing for me is that GS isn’t the right man for the job and nothing I’ve seen of late, and nothing anyone in here has said has or will change my view.
    He’s a fish out of water with great intentions, but a fish out of water never the less.
    TB

  15. Surprise suprise. Eight games unbeaten, excellent football and not a peep from slim then one bad game and he’s straight on banging the same old drum.
    You can have a bad game you know (ask your mate Massimo, he’s had a few). Its not the end of the world. We are very close to being a very good team.
    We’re not going down. We ARE going to Wembley. And all the knee-jerkers and stay at homers will be the first to slag the club off because they don’t get a ticket for the final. Good. You are not real supporters anyway.

  16. Cardiff was class. Eindhoven was class. Wembley WILL be class.
    Today was dross but I cant get away with people saying it was the worst ever. Don’t be soft. Too many people forget (or never knew) when things really were bad.
    Right now I am happy. I can see what the team is trying to do. There is some excellent new signings (Alves will be a legend) and some great kids. We have an easy draw in the FA Cup quarters. Gibbo is the best chairman around.
    I just wish some people would start appreciating what we’ve got.
    PS I agree about TB. crawls out of the woodwork if the teletext report is bad.

  17. Another tough week in store with the cup match and then away to Villa and Arsenal. Several ways to look at it:
    1. We dont normally get much at those grounds so the fact they follow so quicky after wont make any difference.
    2. We sometimes get points from odd places so why not from those matches, we appear to be playing better away.
    3. We could lose ground and get sucked further into the mire.
    We certainly dont want another replay. Yesterdays defeat was a real blow with clubs around us getting points.
    Finally, I await with baited breath to see what happens with Lampard following his sending off for lashing out with his feet and then pushing Boa Morte.

  18. Thanks AV for a wonderful piece. Reading that was a bit like stepping into a time machine and whizzing back four years.
    I also like your description of people like that red beelzebub twerp in Darlington as ‘Big club Groupies.’ Yes, we are a medium but proud club that has to produce home-grown talent and, yes, sometimes they move on.
    If we had 30 million pounds we would not spend it on one centre half like ferdinand. That was more than the cost of the whole team that we put out yesterday.
    Most Boro fans that I know do not begrudge the acheivements of someone like Gary Pallister who went on to great success on the wrong side of the Pennines. He is a Boro boy through and through, still lives in the area. Woodgate though, on the other hand…..

  19. If we could just get some consistency within the squad. ie the same players playing together more of the time .
    We missed Rockenback , Aliadierre and Huth.
    Okay we should have won , I am looking forward to Cardiff .

  20. OK, I’ve probably got it in for Woody because of what he said, or rather implied, about the ‘Gate shortly after he signed for Spurs, but as far as I’m concerned, he may be a “cultured” player on the pitch who had the good fortune to score the winning goal last weekend, but he’s a scruffy, inarticulate oik off it & this interesting letter from the Sunday Times’ sports bag today sums it up for me:
    “From R Vaughton, Ste Colombe sur l’Hers, France:
    I watched the France-England game on French TV. Jonny Wilkinson gave an outstanding post-match interview in French. The next day I caught the end of the Carling Cup final and the post-match interview with Jonathan Woodgate. The poor lad could hardly put two coherent word together in his own language.”
    * Did he, I wonder, bother to try to learn any Spanish (not that difficult, but as ex-professional translator, I would say that, wouldn’t I?!!) during his time in Madrid?
    ** On the subject of language, Vic, do you think you could persuade Philip Tallentire to pronounce Tuncay’s name correctly when he records his video clips for ‘The Gazette’? It’s driving me to distraction: assuming it’s not spelt “Tun*ç*ay” in Turkish, the “c” should be pronounced as a “j”…

  21. John Powls wrote…
    and thank god he did and does as he talks sense. A lot of it.
    Guys, I was at this game and I’ve been at the last few.
    Oh and by the way, I have been posting and I have been very positive because there are positive things to say as well.
    In case you guys missed it…..
    1. Downing signed – FANTASTIC. We need to keep our best players and he’s one of them.
    2. Wheater signed – BRILLIANT. I’ve done nothing but heap praise on the lad as he’s doing an amazing jobat such a young age.
    3. Alves – GREAT.
    4. PR side of things – MUCH IMPROVED AND A VERY WELCOME TURNAROUND. More please.
    5. Gibson – GETTING BACK TO HIS BEST. His eyes back on the ball and his comments about the red card incident are 100% spot on and we need him like this as no one can defend our corner better than an on song Gibson.
    So, you’ve all been banging on about how good we are and how we’ve turned a corner. Well we haven’t and the people in here who actually know what their talking about could see it a mile off.
    Look at the league table and tell me exactly how we have turned any sort of corner.
    If all you can say is that we’re going to wembley then I take it that you are talking about going to watch the FA Cup final ? Well amen to that, but a finals all that matters as a semi final appearance at wembley is a consolation prize for losers and it reduces the appeal of the cup, which in recent years has already lost some of its shine – sorry.
    What car stickers say anything about ” FA Cup Semi Finalists 2008 ” ???
    Win or lose a final is a major achievement and something to boast about. If GS gets us there then it’s a massive feather in his cap and a massive achievement, which I’ve also said in recent posts. A semi finals place isn’t.
    But I guess you guys, BLT and Clive Road, chose to miss that because all you like to do is to put people down who do not subscribe to your obviously limited and blinkered point of view.
    I fully accept that I’ve had many critical things to say in the past, but I’ve also been very positive and I will continue to do both when I personally think it’s fair to do so.
    TB

  22. John Powls:
    Your post gives a good, well-balanced perspective, I think. I enjoyed reading it.
    Had we won against Reading, many more of us would have been considerably more comfortable. But those three points dropped at home against lower-ranked opposition just demonstrates why we are where we are.
    As many have observed, over a season, league positions don’t lie and while we may have some “decent” players, we’re not yet cutting it decisively and consistently enough to warrant having any kind of confidence that we’re “too good to go down”.
    There are NO easy matches in the Premiership for teams of Boro’s calibre.
    That said, to survive in the Premier League, we just need to be better in the long haul than three others! (Not a very bright, breezy or ambitious outlook though!) And as you say, it looks like Derby and Fulham will struggle.
    We just need to keep ahead of another one from the remaining six. The issue is that it’s so finely balanced this season with only four points separating us from the 18th position. Which only serves to emphasise how important that result against Reading really was. It was in our hands and we let it slip through.
    In this league, about 36 points may well be enough to see a club safe. But getting them cannot be taken for granted. Although there are ostensibly 30 points still to play for, by my reckoning, if Boro’s season performance-to-date is used to extrapolate to get a season end total, we would end the season on 39 points, taking home and away form into consideration.
    It’s the poorest lower-half league since the Premier League was formed and, on balance, I believe, emphasizes the difference that big financial investment has made by clubs further up the table than Boro. (Yes, I know there are exceptions – there always will be, but over time, the richest, biggest, strongest, most skillful, will prevail).
    The intrinsic differences between clubs’ respective capabilities are exemplified by a comparison between performances in individual matches – which are precisely that – and a sustained superior performance over many matches.
    A greater availability of better individually-skilled players will almost always, over time, result in more games won.
    The exceptions can be exemplified by cup games where, with a frequency that is disproportionate to their respective skill levels or squad strengths, lower quality opposition triumph over higher quality teams, by sheer endeavour and sustained energy for the finite duration of that single match.
    Where they have to go to replay, the lower-quality teams’ success rate goes down. The level of performance isn’t sustainable.
    That’s why, of course, big squads of highly-individually-skilled players do it, time and again! And it also (partly) explains how occasionally, minnows achieve success in cup matches and how it’s quite feasible for the occasional “upsetâ€? to happen. (Other factors such as lousy weather and ground conditions – “levellersâ€? – play a part also, as well as the mental approach to each match, although I’d be inclined to group that particular attribute within the “skillsâ€? set of ability classification.)
    So, whilst I can agree to a certain extent with some posters on here who say “we’re not far off being a very good sideâ€?, I don’t agree that we can yet sustain it over time.
    Boro, when we “turn upâ€?, can give the best a run for their money on any given day. But we don’t have the capability of turning it on match in, match out, week in, week out.
    And that’s what it’ll take for Boro to climb into the top half of the Premier League. And that will have to be a longer term goal.
    We almost need to approach each and every match from now until the end of the season like they are cup games.
    We mustn’t just save cup performances for the FA Cup!!
    Come on Boro!

  23. John powls raises the spectre of a struggle to come and he is right to do so.
    Saturdays match could have seen us close to safety, instead the nature of it dragged us back into the mix, it allowed Reading to move into the pack and created a big gap to Fulham.
    Our succesful mini league run came to an end at Liverpool and Reading’s run of 8 losing matches ended at the Riverside. The third team that will go down from the group separated by four points will be the one who puts together a losing run at the most inopportune time.
    Did the 120 minutes on Wednesday have an effect? It will have had some, possibly just took a little edge of our performance.
    They are professional footballers so it shouldnt but we forget that Reading are a hard working professional side and Steve Coppell has openly admitted they planned to keep it very tight and hoped to take advantage in the last ten or fifteen minutes.
    If we had scored early we could have kicked on, as it was it took a gut wrenching injury time goal to beat us.
    It is just possible we are not as good as we think we are, that having Aliadiere and Tippy out is more than we can cope with. It is also possible it was just a bad day and didnt play well.
    There is another tough round of fixtures coming up for all the clubs in the mire, we will be able to watch a cup tie and the rest around us battle. I think some of my points from unexpected sources are called for.

  24. No doubt I’ll be branded a doom & gloom merchant but, having been to every home this season and every cup game home & away, what I have seen has given me no confidence that we will progress to the Semis next week OR that we will not be closer to the bottom three by the end of March.
    Time and time again at the Riverside I have seen poor teams given the time and space to beat us, so where is the evidence that a championship team, and the bottom team in the PL are not going to do the same over the next few weeks??
    I also see that myself and many others who have spent a lot of money this year watching the Boro were again partly blamed for Saturday by the Manager – he thought the atmosphere was flat and didn’t give the team the lift it deserved.
    The atmoshpere was fine until the team made it clear they were going to give a yet another toothless performance up front! Why can’t they give us something to shout about?

  25. Clive & BLT, I’m with both of you. Reading was a disapointing result, but it makes my blood boil when after a period of silence when things are going well the ‘chicken runners’ suddenly pop up and start slagging the club/team off left right and centre.
    Given the first half of the season we had it would have taken a miracle/champions league form to be clear of the relegation fight by now.
    Its clear to me what GS is doing. Firstly he did what all good managers did, created a solid defence. This took until Christmas admittedly, but he couldn’t predict that Woody would go from hero to someone who didnt fancy it over the summer break. But we now have a sound defence.
    GS has also created a good midfield. Rocky (those of us who can see past a players mistakes always knew he was a good player) and Arca are good in the centre, we have the best right side I can remember for years and Stewie on the left.
    The weak part has been the lack of goal scorers, we have those now in Alves and Mido, but the reality ia we wont see either of them perform until next year, so for the remainder of the season its going to be a case of toughing it out in the league.
    We’re currently 12th with teams below us in much worse shape, Reading are poor, one win against us doesnt change that, Barcodes are in free fall, Wigan and B’ham are average/poor. We have a fight on our hands but its not desperate.
    My guess is we’ll get four points from the next nine available, which will keep us ticking over. Its certainly not panic time.
    Some of us have faith, some of us dont!

  26. Tony Baku
    I have seen the light and we are going to get 20 points from our last ten games. No, dont believe that.
    We wont win another match. No, dont believe that either.
    We will get enough points to be safe but suffer a few squeaky bum moments. That is about my view, I also tried premiership predictor and had us staying up but not by much. Bolton were the club joining Fulham and Derby.
    Am I a pessimist, no. Realist – doubt it as I am a Boro fan.

  27. I thought the crowd was poor on saturday but the team didnt help its cause.
    As fans we need something to shout about but at the same time the team needs all the help it can get, I’ve been going to games before the Riverside and have been every season since it has opened.
    I can say that the atmosphere is flat and in my opinion it is because the pre match routines are exactly that, routine.. it needs to be revamped and freshened up. Mark Page is awfull and id rather go down to the concourse than listen to him rant for 15 minutes in the cold.
    Yes Pigbag is our clubs theme but surely something has got to change the experience for our fans. We are not just paying to see football we are paying from the minute we walk through the turnstiles for the match day experience and for me its just not there anymore.
    MFC must wake up and change the pre match entertainment as this will be the result for ever, flat crowds, no fans poor attendances and get those ticket prices down.. £24 to watch boro vs reading is scandalous no wonder people go to the pubs to watch live games…
    COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. ” Nigel wrote…
    Clive & BLT, I’m with both of you. Reading was a disapointing result, but it makes my blood boil when after a period of silence when things are going well the ‘chicken runners’ suddenly pop up and start slagging the club/team off left right and centre. ”
    Nigel, this simply isn’t the case and is an unfair accusation. No one is slgagging anyone off left right and centre.
    The club has done some great things of late, which I have listed here and in some other posts, time and time and time again. And I’m fed up with having to keep on saying this each and every time I say something which doesn’t conform to the main view.
    We have a good chance of getting to an FA Cup Final, which would be absolutely unreal.
    Our buying of players has improved.
    There are many positives to say and they have been and are being continuously said.
    Where I differ with people in here is that many seem to think that just because GS has tried to be attacking and has tried to play attractive football, which he has, in my opinion this just doesn’t warrant the claim that we have turned the corner.
    I have no problem with anyone in here expressing an opinon that differs to mine, but why must people have to come here and get abused ?
    The fact of the matter is that I don’t post as much as I used to because as soon as you come out with a few observations that don’t conform to the die hard, rose tinted glass brigade, you are instantly insulted and branded in the same way, as you have done, and frankly I have much better things to do.
    There have been times I have been in the wrong in here with my postings and the way that they have been put forward, and I have held my hand up to these each and every time and apologised.
    What more do you want from me ?
    With the league position being what it is and with GS comments today again talking about avoiding relegation, it does seem a fair comment to make that this team has in fact not turned the corner, even if some people chose take the opposite view.
    Isn’t this supposed to be a place of debate ?
    Why and how is it if we have turned this corner that we are talking about avoiding relegation as our number one priority at this point of the season, as opposed to being nearly safe and talking about snatching a European place or concentrating on winning the cup ?
    The fact of the matter is that we haven’t turned any corner and that things, although not that bad, aren’t all that good either.
    I don’t think that anyone could seriously claim that with a better manager than GS that we wouldn’t be getting more out of what we have.
    We had a chance of getting O’ Neil and we opted for continuity and rookies, so I’m afraid this is the price we now pay. The same old up and down Boro drifting along the Premiership from year to year without making any real progress, and just happy to avoid relegation and sneak the odd final place.
    TB

  29. AV,
    any chance the gazette can do a poll on why fans are staying away or even your good self to look into the reasons behind such awfull crowds.
    Compared to other premier league clubs boros must be one of the worst. Surely there is a reason?

  30. TB – You wont get any abuse from me, but you will get a different opinion, ‘what more do you want from me’ … answer – nothing actually.
    As for ‘turning the corner’ no we haven’t turned the corner, but in my opinion we are turning it, and finally in my opinion when things are going well your praise is ‘feint’ and when we loode one your criticism is heavy handed.
    Finally O’Neill alegedly wanted to manage Boro part-time, well that wouldn’t have been any good to me, in fact I think its an insult, where as at Villa he can do the job full-time from his home in High Wycombe, on that basis good manager that he is, he wasn’t the man for the Boro.
    Reading was a banana skin and we slipped on it, but Boro aren’t unique in cocking-up following a big result, look at Spurs, they were clearly still in the middle of their carling cup party when they turned up at St. Andrews.

  31. I am sure it was only last week before the Sheff U game that most posters seemed to agree that thinks were looking up for the Boro.
    Since then we have progressed to the 6th round of the FA Cup and lost to Reading.
    Both poor games one good result one bad result.
    Hardly reason for people posting such doom and gloom.
    So as not to cherry pick results I have looked at Boro’s PL form since December 1.
    14 games, 5 wins, 4 draws and 5 defeats.
    During these games we have beaten the league leaders and the bottom team in the PL.
    This is not relegation form.
    Three wins from the last 10 games will be good enough for Boro to stay up.
    There is no reason why we can not beat Cardiff and progress to the semi finals of the FA cup.
    Lets get up beat this week in the build up the the QF, look on the positive side, most posters would have been happy with a QF FA Cup tie and 29 points at the beginning of December.
    Some posters would have called me delusional if I had predicted the above on November 30th of last year.
    On that date we were in the relegation mire and we looked like we had a clueless manager and spineless team.
    Boro have improved a hell of a lot since then and we still have much to look forward to this season.
    Get behind the team, stop moaning, after all you could be supporting the skunks or mackems, they would swap places with Boro in a shot.
    C’Mon Boro!

  32. “AV,
    any chance the gazette can do a poll on why fans are staying away or even your good self to look into the reasons behind such awfull crowds.
    Compared to other premier league clubs boros must be one of the worst. Surely there is a reason?”
    Easy answers to that……
    1,It is not convenient for the club to have fans just turning up on the day so they have actively discouraged it so quite a few fans (like me) dont bother much anymore.
    2, Lots of people do not wish to watch football sitting down….. err like me!
    3, It is too expensive,
    4, You are not allowed to enjoy yourself inside the ground anymore. Smoking, sleeping and standing are not allowed , and chanting and swearing is a no no in most of the ground. Even getting up and chanting Come On Boro can get you a “Sit down and shut up” from the misery guts who populate the ground these days.
    5, Being kicked out of the ground 2 minutes after you buy a pint after the match is a typical trick of the no mark idiots who Middlesbrough FC employ these days.
    6, The modern day Sky generation and its continuous fawning over the so called “Big 4” conglomerate stinks and a lot of fans are being turned off the game.
    7, There are better things to waste money on than subsidising these already overpaid underachieving namby pamby footballers.
    I wish Boro well, but whatever they do , they will be doing it without getting my hard earned cash anymore. If I have sit down to watch telly , I ‘ll sit on my sofa and watch it.

  33. Ian wrote ‘Finally, I await with baited breath to see what happens with Lampard following his sending off for lashing out with his feet and then pushing Boa Morte. ‘
    Chelsea have appealed and as both Boa Morte and Lampard kicked out at each other whilst on the floor, as well as Lampard puhing Boa Morte this appeal must be seen as more frivilous than the Aliadiere appeal.
    Boa Morte’s actions can not be looked at by the panel so I’m with you waiting to see if Lampards kick and push are considered more violent than Aliadieres slap on Mascherano.
    My bet is that the panel will not want to extend the ban and so will over turn it.
    That way they will not be open to abuse for not extending the ban by one game for a frivilous appeal.

  34. Now I’m a big fan of Gareth, but his criticism of the crowd after the Reading game has really annoyed me.
    This was a horrendous game of football, totally lacking in any quality from either side. We never looked like scoring, nobody strung more than 2 passes together, it was freezing cold and I’d spent £54 ‘treating’ my girlfriend to a football match in the self-proclaimed ‘best league in the world’. Even she could see the glaring deficiencies of the encounter. This was her first and last game.
    But of course, it is us fans, wasting what disposable income we have on dire football who should be inspiring the players. Players who earn twice as much in a week as we do in a year are not sufficiently inspired by us handing over our hard-earned to pay their over-inflated wages.
    Their over-inflated egos also need us to sing lots of nice songs about them before they deem us worthy for them to break a sweat or succesfully complete a 5 yard pass for.
    They need us to belt out a few ditties about how lovely they are before they will contemplate threatening the defence of a team that has lost it’s last 8 games on the bounce. So is Reading’s victory down to the largely silent few hundred Reading fans, probably the the lowest away following at the Riverside all season?
    The excuses continue: The players were playing their second game in a week…and the other game was a very long one…. Well, the fans were paying too much money to watch absolute dross for the second time in a week.
    Further, of the 13 outfield players involved on Saturday only 5 of them had actually played the whole game on Wednesday.
    No excuses Gareth. It was awful.
    I’ve bought my ticket for Sunday, and I expect much, much better. Let’s have a performance worth singing about.

  35. We can debate all we like whether the glass is half full or half empty, whether the shade’s tints are rose or black, whether there is an outbreak of foam hands or chicken run flu.
    The bottom line is to pick up your morning or evening paper and read the table. We are four points off a relegation place. John Powls is right in that things are now distinctly tricky, Nigel is right in that Reading was a banana skin and we slipped on it.
    My suggestion is we try to avoid anymore more of these banana skins, the next one could have us over the cliff. Of the ten matches left, three are against relegation candidates. Derby are doomed and we play them at home. Bolton at home, Blunderland at the stadium of s****. We need points from those matches and not three draws.
    The rest could be called Lawro bankers, he has probably already predicted 2-0 defeats. With form as it is you could argue draws at home against Pompey and Citeh to end the season but without great conviction, we may be hoping they have packed in for the season. The danger is our team bus may already have left the building.
    My instinct is that we will be ok but there is very little time for mistakes and a losing run could be disastrous.

  36. Camsell and Cloughie will be turning in their graves! Boro have not scored three times in a game this season – 34 games – beating a club record that went back to 1924/25.
    I thought the Reading game might cure me of my Glasperitis, but now it seems we’ll have to wait for the visit of the Rams, unless of course we give Cardiff a hammering.

  37. So Gareth is wondering who to rest? well after another roller coaster ride by the “boro” what about all of them.?
    11 men who are supposed to be fit cannot string two “results” together – and both at home. Four hours of football and about 45 minutes of work including the strolling about the pitch.
    NO passion. No fight, NO commitment. always the same build the fans up and knock em down . I like Gareth but if he wants noise he must realise it could be boos?
    Newcastle also got beat, but at least they tried?

  38. It makes me laugh, ‘shall I rest the players’? I wish I only had to work 90 minutes a week, I would be well chuffed.
    When I was a young man I worked 40-50hrs a week, and played two games of football on a weekend, Saturday & Sunday.
    They want to take a leaf out of the Rugby League Players book, now they are fit, dedicated, and totally professional. Start earning your ‘brass’.

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