Normal Service Is Resumed

RIGHT, I’M back after my annual post-season lay down in a darkened room. What have I missed? Nothing? I know. Nothing ever happens at this time of year. Football is collectively chilling in St Lucia or Dubai, sprinkling precious stones and piles of cash in its pampered wake while it laughs at us. Me, I’ve been to Preston Park. And Pizza Hut on a ‘two for one’ with the kids. That is the gulf that divides us mere mortals from our heroes.
The week long series Boro’s 40 All Time Greatest Signings I left you to be getting on with is now on-line. Feel free to post your delayed snorts of derision and heartfelt pleas to redo it “and this time include Mel Nurse, Heine Otto and Phil Whelan”.
I was stopped in the milk aisle at Asda and denounced as a heretic by a tattooed stranger because I only made John Hickton 11th. I’ve been called “a doyle” on Twitter for including the club’s all time record signing (Alves). And I’ve been berated over the phone by a opinionated Scotsman who couldn’t believe bargain bin striker Slaven was only ninth! And behind those mercenaries Ravanelli and Merson! Thanks for that Bernie. Still, it kept you all ticking over for a week. Those of you in Gazetteshire anyway.
Feel free to peruse, criticise, suggest reordering the rankings of one or two, question the logic or blast me for the cruel snub to George Boateng, Joseph Job, Dean Glover or your own particular favourite.
In the meantime, while I feel my way back towards full match fitness, a few questions…

In the meantime, while I feel my way back into it, a few questions:
What do you fashionistas think of the new kit? It strikes me initially as a bit Belgium Division Two. I’m sure it will be a grower. And it will probably be a lot better with short sleeves to remove that strange wraparound. And at least the Ramsdens logo has been lifted off the gaudy green wine gum mounting.
Any thoughts on Neil Maddison being appointed as the new matchday expert pundit at BBC Tees? Obviously I am at games so I don’t get to hear them in action. How has he been when he has stood in for Higgy? He’s got a UEFA A Licence so he knows his stuff but can he convey is? Has he got passion and panache? How will he cope with the armchair angry brigade and their default fury?
Who do you fancy of all the players that have been released by Championship clubs so far? Because of the impending impact of Financial Fair Play, scores of decent, serviceable and athletic players are available on vastly reduced wages in what is shaping up to be a summer long medieval hiring fair. Last season’s pick of the battle hardened freebies was Grant Leadbitter. We are looking for maybe three or four more like that this summer. I quite like Chris McCann of Burnley, David Lopez of Brighton and – when reality sets in over his wag expectations – maybe a nibble at Sylvan Ebanks Blake as well. Suggest a few who may “do a job”.
And finally, the BBC are looking for a new Doctor Who and have said “anything is possible” when the cast the new Timelord. I’m nominating Steve McClaren: I think he has the skill set to take Tardis FC into a new dimension and beyond all known horizens. He can stifle the Cyberman’s two thousands banks of four and tactically breakdown the feared Dalek defence. With Bill Beswick as assistant. My second choice as a space/time smiter of evil would be Emanuel Pogatetz. For sure.


46 thoughts on “Normal Service Is Resumed

  1. Hello Vic –
    Hoping that you will not have to spend the post season break in a darkened room next year but realistically think you will.
    Love the away Kit with the Retro black and Blue stripes – think that style should be there every year. Think the home will be a grower.
    Think Higgy will be sorely missed on Tees when I heard Maddison last season he seemed to lack the tactical insight of Higs and came out with simple fan-like rants rather than the insight expected from an expert summariser.
    Think the two free agents you mentioned would be quality signings also think Ebanks-Blake would be ideal for us and score plenty. El-Abd out of contract at Brighton could be some steel at CB with Rhys & would love to see a couple of ambitious loan signings – Nick Powell from United and Ake from Chelsea (if Jose lets him go out on loan).
    As for Dr Who I’d nominate TLF. He famously stood up to Philippe Albert and would bamboozle the Daleks in to overdrive with his twinkle toes.

  2. I thought John Terry had doctor who nailed on. He like to be in everywhere else so why not a stint as the doctor,
    MFC kit wise it is not too bad. I do think long sleeve for the home is better than short, when you have a man who is 20st + massive beer belly wearing it. How it looks pales into insignificance’s to be honest.
    As for free transfers we will be linked with most Tom, Dick and Barry but until they are signed I won’t make a comment on the issue

  3. What about the signing of Jimmy Floyd. I know he was getting on at the time, but he was still Chelsea’s top scorer at the time in a team fighting for the title.
    Thought he was great for us and scored some very important goals. I would have give him another season as well.

  4. I’ve been looking forward to reading this: stimulating and entertaining. And I remember all but about 4.
    If I may offer three names which might have made the list (in reverse order): Willie Falconer – a class act in my view and a big loss when he moved on; Festa – after all he equalised for us in an FA Cup Final – and finally, the wonderful John O Rourke whose goals, not least in the 67 last match triumph against Oxford United, helped us return from near oblivion
    Our worst ever signing, certainly for me the most disappointing, needs a little context. Imagine being about nine and reading on the billboard outside Linthorpe Newsagents ” Boro sign international star” only to discover it was the Channel Islands international, Dick Le Flem…
    **AV writes: I thought about all those but Falconer fizzled out injured very quickly while Festa had a great impact in his first year and was very popular but again, spent the last two years either on the bench, injured or on loan.
    O’Rourke is a funny one. I thought bout him and consulted the books. I think he fits into a little cluster of players from the 50s and 60s stagnant second division years who were good servants for a couple of seasons and solid professionals but not spectacular, not in demand from others clubs, never really won anything or threatened too and not leaving a massive legacy. See also Hugh McIlmoyle, Eric McMordie, Derrick Downing, Dickie Rooks, Mel Nurse. etc
    I think the status of the club may have counted against them a bit and also it was an era before the wage explosion prompted a lot more mobility so staying at a club for seven or eight years was the norm rather than an eye-brow raising achievement. Maybe it is easier to discount 300 games for £10,000 when it was the normal landscape of football employment.

  5. It looks like the club are expecting Mogga to throw a lot of our youngsters into the deep end this season to see if they sink or swim – why else would the new kit include a pair of water wings?
    Just saw your Top 40, yes interesting choice to include Alves, even though I think Boro panicked and paid double to get his services in the hope he was the missing part of the jigsaw (but instead turned out to be just another puzzle in the big picture of our downfall) – still at least you weren’t tempted to include Mido.
    You’re probably right about Robson even though he was technically a manager rather than a ‘signing’ in the true sense of the word.

  6. The new kit brings thoughts of Dickie Rooks. He was a fearsome sight with his thick neck, blond hair and the white shoulder to the shirt.
    John Powls recalled the day he slid in to the wall and knwocked a building block out of it. Luckily it wasnt head first because he might have taken the whole wall down.

  7. I started off with great anticipation at no.40 and nearly choked on my digestive at no. 39. Billy Ashcroft! How the hell does he get in the top 40?
    As for the rest I wouldn’t argue with what’s there although I’d have Merson at no.3 I think. Not sure we’d have been promoted without him, which would have left us where?
    I also agree with lenmasterman, given its the silly season Mrs. Karembeu clearly should have been no.1. I may have put Macarrone at no.1, I can still repaly those headers in my mind today.
    As for who we might sign this summer, I can’t help I’m afraid. I’ve no idea who has been released or retained by other clubs, but I’m intrigued by the prospect of the new up and coming Welbeck signing on loan. Who would that be?
    **AV writes: At the time Ashcroft was a massive move for Boro. After years of Charlton building a great team but being ultra-cautious in the transfer market Boro brought in a new manager and gave him money and he went out and immediately shattered the club transfer record on a striker he knew and who he wanted. It was a landmark signing. Yes, in hindsight it disappointed, but so have most of those big barrier busting buys.

  8. It’s all about opinion Vic, and it’s hard to argue against most of your choices. But you’ve got one horribly wrong. Graham Souness at 16? You’re jokin’ arnya?
    He’s a contender for number one for me. We got him for next to nothing, he was brilliant for us in one of our most succesful periods, and we sold him at a huge profit for a record fee.
    **AV writes: Yes, maybe. He had a strong case. But when you get to the top a lot of the players had very strong cases too: either real value for money, or they won something at Boro, or because we saw their very best at Boro or because they were real headline grabbing buys throughout the game because they were established stars and it sent out seismic signals.
    On another day or by skewing the parameters a bit – based on VFM and profit or weighting it towards those who played 200 games plus for instance – and he may have come a lot higher (although even then he would be behind Bernie Slaven and George Camsell. If it was tilted that way then people like Stuart Boam may have been given a leg up too. I think 15 years of unprecedented success and big money has put a bias into it but I’ve tried to be objective.
    I think there are a few that have a strong case to be included that didn’t make the cut that may have done with a slightly different approach – Paul Ince, Joseph Job, George Boateng, Craig Hignett and Alan Foggan can feel hard done by I think.

  9. I feel stupid, AV but there might have been a player or two I did not recognize in Boro’s 40 All Time Greatest Signings list (just pictures on-line). Sorry but I have never lived in the area and some pictures are action shots.
    So any change of adding names (or years) to the pictures, too? I know I should have known them all but there was a time when the kids were young and we did not have internet yet …
    Any rumours of incoming players yet? Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: I’m not sure if it can be done. Not by me anyway. It took ages to get it web ready because all the little symbols were separate files and all needed to be resized. It took the techies all day. I’m not sure they will appreciate me asking them to tweak it again. Who don’t you recognise? Describe them. The first two are Nobby Stiles and Billy Ashcroft..

  10. Oops, my list is ambassaringly long. Can I be called a fan if I don’t recognice the top 40?
    No. 9 from beginning must be TC? Wasn’st sure eventhough I had had a cuppa with him in 1980!
    Nr.11 with a Dickens shirt
    Nr. 17 ICI shirt
    Nr. 21 Cellnet shirt
    And the last two B&W pictured chaps (I do not mean the £ 1000 man)
    Any help?
    **AV writes: Terry Cochrane, Neil Cox, Paul Wilkinson, Marco Branca, and the golden oldies are Steve Bloomer and George Camsell.

  11. PS. Bobby Murdoch look so old in the picture he must be our oldest signing ever. Looks father to Tim Williamson!
    Up the Boro!

  12. Given your previous comments I was surprised to see Juninho at 2, AV.
    A change of heart or were you, ahem, persuaded?
    The list is all subject to how you weight your own criteria. You probably wouldn’t find two people with the same list, so best to just enjoy it I think.
    **AV writes: People know my position on Juninho but my main objection is to the cult of personality and elective myopia that surrounds him rather than his ability which has never been in question.
    When I started he wasn’t even in the top five but once I started moving the sliders about, promoting people for this, demoting from that (then adjusting others in line with that using the same criteria) he started to nudge up gradually, largely because the whopping profit in his first stint and the fact that he came back and was part of the glorious Carling Cup winning side, and as more of a team player that term. It is all objective you know. It practically science.

  13. Thanks, AV.
    I agree with you that Billy Ashcroft must be up there – it was a big deal even he did not score as many goals as we all expected (and he must be just in front of Irving Nattrass, who was our first Crockcliff player and very expensive, too). But a lot was expected from the red-headed former Wrexham striker at the time.
    Perhaps Bocsic must be higher up there looking from abroad. And Juninho must be there in top two – he made Boro sexy abroad. (Note, my favourite was Terry Cochrane and Willie Maddren when I started to support – but I was the only foreign supporter of the club before Riverside revolution).
    Gaizka was sensational but the wow factor was not that big anymore after the long list of foreign stars like Juni and Rava. Or the English internationals. So the earlier ones were more important.
    Boy, those were the days. But we will be back in the PL before too long. See the mess at Brighton at the moment (and I don’t even mention Leeds or Portsmouth here). Our club are better run than most in the Championship. So roll on next season… Up the Boro!

  14. I have no recollection of Billy Ashcroft being a big signing, just shows how the memory plays tricks! All I remember is a striker who couldn’t hit a barn door with a blunderbuss.
    I may have put Bosco higher up my list, for no other reason than I remember watching Boro train on a field on Hall Drive. He was doing shooting practise with Craig Johnson, his shooting was awful and every time he missed he shouted ‘fookin ‘ell’ in a strong Serbian accent. Very funny. (Am I allowed to write that?)
    What about Jamie Morrison for launching Ronaldo into row Z? Got to beworth a place in the top 40 surely.
    **AV writes: Top 10 red cards maybe but he came through the ranks.

  15. Count yer blessings, AV. Everything’s relative, as Einstein told his auntie.
    Me? I’d love to go to Preston Park. I dreeeeam of Pizza Hut. I’d kill for a 2 for 1.

  16. AV said: ‘and – when reality sets in over his wag expectations – maybe a nibble at Sylvan Ebanks Blake as well.’
    My god, do clubs really have to supply wags as well as wages now? No wonder he’s ‘worth a nibble’.
    **AV writes: There is no end to these guys’ outrageous demands.

  17. ” Paul Ince, Joseph Job, George Boateng, Craig Hignett and Alan Foggan can feel hard done by I think.”
    Indeed they can! Like I said, you’ve got it mostly right, but I think you’ve put too much emphasis on the transfer making a big media splash. Maybe because you’re a journalist.
    Most of the names at the front of your list were already big names when we signed them and we paid the going price for them. Surely “great signings” also involves spotting a bargain, getting unknowns on the cheap that turn out to be great players. That’s why I’d have Souness further up the list.
    Even using your criteria I think you could slip him in at seven, just above Bobby Murdoch, who was basically a typical case of ageing star seeing his career out at a smaller club.
    **AV writes: But Murdoch was the final piece of the jigsaw. His legs may have gone but his brain hadn’t and with that he created the time and space to make that midfield tick. Without that time and space maybe Souness wouldn’t have had the freedom to flourish. Murdoch helped nurture Souness, and Armstrong and arguably transformed Alan Foggon and made the ungainly hitman a potent striker and Boro’s secret weapon. With Murdoch would Charlton’s side have ticked? I think he was a truely galvanising signing that led to a quantum leap.
    I think you are right about the top end of the list being big names already but I think the key to them being there is because we actually saw the best of them at Boro. There are plenty of “big name” signings in the past where the opposite has been true. Gazza doesn’t make it for instance and he created a big media splash (and was a big cash investment) but we never saw him in his pomp. Likewise Pallister, Hasselbaink, Reiziger, Karembeu Deane and a host of others. And some serious media splashes are further down the list – Boksic, Mendieta – because we knew they had quality but we didn’t really see it consistently.
    I’m not sure there is any professional bias towards the ‘media splash.’ I do try and filter that kind of thing out. But equally I do think the cultural impact on the ground at the time is important. How supporter react at the time helps shape how a player is viewed. Sometimes with hindsight we play down the signifigance of big money record signings because they turn out to be disappointing and we airbrush from history the initial gushing of excitement. Maybe we get a bit embarrassed to admit that there was a real buzz over Peter Davenport and Andy Payton. They didn’t make the cut but at the time they were viewed as massive transfers too.
    And as for bargain spotting. The first XI includes two frees and three of the best value for money/goals per quid signings ever in Bernie (£25k), Hickton (£20k) and George Camsell (£600). I’ve tried to cover all the bases. It’s brain-busting stuff. However you weight it there will be anomaly, injustice and accusations of bias.
    Everyone, feel free to submit a revised top 10 or 20 with an explanation of how you have weighted the variables. Peer reviewed press, its the way forward.

  18. Too much work precludes my own list. Impossible to narrow it down so much.
    We will argue for ever whether Player X (bought for £10K in 1948, playing 225 games and scoring 105 goals in six years in Div 2) should be higher in the list than an internationally known Player Z (bought in 2000 for £8M, playing 59 Premier League games and scoring 15 goals in two years before flouncing off in a huff and netting us a £3M return on our investment).
    When are you doing the list of 40 Worst Ever Players to pull on a Boro shirt? Or the 40 Worst Ever Absolute Sitters Missed Directly in front of Goal?
    40 is a large number, though. 12 favourite malt whiskies, or real ales? 12 favourite Boro games (or the worst ever Boro performances), TV programmes, 80’s Boy Bands singles?
    I’ve hit it! The 40 Best (or worst) Lists you’ve ever been asked to compile?
    Sorry….it’s time to kick the bucket.
    Good to read your comments. But it really is the Cricket (and Lions rugby) season. This is, after all, the summer.
    **AV writes: I quite fancy doing a top 20 worst Boro players list next.

  19. The matchday pundit’s role is much undervalued and is culturally significant.
    Most people who are interested in Boro now don’t go to the match but probably at least dip into the BBC Tees commentary. The content and tone of the expert analysis can therefore really shape opinion in the town and be a lightning conductor for criticism.
    Steve McClaren was regularly dismissed as a negative manager and derided for producing boring football.I always thought that was very unfair.The impression was, at least in part, based on Bernie Slaven’s churlish match summaries and barbed comments. His ego got in the way of sound judgement. Interestingly he was more tolerant of Southgate who was perhaps more deserving of criticism.
    The role is also a very difficult one. To analyse in clear and effective terms the tactics of a game as it happens is really tough. Look at the mess that Townsend and Lawrenson make of it on TV and they have the advantage that we can see what is happening. Superb analysts such as Jimmy Armfield are rare. His ability to pick out and describe a moment in a game to illustrate a tactical point was masterful.
    Craig Hignett was no Armfield of course but his analysis was thoughtful and effective, light years from the “workedworsocksoff” clichés of Slaven. He was also very good at pitching his criticism at the right level. A defeat or a bad run was seen in context and there was an attempt to avoid overreaction or blaming easy targets.
    Hignett was probably at his best though in the phone ins. The potential for disaster there is enormous.
    Let’s be honest at least half the callers are clueless but you have to strike the right balance. Put them down too forcefully and you are in the pocket of the club but let them ramble on and you lose a lot of the more sensible listeners.
    Hignett very cleverly and calmly asked them to justify or expand on a point they made. They couldn’t just rant. Many were left hanging from their own rope as the stupidity of their argument became clear.
    Neil Maddison certainly has a tough act to follow. He is clearly very well qualified although I do worry that his obvious passion may cloud proper objectivivity and he does not have the polished radio manner of his predecessor. I’m sure he’ll be praying for a few early wins to ease him gently into his important new role.

  20. Worst 20 Boro Players? Is that going to be bought or loaned players again?
    Lets start with Caleb Folan. No 1 sorted already.
    I was at Trent Bridge yesterday and had a thoroughly good time. A pleasant change from some of the hostility associated with supporting football.
    Not the emotional investment as following Boro but I like our national teams to do well. Oddly it is the football team I am least bothered about.
    **AV writes: I think you need to set parameters. If you are looking for worst performance then you get oddities like Yakubu on strike at Wigan, Emerson at Leeds and Emnes and Haroun having mares several times this season alongside the one-hit wonders who just weren’t good enough, like John Eustace.
    I think it would need to champion consistent ineptitude or marked steep decline in performance over a minimum period of games. In that latter category you would have to go a long way to find a worse Boro player than Mido.

  21. Yes AV i think it would be hard to split 20 worst players against 20 worst games .
    What Yakubu did at Wigan was totally unacceptable to the club the fans and his team mates and cancelled out any thing he did that was good.
    My top ten were all in there maybe not in same order. When I mentioned Ashcroft I didn’t mean you had to find a place for him but yes a big signing at the time.
    As for the new strip I think even Liverpool would prefer ours over theirs. What a disgusting strip. In the Mail today there are pictures of some shall I say unfashionable inventions strip wise over the years.

  22. The worst top 20 could be a lot of fun, there are so many contenders. The problem is I tend to blank out the worst. Would any player qualify for the top 40 best and the top 20 worst I wonder? Maccarone perhaps.
    Who was John Eustace?
    **AV writes: John Eustace… the ultimate underwhelming cameo: on loan from Coventry, came on for the last five minutes at Liverpool and had no touches, gave a free-kick on the edge of the box and got carded. Left next day.

  23. AV –
    At the time at least John Eustace looked like he might a siging who could contribute something.
    Caleb Folan was a mistake before we bought him. He had barely played in eight years following his debut and had a poor scoring record as well.
    At least we sent Eustace back straight away.
    I would agree both would be in the top (bottom?) twenty.
    Throw in our Korean and it only leaves 17 more to find.

  24. My worst player candidate….. Michael Ricketts.
    This man cost £3.5m! He actually played for England! His one saving grace was getting that goal at Spurs to keep us in the cup. Maybe that’s why McClaren let him play in the final. Maccarone was left on the bench and must have wondered how bad he was if McClaren thought Ricketts was better.
    No wonder he was crying at the final whistle.

  25. Normal service resumed? Too George Kinnel true!!!!
    I dont come on to the blog up to have to bypass George for Kinnell adverts for make up adverts to get in the way. For Jesus H Christ sake can someone kill the crap on this site! However it is sliced it is still awful.
    I know you will edit the post but I am fed up to the back teeth about the rubbish that Trinity Mirror inflict upon us.
    Untypical football.
    **AV writes: To be fair it isn’t just Trinity. Every website is the same. That’s how they make money and pay my wages, *cough*installanadblocker*cough*

  26. Worst players ever ? Tough one. Over the years I’ve seen some right duck eggs. None of those mentioned come close to being the cream of the flops.
    I defy anyone to find a worse XI than this:
    G/K Phil Kite : Lured from mighty Gillingham, keeper or rhyming slang.
    R/B Geoff Scott : Imagine a John Craggs tribute act performed by a lower leg amputee
    L/B Alan Wright : miniscule; Juninho took his dinner money off him.
    C/B Mick Saxby : the only player ever to ask Ally Brownlee for payment for an interview. Potent mix of arrogance and ineptitude.
    C/B Sean St Ledger : an error strewn loan spell for the price of 3 Craig Hignetts.
    R/W Dwight Marshall : Jamaican “free spirit”,finished his career at Leyton Pennant; respect man.
    C/M John Gannon : The athletic prowess Of Bobby Murdoch without the ability.
    C/M Mick Buckley : Short slow Mackem Tw#t
    L/W Jay O’Shea :blown away, what else do I have to say…
    C/F Lee Miller : Strachan’s worse Scottish buy; take a bow son.
    C/F Andy Crawford : Unable to jump nor run, bald, born Filey, North Yorkshire – a right catch!
    The current lot made a good fist of it in the second half of last season but I’m afraid none of them come close. We can’t have had any worse than this lot surely ?
    AV writes: Oh go on then… here’s a team that would see us in the Conference in three years.
    Ross, Gittens, Haas, Bolton
    Marwood Winnie MacDonald Hammill
    Sugrue Hutchinson
    Subs: O’Hanlon, Liburd, Buckley, Saxby, Folan, Shannon, Hewitt,

  27. AV –
    I know all websites are the same but it feels better getting off the chest.
    On to Paulista’s post. That is some list of poor players featured.
    I suppose most clubs are the same. We do tend to focus on recent signings because we can remember them plus there is so much more media coverage, in the past they may have come in and just disappeared without much mention.

  28. Paulista Park at 11.14 last night –
    blimey, I haven’t heard of over half of those players! Did they really play for us? Many of them seem not to have been picked by my radar.
    Perhaps their stay was so brief they were gone before I knew they were here. Alternatively, perhaps it’s my trauma protection mechanism: painful memories are quickly eradicated.
    Actually, according to my human hard disk, I seem to recall Marwood as not bad. Past his best but did a job for us, as I recall. Similarly, I didn’t think Sugrue was one of our worst. He betrayed us in our hour of need, sure, so I wouldn’t pee on him if he was on fire – but even I would acknowledge he was a reasonable player.

  29. I think AV played once at midfield for Boro on a Charity match. Oops, there is no limit there for the worst player. The worst player that got away as he was not signed at all. And that’s me – I have been to Rockcliffe Park for a “trial” three times – but never got asked to put the boots on.
    Any more light about the rumoured MASSIVE striker signing for Boro now? He is said to be better than Sylvain Ebanks-Blake. And will score 25 to 30 goals next season …
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: Rumours are just that: fuel for the internet while football is on holiday.

  30. So that nice Mr Bauser is in Vilamours for the football league meeting. 72 delegates and probably partners plus sundry officials.
    Apart from discussing too many loan players at Watford no doubt football finances will get an airing. Poverty will be pleaded by one and all. The nasty premiership will be lambasted for not giving the lower leagues more money – they could fly to Dubai then. I know it is probably sponsored but you cant help but smile.
    Meanwhile the nasty premiership people met at Rockcliffe, I hope Gibbo made them pay top dollar.
    AV writes: I’m guessing it is more per head at Rockliffe than on the Algarve but yes, there is a certain irony.

  31. GHW –
    you beat me to it, mate! I was going to nominate George Kinnell too.
    That brilliant chant says it all – I think we first sang that at the Baseball Ground in Derby, if I’m not mistaken? They had just signed the outstanding Dave McKay from Spurs, who made a real difference to their defence, enabling them to go on and win the League. Boro tried to emulate that, the papers said, with Kinnell! Abject failure on all counts! However, I think your memory might also be failing slightly – I’m sure it was £20000 we paid for George. That was £19,999 pounds over the top, mind you……
    Ian – Dong Gook Lee? What a star! I’m one of only about 600 Boro fans who have actually seen him score a goal live (ie in England). I was at Mansfield when we beat them in the Cup – Gook scored!!!!!! Cue the chant, ‘The Gook, the Gook, the Gook is on fire!’ Sadly, some firemen promptly arrived to put out the flames and his blazing career died a soggy and smouldering death. Legend!

  32. ForKinnell, Clive, I remember it well. Were we on the same trip from school?
    We were 2-1 up at the Baseball ground due to two Hickton goals in the first half including a daft penalty. Big John had to change his boots because the pitch was a skating rink.
    Comfortable in the second half until a ball was crossed in to the box and someone stuck their arm in the air. Wonder who that could be?
    I will correct you here, whilst it was a £20000 fee it was £40000 too much.
    Dong Goal Less….
    John, Powls jnr and I saw his second match for the Boro at West Brom in the cup and he never looked like scoring. He had a chance to seal the match at 1-1 but never hit the mark.
    He went on a team away day and came out a virgin.
    In the same match Corporal Jones had a mare. A Baggies player shot form 35 yards but it was overtaken by a sloth, meanwhile Corporal stood there rooted to the spot

  33. Billy Harris and John O’Rourke are the obvious standouts missing from your (ridiculous) list. 25% of the players in your list were absolute crap during their time at the Boro especially Nobby Stiles and Billy Ashcroft.
    How does the over hill Nobby Stiles warrant a place in your list as a better signing for the Boro than a player who cost a (then) record club fee from Hull City, served the club for over 10 years playing over 350 games and scoring 70 odd goals.
    (If you dont know which player I’m on about , you prove my point!)
    I also see bit part no marks Alves, Karembeu, Branca and Fuchs in your list. Why didn’t you go the whole hog and include Reiziger.
    I realise you cant include everybody in your list but some of your choices are laughable and basically show up your lack of knowledge about Middlesbrough FC’s past and how easily impressed you are by foreign footballers with exotic names..
    **AV writes: Yes, Bill Harris was in with a shout. Mel Nurse was in with a shout. Ian Gibson. There were lots of solid buys in the 50s and 60s – but they were the norm in football then when players stayed for six or eight years and racked up 250 games. Maybe the list was skewed against them and in favour of the modern era, mea culpa. But that’s the nature of the beast.
    if it had just been based on number of games, or games per quid, then it would have been tilted the other way and it would have had Ralph Birkett, Willie Fernie and Ian Gibson in the top 10 and then I would have been under fire for not including Paul Merson and the likes.

  34. “**AV writes: Yes, Bill Harris was in with a shout. Mel Nurse was in with a shout. Ian Gibson. There were lots of solid buys in the 50s and 60s – but they were the norm in football then when players stayed for six or eight years and racked up 250 games. Maybe the list was skewed against them and in favour of the modern era, mea culpa. But that’s the nature of the beast.
    if it had just been based on number of games, or games per quid, then it would have been tilted the other way and it would have had Ralph Birkett, Willie Fernie and Ian Gibson in the top 10 and then I would have been under fire for not including Paul Merson and the likes. **
    But in what way were some of your choices better or more influential signings that say Billy Harris John O’Rourke John Craggs and even Stan Anderson in terms of value for money or service.
    Stiles, Ashcroft and some of the mercenaries in your list are a complete joke and the less said about the biggest laziest money grabbing mercenary of them all, Allen Boksic the better.
    *AV writes: They were all big signings at the time. It is easy to knock a transfer with hindsight They may not have worked out as was hoped but they caused a real stir, or broke the club transfer record. That’s why Alves is in. And Boksic was a jaw-dropping signing. He was one of the best players in the world, a household names (in houses that watched a lot of football) and Boro beat off a string of other big clubs to sign him.

  35. Wally –
    When I compiled my list of ten I went for players who made a real difference to the club. I had several players like the ones you mentioned who were worthy players and could easily been in my list of 40.
    I can see where AV is coming from as the players changed the direction or were a surprise at the time.
    As for Mr Boksic, at the time a Lazio fan said he was a huge talent but he wouldnt stay fit. A quick glance at his record showed he played just over twenty games a season – we got 68 over two and a half seasons scoring a goal every three games.
    At £2.5m was he worse than Alves and Mido?

  36. Ian –
    You’re probably right. It almost certainly was a school trip – we all went all over the place in those days in a minibus! Great fun, pre-hooligan days! And yes, you’re right again, it was our George who deliberately handled. Cue the chant! Boro went on to lose 3-2, I recall.
    Dong Gook – am I correct in thinking that he missed a penalty in the shoot-out against Bristol City at home in the League Cup? Anybody remember?

  37. If you are going to include Bryan Robson, then surely Jack Charlton should be up there near the top. This was an untried manager in his first job and he was a resounding success. Arguably he laid the foundations for The Boro’s future successes.
    Without him we would probably never have got up into the top flight of English football. In his book he bemoans the fact he never went out and signed a top striker, and that if he had they would probably have been title contenders.
    Compare to his much more famous brother who went to manage Preston at the same time, and failed dismally. He certainly put Boro on the football map.
    **AV writes: But he didn’t come as a player. Maybe if you substituted Stan Anderson for him there would be a case there as an unsung architect.

  38. To continue in the same vein, Steve Round was also a good signing for the Boro. Who’s to say that a major part of the success during MacLarens tenure wasn’t in no small way down to him.
    It would appear he will soon be David Moyes’ assistant at Manchester United.

  39. GHW –
    I seem to remember Steve Round did not really fit in to what Gareth wanted. I suspect he was quite a method person, playing the game by numbers.
    It would be intriguing to see him pair up wih Moyes at ManU, Van Persie could end up at right back so he could tuck in.
    Clive –
    If it was the same trip we youngsters ended up wandering around Nottingham whilst the elders went formation drinking.
    On another note we have Jose back. What is interesting is how relaxed he seems to be, he seems genuinely happy to be back in England.
    I will leave the bile to others.
    **AV writes: I haven’t left you all by the way. I’m on an intense digital, data and social media training course in London. They are showing me how the bells and whistles work on our new system and how to build an on-line audience.
    Carry on talking among yourself. I’ll be back soon.

  40. SkyBet has us at 8-1 to go up, oddly we are 8-1 to go down. Pretty well sums us up.
    Still, fixtures will be released soon, the transfer market will pick up speed and we can get excited.
    Some of us will also be keeping a close eye on on the cricket and the lions as well.

  41. What a summer for retiring footballers: Scholes, Beckham, Phil Neville and now Mido! The heart bleeds for our former front (or should that be wide) man.
    Mido has managed an average of 5 games/season for the last 4 years. You’d be forgiven for thinking he retired in 2009.
    He said he wanted to thank all his fans. That shouldn’t take longer than the time it takes to microwave a pie.

  42. A new blog coming anytime soon, AV?
    Secondly, do you think the Dean Whitehead deal will go ahead? Alredy 31 year old but played quite a lot at Stoke last season and a former Mackem captain I believe. I quite like the idea even he is not one for the long run. An experienced midfielder who can play at RB, too.
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: Yes, I’ll do some writing work soon. I’ve had the best part of a solid week doing training on new systems here and multi-media bells and whistles in London so I haven’t had time to fart. I haven’t seen my kids since Monday. I’ve just got back today. Think of it as my pre-season training.
    I’ve seen all the rumours and names being thrown around but nothing has been happening, I know nature abhors a vacuum and fans really want us to write something and make some names up and big up up every bit of internet gossip just to break the boredom but seriously, nothing has happened.
    But Mogga is back now. Him and Gibbo did another gig at Rockliffe to an audience of 90 or so corporate box holders with a similar set list to the one that a couple of other focus groups have cheered along to this week and they are both getting ready to step up the preparations in the next week or so.

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