Battling Boro Get Down And Dirty To Batter Warnock’s Shocktroops

TONY Mowbray had urged his team to “stand up to the bullies” before the Titanic tussle with Neil Warnock’s shocktroops.
By the end he was almost pulling them away and pleading: “They’ve had enough. Come on lads, they’re not worth it,” as victorious Boro eased off and our long time Nemesis slinked away bruised and beaten.
It was Boro’s first league win of 2013. Their first victory over Leeds on Teesside since the
4-1 Ayresome Park gubbing of Howard Wilkinson’s then champions in 1992. It was welcome win over arch-pragmatist Warnock, who has thwarted Boro across a string of clubs and division since the dug-out dawn of his anti-football fundamentalism.
It was fantastic.

The wounded Leeds boss himself was furious and stomped off angrily down the tunnel to give a tetchy post-match press conference – not least because the game finished with the visiting fans loudly booing and berating him and chanting that it was ‘time to go’.
Yet the vocal condemnation on the whistle could so easily have been the other way round. Had the high-stakes ‘not a derby’ showdown gone the other way, had Boro lost a sixth successive league game to our Southern cousins, then the simmering frustration from some sections of the crowd could easily have been aimed angrily at the other dug-out. At Mogga.
But in a energising display of spirited toe-to-toe street-fighting, battling Boro kicked the
living daylights of any notion they were a brittle side deep in a terminal crisis.
Stung into action, Boro showed real steel to more than match the route one physicality of the Championship’s most institutionally robust outfit and claw to a famous victory over an Ancient enemy.
It was brilliant. Brutal at times, yes. And there was little room for too many moments of
short-passing artistry and finesse out the Barca-lite Mogga mould. It certainly “wasn’t one
for the purists.”
But it was exciting. Hostile. Edgy. Simmering. Passionate. Absorbing. Memorable. Bruising. It was terrific entertainment. It was exactly what supporters want from a game
And the narcotic intensity and animosity of that partisan atmosphere was exactly what Boro needed to kick-start a faltering campaign. A mundane match against one of the lower level makeweights backed by the massed ranks of 412 barely audible away supporters would have left the Riverside muted and inert and even a victory – ‘papering over the cracks’ – would done little to ignite or unite the crowd.
But a electric wave of parochial righteous anger… now you’re talking. Especially when
aimed at the old enemy. It’s your civic duty to join in the emotional outpouring.
After a slow and nervous start the passion in the crowd synched with the obvious spirit on
show on the pitch and it was infectious.
It came to a head when serial spit-spat ‘sewer rat’ and all round hate-magnet El-Hadji Diouf came off the bench to a sonic boom of high-volume vitriol, a white noise of snarling and booing and that followed him around the pitch with laser guided precision.
But the intensity had been there from the whistle.On and off the pitch, Boro were smarting from the accumulated angst of five bleak weeks and were right up for it.
That much was obvious from early on when lively Mustapha Carayol was wiped out by a hefty tackle by Peltier that sparked a brief melee and seething man mountain waded through the crowd seemingly intent on cult-hero vigilante action offering every single one of the Leeds players out, one at a time or all together. He looked to be making a grab for the ref too at one point but team mates hauled him back. Just.
Bikey picked up a booking for his aggressively ticking body language but that set a high
standard of commitment that the team and the crowd met in spades.
Everyone got stuck in. Mustapha Carayol was kicked and scythed and mugged but kept going. Rhys Williams was roughed up. Stuart Parnaby was wiped out. Bikey took a point blank piledriver in the chops and shrugged it off.
And Boro dished it out too. There were several heart-in-mouth moments of audible collective wincing as crunching tackles flew in. With Boro digging in at the end, Ginga Warrior Nicky Bailey launched into a full-blooded sliding challenge on the edge of the box that hit poor Ross McCormack like a juggernaut.
It was clean and clinical but the seismic impact reverberated through the crowd and there were gasps and maybe a frissson of fear for a fraction of a second before the shell-shocked striker wobbled away drunkenly with his head surrounded by cartoon stars and birds tweeting.
Soon after Andy Halliday rattled Diouf with relish in the most popular cornerflag drive-by
since James Morrison launched Christiano Ronaldo into the crowd.
Ironically, for all the high-impact tackling Curtis Main was pedalled for two of the softest
yellow cards of the season; a gentle poke of a loose ball back in the general direction of a Leeds player that fell short was deemed to be ‘preventing a quick free kick’ then two minutes later a brave attempted leap into an aerial block of a hefty clearance was harshly judged to be a deliberate hand-ball. But he was a hero by then anyway.
But it wasn’t all about muscle. Boro played well too in the second half and created a string of good chances – a Leadbitter free-kick, a Williams stabbed effort and McEachran’s stooping header straight at the keeper before drawing first blood.
The goal when it came was a cracker. A thundering Williams tackle – he grew into the game after a very shaky start in midfield – sent the ball squirting to Big Ish Miller who carried it forward then arced in an inviting cross for Curtis who had to reverse into the flightpath before looping in a superb looping effort that sailed in slow-motion into the far top corner to spark an EIO explosion of crisis-killing joy.
There were some scares too, not least late in the first half studless shot-stopper Jason Steele charged out intercept a long diagonal ball into the box but slipped – again – leaving McCormack to collect, check back inside and stab the ball goalwards from an angle but somehow Jonathan Woodgate was back to block on the line.
It was a much needed and hard earned win in a high-stakes cauldron of a game and Boro deserve all the plaudits for a sweat soaked and passionate performance that ticked a lot of boxes.It halted the slide, got the precious points to reignite a stuttering play-off push and, perhaps most importantly, physically forced the crowd back on board.
If we can harness that emotional power from a revived and refocussed Riverside support and unleash it on unsuspecting visitors with even half that intensity for the rest of the season it will scare the hell out of them.
And if the team can reproduce that winning combination of pumped up physicality, sheer determination and a hunger to build the relentless pressure to force a goal then we have every chance of clawing our way back into the promotion frame.
Crisis? What crisis? Bring it on.


29 thoughts on “Battling Boro Get Down And Dirty To Batter Warnock’s Shocktroops

  1. It’s Leeds not Barca, a mid table Championship, side a game that chould go either way. It’s not asif we thrashed them. We’ll have to play better if we have a chance of holding this lead. Some tough games ahead.
    **AV writes: LOL. You are the real Stokesley White and I claim my £5!

  2. Is Curtis Main the catalyst we’ve been looking for to inject some energy back into the Mogganaut? Let’s hope so. Pity he got sent off!
    I saw the last win at home against Leeds, it feels like a life time ago.
    Anyway, hopefully we’ve stopped the rot, what we need to do now is start collecting points from away games.
    Good to see Rhys in midfield and Parnaby at full back, normal service resumed.

  3. It’s 9.25 the morning after and there’s no posts yet so I suspect they’re in a holding pattern about to land.
    I suspect they’ll typically fall into groups – those who’ll say we were only in a blip, it’s a poor division and there’s everything to play for..
    And the others who say – a RB back at RB, it’s obvious isn’t it and oh, isn’t Main full of hard work and energy and what’s that, two goals in two games. Why weren’t the off form Ledesma and Emmes dropped ages ago, we told you you so etc etc.
    My problem is I agree with both positions. They’re not mutually exclusive. Despite his restless tinkering, I support TM (& yes, SG as well – the concept of any other Chairman is absurd), I puzzle over his selections and tactics and recognise TM is doing wonders with the cards dealt but also believe we don’t play all the cards to our best advantage.
    I’m rambling.
    My brother who was there said afterwards it was the best atmosphere and
    performance for some time. One goal, three points and back in amongst the play offs. Huge result. Well done to all concerned, especially all those who attended.
    The vital stat in this game was the nil. From there we can’t be beaten. If Palace can be limited to a nil on Saturday then I’ll be very happy.
    **AV writes: I’m not going any tactical analysis or projecting onto Palace, I’m just revelling in the satisfaction of a smiling post-coital cigarette of victory. Metaphorically obviously. No smoking in Gazette Towers.

  4. Our first clean sheet since Boxing Day is a welcome sight. That slip from Steele (someone must change his studs soon) might actually end up being a positive – if he can keep the opposition at nil without having to be absolutely perfect all night, that will surely help rebuild his confidence after a difficult month and a half.
    But what a big win! I didn’t expect that at all, I thought we were nailed on for another few weeks of dismal performances, slipping out of the play-offs into the mid-table mire. As it is, we’re still only six points off the automatics, and able to look up the table again, rather than just staring behind at the advancing hordes.
    The Mogganaut trundles on!

  5. Massive win. Can see on twitter and after the game just how much it meant to the players. Especially Bikey picking the ref up at full time. Ref was a disgrace neither of Mains yellows should have been yet we got the three points against 12 men. Massive confidence booster onwards and upwards UTB!

  6. Brilliant report of a fantastic win, AV!
    As someone above said we’ll have to play better in some of the forthcoming games to get points, but hey, this was thunderous stuff against a typically dirty, niggly Warnockesque Leeds.
    For a long time Rhys Williams was nailed on for the ‘Worst Ever Performance by a Boro Player’ gong – every touch went awry or was uncontrolled, every pass went astray. At the start of the second half my neighbour opined that Williams was ‘a changed man’ as he started to play better, but he promptly gave the ball away two or three times. ‘Me and my big mouth,’ said my mate! But hey, Rhys battled through it, as they all did, put in some thundering tackles, and by the end he’d earned the right to lead the cheers.
    Over the moon. Not getting carried away, because we’re still potentially fragile despite last night’s bruising knock-out in 12 rounds, but I’ve been smiling and punching the air now for several hours! It’s always great to beat Leeds. Last night was brilliant, and the win thoroughly deserved. Gerrin!
    Boro Doug –
    ‘You’re not typing any more.’ Sheer genius!

  7. Croydon Boro –
    I fall in to your camp, I didn’t expect us to be where but giving it a real go next season so that makes me happy. Nor do I think the division is any weaker than normal – you can only judge that when you see next seasons results.
    I will still irritate the Mogganistas by scratching my head at times.
    I am now wrapping ‘points from unexpected sources’ back in it’s tissue paper. Cant use it too often.

  8. Great report AV.
    I realised after half an hour I was enjoying myself and that this was the first time I had enjoyed any part of a match – the first time I had been proud to be Boro – for quite a few games.
    The fabled dressing room spirit was fuelling just such a corporate drive as AV celebrates, and Rhys, Josh, Andre, Jason and Curtis in particular were enjoying themselves, allowing me to join them in their fun!
    Has anyone seen a better headed goal at the Riverside, by the way?
    Prediction: we are taking that energy to Crytsal Palace and we are going to beat them on Saturday!t

  9. Great report, AV. Really captures the atmosphere.
    Loved “the dugout dawn of Warnock’s anti-football fundamentalism’, and ‘ Halliday’s popular corner flag drive by’ etc,etc. Terrific stuff, and not even slightly shrill. ( A liberty that, given that you were responding with solid evidence based arguments to the shrill siren calls). Another smashing piece of journalism to treasure. Thanks.
    **AV writes: Words, we gottem.

  10. That was much better and what a nice feeling it is to win. The added delight for me was being host to our Leeds friends who travelled up with us, who beforehand had made us a lovely tea and we duly reciprocated by beating their team. Tough!!
    Seriously though, we improved as the match wore on, showing a spirit and a resolve that had been missing for six weeks.
    It might seem unfair to single out the players who were missing such as Emnes, Ledesma, Hines but they were missing for a reason. If you went over the top’ you wouldn’t want these three with you. Hines is too timid to be a centre back and if ‘Big Mick’ is around use him instead. Less said about the other two the better.
    In contrast that young man Mr Main has aggression, energy in spades and relished the ding dong with Leeds defenders.I did too, he seems a better balanced player than Jukebox, who is strong but always looks as if he is ready to keel over.
    That was a really good goal, an old fashoned neck busting header.
    As for the sending off, the smallness of Mr Stroud’s body equalled the smallness of his mind. He was fussy all night but in the last 10 minutes he became what my late mother used to refer to as ‘little Hitler’, a phrase more common in my childhood than it is now. His strutting around the pitch just grated. A pity Bikey could not have catapulted him into the stand at the final whistle instead of lifting him up.
    The monkey is off our backs, onwards and upwards

  11. In a way the Leeds match arrived at the right time, it was the ideal type of game for the players to stop worrying about the consequences of another defeat and just get stuck in and fight for victory.
    Hopefully, it means Boro will have more confidence for the next few games and ge some more points on the board to position themselves nicely for the run-in – though I fear Boro will need quite a few consecutive victories to win back the pessimistic promotion-demanding axe-weilding hoards.
    I had to rely on text commentary (which froze at the 92nd minute leaving me fearing the worst until the magical ‘the referee blows for full-time’ line appeared ten minutes later).
    Though from your report AV it definitely sounded like a good physical game – though perhaps a little more physical than I realised given your apparent need for a post-coital cigarette – maybe Boro should stick to the tika taka tantric football to avoid future metaphoric relapses.

  12. The problem with picking apart Mogga’s tactics and selections (and I’ve been guilty myself from time to time) is that it’s too often based in hindsight.
    Had we lost last night, I guarantee we’d be reading today lines such as, “Why play four central midfielders?”, “Why pick a midfield without width and with no pace whatsoever?”, “Where was Bailey?”, “Why play a winger (Carayol) up front with Juke on the bench?”, “How can you expect to win with so many changes?” blah blah blah.
    There’s always an “obvious” reason for the disgruntled to hang their hat on as reason for defeat.
    Whatever. Last night was great. Spririt, togetherness, determination and the odd flash of quality – enough to get you through most games in this league.
    Speaking of quality, a word for Big Ish – I thought his cross for the goal was terrific and deserves a mention.

  13. Werderemouth –
    I listened to Boro+ and was shattered after the match. My wife tried to sub me but I stayed listening.
    I shuddered as the dirty Leeds tackles rained in on my shins. Bikey got to the ref just before me.
    Chuffed at the end.

  14. Anybody care to admit being confused by the tactics? Or are they only confusing when they don’t work. Sarcasm aside I have been surprised by some of TM’s selections and tactics in the past only to be surprised by the result.
    The victimisation of Emnes and Ledesma is way over the top. TITC, (this is the Championship), full of teams and players with faults and flaws. If they didn’t have them they would not be here.
    Ledesma and Emnes are both a joy to behold when they are on form. Emnes strikes me as a confidence player who is fantastic when he is happy. Ledesma can conjure a sublime pass out of nowhere. Anyway, who among us does their job to the best of their ability when they are subjected to vilification and abuse?
    I was interested to see that scapegoat number three, a certain Mr Miller provided yet another assist. Any stats on his contributions in goals and assists in the matches he has played in? I suspect it might be quite impressive.
    It would be nice to turn that away form around next but TITC. Let’s see if Tony can confuse Palace with his tactics…..

  15. A very welcome result and, at last, performance.
    I attended both the Ipswich match and Barnsley so last nights result was very much needed and at least showed we had some players up for a ‘fight’.
    The first thing that strikes me is how much of a difference Curtis Main has made. We keep hearing from Mogga that he is ‘raw’ and ‘not quite ready’ yet i have seen in two games that he offers more than the other out of sorts forwards.
    He gets stuck in and can actually lead the line. The fact he has scored with two headed goals also shoes he can fill the target man role easliy. Sometimes a ‘raw’ player who does not know better can be a real positive. I am not banking our season on him as he is young but he looks twice the player Marv does so give him a real go. A massive shame he is out for the next game but maybe as he has been out for 5 months it will help ease him in, also Big Ish is back for Palace.
    Paranby at RB? Looked good to me and gave us a better balance.
    So we are in the playoff places and just six points off 2nd. Time to kick on now and go on a Burnley/Reading style run. It happens every year one team wins eight or nine wins in 10 and goes up so why not us?
    Oh and who would have thought a lad released by Darlo could be our catalyst?
    Good win, better perfomance and at last a smile at work.

  16. I am where I am and couldn’t be at the Riverside but AV; reading your report was like reading a Roy of the Rovers episode…briliant stuff.
    I am of the oldish guard and loosing runs or whatever beating Leeds at home is extremely satisfying. ..the Stokesley Whites, well they will always walk amongst us.

  17. Missed the game due to working away from the area but delighted with the scoreline. After Saturdays debacle the Leeds game was a defining moment in our season. Losing it or even drawing was not an option.
    By the sounds of it (or from what I was reading via text commentary) we grafted, got stuck in battled and even wobbled a bit but got back up and stuck to the task.
    Seemingly it was an enjoyable evening, not something we have been able to say for a while now. Lets hope that spirit is canned by Mogga and opened for the rest of the Season just before each kick off. A bit of finesse is a nice to have but the Championship is more banger racing than F1 and the hard eared bruises and scars from Tuesday being nursed now for Saturday hopefully will inspire more grit and confidence, but please no more tinkering.
    Lets hope for the sound of shattered Crystal come Saturday teatime!

  18. Great result . Lets hope we can take this into the Palace game. A win there takes us above them and we are moving up again.
    Just one more week of the results above going for us and we are back in the mix.
    Hopefully not too many changes should only be Woodgate and Main out.

  19. I have waited before posting – partly because of pressure of work, and partly because of a wish to avoid a knee-jerk reaction.
    So – what was the Leeds game like? A fuller crowd, a bigger away contingent and a better atmosphere? A bit more physical and an evening for “men not boys”? Certainly a great result – a win and a clean sheet after we have been shipping goals for fun.
    An amazing miss by Leeds, when taking too much time to put the ball into an empty net allowed Woody to get into position on the goal line, to make the block. A great save by Steele near the end, to counterbalance his heart-in-the-mouth moment. Can someone look at his boots please?#
    A really excellent cross by Miller (!) after bursting forward along the left wing, and an absolutely wonderful header by Main to score the goal. He had to hang in the air for longer than physics would normally allow, and had to stretch his neck that extra 2 inches to get a touch to the ball, and STILL looped it over the keeper to sneak it (in slow motion) into the net.
    The burst of speed by Woody to make a challenge in front of the south west touchline – that probably cost him a “tight” hamstring which caused his departure after about 65 minutes. All good stuff.
    But I wonder whether the best thing, the pulse-quickening moment, was Bailey’s crunching, sliding, tackle at the edge of the penalty area. The ball fled as quickly as it could, about 40yards upfield. Within a couple of seconds about ten thousand pairs of fists punched the air. There’s nothing like a good tackle to get a crowd going!
    We had a discussion afterwards. We concluded that, whilst it is nice to put one over on Newcastle and Sunderland, the pleasure of beating Dirty Leeds is difficult to beat. “Get in there” hardly covers it.
    A vital three points. Hopefully a change in fortunes. Hopefully we can look onwards and upwards.
    (And, by the way Jarkko, we had another former resident of Helsinki with us at the Riverside. Lindsay lived there for a number of years when he was a director at Nokia. Apparently he used to plug his car into the electric supply to recharge, or keep warm, at temperatures of minus 30 degrees. He has now moved to Waterloo in Belgium where he is Head of an international school. Having come originally from Great Ayton, he was visiting his old haunts, and joined us in the Stabbed Stoat for a quick couple of pints as we relived every kick of the game. The fire was on.)
    Only three points. Only one win. But it was against Leeds, it has hopefully turned the tide, and it felt GOOD!!

  20. Always great to beat Dirty Leeds and what a long wait against many average Leeds teams over two decades.
    I was as euphoric as most but please come down to earth people – Leeds were a very ordinary bordering on dire outfit.
    Churlish? Maybe so, gerrin there! and lets carry it on to the Selhurst battlefield cos that is what has been lacking and undermining too often this season.
    Forget about tactical faux pas, bewildering team formations and team selections, the lack of a winning mentality has cost us dear on many an occasion this season.
    Lets hope the never say die examples of Bikey Bailey,Main, Woodgate and yes Steele, inspire the rest. CMNBORO!

  21. So the weekend excitement of the 5th round of the FA Cup is upon us with now only one win away from the quarter finals.
    But hang on minute, it seems Boro have been edited out of party because we’re still waiting for the replay between our opponents to take place – I guess it couldn’t be played because of the bad weather? No, it seems the FA forgot to allow enough time between rounds for any team involved in Europe to have a replay – a sentence involving the word brewery and organise springs to mind.
    Let’s hope Chelsea win and any of the 5th round ties involving a top PL side are not drawn to create a replay to clash with out game – otherwise Boro vs Brentford may well be the tie that never happened and the result will probably only receive cursory acknowledgement on breakfast TV the next morning.
    Still at least we’ve been drawn away tomorrow in the Championship Playoff Qualification Cup!

  22. Dormo –
    yes, I think I met Lindsay briefly in the “Battered Nose” pub two years ago. Say my greetings to him. Remember the Nokia connection as well as Gret Ayton, where I used to stay while in the UK in the past.
    I will be in Belgium next week as the company I work for is near Alst. Will be there or in Gent including the following weekend. Pity there is no TV coverage to be seen in a Belgium pub (you know the Belgian beer?).
    I was on holiday in Madeira last week and completely tried to forget the Boro results. Until the Barnsley match on Saturday when I used my mobile to see HT and FT results. The result nearly – just nearly – spoiled the rest of my holiday.
    Also saw the match between Nacional and Benfica in the Portuguese Primeira League. Four goals and three red cards – the managers got interviewed for 20 min on the news afterwoods. Top match but not the same as seeing Boro!
    The Boro result was massive and we must not be beaten at Palace next Saturday. Have we won only once on the road during the last four months, really? Not an easy match but this is a match where we need a tinkering Mogga, if ever. We need a result there.
    Up the Boro!

  23. Thanks for the tips, chaps, and AV on Twitter. Copy of the Independent is on the kitchen table ready for inspection.
    This is the football Blog which not only suggests good sporting books to read, but now provides a reading-list of interesting articles in the written Press. An holistic service is intended and, if there is enough interest, the Trinity Mirror group may be prepared to provide a cradle to grave life-coaching service for those who wish to seek enlightenment.
    Next week – your choice of Single Malts and a critique of Australian versus French red wines. *cough* *cough*
    **AV writes: Oban. Winner of the wine leg away to Italy.

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