Danger: Quarantine Area. Do Not Enter…. Plus – ZDS Wembley Cup Final Flashback

LOCKDOWN! Infected Boro players are in medical isolation as a mystery virus rips through the already wafer thin squad leaving even the fittest, strongest highly trained athletes a sniffling, shivering mess. You’ve seen Survivors, you know the score.


We’ve sent the Gazette’s intrepid quarantine-busting soccerlogical fmedical team – lead by Dr UN Phillips and Doctor Dunn – to examine the symptoms. Early indications are that it is not just one strain but a complex network of inter-related ailments .

Boro staff greet Eric Paylor at Hurworth today

The initial problems stemmed from an imported foreign virus mcsniffilus influenza caledonia , the so called “Glasgow Flu” which first surfaced in Big Mick MaManus but then spread quickly in the cramped and warm conditions of the engine room to strike down Julio Arca and Gary O’Neil.
There are fears that could spread through the first team squad and become the biggest epidemic of the dreaded lurgie since sniffilus robsonica blackburnium engulfed the club in 1996, leaving 23 players nursing notes from their mam and with consequences that were to prove fatal to Boro’s season. The club are taking urgent precautions to head off such devasting effects before Saturday’s trip to Watford.
But extensive toxicology reports have also identified a series of other debilitating viruses lurking in the Boro’s state of the art training complex.
The strikers are believed to be showing the symptoms of cowsarseum banjillia , the so called ‘Barndoor Syndrome’ or ‘Ricketts’, which causes lack of eye/foot co-ordination and impairs close range vision and spatial judgement; the defence has tested positive for the chronic condition latelapsia, also known as ‘the Jitters’ and fringe members of the squad, who were not available for testing, have been diagnosed with displeasia disappearrhaea , commonly called ‘Black Hole.’
There are fears that the club is also harbouring the deadly SARS (Stagnating After Relegation Syndrome) but it could take years before the true extent of the full blown condition is revealed – and years longer still for treatment and rehabilitation.
A doctor writes: “This complex of symptoms are commonly associated with a deeper seated inherited condition boronil typicalus which has been endemic in the area for generations. I’m afraid there is nothing we can do.”
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REPORTS FROM ANOTHER WORLD…. ANOTHER TIME…
Incredibly, it was 20 years ago that today 34,000 emotional Teessiders made the long-awaited first ever pilgrimage to Wembley. And it was fantastic. Boro were second Division relegation strugglers with the boss booted out just a fortnight before, and we were about to take the football world by storm.
March 25, 1990 was the delirious day a collective schoolboy dream came true.
It was a brilliant weekend that, back then, was the pinnacle of the club’s achievement and a landmark moment in the cultural history of Boro fans.
It may well have been a tournament mainly identified with one of Walt Disney’s most popular cartoon rodents, and one that today even fans of the clubs who won it can barely remember, but at the time Boro fans didn’t care.
We were going to Wembley. It was our first ever sniff of the national stadium and we made sure we extracted every last fluid possibility of glamour. Medical experts were flown in from big clubs to deal with outbreaks of ‘cup final fever’, a previously unknown debilitating mental condition that caused wild-eyed zealotry and foaming at the mouth.
There were cup final mugs, souvenir fanzines and even a hastily knocked-up special cup final shirt that looked like it had been designed by the YTS lad at Jack Hatfield’s on the back of a betting slip.
The first come, first served distribution – no three years season card with bonus plaque, red book/white book caste system, no Pride Cards… not even that many season ticket holders then – ensured chaotic queues that snaked from Ayresome Park up Kensington Road and along Linthorpe Road as far as the Village from the East End ticket booths and along Ayresome Street and back along Roman Road past the General Hospital gates from the Warwick Street ticket office.
The Sunday morning queue started in the early hours as ‘the lads’ – the working class hardcore from the estates who used to dominate the Holgate demographic – headed to the ground after chucking out time at the Maddison and Claggy Mat.
They were soon joined by early bird ra-ras (I got there at sparrow fart and joined at the Acklam Road junction) then other die-hards, and those who had frantically flown in from London and Dubai and offshore, part-timers, former fans determined not to miss out, then kids and nanas and those who had never been to a game but were whipped up in the rising hysteria. And barely a replica shirt to be seen.
By seven, two hours before the tickets went on sale, the bobbies arrived to control crowds and prevent pushing in and fisticuffs.
Somehow, with a mopping up operation and the ripple down of word of mouth mates’ mate spares, everyone got a ticket and Teesside descended on London en masse for the first time amid some confusion, as the clocks had gone forward that morning and coaches and cars and trains were in disarray as people raced around the town bleary-eyed and unwashed.
A beery vanguard had already set up base camp in the capital. We took over the West End, sat drinking cans on the lions in Trafalagar Square and chanting at bemused tourists on their way back from Les Mis, or any of the big shows.
And then, for the first time, we streamed up Wembley Way gazing in awe at that mythical Venue of Legends. Fantastic. A dream come true. Then we found out it was a crumbling hole with cracked bench seats, poor sight lines, rusty metalwork and streams of wee running through the concourses. That’s the glamour of the cup!
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Injured Mogga led out the team – cruelly denied his chance to play – and we gave it a decent shot. We sang our hearts out for the lads and poured out our pride while Boro battled bravely and had the lion’s share of the game but very few real chances only to go down to a free-kick by Tony Dorigo.
Yet it felt like we had won. We were the jubilant ones doing all the singing and dancing while the bored Chelsea fans who begrudged even being there for such a mundane event ambled off moaning about hassle on the tube.
“Just because some bloke in blue scored a goal it doesn’t mean we lost” proclaimed Monday’s Gazette. Naive days. Now we would be demanding blood.
At the time – with cash strapped Boro only four years out of liquidation and still battling bravely against a return to Division Three – only the insane would have predicted cup final queues becoming a regular feature in our club culture.
After waiting 114 years for the first national final, the next big day out in London was comparatively short – and then cup finals came like buses. In 1997 there were two finals in six weeks with another outing less than a year later. Since then we have also queued for Cardiif, for a string of semi-finals and for Eindhoven, often with the same chaotic scenes but with localised added hurt as season ticket priority has not always delivered on its promise for all. It may be a while before we have to worry about that again.
But we should not forget the humdrum non-event of the ZDS Cup final. You never forget your first time.

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28 thoughts on “Danger: Quarantine Area. Do Not Enter…. Plus – ZDS Wembley Cup Final Flashback

  1. Nice one AV,
    Also some of the players are rumoured to suffer from promo-erectile dysfunctia, as the promotion charge started off strong, went a bit wobbly in the middle and is going very limp at the end.
    And it’s not just the boro that are suffering. The champions elect have been suffering from ‘Humerous Removus’ in relation to their continued virginal status. Fortunately Striker Andy Carroll is trying to remedy this by injecting his funny bone wherever he can.
    It’s not just affecting the players. The debilitating mental illness Boronoia is rife among the fans, but fortunately we are not seeing the size of outbreaks that we did in 1986 and 1997. However some suffers still display symptoms from almost 25 years ago.

  2. A Gazette Boro exclusive! And well done for discovering the REAL reason behind the apparently low crowd figures. Obviously the virus has spread from Rockliffe to the terraces and it wouldn’t be sensible to have such large numbers of infected people mixing at close quarters in the concourses.
    There would normally be at least 27,000 ready and willing to take their seats at home games, but such large numbers congregating in close proximity would give rise to the risk of pandemic. It is, of course, a selfless and public-spirited choice on the part of Boro supporters to keep their infection to themselves.

  3. Its a simple case of awayitis that Boro forwards became susceptible to under Robson, remember Branco and Boksic. El Tel found the cure for Boksic so a quick call to him should sort things.

  4. The ZDS final. Now that is a memory.
    Living in Bedfordshire at the time and hadn’t been able to get a ticket. So I tried to get one outside the ground, but only Chelsea tickets were available. Not wanting to miss the occasion I stumped up my money and then sat for the entire match with blue neandrathals all around me, doing my best to talk not like a Boro lad and even applauding (but not cheering) that goal. That hurt.
    My seat was exactly level with Bernie Slaven when for possibly the only time in a Boro shirt he contrived not to score from an unmissable opportunity. I’m still convinced he’s going to score whenever I see a re-run of that.
    Lets hope that the virulent strain running through the current squad is not a recurrence of the once chronic alsoranitis.

  5. I think Uri Geller calls this synchronicity. But I was actually looking at my copy of that Gazette ‘Some bloke in Blue’ yesterday. Being only a little lad back in 1990 me and my dad were invited round to a friend’s house to watch the semi final as they had Sky.
    I remember singing at the top of my voice on the walk home ‘Wembley, Wembley the boro’s going to Wembley’. God knows what the neighbours thought as we were in Nottingham.
    And then the final, again watching on my mates Sky TV(he was Geordie, so they are not all Bad) Could have sworn Slaven had scored, but replays show he didn’t even touch it as the defender sliced it wide. I just remember seeing a sea of red and pride, and thinking WOW, This is a big club.
    When my Aunty sent down the Gazette from that Monday I would read it and then re read it for hours. Looking at the photo’s of the crowds, of than fans in Trafalgar sqaure and always hoped I get to go and see the boro in a cup final. And I have, and we even won one.
    Bloody Marvellous
    what ever happened to Heritage Hampers?
    **AV writes: I think every shirt sponsor of the Boro bar the Gazette and the current mob have gone bust soon after. Best sell any shares in Garmin sharpish.

  6. Woot woot Pedant Alert Woot woot
    AV the Bernie Wembley photo link is I think a photo oh him heading over from six yards at Stamford Bridge in the second leg of the play off final
    Woot woot
    **AV writes: Is it? It’s captioned ‘Wembley’. I’ll kill it and try to find some more. We have very little of that stuff available digitally.

  7. Great stuff, some fantatic ailments to deal with!
    As for the ZDS final, I remember being in the queue early doors and me dad bringing a flask down a while later. My entrepreneurial mate at British Steel knocked up some T-shirts, I’ve still got mine somewhere.
    A car load of us went down to Wembley and being there seemed a little unreal, but it was a hole, an embarassment for a national stadium but it was WEMBLEY.
    It all seems like a life time ago, but it was the start of bigger and brighter things to come.

  8. The ZDS final came a bit too early for me, my first match was in January 1990. I think I remember vaguely listening to it on the radio though. The first Boro match that got me really interested was when we beat Newcastle 4-1 on the last game of that season. I definitely got lucky with my timing when you consider what followed.

  9. 20 years ago, my dad queued for the tickets and we went down on a bus organised by someone in the local workies. I was not impressed by Wembley one bit and managed to rip my jeans on the back of one of the seats as we pushed past people trying to find our seats.
    Still, that was when we all had a bit of passion for our team. I don’t know about anyone else but that passion has been dragged out of me following about of ’emfsi doncer animoritis’. Now this virus has been going on for close to four seasons.
    I read the KL interview/programme notes. They still don’t get the fact that relegation could and should have been avoided cost-cutting or not. There is still no admission of mistakes. Can someone (AV) ask Keith Lamb how he feels about his statement before last season ‘the best squad I have ever seen’.
    AV, would love to see some of the old photos from the ZDS cup final, I too remember the headline from the Gazette. When I saw it on Monday after school I couldn’t bring myself to read it.
    **AV writes: We have hundreds of pics, especially of fans (including some good ones from the night before with Boro fans sat on the lions) but they are all old fashioned hard copies. It would take hours to scan them all in. Maybe something to do in the quiet (!) months over the summer.

  10. AV, you did not mention that the virus hit your own Musso, too. I think he was out in the bed for longer than Arca. Or was that a different virus – a cuber type?
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: He had the debilitating cyber virus ‘servus incompatiblitis’ but has recovered completely.

  11. I hear we are close to bringing in winger Jay O’Shea from Birmingham. Hopefully we will be able to get his younger brother Rick too.

  12. Dave Connor –
    Sorry for not responding to your offer of a drink. The problem is that the anonymity of this blog is key. You probably think I am an erudite, polite and handsome young man. Should you ever have the misfortune to meet me, you’ll know I am non of those things.
    Plus it’s a lot easier to appear normal when posting fadelessly on a blog. For all I know you could be the nutter that sits behind me wanting a fight each week!
    But the way things are going it shouldn’t be too hard to spot each other in the crowd at the next home game. Instead of the Red Faction we could have the Untypical Boro Angels of block 24.
    We could have Powlsy pointing out tactical nuances and giving scouting reports. Scoredraw would be blowing kisses to Tony McMahon. Braveheart could bring the hip flask and when the inevitable last minute winner goes in for the opposition we can all taunt Ian Gill on his impending two and a half hour journey home.
    And another thing why the 8pm kick offs for night matches, what’s wrong with 7.45 or even 7.30? Some of us have early starts.

  13. NEWS UPDATES…..
    Boro have signed Birmingham’s Irish U-21 rhyming midfielder Jay O’Shea on loan.
    And… Tony Mowbray has left Celtic. Trying to dismantle the previous bosses’ side and rebuild on the hoof isn’t easy when winning the title is the minimum requirement.

  14. Mowbray sacked at Celtic.
    AV what does that mean for the Celtic players who are on loan at Boro? Can they be recalled? Will the new manager want McManus?
    **AV writes: Let’s hope not.

  15. Just wanted to say the kid we just signed is a very good player,quick,and not bad on the ball. Not as good as Jonno but symiliar type

  16. At the time I thought that Boro headline ‘Just because some bloke in blue scored a goal it doesn’t mean we lost’ was trite in the extreme and insulting to my intelligence. It still is. Rubbish day out, rubbish game, rubbish stadium, rubbish coach journey home.
    It’s down there with the codger at the end of the next cup final who seeing my mates’ and I disconsolate faces, offered the opinion that we should cheer up. At least he didn’t tell us it was only a game.
    I also thought that ‘that London eh? Wouldn’t fancy living down there..’ So I’m not always right then..
    Off to Watford on Saturday to see Mosso Cloudfiles and co in the flesh. Now there’s a ground that wouldn’t put the old Wembley to shame..
    **AV writes: It won awards you know. Technically it was very bold and innovative. It was a groundbreaking use of a “talking headline” – a long coherent sentence like more a quote than the usual four word banner statement – which had long been used on the inside pages of magazines but you never used to see on the front of newspapers back then but now are routinely used.
    It was also a brilliant photo of the little kid crying in a half empty stadium. Which left space for very little text, two paragraphs or so, plus a few pointers to what was inside. National (and some regional) papers often look like that these days but back them it was a real design statement. I still love it now.

  17. Sad news about Mogga but there is always a danger of a former hero going back to manage the club. I suppose the same goes for a current hero stepping up to manager from the ranks.
    Another ailment we keep getting regular outbreaks of is FEAR. It stands for ‘False Expectations Appearing Real’ and generally occurs following something unusual like being unbeaten for two matches.
    At that point a player is paraded who tells us that it is onwards and upwards, Europe is the target, top half of the table, promotion is still in our grasp, we can get out of/pull away from the relegation zone.
    We have turned more corners than a formula one car.

  18. Oh dear… one of the Glasgow papers already speculating that McManus will go back to Celtic…early days I know but none the less a bit worrying…
    Pleased to know I was the first on the blog yesterday morning with the news of Moggas impending departure and how Strachan did not do so badly in his 4 years tenure at Celtic
    From your roving Scottish reporter !

  19. Quote… re Celtic’s game against Rangers and Mowbray’s decision to let Mcmanus go
    “Celtic found themselves in a position where they had two teenage centre-backs going into that game at a time when a more experienced centre-back – Stephen McManus (who was club captain as recently as last season) – was down on loan at Middlesbrough”.

  20. I’ve just read on the BBC that Matt Taylor of Bolton is ‘unhappy’ and is looking for a move. He’s an excellent confident player, very skilfull and doesn’t give a damn about the reputations of the teams he is up against. He’d be an asset to any team – if only we were in a play off position ….?

  21. Neil of the racoon variety –
    Players leaving a club to go to a team in a lower division or smaller club is a sure sign of an uncertain future for the manager. Ugo, Boat and Gate came to Boro from Villa shortly before John Gregory was Deadly Douged.
    Just dont want Mogga to come here because I would hate his reputation tarnishing amongst Boro fans.

  22. Sad for Tony Mowbray, but I am not in the least surprised. I remarked to my Celtic chums up here when he took over that I thought he had made a big mistake and that he was better off at West Brom.
    He likes to play a very different game to WGS, and so has tried to embark on a process to build a team to suit his preferred style. We’ve seen what a disrupting effect that can have on the (pre-)existing group of players when WGS took over Gareth Southgate’s team and wanted to impose a very different style and attitude.
    We are only recently beginning to see some glimmers of what he might be able to achieve, but it won’t really be until after the summer transfer dealings are over and next season is under way that we might start to reap the benefits. (still hopeful that might be in the PL, but realistically, probably in the Championship)
    At Celtic there is a real danger of missing out on 2nd place and they really can’t afford to not be in the Champions League next season, so they didn’t have the time to wait for TM to build a successful team of his own style. I think at Boro, we can afford to wait until next year to see WGS lead us back to the top flight.
    On another note, I see Dave Jones name being mentioned for the Celtic job. Now that would suit us, with the disruption of that (on top of the Financial worries) Cardiff could well begin to struggle.
    Here’s hoping.

  23. The Silence of the Lamb
    Hannibal Lamb: First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?
    Clarice Starling: He signs players…
    Hannibal Lamb: No. That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing he does? What needs does he serve by signing player?
    Clarice Starling: Anger, um, social acceptance, and, huh, image rights frustrations, sir…
    Hannibal Lamb: No! He covets. That is his nature. And how do we begin to covet, Clarice? Do we seek out things to covet? Make an effort to answer now.
    Clarice Starling: No. We just…
    Hannibal Lamb: No. We begin by coveting what we see every day. Don’t you feel eyes moving over your body, Clarice? And don’t your eyes seek out the things you want?
    Hannibal Lamb: “Rockliffe Island Footballer Disease Research Centre.” Sounds charming.
    Clarice Starling: That’s only a part of the complex. There’s a very, very nice beach. Seals nest there. There’s beautiful…
    Hannibal Lamb: [cuts her off] Seals? Mmh. If I help you, Clarice, it will be “sealed” with us too. Quid pro quo. I tell you things, you tell me things. Not about this case, though. About yourself. Quid pro quo. Yes or no?
    [pause]
    Hannibal Lamb: Yes or no, Clarice? Poor little Gordon is waiting.
    Clarice Starling: Go, doctor.
    Hannibal Lamb: [shouts] No!
    [normal voice]
    Hannibal Lamb: I will listen now. After your father’s redundancy, you were rehoused. You were ten years old. You went to live with cousins on a sheep and horse ranch in Skelton. And…?
    Clarice Starling: [tears begin forming in her eyes] And one morning, I just ran away.
    Hannibal Lamb: No “just”, Clarice. What set you off? You started at what time?
    Clarice Starling: Early, still dark.
    Hannibal Lamb: Then something woke you, didn’t it? Was it a dream? What was it?
    Clarice Starling: I heard a strange noise.
    Hannibal Lamb: What was it?
    Clarice Starling: It was… screaming. Some kind of screaming, like a child’s voice.
    Hannibal Lamb: What did you do?
    Clarice Starling: I went downstairs, outside. I crept up into the barn. I was so scared to look inside, but I had to.
    Hannibal Lamb: And what did you see, Clarice? What did you see?
    Clarice Starling: Fans. The fans were screaming.
    Hannibal Lamb: They were slaughtering the spring fans?
    Clarice Starling: And they were screaming.
    Hannibal Lamb: And you ran away?
    Clarice Starling: No. First I tried to free them. I… I opened the gate to their pen, but they wouldn’t run. They just stood there, confused. They wouldn’t run.
    Hannibal Lamb: But you could and you did, didn’t you?
    Clarice Starling: Yes. I took one fan, and I ran away as fast as I could.
    Hannibal Lamb: Where were you going, Clarice?
    Clarice Starling: I don’t know. I didn’t have any food, any water and it was very cold, very cold. I thought, I thought if I could save just one, but… he was so heavy. So heavy. I didn’t get more than a few miles when the Steward’s car picked me up. The Chairman was so angry he sent me to live at the Mackem orphanage in Stockton. I never saw the Riverside again.
    Hannibal Lamb: What became of your fan Clarice?
    Clarice Starling: They made him commercial director.
    Hannibal Lamb: Well, Clarice – has the fan stopped screaming?

  24. According to The Mirror, West Ham co-owner David Sullivan called some of the team “fat, lazy and useless” after he hijacked manager Gianfranco Zola’s get-together on Thursday – I wonder if he had any of his loan players in mind?
    Anyway, Lets hope Boro manage to close the gap at Watford and at least make the end of the season a tad interesting.

  25. Grove Hill wallah at 11.43pm – surreal mate, surreal. You’re not hitting the cider hard in the knowledge the price is being hiked up by the Chancellor, are you?

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