TODAY I am loving the defiant and proud but still harshly realistic assessment of the current situtation by Football365’s professional Boro loving rock and roll Northern Monkey John Nicholson.
I largely agree with both his poetic appraisal of both Teesside’s psycho-history and his analysis of how impending relegation will sit in the grander scheme of things. I don’t take a doomladen millenarian view that relegation is the end of the world. If anything it may dampen down some of the damaging aspects of hysterical over-expectation and inject a new sense of realism about what – and how – we can achieve.
Within the eloquent piece Nicholson says:
“It also still has a Premier League football club – just – and it has done for 11 years. We’ve been in the top flight longer than many bigger city clubs. We have done this while employing at least two managers that ended up being a by-word for football jokes, while supposedly better managers took their clubs down. Maybe they were not always as bad as history re-wrote them to be.
“As higher profile clubs have come up and gone down, we have survived and at least can point to our first silverware in 2004’s League Cup. This is as much success as the club has ever had. So while it might seem odd to the outsider, we feel like we’ve been living in clover, competing at this level and doing alright. It’s not always been pretty, but that’s Teesside all over. We find glamour in grit.
“Now it could well be coming to an end, at least for a season, but Teesside knows a thing or two about decline and how to deal with it. It’s a tough area with firm minds and absolutely no pretension. It is innately equipped to deal with relegation because recent success is but a blip in the Middlesbrough tradition.
“This has been an unusually golden period in the Boro’s history. A period of decline was inevitable at some point. So many of us have psychologically prepared ourselves for it. The younger generation brought up at the Riverside on rich, creamy top flight football may feel it more painfully, but the club stands as a testament to resilience, to bloody-minded survival, to what can be achieved by loyalty, firmness of mind and by growing a giant pair of bollocks. We don’t blindly look to false Gods and so-called Messiahs to rescue us. “
Those sentiments would sit easily in this blog. Yesterday in a live post-derby web-chat between people from the Gazette and Chronicle I was asked, to paraphrase, if Boro were heading towards administration and disintegration or whether they were following the now well trodden path of Charlton, Leicester and Southampton towards disaster.
I answered no, that the future will probably be more mundane than that. If Boro go down – and incredibly, despite being woeful for months that is yet far from certain – they will simply revert to their natural status as a upper second tier club pushing for promotion every other year in front of crowds of 18-20 thousand.
We would not implode but would just revert like Cinderella at midnight to being the club that existed the day before Robbo walked through the Ayresome Park gates, only with a nice new stadium and a box in the loft full of fantastic memories of Wembley, Cardiff and Eindhoven that can never be taken away and that many other clubs’ fans would die for.
Relegation would not be a major realignment of the balance of power, just football gravity pulling us back to our natural level, a process that has been kept at bay for a decade by Gibbo’s cash and the momentum we gained with a bold leap forward.
It is the current golden age that we are now leaving that has been the abberration.