Sporting Glory: The Ultimate Prize

WHO WOULD have thought that a conscious, colourful, co-ordinated public show of support for Boro as they go into a massive cup clash game with a trip to Wembley as the prize for victory could provoke a bitter backlash from fellow supporters?
Plans by the Twe12th Man group to stage a pre-match big card rallying cry in the North Stand have provoked sneering and some vitriolic internet sniping from detractors. The cards will spell out the words SPORTING GLORY – a phrase Steve Gibson has used several times to sum up what he believes Boro are in business to achieve – but the supporters who naively thought that the set piece slogan before the Cardiff game reflects the essence of what the club is about are now stunned at being denounced as an unrepresentative self-elected clique of uber-fans in an undignified cyber squabble that has cast a shadow over the build-up to a season-defining showdown.
They have been surprisingly savaged over the semantics of the sound-bite, the ‘small time’ approach of using the now familiar big cards in what is “only” a quarter-final and the process by which the stunt and slogan was decided – but their real crime appears to be to presume that most fans would want to take part in such a collective show of club approved support.


The plans, in the same vein as the eye-catching ‘Eindhoven 2006’ statement of intent before the Steaua game and the ‘Reborn’ display celebrating 20 years of spectacular progress since the club escaped liquidation and kicked off the 1986 season in exile at Hartlepool, seemed innocuous enough. The Cardiff game is massive: victory will send Boro to the new Wembley for the first time and mark a second FA Cup semi-final in three seasons, not bad for a club that only reached its first one 11 years ago after over a century of barren under-achievement. Unless you have become very blaze and started to think of Boro as some powerhouse by right it is a landmark most would think worthy of some form of celebration by supporters.
But the plans, confirmed on Thursday, ran into immediate hostile fire on the Fly Me To The Moon board. The entire concept of the cards and the whole reason d’etre of the group took the first broadside and then the ‘Sporting Glory’ slogan was aggressively deconstructed too. It is hard to judge how representative the factions on the Fly Me board are in numerical terms but there is no doubt that the cyber-cynics reflect a widespread tendency on Teesside to habitually knock almost every aspect of activity on Planet Boro with an almost religious zeal and enjoy it.
Dealing with the last point first, ‘Sporting Glory’ seems an apt little encapsulation of what Boro are about. I would have suggested that it was what all clubs are about but clearly that is not true. In the grubby cash chasing world of the brash new football industry most clubs are about maximising revenue streams, growing the global brand and realising profits. They are about leveraged buy-outs, overly generously dividends to major shareholders and exciting business strategies involving overseas holding companies and exploitation of Far Eastern TV rights. They are about pimping the heritage, tradition and identity of proud old institutions to the dollar rich, the Russian oligarchs and the chancers looking for a quick killing.
But for Boro, the Small Town in Europe, the upstarts, the raggy arsed rovers punching above their weight because a local businessman sticks his hand in his pocket more than his accountant may think wise and because a higher proportion of dedicated supporters than any other conurbation in the country have turned out for generations inspired by hopes and dreams even in the face of reality repeatedly intruding, that phrase seems the right one. It is as relevant a motto for Boro as the traditional optimistic ‘Erimus’ or ‘We Shall Overcome.’
Certainly it is a phrase that Steve Gibson has revisited on many occasions. Originally he used it in a no-hold barred Century question and answer session with Bernie Slaven before the UEFA Cup game away at Grasshoppers in which, after marking Steve McClaren’s card for playing one up front at home to Portsmouth, he said: “I am a businessman when I am at my business and I’m a football fan when I’m at the football club. We do not run MFC as a business, we run it for sport and glory. There is no board, no paid board members, I take nothing from the club in expenses. It costs me to be involved at MFC.”
Soon after he repeated the phrase, telling the Gazette about the importance of Eindhoven he said: “The fans can play a big part in that. We do not run Middlesbrough FC as a business. We run it for sporting glory, for occasions such as this.” And again, at the start of this season, asked about whether he could afford to spend on spectacular signings he said: “As far as we are concerned this club is not about money or profit … it’s about sporting glory.”
So the phrase has a currency on Planet Boro. It is small minded nit-picking to question whether Gibbo was misheard in the original interview and actually said ‘sport AND glory’ and then use that imagined discrepency to attack the idea that fans should seize onto the concept of trumpeting the ideal.
He DID use that formulation earlier this season when he blasted the Daily Mail for suggesting he was about to sell out to a Russian squillionaire. “I have always said that I have bought Boro and want to keep Boro for the sport and for the glory. If anyone else is in football to turn a profit you would have to ask them about that,” he snapped. Tomato, tomAto, let’s call the whole thing off? Whatever the syntax and context the message remains constant. And important. And, hopefully, true. And crucially, it is a message that most fans can identify with and unite around.
Most. There are plenty who can’t and won’t and see first and foremost an unmissable opportunity for message-board mudslinging and the plans for the big cards sparked a renewed upsurge of what appears to be an engrained bitterness towards the entire Twe12th Man project.
The group’s press release immediately raised hackles, possibly because of its corporate PR feel and tendency to paint from an emotional palette…. but hey, who am I to complain about adjective heavy alliteration or hyperbole?

“The subliminal and striking message of ‘SPORTING GLORY’ on a backdrop of red, with the famous Boro white chestband, was chosen from a shortlist devised by the group after consultation and will be executed in front of the watching millions at home and around the world using almost 6,000 red, white and blue cards at Boro’s North Stand ‘kop-end’ as the team
run-out to Pigbag. Geoff Thomas, Event Co-ordinator and the principal designer of the huge display offered an insight into the inspiration behind the SPORTING GLORY message.

“Collectively, the group were desperate to make an impact on behalf of Boro fans for this game and a card display satisfies all the criteria the group want to achieve in making a bold statement of intent, whilst at the same time hopefully inspiring a passionate backing for the team. In the modern cosmopolitan climate where the ‘powerhouse’ clubs regularly adopt an arrogant and often disrespectful approach through the fielding of ‘sacrificial’ weakened teams within domestic competition, in favour of the financial riches offered by even limited achievement within premier European club competition, we felt it appropriate to use the live stage to re-affirm the very ethos of our club away from the modern day financially-driven rewards of underachievement and deliver a strong reminder to the football world that as a club, Boro and their fans uphold in every
way, the traditional sporting virtues of the English game.

‘SPORTING GLORY’ achieves this perfectly and positions the groups standpoint alongside the very words of our leader Steve Gibson during an interview before the the clubs first appearance in a European club cup final – the UEFA Cup against Seville in Eindhoven in 2006. Whilst the Twe12th Man remain conscious and sympathetic towards the club’s need to keep
pace with market forces within the modern game, the group are also mindful of the need to remind fans – young and old – that football IS above all, about winning – and winning with honour.â€? Geoff explained.

I’m not sure about honour. I’d be happy winning by all means neccessary and in a way that outrages the tabloids to be honest. But it is certainly about winning. What has shaped this club has been the sporting glory of coming back from oblivion to win back to back promotions under Rioch, of winning in the play-offs, of getting to Wembley for the first time, of the crazy, all out attack and defiant double final and relegation of 1997, of beating Liverpool in the Coca Cola Cup semi the following year to bounce back to Wembley again, of the spontaneous emotional combustion on the whistle at Cardiff, of beating the likes of Roma, Lazio, Partisan, Stuttgart and Steaua to get to a European final, of upsetting the odds to turn over Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal. Sporting Glory.
That’s where the action is: being part of emotionally uplifting moments of transcendental joy, collective celebrations of victory that make the suffering worthwhile, EIOing in the Gatekeeper and down Wembley Way. We’ve all been there. That is what we dream about, not grinding out draws against Bolton and Portsmouth to finish 13th. It is about all those long, tedious campaigns and years of emotional investment being sublimated into all too brief snippets of ecstacy. It is about the all to rare rewards of being part of those moments of success. And that is what the Cardiff game and what lies just beyond offer another taste of.
If you don’t understand that, can’t revel in that message and relish what is on offer, why are you a fan?

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38 thoughts on “Sporting Glory: The Ultimate Prize

  1. Strong stuff Vic, deadly accurate and hard hitting but more than anything right on the button.
    Sadly there are elements of our “fan” base who cannot see the wood for the trees, these are people who would wallow in the destruction of anything good, anything outside of their world, even if it was for the greater good of all.
    These are people akin to genetic reproductions of the infamous South Stand chicken run mentality, a set of fractious over indulged morons who call themselves Boro fans.
    Thankfully, like the participants in all blogs, message boards and forums they represent a minority of the overall populace and are therefore heavily outweighed.
    I’ve visited the FMTTM site and read some of the vitriolic clap-trap, but it was also good to witness other posters fighting back against the destabilising onslaught on the Twe12th Man Group and the choice of slogan for Sundays display. Good on them.
    To steal a partial quote from one of the more positive of the posts regarding the choice of slogan:
    “And finally, for the more cynical amongst us, it is also a message by the fans – and for the fans – in a subtle and indirect two-fingered salute to the sanitised modern game we are forced to endure. To support Middlesbrough is to love football – and remember why we love it. There-in lies SPORTING GLORY.”
    To those who wish to detract from the efforts of the Twe12th Man, of Steve Gibson , of the Boro team and it’s management, and every fair minded Boro fan, we don’t need them.
    If they spent as much time and energy supporting Boro in a positive way, and championing the realistic aims and ambitions of the club then they might, just might witness that Sporting Glory we all crave for.

  2. ” And, hopefully, true. And crucially, it is a message that most fans can identify with and unite around. ”
    ABSOLUTELY.
    And all the recent signs are that Gibson has his eye firmly back on the ball and long may it continue. The recent changes don’t go far enough for me but they are a great first step in the right direction.
    Sport, glory, and not just making money for the sake of having more money in the bank.
    Let’s see if we can upgrade a few of the key backroom staff now so that we can kick on in ALL areas so that we actually do make steady but sure progress towards ever higher levels.
    GREAT.
    TB.

  3. I’m not in the twelfth man nor would I particularly want to be but why knock them? In this sanitised atmosphere of all seater stadia they are trying to improve the matchday experience and show some enthusiasm. Good luck to them.
    There are unfortunately some people who simply want to find fault with anything to do with the club on or off the field.
    I would have prefered the cards to tell the F.A. where to go but I dont suppose the club would have agreed to such a message being shown on the BBC.

  4. ” To those who wish to detract from the efforts of the Twe12th Man, of Steve Gibson , of the Boro team and it’s management, and every fair minded Boro fan, we don’t need them.
    If they spent as much time and energy supporting Boro in a positive way, and championing the realistic aims and ambitions of the club then they might, just might witness that Sporting Glory we all crave for. ”
    Neil, I fully understand why you would say this, as reading your posts over the last year it’s plain to see that you’re obviously a passionate fan who has a real love for the sport and I really do applaud you for this.
    Where I disagree with you mate is in the fact that I don’t see valid criticism in the same way as you do, given the quote above.
    We all know that since Eindhoven Gibson’s been off the boil and we’ve suffered as a result, so criticism of him during this time for me is fair and valid. As too is questioning whether he should have stayed on given his obvious lack of the same drive that he had before, during this time.
    Criticism of the appointment of a rookie manager in Southgate is also fair and valid, as at the time we all expected better. At this time we still can’t say if he will succeed or fail. We’re in a relegation dog fight and so continued questioning of him and what he does in a forum such as this is also fair and valid.
    But I do agree with your sentiments – totally. I was at the last two home games and I did nothing but clap, sing and cheer my heart out, and absolutely and totally agree that as fans at the ground we need to support everyone 110%, even if we don’t agree with them.
    It’s also fair and valid to question why we just will not and refuse to employ better people in the backroom areas. Some of these people like Barnsey have been there for a very, very long time, along with H and others. I simply cannot and will not accept that it isn’t fair or valid to simply question if we can’t do any better.
    I’m not saying get rid of people simply because they have been around for a long time. But I am saying that some of these people’s CV’s weren’t all that good to start with and so we can do better. In my opinion a whole lot better, and the fact that I raise these points in a fans forum just doesn’t make me any less of a fan or a troublemaker or anything else.
    TB

  5. You and your internet loving cohorts symbolise everything that is wrong with the Boro and modern day football.
    You like to think that you speak for everybody and you think that your pokey little websites are far more influential and widely read than they actually are.
    You dont and they are not!

  6. Regarding tommorows game, I do hope that GS puts a full strength side out. It proved in the last game that resting players doesnt garentee you win the next game, all that it does is increase the chances of losing the cup game.
    Surely a full strength side and a good performance will do us more good than just scraping through.

  7. Yeah “sporting glory”. but in favour of a 39th game overseas so sometimes money is the priority.
    Up against a team who are skint and we have the luxury of 10 years of premier league money. A team full of foreign millioniares.
    Sure “Sporting Glory” should be reserved for when we play the likes of Man utd, Chelsea or Arsenal.
    **AV writes: Isn’t being 90 minutes from Wembley an appropriate occasion then?

  8. Said from the heart AV. Let us hope that it can kick start the BORO to a display that we have all been waiting for!!!!!

  9. I think you are placing too much emphasis on the views of a minority of a small minority, but you are right to highlight the issue.
    The FMTTM board is no longer a site where intelligent discussions take place on a regular basis as was the case some years ago. It is now infested by chavs, cyber warriors and attention-seekers and reasoned debate soon degenerates into a slanging match.
    The majority of those who made the board a vibrant and essential stop on any cyber tour now skip over it with a cursory glance.
    **AV writes: Sadly, I think that is true. I only ever dip in occasionally now (although that doesn’t stop allegations that I cut and paste every word I write from there).

  10. Terrific blog Anthony! Hear! Hear!
    And a personal “well done!” to Geoff Thomas and his mates at Twe12th Man who have the balls , the imagination and the passion to put themselves out there for something they believe in!
    Their initiative, inevitably, won’t strike the same chord with every Boro fan.
    But in the context in which it is being deployed, that says more about the detracters than it does about the well-intended, imaginative and principled stance being taken by the Twe12th Man group.
    If the detracters consider that these guys are doing it for their own personal glory or to gain some kudos for their own benefit, then the detracters are off their heads.
    Having spoken on a couple of occasions with Geoff Thomas, I’ve been impressed by his devotion to the club, to the game of football and his committment to the cause.
    “SPORTING GLORY” is indeed a clever, and considering the artwork constraints of the deployment location and medium, a necessarily succinct, “statement”.
    Regretably, from the FMTTM detritus, it would appear that it is unlikely to strike much other than a superficial chord with those whose imagination or neuron supply is on par with a typical FA executive!
    I hope that the vast majority of North Stand attendees will participate willingly in the gesture and that the rest of the Riverside will stand up and show their appreciation for the sentiment and the imagination demonstrated by BORO’s Twe12th Man on behalf of I hope, the majority of football fans – and not just Boro supporters either!
    Although this is a local declaration of club principle, as on occasions voiced by Steve Gibson, it is on a par with the “No to GAM£39” demonstration. If only people would see it that way!
    I think that the TV pundits and the media could go a long way to making sure that the message intended by the gesture is conveyed and understood by the nation. If it isn’t, then the underlying ethos of the message may well be lost.
    “Sport NOT Money!” is likely to have been a bit too pointed!

  11. Why is it assumed on here that it is only a minority of Boro fans who think that this “sporting glory” phrase is embarrasing?
    The majority of people I have spoken to dislike it, and the ones that do like it seem to have the argument that “you must be to thick to get it if you dont like it”.
    I for one will cringe at the sight of it tomorrow.

  12. You’re missing the point Vickers, they’re the uber fans in the same way that you’re the uber realist, the uber rationalist and the uber know all.
    I would get behind any decent effort but Sporting Glory is not even close. Clearly you as a man of the press know this, but you’re allowing your objectivity to be influenced – either that or you are a ra-ra after all.
    Much love.

  13. Edward
    As the saying about TV goes ‘you dont have to watch it, you can switch off!’
    AV’s blog tends to have reasoned debate, Like John Powls I havent contributed to the various message boards for some time and much prefer the atmosphere and style of this blog.
    The one thing about Boro is that the people at the club love it like we do. I dont agree with some of the things they do and some of their behind the scenes activities seem to lack joined up thinking.
    Even the 39th gam£ would have been to beneift the club not increase dividends to faceless suits.

  14. Surely a fans forum is a precisely the place for debate about how the club is doing, and for comments negative or positive about initiatives by the 12th man or others.
    Can’t you accept the fact others may have different sensibilities to yourself? Are you saying you won’t tolerate dissention? Or that we have to accept the decision of club and fan hierarchy submissively without a murmur?
    Despite their negativity toward the “Sporting Glory” cards, numerous “cynical” fans will be singing alongside their optimistic peers having spent good money to watch the club.
    Lets face it, if it wasn’t for the occasional passionate debate on the FMTTM forum, the posts would be as flat as the football played against Reading.
    By the way, I think the cards are a great idea. And as far as I’m concerned, if someone is willing to spend his or her hard earned money to support my club, they’re entitled to a voice on a fans forum.
    **AV writes: I am all in favour of debate. I accept others’ have different sensibilities. I encourage dissent. Fire away.

  15. Man U & Chelski out! *clap* A golden opportunity for Boro to taste FA Cup glory or what?!!! They MUST not fail against Cardiff tomorrow…

  16. AV, reading those last two paragraphs had the hairs on my arms standing up.
    I can’t think of any team I would rather have supported in the last 12 years. There were so many magic moments, so many firsts…
    One moment you forgot to mention was Schwarzer’s penalty save against Man City. What a way to get into Europe!
    As for Tony Black…”We all know that since Eindhoven Gibson’s been off the boil and we’ve suffered as a result, so criticism of him during this time for me is fair and valid. As too is questioning whether he should have stayed on given his obvious lack of the same drive that he had before, during this time.”
    Read those last two paragraphs again. Everything that happened in them is down to Gibbo. Without him we would possibly not have a club at all. It is not “fair and valid” to question whether he should stay on.

  17. Didn’t even get round to reading the blog. Just woke up on a hot Sunday morning in Melbourne and seen last night’s results…bloody hell!!!

  18. I don’t get it. Why do some people get so upset that a group of ra-ras get together to make a few banners and arrange a few big card shows for big games? What’s their beef with that?
    Fair enough if you don’t want to get involved in this new “Ayresome Angels” group but why knock them? Do they tell people to sit down and shut up when they start singing new songs as well?
    Now Man U and Chelsea are out (unbelievable and fantastic results btw) ‘Sporting Glory’ is there for us on a plate if we beat Cardiff. We will never get a better chance to win this thing.
    PS. seeing Barnsley’s pitch invasion reminded me of the year we were there last day of the season and their Mark Page fella announced the wrong results at the end.
    They were all on the pitch thinking they were in the play-offs then when the rights results were read out and the Boro fans laughed the angry Barnsley fans charged across the pitch at our end. Boro had gone in beach party gear so there were loads of our lads in hawaian shirts up on the fence ready for action. Very funny.
    **AV writes: I remember it well. Boro’s feared Flip Flop and Sombrero Crew looked very tasty that day.

  19. I’ve never been to 12th Man meeting but I held my card up for the Steaua game, I voted for the legends banner (where is it by the way), I help the surfer on its way over my head before kick off and I like the big flags. I’ll happily hold a card up again tomorrow. I can’t see why anyone would moan about it.
    We all know that the atmosphere at modern grounds is terminal (down to seats mainly) so anything is worth trying to give it a bit of a gee up.
    That said the 12th Man need to avoid making themselves targets for the boo-boys by putting out such pompous press releases and being too clever clever. “Come On Boro” would have done.

  20. I dont think any fans were knocking the idea of a card display or the twelth man,its just its an incredibly bad idea.
    To have ‘Sporting Glory’ spread all over the Holgate for the whole world to see is lining us up for a mickey take. I’ve already had man utd an liverpool fans taking the you know what out of me with stuff like “when was your glory then? must of missed that”. They dont have a clue what its refering too. I really think a bit more thought should have gone into this.

  21. Keith,
    In your eyes, are the only people somehow entitled to claim “Sporting Glory” as a “war cry” or a “club ambition”, the Manchester United’s of this world? What utter ballcocks!
    Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal will have to do their own sporting glory-seeking in competitions other than the domestic cups this year!
    You try telling fans of Pompey, or Barnsley that they can’t have, seek or claim Sporting Glory because they don’t have the same pedigree as Manchester United or Liverpool!! They’ll tell you to do exactly the same as me!
    When did you last see such an imaginative, organised demonstration of fan unity and support by any group of fans as gets organised by Boro’s Twe12th man?
    These are terrific gestures of North Stand unity! And the rest of the stadium ought to support it loudly! Oh for another match with the “Spirit of Steaua”!
    In a sense, it didn’t matter if “Eindhoven 2006” had actually spelled out “AV – you’ve missed a bit!”
    The unity and togetherness of the fans with each other and with the team was what mattered! And that’s what’ll matter later today, against Cardiff!
    Any club ought to be proud of the gesture and the efforts being put in on their behalf by such fans.
    And stuff fans of other clubs who may choose to ridicule the efforts! That’s what opposition fans do – week in, week out! It’s part of the game!
    But who’ll be laughing going to Wembley? Who gives a damn if they’ve been more often than us over the years! Do you think that matters a jot to us as we go into today’s match looking for our own Sporting Glory!
    And will they have grounds for taking the p*ss if we win it? Of course they will! They’ll find something to wind you up about!
    A most suitable response, should you feel the need to give one to them would be,”Well, Boro are still in the FA Cup. How come you’re not?”
    And when they retort with their customary “we we’re refereed out of it!”…..or some other such SirAlexism, or when his assistant “Queroz” the referee’s credentials………just smile!

  22. The ‘sporting glory’ or not debate is a crystalisation of the divide between those that see themselves as ‘traditional’ football fans who have their roots deep in the Ayersome Park past and the ‘new middle class’ supporters’ who now dominate premiership crowds, Boro included.
    In my opinion it is [possible to fit comfortably into the old and new fan base, in fact I think most people do, but there is a simmering resentment among those that dont like the changes that have occured in football and at Boro in the last 20 years.
    They resent the modern theme music and organised displays of support because its a million miles away from The holgate experience, but those days are gone.
    The price we have paid for embracing SKY is the sanitised match day experience, the payback is that the violence has gone, we watch superstars play for Boro routinely now and we have won a cup and been to four other major cup finals.
    ‘Sporting Glory’ is a great phrase, succinct and to the point, it should be Boro’s motto.
    But most importantly today is a full house, its far more important than a banner in the North Stand.
    We’re in for a seriously tough game today, because now that the big four are out every team left believes they can win the FA cup.
    Changing the subject, Boro in recent years have moved from a club that could never get past a quarter or semi final to one who regularly reaches the last four and has lost several finals.
    Its time to move on: we mustn’t see reaching a semi or even a final as an achievement we must aim to win the FA cup, there has and probably never will be a better opportunity.

  23. This seasons cups have shaken up more than the big boys and the establishment, in recent years the Carling Cup and FA Cup went to the big boys, the FA Cup Final was played between two of the big four and it was possible to finsih 7th as we did and qualify for europe.
    With Spurs having won the Carling Cup and Pompey the highest placed club in the FA Cup but struggling to keep pace with Villa and E’ton the place for runners up in the cup will not cascade to the league. The FA Cup winner will play in the UEFA cup.
    The FA’s money men will be crying into their Martini’s and the pundits willl be trying to find long lost relative who supported Rovers and Barnsley.
    The one thing we can be certain of is that few will be supporting us, Appy Arry of the Ammers now at Pompey will be their darling.
    The ultimate insult was on Sunday supplement when the pundits they said teams wouldnt fill their alllocations at Wembley. Certainly the corporate boxes might struggle. Serves the FA right for greed.
    Let us hope we get stuck in and win well in normal time.

  24. Why not use “Sporting Glory”? As a small club we’ve probably over achieved during Steve Gibson’s second coming! How many teams outside the top four can claim five cup finals over the last twelve years?……..Erm……one…..Boro.
    Yes, we’ve had plenty of disappointment along the way but it has been fun. The majority of fans outside the big four would have been happy for their clubs to emulate what we’ve done. So, come on, let’s be proud of the fact that at least we have some history now.
    Disabled and exiled in Wales.

  25. Half Time at the Riverside , can you believe this. Long ball Long ball Long ball. where are the tacticians in this ridiculous situation? Surely Southgate and his coached can See this is not the way to play Cardiff City?
    Play football and get behind their defenders instead of hoofing the ball and hoping Alves can snatch a goal.
    The worst performance I have seen from a Boro side since Mac’s rubbish.

  26. Trouble with claiming “Sporting Glory” is that when you lay on a bravura display of “Sporting Shame” you lay yourself open to liability under the ‘Trades Description Act’
    I feel so sorry for the 34,000 Boro fans who were subjected to that shatteringly inept performance.
    Hanson said it was the worse PL team performance he had witnessed in 18 years
    It feels like we have now reached a watershed in the Boro’s future, for good or ill
    Graham

  27. The Boro in the Cup have managed to make me deeply frustrated and even almost suicidal over my 41 years of supporting them (Birmingham, Orient, Wolves and Tranmere etc etc) – but today was the absolute rock bottom. We had the best chance we’ll EVER have of winning the FA Cup but the players looked half-interested. I can just about stomach it if we go down fighting/due to bad luck/to a classier team but that display against a poor championship side (look at the table)was utter rubbish. Rochembach tried but was garbage, Tuncay, Arca,Pogatetz and O’Neil were just plain garbage – no-one played well or seemed to know how to pass the ball on the floor. At least Stewie showed the pain in his face at the end that the rest of us felt. It’ll take many months for the club and supporters to recover from this. God help us at Villa….

  28. Two words – weak and pathetic.
    We’ve dished up some dross over the years but the 90 minutes I have just witnessed are quite possibly the worse yet.
    Premiership players should have the professionalism and ability about them to play at 70 per cent of their ability and still get something out of a game against lower league opposition.
    Let’s be honest here;
    Rochembach – not good enough.
    Arca – not a Premiership midfielder.
    These are two positions in which you can’t afford to carry passengers. We looked pathetic appealing for handball after that first goal. We must have had four players around Whittingham and not one of them approached him with any real conviction to put in a tackle.
    We didn’t attack as a team and more importantly perhaps, we didn’t defend as a team. If players are not capable of tracking a man from a set piece, particularly in a game of this magnitude, then they shouldn’t be wearing the shirt.
    What a big two games at Villa and Arsenal we face now…

  29. Mr Vickers please go on the fmttm message board and print off some of the messages on there tonight, then please display them on the walls at Hurworth.
    The players should be made aware just how angry the fans are because that performance was an absolute disgrace.

  30. I’m only going to add to what just about every other football fan on Teesside will be saying but there’s no hiding from it…….
    That performance by Boro was disgraceful and utterly, utterly shameful!
    It was the worst, most gutless, clueless performance I have ever witnessed at the Riverside.
    It wasn’t because Cardiff were great!
    Boro were really, really, really inept. There were no basic footballing skills on display from Boro at all – at any stage in the match! Not even when they ought to have got angry – after the hand-ball wasn;t given and Cardiff’s first goal was allowed to stand!
    Reaction?……..NONE!
    Every decision was wrong.
    Distribution was the worst I’ve ever seen from a Premier League team.
    First touches were dreadful and individual ball control was non-existent.
    Teamwork was non-existent. Arguments all over the field – blaming each other!
    Movement was non-existent. every individual was static= nobody moving for anyone else.
    I could go on forever, but it’s so utterly depressing that I don’t have the stomach for it any more.
    I really feel that Boro have done some real damage to themselves this aftenoon. It was such an opportunity to give the fans something back for a worrying season. Something to brighten the future.
    Instead, we got that load of complacent garbage!
    That group of players don’t deserve support. And I fear they’re not going to get much of it any more. Many local “floating” supporters who came along because tickets were priced reasonably and because the prospect of Boro reaching an FA Cup Semi-Final seemed real and achieveable will have been put off completely by such an inept display.
    How could this be allowed to happen when such an opportunity beckoned?
    It absolutely beggars belief!

  31. I dont know how Southgate can fail to offer his resignation after that shambles yesterday.
    But then again he has failed consistently hasnt he.

  32. This was so much more than a terrible performance. The club has let than fans down once again and made us the laughing stock of the nation. In truth, it was on the cards.
    Lots of fans deluded themselves over the Sheffield United displays and then came the “tired” excuse after Reading.
    Southgate is a great guy, but when is Gibson going to realise that his inexperience is costing so much more than lost football matches? This display not only lost the floating supporter, it alienated most of the real fans.
    I don`t think I`ve ever seen us so bad in very department. They are Premiership players who should not only have more skill than lower league opposition, but should also be much better prepared. The latter is totally down to the management and they failed miserably.
    I don`t care how well we do in the remaining games, the manner of defeat in such an important game will not be forgiven by Boro fans for many a year. Middlesbrough football club Management and Players – you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  33. Well that was the biggest load of rubbish i have ever seen watching on TV from afar even Gibbo was shaking his head. I realy dont know where we go from here there are some potentialy confidence shattering games ahead.
    Gareth it is great you are taking all the blame for this and sure you are partly responsable but I fully agree with an earlier post some of these messages should go to the training ground.
    This team which was nearly full strength let the whole area down not because they lost because they didnt turn up but will still be paid a sad sad day for Boro and supporters good luck to Cardiff you deserve to be there.

  34. What a load of rubbish. Even rubbish tips have more life gibson should get some backbone and sort the lot of them out. Big Sam is still waiting for a job offer I say give him southgates because he is unable to do it

  35. M- miserable
    I – inept
    D – dire
    D – dross
    L – leaderless
    E – exhasperating
    S – shameful
    B – bilious
    R – rank
    O – overpaid
    U – uninspired
    G – GUTLESS
    H – humiliating
    Still the players probably had a lot on their minds you know, which Porsche to buy next !!!?!?!?
    We should change the kit to all white the same colour as the stadium, international colour for SURRENDER !!

  36. Is it not a coincidence that we have gone bottom side up Aliadere was suspended?
    I also think that Mido and Alves should be tried together as Alves will benefit from Mido lay offs.
    I know one player dosnt make a team but we can thank the FA for also contributing to our downfall once again. Anybody know what happened to Lampards appeal?

  37. GOOD IDEA FROM YOUR CORRESPONDENT TO CHANGE THE COLOUR OF BORO’S SHIRTS to WHITE.
    THEY HAVE HAD ENOUGH PRACTICE OF PASSING TO WHITE SHIRTS TO SEE THEM THROUGH THE REST OF THIS SEASON AND MOST OF NEXT.
    WHAT ARE THE ODDS FOR BETTING THAT THE ATTENDANCE AT THE NEXT HOME GAME WILL BE LESS THAN 5,000
    GARETH SOUTHGATE TAKES THE BLAME FOR POSSIBLY THE WORST DISPLAY IN THE HISTORY OF BORO. WHY SHOULD SUCH AN HONEST MAN GO ONE STEP FURTHER AND RESIGN ?
    SOUNDS LIKE TERRY VENABLES IS LOOKING FOR A JOB .OR EVEN MR JONES IF CARDIFF GO INTO ADMINISTATION

  38. Had a Villa fan gloating at me after Sunday’s debacle. He thought Boro were there for the taking on Wednesday. He obviously isn’t aware of the Boro’s inate ability to turn disaster into a dream. A point at Villa, well earned at that, wil go some way to appeasing long-suffering Boro fans. After all, there’s an easy way and there’s the Boro way.

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