Nostalgia, Alienation and The Ghosts Of The Holgate Haunting Us All

MY FAVOURITE game. Maybe. Probably. Possibly. Probably. I’m on a nostalgia trip right now so the gritty dues serving nights on the Holgate are edging the easy if undeniably brilliant glories of Cardiff and Europe at the moment.
And of all the fantastic nights on the Holgate, this was the best: struggling Boro beat title chasing Aston Villa to book an unbelievable first ever trip to Wembley. It may only have been the ZDS Cup but so what? It was Wembley. We were going to Wembley. Fantastic. Even now, 20 odd years later, I still shudder with the memories of that night.


What a night. We EIOed and “que sera sera-ed” pretty much non-stop after Nookie’s goal. Grown men cried. Tough, cynical dockers and steelworkers in donkey jackets and everything. A big group of us were broken up, pushed and pulled and thrown in all directions by the eddy of the Holgate surge. We were hugging strangers, Losing money and all dignity in the scrum. The Old School good natured invasion on the whistle was the last time I was on the pitch in an unofficial capacity. It was great. Bizarrely I told Peter Davenport he’d had a great game. He had. How crazy was that?
Then, hoarse and euphoric, a big gang of us – plus a group of strangers bonded by a once in a lifetime experience of emotional melding and dreams coming true – did a noisy conga all the way up to the Empire just in time for last orders, got big sloppy kisses off a tear-streaked Frankie Bam Bam outside the Boro fish bar and finished off in the Speakeasy chanting “All the Geordies Went To Rome” … brilliant.
Watching that video now what stands out? Bernie’s goal.., what a poacher. How much would he be worth now? How ragged and frantic it was at times but how attack minded the team was? How few replica shirts there were in the crowd. How few old couples and families there were? How few people were sat in stony silence (even though the team were in danger of relegation back to the third division and some of the football in recent weeks had been dreadful)? How many big gangs of ecstatic teenage lads were going mental without being taken out by hi-vis SWAT stewards? What a fantastic time the fans were having despite the fences, the primative open air toilets and the rubbish facilities?
holgate2.jpg
I’ve been watching a lot of old footage over the past few weeks, the celluloid gold of old TyneTees weekly high-lights footage from 1986 onwards on DVD. That and the joyously amateur “Marching On Together”, an in-house cash-in behind the scenes at Ayresome video documentary celebrating Lennie Lawrence’s promotion to the Premier League. It is delightfully low on budget and production values but high on nostalgia (you can see it here in bite-sized bits on YouTube)
It shows a different club, a different world. Expectations were lower, yes. And Ayresome was an often half empty crumbling antique. But everyone seems far more engaged, animated and aware of their importance to the whole. There are a lot of references to the still smarting sting of liquidation – there were still players there who experienced it – and it is quite clear that team, board and fans were regarded as equal partners in the great escape. Back then we really were ‘Marching On Together’.
For all the epoch-shaping glitz and glamour of multi-million pound star names, the status bestowed by the Premier League and the historic validation and joy of Cardiff and Europe, it is those bedsit days of bovril and the Power Game that remain the cultural touchstone of a generation.
A generation that remember when the match was a vibrant collective experience of like minded loyalists dissolved into one heaving mass rather than an alienating portion controlled entertainment to be packaged and consumed as passive individual customers welded into their own seats with the ever present threat of being chastised if you can not control your emotions.
There is a strong wave of frustrated nostalgia surging through football fans nationwide right now. The sanitised and soulless all seater experience, the unjustifiable madhouse economics of the game – It costs £20 to watch games in League Two! That’s twice as much as most Bundesliga games! – and the hopeless institutionalised protection racket of the Premier League have turned legions of loyalists away from the game they love. And it is not just at Boro.
A frustrated Leicester fan – the editor of the fanzine and high profile local media presence… their Rob Nichols in fact – has this week being getting a lot of hits and retweets in cyber-space (and a lot of abuse too it must be said) after admitting that his kids were immune to a game that as a child had struck him as an inescapable and virulent chronic infection. And, he said, he was starting to share their complete indifference to a cold commercial enterprise that had lost it’s narcotic appeal and offered little in the way of entertainment. It had become a chore. It was boring.
Plenty of people feel that way. Average teenage millionaires swagger through games and through life surrounded by sycophants and completely unaware of the existence of the people who pay their wages, totally divorced from the sacrifices that supporters still make to follow their team. Feral, feckless superstars flaunt their wealth like a tasteless tattoo in lives and cribs that echo those of gansta rap stars, and that is just about bearable because they deliver on the pitch – but a legion of lesser lucky over-paid under-achievers ape that behaviour without the mitigation of success or any sense of embarrassment at sub-standard performances. That is rubbing supporters noses in it.
And that as much as anything is why crowds are collapsing. Alienation. Sit down, shut up, give us your money. You can only wave that thing on an ‘official flag day.’ Orchestrated music directing empty Pavlovian celebration. Maverick fans who are trying to spark an unendorsed atmosphere surrounded by menacing and over-eager prefects waiting to pounce…. Supporters are being denied an active role in the game they love and which they alone nurtured through the dark days, a game which has always flourished because it has put the passions of the crowd at the heart of the match day experience.
That’s why we went. To be part of a collective event. Not because Billy Woof, Garry McDonald or Paul Sugrue were dream-weavers who held out the prospect of success but because being part of the crowd could be an electric and uplifting emotional experience.
And even if it wasn’t so electric on any particular day it was still a place where you could have a laugh, be sarcastic and scathing. It was cheap and cheerful and a rite of passage for working class men that linked them to previous generations who shared the same cultural DNA and the same experience. We were united in pride, passion, identity, history – and in those days when the ZDS was a meaningful trophy and the height of our aspirations, relief at the escape from the nightmare of possible extinction.
The dynamic unity in the crowd and the tangible link between it and the team in those years that followed liquidation transcended whatever happened on the pitch. It was brilliant. And narcotic. And energising. That powerful unity – between fans and between fans and the club – was what was important.
Without that, what is left? Skill, excitement and success? With the sheen of top flight glamour gone – and with it the relentless TV promotion – what is left is a vacuum. A disconnect. An alarming alienation that has left many fans cynical and remote from what should be a vibrant symbiotic relationship.
It is rebuilding the crucial link between crowd and team that is the real task of clubs like Boro as much as regaining a place on the Premier League gravy team. And it will be harder. It can’t be bought.

*****************
    Eagle eyed viewers will notice this is a repeat. Another chance to see a classic cut from the archives. That is what big media organisations do to fill screen time while all the executives are away in Tuscany. I am not being that cynical. I did actually plan a series of
    pieces on fan engagement over the summer before my enforced absence.
    After the club melted a bit and opened a dialogue with the Gazette and fans’ groups last season it is important to push forward a reforming agenda. There is not much more movement possible on price (Boro are among the cheapest in the Championship already and the gate income is vital if the club are to compete) but as we all know, price is not necessarily the most important factor: value for money stems as much from results, the style of what is delivered on the pitch and the less tangible enjoyment factor.
    I’ll be drawing up a shopping list of “fan engagement” suggestions and ideas to take to the club over the next month or so and I’m looking for your ideas for simple, easy win, low cost-high return activities that can help rebuild emotional bridges.
    I’m thinking of simple things like players hand-writing birthday cards for junior season ticket holders, players adopting school teams and taking coaching or assemblies, open training sessions, stewards being more “customer focussed” and less security minded, fan imput into tarting up the concourses, launching supporters’ clubs in the hinterland towns, regular and more honest communication with broad based fans’ groups. You know the sort of thing. Get your thinking caps on.

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42 thoughts on “Nostalgia, Alienation and The Ghosts Of The Holgate Haunting Us All

  1. I have to agree with your match choice AV (I live in the Midlands and a lot of my mates are/were Villa supporters, so it was a great time.)
    Also agree with your statement regarding Bernie’s prowess in front of goal, If I remember correctly Ron Atkinson was commentating and even he said ‘Only Bernie Slaven could score a goal like that’
    Great memories.

  2. Speaking of fan engagement, any idea what happened to Steve Gibson’s proposed state of the nation address? Wasn’t a webcast type thing mentioned?
    **AV writes: I don’t think he’s been on Teesside much of late. I’ll try and chase it up.

  3. Good article AV, well written and making a good point. I agree that feeling a part of a united club with fans and team and board all pulling in the same direction is important but I don’t think we can get that back.
    The clubs have grown too far apart from the fans and see them as cash cows. A new generation of post-Premier League fans think they have paid their money so expect to be entertained (and expect success). And the players are lightyears removed from the ordinary supporters. I can’t see how a few empty gestures and a birthday card for the sprog will heal that.

  4. Ste Mac –
    I totally agree. I dont intend to hark back to the old days and say how much better they were because many things werent.
    The players have grown away from the fans and that is down to the money but we cant put the genie back in the bottle.
    I have thrown the odd pebble in the pond about sensible decisions in the current climate. Pleading poverty, begging people to put their hands in their pockets to buy tickets then taking the club off to Portugal is a poor example.
    I know people will think Gilly grumping again but many wont be having a holiday never mind an overseas trip with work having failed so miserably.
    I dont expect sackcloth and ashes, bread and gruel but we invested a fortune in a state of the art training facility. From what I have seen it doesnt look like a wasteland.
    Most of them will have had their spells abroad during their two months off.
    I suppose you could say that at least they arent at Crockcliffe, blast, it slipped out. Talking of which, where is Seb Hines?
    **AV writes: He is recovering from an operation on his knee.

  5. Those days are long gone. We didnt go for the football, we went for the excitement both on and off the pitch. The andreline was pumped up all week in anticipation of what might just happen, the chase to the station afterwards – the intimacy of the stand, the bonding the once a fortnight friendships.
    To be honest I didnt like the Riverside when I went back last year, the people there didnt seem to know or like each other anymore,maybe that is how life is now in UK. I got more pleasure from watching Stockton play at Victoria 40 years ago, that watching Boro last October.

  6. The ZDS match against Villa is up there as one of my favs too. I was in the grandstand with my Dad, he was around 68 I think. He’d watched Boro all his life and that night we got to Wembley, he was jumping up and down on his seat, never seen him like that before or since.
    I took him to Wembley to watch the final and he swore he’d never go back because it was such a pit, so he didnt see the FA or league cup finals.
    Those days weren’t the good old days, the grounds were hovels, the fans were treated like scum by the police and by contempt by the clubs (in as much as they didn’t give a damn about the environment we had to watch the football in.)
    Don’t look at that era through rose tinted glasses. The atmosphere on the Holgate was great at times but not always. The atmosphere outside of most grounds was toxic and violent, no wonder there are no women or kids in any of the photos. Would you have exposed your young kid or wife to that sort of atmosphere?
    Football culture needed to change but there was no will within the sport to do it. It took more than one tragedy to bring about change and then it was forced upon us by a Prime Minister who didn’t know or care about football.
    Now, we have fantastic facilities which lack for nothing apart from a terrace to stand on. More needs to be done to encourage the teenage boys back, but they have so many more options than we did thirty years ago, to blame the lack of young men at a match solely on the lack of a terrace is daft, its far more complicated than that. I could go on and on, on this topic but I’ll leave it there.
    Thinking about it, my all time favourite match was probably the 3-3 v Chesterfield in the FA cup semi, but I may have a different view tomorrow!

  7. There were 4,000 fans arriving at 2.55pm, trying to get into the Holgate through that back alley entrance on the North side, all moaning when the Power game started, “Come on,whats the hold up? Let us in, we’re gonna miss it”,
    And the funny thing is,i t was the same every home game,

  8. For me it’s the League Cup against Chelsea in 1967. I’ll never forget Eric McMordie lifting it over Peter Bonetti’s, running around him and slotting it in!
    30,000 plus in Ayresome Park. Bliss!
    **AV writes: I’ve been speaking to Big John HIckton today about the Oxford match. That sounds like a hell of an atmosphere.

  9. The Oxford game eh! I was there too as an 11 yr old. All the kids in there that night were lifted over the wall and sat on the running track around the pitch as the ground was full to bursting point!
    This was the game that got us from the 3rd Div back into the 2nd. A fabulous night, but the Chelsea game edges it, as we were beating top flight opposition. I reckon you could write a separate entry on the 4-1 win over Oxford and get some fantastic comments.

  10. Oxford Utd….
    My greatest match. But it wasnt just one night, it was string of matches that culminated in that night, the Ayresome Angels, a return from the brink.
    We had been slowly sinking for many years and were in trouble near the foot of the third division. The 3-2 win against Workington on Big John’s debut. 2-0 down in no time. Cue the fightback with John on the scoresheet. Momentum grew and once we did the double over Darlo at Christmas the charge was on. It was a come from behind promotion as we set highest league attendances week by week.
    The game against Posh in the second last match was nerve shredding. Pre-match the chap who led the community singing at Wembley did a warm-up gig. He got roundly booed when he asked us to sing Blaydon Races.
    Ayresome was rocking but nervous as 32000+ suffered as we went ahead in the second half to be pegged back but a winner secured the points, goals by McMordie and Big John saw us home.
    The match against Oxford saw over 38,000 crammed in to the ground. Goodness knows the true figure. It was a tense wait over the preceding days but at last it arrived and after an even more tense half an hour the floodgates opened.
    Going back to part of Vic’s piece, it was triumph of team and fans. They lived amongst us. Derrick Downing lived across the road, Eric McMordie across the back, Big John lived on Trimdon and Willie Whigham around the corner. Willie gave us a lift a couple of times to the ground. Definitely a Smoggie, truly smoked glass.
    Yes, nostalgia lends a different perspective but it was before football violence, grounds were shocking but we all marched together.

  11. For me it has to be Oxford as well.
    The crowd in the Holgate End was surely twice what it should have been, talk about safety. Me and my mate Colin climbed up one of the steel supports holding up the roof, what a fantastic view from up there.
    Unfortunately the Ayresome Angels in the crowd, wearing their multicoloured site safety hats, remember them, pointed up to us shouting “hooligans”, and the stewards made us come down.
    **AV writes: I’m trying to find some pictures of the game.

  12. I was not allowed to go to the Oxford match, was it a night match. Anyhow in the papers the next morning it was all about the wall that fell over and hurt a few of the crowd. But it was the main subject at school for days…

  13. Nostalgia. Now you’re in my territory! Oxford for me too.
    When I started watching, half the team were internationals and we had an England forward line (Clough, Peacock, Holliday). My first match was an away win at Leeds.
    I used to go with me dad (dragged along initially but later I dragged him). However by the mid-60s he’d become disenchanted and he stopped going. For somebody who had seen a Boro team credibly building for the League title, only to be stopped by war, relegation to the 3rd tier was unthinkable.
    It took me a while to get some mates interested but our dad-free regular attendance coincided with the beginning of the recovery that, unbelievably, led to the 66-67 promotion.
    It’s funny how so many of my most vivid and fond memories are of night matches. Like it was yesterday, I can picture Johnny Crossan’s hip-high flying volley in the 4-0 against Palace.
    Andy R’s jealous comments put a different slant on things. I’d never thought of myself as privileged to have roughed it.
    Certainly the atmosphere was better, the community feel between supporters and club was better and the bond with the players was much stronger. In hindsight, the football back then was often poor. You probably don’t get it in TTT land but I watch games from the 70s on Big Match Revisited. Even the play from the top teams is often mediocre. It looks very traditionally British compared to the more controlled continental game we’ve become used to.
    On the other hand, they were British players. As others have pointed out, in those days they were one of us, lived amongst us and often were local lads. That was the basis of the bond: they were us that had made the grade.
    Living where I do, I mainly get to away games. However, on the occasions I make it to the Riverside, I find it sterile – more atmosphere on the moon. It’s much the same for all the new stadia.

  14. Boro turn down £800k bid for Grant from the team by the Trent.
    I wonder how much would be needed for us to accept the bid? Though we can ill afford to lose his goals from midfield, his incisive passing, shielding the back four and goals from his set piece delivery.

  15. Definitely up there AV . Would possibly put our 4-1 promotion destroying thumping of the Mags above it . Ian Baird what a bloody hero.
    Other top ones, stuffing Arsenal ( and Malcolm Macdonald) 4-1 in the 5th
    Round of the cup in 77, and Oxford promotion game in 74 , and last but not
    least ,4th round win against West Brom in 81 , when a certain Davy Hodgson stood on the shoulders of giants in the Holgate singing his head off !

  16. A workout and a win in Portugal with a few pre season niggles.
    Elsewhere the debate about the use of technology in sport rears its head. Like everything, it depends how it is used. If someone blunders then it is a waste of time.
    The problem is that contrary to the popular myth it never evens itself out. Schwarzer being sent off against Toon then their keeper staying in identical circumstances proved that. We lost, we never got the points back.
    In a cricket match in South Africa the third umpire didnt have the sound turned up on the TV. Everyone but him could hear the nick that wasnt given, Smith made a big score and England lost.
    Yesterday the third umpire overturned the on field umpire’s decision. Never mind there was no hot spot view, you could see the ball deflect a couple of inches. Throw in the fact the young aussie was ‘out’ stumped before he scored most his 98.
    Human error is human error but we all feel it goes against our own sides.
    I just cant see technology working in real time in most football situations. Line decisions are probably ok.
    Human error is human error.
    **AV writes: I don’t mind human error. It gives us all something to talk about.

  17. I haven’t seen so many matches live as I have always lived over 1,000 miles from the Boro. But there are two favourite matches in my mind.
    First was the home game at Hartlepool in 1986 where we saw Boro back in live. But there were other 30 000 fans who saw the match, too! And the 2-2 draw was not the gretest games especially was we were 2-0 up first. So perhaps this does not count, but the drive up the to Victoria ground was great.
    So my favourite game must have been a league win over Aston Villa, when the Midlands team were dominating the league. It was snowing sheets at Ayresome Park and the atmosphere was really enjoyed up here, too. I listened live to the match through BBC World Service. The commontator was discribing it felt like Boro had won the World Cup. The atmosphere was terrific!
    What year the match was played? Can anyone help me in there?
    Up the Boro!

  18. Jarkko –
    I lived away from Teesside at the time and also remember the match. I think it was when Craig Jonhston was with us, in other words before Liverpool poached from us yet again.

  19. I wasn’t there but my older brother said that the Sunderland game before the Wolves game where a Graeme Hedley (?) header won the match for us was a very tasty atmosphere.
    Brucie’s first game in charge against Sheff Utd had a cracking atmosphere – at least compared to the previous five years – even though they beat us. 1986 and all that really started that night. Another evening game, aren’t all the best atmospheres?
    And yes, beating the Geordies 4.1 at home is up there as well. Possibly my favourite non cup game.

  20. Its getting close AV, when do we get the chance to give our observations regarding Boro Nation,as we go into the 13/14 season.
    I understand there still maybe some ins and outs before kick off,but its getting close
    **AV writes: I don’t think we (or many other teams) are anywhere near the finished article yet but feel free to make rash predictions any time now…

  21. I totally agree with Ian re luck evening itself out. What nonsense.
    Luck is random and independent of what has been before. If it isn’t, it isn’t luck. Toss a coin 50 times and the chances of you getting 25 heads and 25 tails are the same as getting 50 heads and no tails or any other combination.
    You also have to take into account the intangible amount of luck. Luck isn’t equal in the magnitude of it’s consequences nor it’s divide between good and bad.
    On Broad’s decision today, well you could argue that the Aussies have only themselves to blame. “Technology” was brought in to eradicate the umpiring shocker. Technically, a captain should never lose a review never mind run out of them. Broad should still have walked though.
    A cricket loving friend of mine made an astute wider point on Broad’s refusal to walk – that there is an interesting difference in the thresholds of morality across different sports. Hold your hands up in football ala Fowler or Di Canio and you are briefly regarded as a saint, but fail to do so and you are a “winner”. Doing the same in golf, cricket or snooker is seen merely as the norm. Failing to do so earns pariah status.
    Broadly speaking (groan), I would be in favour of “technology” in football though. I think it adds entertainment value to other sports as much as anything.

  22. Andy R
    Broad walk? Against the Aussies!
    Previous Aussie captains have berated any of their players who didnt walk. They have a history of not walking.
    I was playing at Scarborough, the bowler sent a delivery down the offside, I moved my pad over and lifted my bat high in the air. The keeper threw the ball to second slip, the keeper started back to his mark. Then cover appealed. I was given out. In the scorebook it said how out – unknown!
    It is hard to define what is correct. There were some players who walked, when they did it was huge nicks and strode off with bats under their arms. Sportsman one and all. Until there were marginal calls when they stood their ground playing on the fact they were walkers.
    In the Broad case I felt sorry for the umpire, his view is different to the one we get from high up with super slow replays. From where he was stood he probably couldnt tell if it was an edge or just off the keeper, he possibly only heard one sound.
    Anyway it made interesting TV. The Aussies post match seemed quite relaxed.

  23. Andy R –
    Remind me to have a bet with you next time you spin a few coins. I’m no mathematician , but the chances of throwing 50 consecutive heads or tails are far less, and the odds far higher, than throwing 25 of each. Toss a coin twice and you will get one of the following results;
    2 Heads, 2 Tails, 1 Tail and 1 Head, 1Head and 1 Tail .
    The odds against throwing 2 Heads is 3-1, against 2 Tails is 3-1, and against 1 Head and 1Tail no more than evens. That is just with 2 spins.
    You stand a far greater chance of getting 25 of each coin- side from 50 spins, than you do of getting either 50 Heads or Tails on the trot. Either of those results would, in fact, be a complete freak, one chance in hundreds of millions, whereas getting 25 of each would be reasonably probable.
    I think that the point you were thinking of is that coins,like roulette wheels, have no memory. That when you spin a coin or the wheel, the chances of the result being a head or a tail, a red or a black are 50-50. Because the previous ten turns have all, say, been tails or red, the laws of probability do not mean that the next one will be a head or a black, “because it is due.” Neither the coin nor the wheel know or remember what the result of the previous turns were, and therefore do something to restore the balance. The belief that they do is surprisingly widespread amongst roulette players.
    To return to your original example, if a coin has been spun 49 times and it has landed heads every time then the chances of it landing heads again on the 50th spin are 50-50. It is neither more nor less likely to land on heads because of the coin’s previous history . But this is not to say that throwing 50 heads or 50 tails is just as likely as throwing 25 of each.

  24. Len –
    As your example perfectly illustrates, you’re absolutely right. Again. There are more ways of getting an even split therefore it is more likely. Remind ME not to post past 9pm. I should have a curfew for the sake of myself.
    Having bothered to research before posting this time I can see that getting a 25-25 split on 50 coin tosses in fact about 126 trillion times more likely than getting 50 heads. So I wasn’t far off.
    The point of luck in football “even-ing itself out” stills stand though. I think. Though it’s extremely likely you’ll get a fair bit of both.
    Ian –
    yes, Broad should have walked! I know it isn’t in the rule book and he is under no obligation, but we all know the unwritten rule of walking when you are obviously out. He’ll have his middle stump blown out of the ground next and stand waiting for the finger. Poor form.
    Your anecdote is classic club cricket/sport in general. Much of the entertainment at lower levels comes not from the sport but the farcical or slapstick events therein. As all good schoolboys know, though, two wrongs don’t make a right.
    **AV writes: I don’t mind telling you, hosting a discussion of the nuances of cricket on here is really freaking me… .

  25. GHW –
    your observation that when it comes to Boro the normal Laws of Physics no longer apply may not be without foundation. There is a school of thought amongst some scientists that the constants of nature appears to be different in different parts of the cosmos. If they are correct in their interpretation then it conflicts with Einstein’s equivalence principle, which states that the laws of physics are the same everywhere.
    They are busy in their laboratories around the world analysing interactions between light and matter, perhaps we could save them decades of experimenting and show them old VT’s of Boro through the ages to observe.

  26. Andy R –
    The debate in cricket seems to be how brazen the not walking is.
    An Aussie said they hadn’t had the rub of the green. Their number 11 given not out after scoring 6 then putting on another 150 with his partner, Trott gets a shocker and the ball clearly deflects a couple of inches. Both of those were after the umpire with myriad replays that gave evidence cleary in contradiction of his decisions. Then the Broad incident.
    That is 2-1 to the favour of the Aussies.
    We then have two dismissals where Clarke and Haddin say they didn’t hit the ball. Both reviews showed they had hit the ball by hotspot and the snickometer. Clicked the pad with their bats, very clever as the bat was ell clear of the pad.
    Still, it is only a game.
    Read the report by Andy Halliday, its a hard life, someone has to do it but it appears not me.

  27. Eduardo Vargas? Does Mogga like players with lots of v’s, g’s r’s and a’s in their name?
    Just on the cricket front, where Broad’s decision was concerned I thought he got it spot on. We’re playing the Aussie’s after all, normal rules don’t apply!

  28. I know people are here for cricket, but may I still have a thought or two about a team they call Boro?
    I quite like the idea of singing a winger. Bristol City winger Albert Adomah, who is also interesting big spending Wigan, has always been a player Mowbray has admired and the player has handed in a transfer request at Ashton Gate. As he has a year left of his contract, is he too expensive for Boro as Brissol will want a fee, too?
    Secondly, the Chile international striker Eduardo Vargas rumour sounds exciting – how I wish we had some leeway for signing a striker. A miracle of finding somebody to sign Emnes or McDonald would do fine. Then either Danny Garham or Vargas could be a possibility.
    I think the signing of a centre back is the easiest thing to do. Just wonder why I takes so long for Mogga to make his move. Perhaps he likes to see the fitness of Rhys and Woody first, and then go for a loan from the PL.
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: There’s no chance of Boro signing Albert Adomah. He is going to Wigan unless Cardiff stop messing about and actually put a bid in. Can’t believe anyone who knows the financial landscape believes it is a possibility.

  29. For atmosphere it had to be the 8-0 over Sheff Wed. The title was in the bag long ago.
    It was a lesson in football and the Holgate was pumping. I dont think my feet touched the ground for the whole ninety minutes.
    **AV writes: That was John Hickton’s second choice.

  30. AV –
    I must admit I am not postulating too expectantly over players because I think it is tough at the moment in our financial situation. We will get who we can.
    A daft punt might be Mattie Bates but again, it would be the finances that dictate. He may not want to come and Mogga may not want him in any case. Plus of course he is no less injury prone than Rhys, Hines and Woodie. I suspect the priority would be a centre half without a history of injury.
    I think we also need a left back unlless Haliday is deemed good enough, a striker and a creative midfielder/winger.
    I am a bit intrigued at the story about Ireland. Do we need another box to box midfielder?.
    **AV writes: That is probably a non-starter. Villa want shot and his agent has rung a lot of clubs and Mogga is keen (no doubt a few managers are ) and has asked to be kept informed – but unless cash-strapped Villa are ready to pick up maybe £50k a week of his wages I can’t see how it is remotely possible… that is even if you think a bloke who has barely played in the last three years and who is more famous for blink, tattoos and pretending his granny was dead to avoid a match is the kind of inspiration we need.

  31. AV –
    see your point Adomah. I was thinking he is on lower wages at Brissol than Boro.
    But still we need an attacking midfielder or a winger. On the right we have Haroun but not much more. On the left we have Muzzy and Reach so that side is OK by me.
    Any news on the televised match against Queen of the South in the Ramsdens Cup “final”? I understood that Boro won’t like to play on a plastic pich – at least with Woody on
    the side.
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: Yes he is on lower wages at Bristol than Boro would offer… but we understand he has been offered over £20k at Wigan with Premier League Cardiff weighing up a bid that would probably top that (and mean he wouldn’t need to move. Well out of our league now. We should have done it last year.
    The Ramsdens Cup match with Queen of the South looks to be a dead duck. Boro didn’t want to play on a plastic pitch and a search for an alternative venue drew a blank. Then Boro tried to jiggle a few dates about but neither side could make that work. Then it was mooted that they came down here and maybe play a Boro Under21 side but not at the Riverside but I think they would lose money on that. So for now it is on ice.
    Personally I’d have have them down to play our Academy side at the Riverside before the Bordeaux game as a double header but what do I know? Maybe it will be restaged for the end of the season? We’ll see.

  32. Albert Adomah clearly doesn’t fit the profile of player Mogga is looking for, now if he were called Vagomar then we’d be cooking on gas.

  33. Big John clearly is a man who knows what he is talking about. I saw the 8-0 v Wed with my Dad, its a match that will live in my memory for ever.

  34. The latest transfer rumours all sound a bit suspect – I agree with your Ireland assessment (why would Villa want rid so bad that they’d pay 90% of his wages?).
    Also the proposed Vargas deal looks odd as he’s only just started a 12 month loan to Gremio in Brazil, who’ve reportedly paid £1.6m for the loan – OK he has a clause saying that he would be returned if another club came in for him, but given the £12m transfer fee Napoli paid, what kind of numbers would Boro be able to come up with to entice either party?
    I could understand if Boro risk some money if they had a saleable asset to move on but loan deals give no returns – I think at the moment these deals may only be a ploy to put pressure on other behind the scenes deals yet to be made public.
    **AV writes: Phil got the Vargas story straight from the dug-out in the Algarve. It seems that Napoli – who have a recall option – would rather Vargas was playing in Europe as they have more chance of a future sale to recoup some of their outlay. And he would rather be playing in Europe as, like all ambitious players, he wants to try to earn a move to a big Champions League club. He needs a stepping stone. That appears to be the logic from his camp.
    As we understand it there have been preliminary talks and both sides are keen to make it work if the sums add up. How much he is on and how much Napoli would pay, I don’t know. How much Boro could afford I don’t know. It could revolve around off-loading one of the current high-earning strikers. We’ll see.

  35. AV –
    First of all I hope Mrs Vic is on the mend, no doubt a family break is imminent.
    On to less important matters, I suppose we will have a dose of ‘should have got Danny Graham’ shortly. Totally ignoring the fact we probably couldnt afford him and are not in the premiership.
    Maybe Wayne and Colleen could be tempted by free Parmos.
    It wont be easy to get players in to the club. In theory we already have
    Steele, Ripley, Leutwiler
    Parnaby, Hoyte, Williams, Woodie, Gibson, Hines, Friend, Haliday
    Reach, Haroun, Ledesma, Carayol, Leadbitter, Varga, Whitehead, Park, Smallwood.
    McDonald, Main, Juke, Williams, Emnes
    Plus more academy players coming through. If Premiership clubs have to nominate a 25 man squad how many do we need?
    If we bring players in some will have to go because they wont be used. If they don’t feature we may as well get money for them or take them off the wages. You will always have some injuries but you cannot man up on the basis they will sit in the treatment room.
    It is a tough balancing act.
    **AV writes: Very few teams in the Championship are doing much business and even fewer are spending actual money. At the moment it is a stand-off in the shadow of FFP with wages being driven down and players’ piqued by what they are being offered. The clubs are waiting for players’ wage demands to come down and players’ hoping they get desperate and push the boat out before the deadline so I expect it to be a slow market until after the season starts.
    As it stands, midfield is stronger than last year, up front is the same and defence is one down. I think they are working on that right now.

  36. Interesting, a potential Vargas deal sounds more of a possibility than I thought – if Emnes was ‘moved on’ I’d be more than happy with him as a replacement.
    Of course he still falls into the enigmatic forward category as any player who goes from runner-up to Neymar as S American footballer of the year and a £12m move with Napoli to joining a mid-table Championship team in less than 2 years proves.
    Still he may prove more than capable for the Championship if he settles in and plays with confidence – though he may be haunted by the ghost of Alves and to some extent Maccarone.
    The good news for fans is that they could always get a Varga shirt and then invest in a Velcro ‘S’ to keep their options open.
    I’ve also heard Boro may be interested in trying out another Ameobi – again not sure about the numbers on that one but he definitely would give a presence up front.
    On the subject of clubs and players playing blink – I wonder how Mogga will cope with trying to organise teams for matches and fielding the plethora of potential deals as deadline day looms – especially as he needs a half-decent start to the season to keep the crowd off his back.

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