BotchGate:The Year Of Harsh Reality

RELEGATION. The worst away form in living memory replaced by the worst home form. Letter Gate. Mackem Gate. A summer of fire sale chaos. Not sacking the boss at the right time. Sacking the boss at the wrong time. Over 10,000 shaved off the gate in seven months. Slipping behind the play-off pace. Getting caught out massaging the attendence figures. An epic misjudgment of the market on Man City ticket prices. What a pathetic 12 months for bungling Boro. Worst year since 1993-94. I can’t wait to see the back of it.
There are few redeeming features. Here’s a look back. If you can face it…


JANUARY:
DJ Stewie D hands in a transfer request because he wants to man the wheels of steel at a bigger club. Gibbo says no.
Marlon King signs on loan, several nails are hammered into the coffin lid as Boro crash to a fatal 3-0 defeat at West Brom and settle into a costly habit of nervously eeking out draws at home to relegation rivals.
FEBRUARY
Boro big wigs stick their fingers in their ears and go “la-la-la” as the national media laugh at the club first put their size nines in their mouth then shoot themselves in the foot with “Lettergate.” The defiant reaction was one of the few highlights of the run-in.
Boro’s quandry and transfer policy is crystalised as Catts knacks glass legs Digard in a pivotal moment in a derby (and relegation battle) that was there for the taking.
Boro stun the world and themselves by beating Liverpool. And West Ham in the cup.
MARCH
Boro get Teesside fashion cognescenti onside by announcing a switch from Errea to Adidas. They also trim season ticket prices in the marketing equivalent of slamming the stable gate shut.
The Gazette launch a “Keep the Faith” campaign and the ever suspicious club – initially at least – are reluctant to sign up as they circle the wagons with us on the outside. The fans think they “only have one player” as Tuncay (who had gone missing in the winter after thinking Chelsea were after him) suddenly decides he wants to play.
APRIL
Pessimism increases as Boro get battered 4-0 at Bolton but a chink of daylight appears with a 3-1 win over Hull and we all get our calculators out as somehow the rest of the trapdoor dancers fail to put us all out of our misery.
In the celebrity gossip pages the Boro squad are caught up in the global pig flu panic after Matthew Bates WAG Channele Tunnel gets a bit of a sniffle. And my bid to scrap the Gazette Player of the Year gong is rejected.
MAY
The ultimate humiliation as Boro are barring a statistical freak Boro are put down by a spineless capitulation at Newcastle, followed a financial disaster as main asset Downing breaks a foot at Villa.
The club celebrates three years since Eindhoven by being relegated without a fight, a move Steve Gibson goes live to says they didn’t see the car wreck relegation coming and insists Gareth Southgate wasn’t to blame then just to throw petrol on the flames the media savvy and previously untouchable chairman brands Stockton a town full of Mackems and offers ‘blind faith’ as the chief reason for renewing.
JUNE
“We’re were found out,” says Keith Lamb to the sound of a giant penny dropping. He also reiterates Boro’s ambition to maintain a promotion winning wage bill and bring in experience but admits the priority is to get the big earners out. Meanwhile reality hits home as the fixtures come out and Scunthorpe is the Boxing Day biggie
JULY
Southgate’s time to get roasted on Radio Brownlee as an angry callers says to his face he won’t return while he is still the boss, Stewie leaves and Mido goes AWOL.
AUGUST
A flying start. Four successive clean sheets. Blimey how did that happen? But on deadline day the squad is holed below the waterline as the Berlin Wall is dismantled and Tuncay joins him in the escape pod to Stoke but the one we needed to get shot of most is still left as a ghost when the window closes…. only to find a red tape escape hatch and disappear with his taunting banner to Qatar. has he scored yet?
SEPTEMBER
Boro peak with a sizzling show at Sheffield Wednesday and highly rated international defender Sean St Ledger joins on loan (wink, wink). makes his debut at home to West Brom…. the slow slide towards mediocrity starts and soon gathers pace. Booooo!
OCTOBER
Southgate given the bullet at midnight after a home win and one point off the top because Gibbo is not sure we have what it takes to stay the pace and results against the sides at the top have been poor. Never mind, GS2 will save us with his little list. Starts with a home defeat to basement boys Plymouth. Greeeeeeen Armmeeiy.
NOVEMBER
A bleak and soulles month of defeats and demoralising month of water-treading and horse trading. Marcus Bent, Dave Kitson and Isaiah Osbourne arrive on loan while some others disappear into the Black Hole. Digard is injured. When isn’t he?
DECEMBER
Boro do that false dawn thing again, you know, look fantastic in a five star display at QPR and then follow it up with successive spineless surrenders to Blackpool, Cardiff and Newcastle then, pausing only to beat 10 man Scunthorpe, capitulate at Barnsley too.
Happy New Year! Let’s hope next year is nowhere near as draining, frightening, damaging or soul-sapping.
*******
IT IS the end of the decade too (the media love these easy shelves to stack pundits opinions on during the skeleton staffed lull between seasonal binges) – and what a dramatic, fantastic, breath-taking emotionally demanding decade of unprecedent success, double-edged dreams and expectations it was.
And what a toxic sting in the tail as the bills came in and Boro succumbed to football gravity, dragged screaming back down to their natural station, back where they were the daty before Bryan Robson walked through the door. Only with a bigger ground and posh training complex and complementary hotel.
World class stars, daring to dream, unshackling the heavy chains of ahistory at Cardiff, Schwarzer’s penalty save at City, Lisbon, Rome, Basel, Bucharest, Eindhoven; all against a sound-track of breaking hearts and booing. Can it really be that so many people have missed the magic and moaned all the way through. How tragic would that be? To have been denied the joy of a Golden Age through self-inflicted cynicism.
I have enjoyed every minute of the ride but am now braced for the shrinking pains as we slowly creak back to our former status, crowd levels and expectations and Teesside gets the team it can afford. And to be honest, I’ll probably enjoy that too because football is not about success (although that is nice) it is about dissolving your self into some collective identity and experience. For me 1986-90 was better and more enjoyable than the current purgatory even though the horizons and expectations were more limited.
Anyway, as it is the end of the decade all newspapers will be exclusively revealing their best and worse team of the noughties etc
Here’s mine:
Schwarzer, Young, Southgate, Woodgate, Queudrue, O’Neil, Ince, Zenden, Downing, Yakubu, Viduka.
You will no doubt notice there is no Juninho. Or Tuncay. I’m not one for fancy Dans who only play for a couple of months a year, no matter how many tricks they’ve got. Zenden only just edged Boateng in midfield so he wouldn’t get in there and next best up front was between Boksic and JFH. Maybe a place on the bench along with Ugo, Jimmy, Mendieta, Carbone, Mills and Mrs Karembeu, the most glamourous signing of them all. You may also notice the problem at right midfield which has persisted all decade.
The worse, Jesus wept… where do you start.
As a snapshot of the decade here’s the Uncle Eric/Evening Gazette star man table toppers of the past ten seasons and a reminder of just how often our top scorer has either been a midfielder or failed to get into double figures.
2008-09
Downing 25
O’Neil 24
Wheater 23
Top scorer: Tuncay 8
2007-08
Downing 33
Wheater 29
Tuncay 29
Young 29
Top scorer: Downing 10
2006-07
Woodgate 41
Downing 30
Viduka 30
Top scorer: Viduka 19
2005-06
Yakubu 30
Southgate 30
Riggott 28
Top scorer: Yakubu 19
2004-05
Downing 33
Southgate 31
Zenden 30
Top scorer: Hasselbaink 16
2003-04
Boateng 36
Mendieta 26
Schwarzer 25
Top scorer: Juninho 9
2002-03
Greening 28
Boateng 26
Schwarzer 24
Top scorer: Maccarone 9
2001-02
Southgate 40
Ince 34
Ehiogu 27
Top scorer: Boksic 8
2000-01
Ince 29
Boksic 17
Schwarzer 17
Top scorer: Boksic 12
1999-00
Ince 40
Schwarzer 28
Ziege 22
Top scorer: Ricard 14

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18 thoughts on “BotchGate:The Year Of Harsh Reality

  1. Although the overall theme (and direction) of this season (and the previous) is depressing (to say the least, the actual games I’ve attended have been great..
    QPR away and Scunny at home.
    Six points, 8 for, 1 against. Even the other game was Palace away which we could/should have won.
    Happy New Year,
    Come on Boro

  2. Stadtler and Waldorf do it again.
    Ian Gill bags the last post of 2009 and John Powls the first of 2010.
    Mine was a a rather lame 6.00pm trickle into the corner but John Powls was a 1.07am screamer. And he doent live in a different time zone. All rather puerile but better than the year we have had.
    Worst team? My squad is not necessarily in pure football terms but in contribution to the club as well as well
    Jones
    Reiziger, St Ledger,
    Shawky, Euell,
    Folan, Alves, Dong Goal Less, Mido
    There must be plenty more but it is early in the morning.
    AV in charge of compiling the list.
    On current situation I believe it will get worse before it gets better, changing players around in January is fraught with danger due to the disruption caused to the squad.
    There again it is as fragile as we believed it was in the summer. Flat track bully against poor teams, struggle against hard working teams who can play some football. Wont challenge automatic promotion may get into play offs though even the latter looks unlikely at the moment.

  3. Happy New Year everyone, and thank the good lord 2009 is finally over. For me on a personal level I’ve not had a good year, and on the football front……well I don’t think there is much more any of us can say. I’m struggling to put any positive spin on anything concerning my Boro or Gibsons’s MFC.
    The best decade ever to be a Boro fan has ended, and I fear never ever to be repeated, at least not in my lifetime.
    I don’t know if I have the stomach or the stamina to play Boronopoly anymore and start at ‘GO’ all over again. This is so much worse than 1986.
    Boro will always be my team but unlike the last 10 years and more, my ‘blind faith’ has gone, I have much more important things in my lfe now.
    So thank you Steve Gibson and MFC for giving me and many others a Boro we have been proud to support. I dearly hope you can give Teesside the team it deserves once more.

  4. Your right AV, a completely rubbish year but a fantastic decade. It is hard to belieive now but we’ve seen the team win a trophy and I’ve been to Ostrava, Villarreal, Lisbon, Stuttgart, Rome and Eindhoven to watch my beloved team play in Euopean football.
    It is just as hard to believe that all that has just faded away without a fight or a whimper, either from the club or from the fans who pretty much seem to have accepted relegation and being back at square one. Was it all just a dream then or what?
    can’t believe you don’t rate Juninho in your best team AV. He’s the best in my 40 years. My nomination for worse team:
    Jones
    Hoyte, St Ledger, Pally (last year), Wright
    Karembeue, Wilson, Summerbell, Johnson (Alan not Adam)
    Campbell, Gook:
    Subs: Okon, Vidmar, Ormerod, Ricketts, Arca, Gazza, Turnbull.

  5. AV wrote:
    Boro settled “into a costly habit of nervously eeking out draws at home to relegation rivals.”
    Were our players men or mice? On second thoughts, don’t answer that.
    But Gibson’s “complimentary hotel” does give an insight into the club’s financial problems. Nothing like a bit of pedantry to start the year right.

  6. [Can it really be that so many people have missed the magic and moaned all the way through. How tragic would that be? To have been denied the joy of a Golden Age through self-inflicted cynicism.]
    This encapsulates why we (MFC and Teesside) are in our current position; the goalden era was simply never sustainable because people round here do not crave success enough.
    Too many prefer moan moan moan or will accept second best; it’s what they’re ueed to and comfortable with. Until there is a changed collective mindset to a more positive attitude and bigger ambition, the progress of the club and the area, which are inextricably linked, will always be stunted and we will continue to lose out to others.
    In football terms however we should be extremely grateful that we sneaked onto the top table to get our slice of glory just before the financial trapdoor began to close on the also rans.
    Based on the current trajectory, maybe in the coming years and decades more of us will realise just how privilaged we were in that regard – particularly given our previously barren and thwarted history that hung round our necks like an unlucky charm. Seen in that light, the debts we racked up in the process really would seem like a good deal.
    Personally the last 15 years have, overall, been immensely enjoyable, with the three emotional peaks of Cardiff, Basle and Steau rising above eveything else, including the post-Eindhoven decline. My only regret is not going to the continent to watch them. I should’ve realised that it wouldn’t last and been less blase and got the credit card out, just like Gibson did.

  7. My team of the decade
    GK – Crossley (Better than Schwarzer and the only keeper I’ve felt comfortable watching!!)
    LD – Ziege
    CD – Southgate
    CD – Woodgate
    RD – Young
    MF – Downing
    MF – Boateng
    MF – Zenden
    In The Hole – Juninho ho ho ho
    CF – Hasselbank
    CF – Viduka
    The strip would be this seasons but with the 1986 badge.

  8. Happy new year everyone hope it will be a better one.
    Ian agree changes can be dangerous and based on what has happened lately will cause problems.But right now i feel we cant do any worse, to carry on the way we are we could go down to change we might still go down but we also might sneak into a play off position.
    GS2 must get a fair crack of the whip its no good not giving him any money now we must look forward and get behind the team.
    As for the City game would have been better with MH in charge as he would probably have rested a few. Dont think that will happen with the new chap still looking at the team and will be close to full strength. Lets hope for typical Boro and we win when we shouldnt.

  9. ‘Redcar Red, he’s one of our own’
    National fame as a post to the Gazette following the defeat at Barnsley was used br Kevin Garside in an article that did a job on wee Gordon.
    Redcar Red articulates many of our concerns but Mr Garside manages to absolve Gate of any blame.
    He failed to mention that results against top and bottom half teams, barring the odd blip. are the same under both managers. That we continue to struggle against well organised teams who can play a bit.
    The managers have changed but the fundamental results havent.
    The words of John Harvey Jones about change strike home in that if you change you may get it wrong but if you dont change you have definitely got it wrong.
    We must not forget that this process didnt start when Gate left nor is he to blame for all of it. The club had to imrove its financial position but some of the gambles went badly wrong.
    To see the article go to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football and go via the link to the FA Cup.

  10. So we are the commentayr match on Radio 5 this afternoon.
    That will mean we may be subject to the normal ridicule from allegedly informed radio commentators and summarisers. I just hope we get John Murray, one of the few non bigoted commentators and some sympathy for the local area.

  11. Tim from SA
    I wasnt advocating no changes but warning it wont be instant, it will take a months or two or even a couple of windows to change things around.
    After all, it took several tranfer windows to get us relegated.

  12. “but we’ve seen the team win a trophy ”
    The League Cup’s not a real trophy man, thats nothing but a competition for clubs to field their reserve teams. Winning the M Mouse Cup these days on par with the Johnson Paint thingy or the Watneys cup
    LOL!!!

  13. Diablo Rojo
    ‘The League Cup’s not a real trophy man’
    Howay man, yeeve gotta be a plastic darlo mag
    **AV writes: I think the clue is in his name.

  14. The most frustrating thing about all this is nothing is been said by the man that matters – SG.
    In this day and age its all about keeping people informed our manager GS seems to think its the other way round dont tell them anything and the club agrees.
    I for one would like to know if there is any funds for players, if not I will accept that. Are players going if so who ? We cant possible lose more supporters than we have already, buck the trend guys tell the truth.

  15. AV wasn’t Catts playing for Wigan at the time of knacking Digard. He only joined Blunderland in summer.
    **AV writes: Whoops. My bad.

  16. How about the Boro applying for admission to the Scotish Premier League next season, we would have a great chance of finishing second to Rangers and gaining a place in Europe.
    It looks to me as though Mr Stachan is building a team of mediocrity to battle the tough guys of the Championship, this might allow us to survive in the Championship, but heaven help us if we managed to get promoted back to the Premier League.
    Last weeks comment about holding Bristol City to a draw being a great performance, makes me wonder as to what sort of Manager we have been lumbered with.
    Also his comments about wanting MEN in his team, not BOYS was a great example of how not to inspire your young and upcoming players. I thought the first principal of man management was to inspire your players to perform above their respective abilities by encouraging them, not making disparaging remarks about them. I hope i am wrong, but I do not see Mr Strachan being the man for the Boro.

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