SOME things we have rambled about so far today over a cuppa while we have chuntered about the coitus interruptus of the international break and anxiously wait for real life to resume…
ANOTHER chance to see: a blast from the archives….
INCREDIBLY it was 21 years ago today that 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.
STANDING at football is getting a squeeze onto the political agenda again. And there isn’t even an election looming. The contentious idea gets floated occasionally, usually by an opportunist MP or candidate in a marginal constituency with a Championship sized football club and where a few hundred idealist supporters ushed through the ballot box by such a gesture can make all the difference.
In 2001 then sports minister Kate Hoey was persuaded by a coalition of supporters groups to push for a reform of the Football Licencing Authority and allow for new, well engineered German-style “safe standing” terracing areas to be developed if clubs wanted it but the initiative stalled as it ran into the powerful defensive wall built from the emotional impact of the Hillsborough families campaign and a marked lack of support within the Cabinet.
This time it is well organised national fans group the Football Supporters’ Federation leading the campaign to reopen the debate on an issue that still bubbles after a generation of compulsory seating. The idea won’t go away because standing is instinctive at moments of high drama – and those are the moments that galvanise and excite supporters, those moments that are part and parcel of why we love the game.
BORO’S season is clearly powered by an Inevitability Drive. It was certainty to the nth degree that Danny Graham would score. Nailed on with a B&Q pallet full of metal fixings. So much so that when he did net – against the run of play – a third of the crowd punched the air and waved their coupons.
Graham first scorer, Boro win 2-1 was paying out at 50-1 and I understand the bookies kiosks in the West Stand ran out of money. Prodigal poacher Graham – the subject of much debate about “the one that got away” all season and a player who has scored more already this term (26) than all five Boro frontmen added together – has financed some heavy drinking in Teesside tonight. Hurrah!
But that strike was countered by the Inevitability Drive notching up a gear as Andrew Taylor got Boro winner. What are the chance sof that happening, In well over 150 games in domestic and European competition he has never scored. Never scored. “It was fate,” said Watford boss Malky Mackay after the game. He knows the score.
And it is not just those instances is it. Lita scoring v Reading and Bristol; the return of Mogga … that was pretty inevitable wasn’t it; Batesy getting crocked at some point; Losing at Forest; Marlon King at Coventry; a whole string of late goals against us forced home by the gloomy collective cynical expectation of the crowd; a fair few “typical Boro” moments that we could all see coming despite objective logic being stacked against them. Everything this season has been fuel for the Inevitability Drive.
To be fair though, Malky Mackay getting sent off…. no one saw that coming. A manager encroaching onto the pitch to trap a ball and flick it to one of his team so he could take a quick throw. And getting pedalled. I’ve never seen that in professional football.
More later. After I’ve spent the winnings on a takeaway and a six pack.
A FANTASTIC trip home: buzzing after a battling display and a precious point against Pompey that shrivelled the distance of the drive back, there was an animated debate on who deserved the other stars after Rhys Williams had been ceremonially presented by Eric Paylor with the big three on a red silk cushion.
This is radically different to previous long, bleak trips home – Reading for instance – when there were groans at having to present anyone at all with such plaudits and impassioned pleas to scrap a system that gave that bunch of wasters such tainted praise and instead award anti-matter black stars to denote the worst performances.
I MEANT to put this quirky tale up after Boro swooped to sign up versatile Paul Smith – the suave suit designer/Billingham-born dancy pointy Maximo Park frontman/indie-punk Teessider and former Toy Dolls drummer and ‘Nellie the Elephant’ merchant – on Tuesday when in passing it was mentioned that he had scored the fastest ever League Cup goal, clocked at 23 seconds.
MISFIRING McMarksman Kris Boyd has joined promotion chasing Forest on a season long loan with Tricky Trees reserve keeper Paul Smith coming the other way.
I’LL KEEP this short. I’m embarrassed. Boro were butchered. It could easily have been six or seven. More maybe. Steele made a great save. Ripley made two or three. Kebe rounded the keeper and missed a sitter. Reading had a stonewall penalty waved away. Our spot-kick was soft. Even the ref felt sorry for us.
WHEN Poundshop Heskey, Dele Adebola trundled on I posed the question: “in what minute of stoppage time will they get the equaliser?”
Defeatism? Resignation? Typical Boro cynicism? Maybe. But how bloody predictable, frustrating and sickening was it to be crushed once again by that icy inevitability? You would think by now we would be hardened to it, that repeated pain would put down layers of defensive armour, but we’re not. It still stings.