Bam Bam Banner Unites Riverside Crowd On A Night of Frustration

“HE’S ONE of our own. He’s one of our own….”
That was an important unifying refrain weaved through yet another frustrating “should’a, would’a, could’a” stalemate that ultimately no one will be happy about. The result was frustrating and will deepen the in-fighting … but there were some positives to take from the game that should strengthen our spirit and resolve.

Boro desperately needed a win to relieve the mounting pressure on the boss and to kick-start a stuttering season but instead had to be content with yet another scrappy salvaged draw that resolved little and served only to intensify the atmosphere next time.
The fighting spirit shown by Boro as they battled from behind, the chances created and the hunger on display in the final flurry should probably all be put in the credit column even if it felt ultimately unsatisfying and the simmering tensions and burning questions will now just be carried forward to Saturday’s showdown with Yeovil.
But putting all that aside, the game really should go down in our collective cultural memory bank as one marked primarily by the touching tribute to old school terrace legend Frankie Bam Bam.
Bam Bam was a larger than life figure was well known to most fans – especially those who travelled away during the 70s and 80s – and by most of the players of the Ayresome era. He was not averse to ringing up Steve Gibson for a chat. Mark Proctor summed up his gregarious and ubiquitous nature in a nice tribute in the Gazette. and Tony Mowbray added some nice words of his own as well as hailing the “true fans” for sticking with the team through some frustrating times of late.
Bam Bam was really “one of our own”… a typical working class Teessider who liked a pint, liked a laugh and loved the Boro and made it his life mission to support them as passionately – and loudly – as possible. Here he is holding court and expounding his simple approach from early 90s documentary Marching On Together.
It is important that the contribution of supporters – as individuals and collectively – is recognised. Especially when the supporters are so visible. So the simple but heart felt tribute was respected and celebrated by everyone in the Riverside. It is little symbolic acts like that and the moments of reverential private musing on the Boro Brick Road that help bind us all together. Threads in the great Boroeux Tapestry of our history.
A hastily organised fitting fans’ salute in the 65th minute revolved around an amateurish bedsheet banner that spoke of 70s cup finals and the naive joy of the original Ayresome Angels rather than modern designer computer fonts on well cut treated textiles with full risk assessments and safety certificates.
The DIY daubed banner proclaiming Frankie as Boro’s No 1 fan was unveiled in the 65th minute – his age when he died on Saturday night – to a roar of approval and a round of applause that engulfed the ground. It was a genuinely touching moment.
The tribute had been organised on-line and it wasn’t really official although club staff had given the nod and agreed to turn a blind eye to the flagrant health & safety infringements and the need for three weeks notice but then Frankie never really did things by the book or recognised ground regulations so he would have liked it.
As the banner started its progress around the perimeter from the North Stand it magnetically attracted the eyes of the entire crowd – not much was happening on the pitch at the time – and dragged a ripple of respect with it.
It made its way past the Family Zone leaving dads and grand-dads to explain to the next generation about celebrity status, the rough and ready nature of the Bam and about the less polished but perhaps more passionate fandom from days past.
These things are important to reinforce our shared identity. That a crowd can so openly display affection and respect for a fellow supporter restores a bit of faith in what sometimes can seem like a soulless and shallow past-time.
But the old and new worlds of football fandom collided as the banner reached the away section and killjoy stewards showing an alarming lack of diplomacy and sensitivity to those ideals moved in with joyless efficiency to block its progress.
What did they think was going to happen? That the banner bearers were going to attack the away end? That Huddersfield fans would be inflamed by the provocation and stage a pitch invasion because they suspected it wasn’t fire-proofed? Sometimes you despair.
The entire crowd were booing loudly. A lot of Riverside regulars will have known the Bam and been kissed and cuddled by him in pubs and service stations and grounds all over the country and across Europe and will have been incensed at the crass and cack-handed intervention. Even the away fans were jeering the stewards.
At this point I have to admit I wasn’t watching the match. Anything could have happened. Did I miss anything? Probably not. It was a stodgy spell. Most people were watching the tense touchline stand-off.
There were some hasty discussions and no doubt terse crackling walkie-talkie instructions from higher up and quickly the banner was up and moving again with the away fans applauding respectfully and cheering as it went past.
There was a roar as it went past the Red Faction in the South Stand Boys End and then as it completed its circuit in front of the West Stand both the Boro dug-out and Steve Gibson in the directors box stood and clapped. That was a lovely touch.
The crowd chanted “One Frankie Bointon” and “He’s one of our own”. That is an important statement that, in good times and bad, Boro fans are all in this together as part of a small but vibrant community with a shared passion and shared objectives.
There was another loud chorus of “one of our own” soon after as Ben Gibson powered home the headed equaliser that grabbed a late lifeline.
Gibson is the chairman’s nephew and a proud Teessider and Boro fan who states at every opportunity his desire and hunger to wear and play for the shirt and who has more than justified his place. He is exactly the kind of parmo-powered passionate player the fans demand in the team.
He was most the impressive defender in pre-season and certainly the best player in the team that slumped to a meek surrender at QPR on his first league start.
Against Huddersfield he was the biggest on-field positive. He reads the game well, is strong in the air and in the tackle and he points and shouts and takes responsibility in an often creaky and porous backline.
In the short term he looks like Boro’s best bet to beef up a problematic department. In the long term he looks like a future captain. And it was a cracking goal. A real thumping header.
There weren’t too many people ready to start a chant “He’s one of our own” towards Tony Mowbray though.
A sticky start to the season has failed to achieve escape velocity from the grim gravity of last season’s sorry slump and that has piled pressure on the boss and chipped away at his local legend status. Which is sad but probably inevitable three years into a long hard slog in a results driven busines.
One win in 10 this term. No wins and no clean sheets at home. A string of disappointing draws dragged from winning positions … it doesn’t make great reading.
Now large sections of the fan-base are losing faith and patience and desperately need a victory to boost flagging morale.
And while many – most? – understand the financial restraints, see the logic of the summer recruitment and appreciate the framework of the team Mowbray is shaping and that has started to emerge at times with flashes of real promise, ultimately it is a results that determine the mood and results have been poor.
The atmosphere is strained if not yet toxic. We haven’t reached the stage of fisticuffs among fans that marked the last days of Lennie Lawrence. The manager doesn’t have to hide down the tunnel yet as Steve McClaren did. He hasn’t alienated both ends of the supporting spectrum as Gordon Strachan did. But the atmosphere is volatile and the mood simmering. And it isn’t going to go away without a dramatic upturn in results.
The crowd could have turned masty when Boro went behind but didn’t – how much that was due to the galvanising effect of the Bam Bam banner is hard to say – and they got behind the fast and furious late assault with an impressive intensity. But that is fragile.
The whistle was greeted with a short and half-hearted bout of booing but there was little vitriol. It is habitual now but there is plenty of apathy about too. A lot of loyalists are too heavy hearted to jeer openly. Some have left before the whistle.
And, in truth, it is hard to boo after a 15 minutes of stirring all out attack. As an individual match viewed in isolation it wasn’t great but it neither was it the worst you’ve ever seen. Or endured, depending on your perspective.
It was just more of the same. It was a typical mid-table Championship side giving it a good go but falling short : Boro worked hard and did most of the attacking but couldn’t score then an error at the back gave away the goal and the strategic advantage and the chance to haul people back from the shroud of despair.
After a sloppy start Boro fought to take a precarious hold but it was nervous and error- strewn for long spells – understandably given the ticking sub-text – and for all the flurry of chances they couldn’t force the goal that would ease the pressure.
Huddersfield ‘looked’ dangerous on the break but they weren’t really. Adam Hammill did his stepover, stepover, dragback thing and incredibly didn’t fall over then clipped the bar with a chip but apart from that rarely troubled Boro’s net … until they scored with their first effort on target… after Jason Steele failed to come for a cross and then a rebound off the post and a glanced deflection off Vaughan from the second stabbed effort.
Boro showed spirit to hit back. No really, they did. If team spirit and confidence was a bad as some suggest they would have folded. In fact they stepped up several gears, made some changes to the shape and upped the intensity.
They hammered the visitors’ goal and their keeper made three good saves in a minute as the pressure built. Even Huddersfield boss Mark Robins admitted he was glad to escape from the barrage as the home side threw the kitchen sink at his side.
But the goal wouldn’t go in. Boro couldn’t get the win to spark the season and galvanise flagging hearts. The game did little to change the political dynamics of the situation.
And we have to sit through the tension all over again on Saturday when Yeovil visit.
Another “must win” match.


50 thoughts on “Bam Bam Banner Unites Riverside Crowd On A Night of Frustration

  1. Anthony
    its got beyond frustrating. Its pathetic. Does anybody know how to coach at the club, lets worry about the opposition negative tactics, what does whitehead bring to the team? in my eyes nothing.
    There is the stench of death around the club, there was never 12000 in the ground last night. People are just going out of habit, I am and I have had a season ticket for 25 years so I have seen the bad times. To my mind the club has come full circle from the Lennie Lawrence days.
    We even seem to have lost our passing game. It pains me to say this but I think we need a new manager, but who would/could we get, its got so bad I have started to think Tony Pullis might be a good idea.

  2. That really hurt. Mainly due to the weight of expectation (of finally getting a second win under our belt).
    Yes we got a goal back, yes we had lots of chances, yes Gibson got a goal – but ANOTHER draw at HOME against a mediocre (read poor) team we “had” to beat, after that loss at QPR.
    19th in the table.
    I’m at a loss, as I suspect the management might be here.

  3. Well, we didn’t get the win & the points we desperately needed and probably deserved. We were unlucky… again. We had enough chances to easily win the match… again. They barely threatened and scored from a period of awful defensive play… again.
    It’s heartbreaking. How much longer can we go on like this? Its feel awfully like the end is nigh at the moment, and I’m still not sure I’m quite there yet and on board with it.
    Mogga looked devastated last night, a broken man who has given his all and it’s still not working on the pitch. The players looked shell shocked at the end. The fans didn’t have any anger left in them – the booing was a half hearted effort – and were just genuinely deflated and gutted at where we find ourselves.
    It’s the diehards that are left at the ground now, I don’t think official attendance figures will drop much more. Like partners in an abusive relationship we’ll keep going back until the bitter end.
    Everyone needs a shot in the arm, something to get behind, something to shout about and some momentum to cling on to. I was praying for a Kamara 93rd minute winner last night to put us on the road to recovery, but it didn’t come.
    Genuinely lost. What next?
    **AV writes: We need a hero. A spark.

  4. OMG When wll this nightmare end, I do believe we have the nucleus of a good team, but how long before it gels? and will that be before we are at the wrong end of the table. Happy for Ben, hopefully he will improve with us rather than on loan

  5. It’s so tempting so say nothing ever goes for us, but surely a year like this must be more than that?
    One win in 10 doesn’t tell the full story at all. Six draws?? If you’d told me we’d have three defeats at this stage I’d have probably thought that would have been a reasonable start.
    Having said that we didn’t help ourselves last night, the 1st half hour before they hit the bar was absolutely dreadful.
    I keep arguing with people who say we play one up front that it is a 4-3-3 but we had zero width for so much of last night it is hard to make the case. Adomah has been pretty disappointing recently and Carayol is good in fits and starts.
    Jukebox made such an impact when he came on that it is easy to want a 4-4-2 with proper wingers but you can’t see that happening and would that make our full-backs look even more vulnerable than they do already?
    I still want Mogga to stay and do well, I have been wavering the last few weeks but we have to keep hoping that a win would spark a run and we know in this league a run of wins can make a big difference.
    If 1-6-3 became 5-6-3 it would be a totally different picture. Yes I know I’m probably dreaming.

  6. Not too sure there is a hero out there but someone or some bodies are needed to give this team some belief.
    The reports all say the goal against was against the run of play, but who cares it was still another defensive lapse.
    I am just so surprised that this big defender didn’t appear before the season kicked off. All I heard was we needed these Championship savvy footballers well we have a few of them now. Whoever comes in get Ben Gibson playing alongside him week in week out.
    Remember Stokes return to the Premiership first season at The Riverside? They were like giants against our team. It may not have been pretty but it was effective.
    What do you want the passing game which when it’s stopped there doesn’t seem to be an answer or the long ball, and perhaps nick promotion.
    Tony Pulis will get snapped up. He kept Stoke up and spent wisely.
    Still don’t think Mowbray will get the push but he may well walk away.
    So. one down and maybe we will win the next three? Not a chance. Five points max. Then let’s sit back and see what transpires.

  7. So Red October is proving elusive, along with the reason for Boro’s failure to win games – it’s becoming all a bit too reminiscent of last march when nobody was able to quite put their finger on what the problem was.
    With each game the pressure is building, which obviously affects the players ability to perform to their best. Has it now become a slow motion car crash or will someone manage to suddenly switch on the collision avoidance system in time?
    I don’t want to contemplate the failure to beat Yeovil – though actually losing would definitely signal our season has been torpedoed and that Red October has been well and truly scuppered – then maybe it will just be a case of searching for survivors.

  8. I saw Ben Gibson at QPR and was impressed. He obviously had a good game last night too. I still think we need another centre back, but I’d play the new man, if he comes, alongside Gibson, I’m not sure about Rhys at the moment and I worry that Woody’s day has gone.
    As AV mentioned Gibson has all the attributes of a good centre back, he talks/shouts a lot at his fellow defenders which is something we’ve been lacking. He reminds me of Mogga, although he’s a better footballer (sorry Mogga!).

  9. Days like yesterday makes me at times glad I’m exiled in Croydon.
    I was a season ticket holder during Lennie’s last desperate season, and remember Ayresome not being a happy place and deep down not really wanting to be there.
    I’m afraid I no longer have confidence in TM’s ability to turn Boro around. I think he should consider resigning to save us having to watch a club legend (which regardless of the present day he will always be) being turned on at the Riverside.
    I remember the day Bruce Rioch left, while it was a sad day, it was hard to argue that it was not the right decision. Like today we were heading to the third division, and ultimately the manager has to be responsible for that.

  10. Just as we started gaining momentum after scoring we were effectively reduced to 10 men with Whitehead being clattered.
    If Leadbitters legs were longer he would have scored. These little things are going against us constantly.
    These will go for us at some point, probably in 2014 when we win every game.

  11. This was my first opportunity to see Boro first hand this season. I live in West Yorkshire and have been hammered with work over the past six weeks. I have read some interesting perspectives on this blog in the mean time but wanted to hold off commenting until I had seen the mess/talented emerging side with my own eyes.
    The most worrying trait that this team possesses is the need to fall behind before being galvanised. No matter how many “quality players” you have or whatever level you play at, if you’re going to give the opposition a head start then you are going to get the results that we have been seeing since August 3rd.
    On the flip side, on the occasions where we have showed a rousing spirit and gone into the lead we seem to lack the nouse or method to hold on.
    I’m going to use a business related metaphor (I already hate myself for this as I hate football being compared to a business)
    At the risk of being tarred with the “Pro-Mogga” brush, our current teams’ flaw does not come down to skill or ability but down to mental fortitude and concentration.
    Both of these personality traits are linked to intelligence and no matter how many hours you spend on the training pitch bombing high balls into the 18 yard box and asking your players to “get a head on it” you cannot “train” intelligence to a 25-30 professional footballer. You cannot train intelligence to a 25-30 year old in any profession. You either have it or you do not and unfortunately, 50% of the current Boro side do not have it.
    You can however, buy intelligence. It happens in every business, in every country on this planet. Recruiting the right talent could be the difference between being a Fortune 500 company and a half baked company that dissolves and reforms on an annual basis.
    The bigger conundrum is that Fortune 500 companies (QPR, Forest, Wigan) can afford to recruit the best in this particular sector (the Championship) and therefore we (and others including Huddersfield Town’s of this world) are left with the scraps. The personnel recruited by the big hitters will also have scope for improvement and thus be able to eventually play at a higher level.
    A Fortune 500 company will recruit ready made, talented, skillful, intelligent, creative thinkers. A company at our level will recruit staff that maybe possess one or two of the above traits but will never progress beyond their current level.
    Back to football (laymans) terms. There are far more teams that are in a similar situation to ours and the problem that – as with any sector- is results will come down to a pure roll of the dice. Some small to middling teams will prosper and some will fall by the wayside. This year we have lost to Leicester and QPR (the Fortune 500 companies) and drawn with teams that are in a very similar situation to ours.
    We have had some rotten luck over the past few weeks which has magnified Boro’s limitations even more.
    Now is not the time to sack the manager, look at who is out there to take over. We won’t be able to pay compensation to a Championship level side or afford the wages of a Pulis (I shudder to think what he would serve up) so therefore changing at this stage would be even more suicidal than sticking.
    The one thing I do ask is that Mowbray and his mob stop stoking the supporters ire. The term “we’ll wait and see” has been used in every interview since the Leicester defeat. The “we know we weren’t at it comments” go nowhere to placating those that have spent hundreds travelling the length and breadth of the country.
    If you think back to the McClaren era, particularly after the season ticket throwing incident at home to Aston Villa there was a bit of a media blackout. The players pulled together out of sight of the media through strength of character, got their heads down and in the next match home to Chelsea the fans got behind the team and we turned them over.
    In relation and to finish, I have seen comments on here that people are going out of obligation rather than for enjoyment. I sometimes get the impression that the manager and players talk to the media out of obligation and actually have nothing of interest to say or add. Bigging up players and making comments like “we’re a Premier League club in the waiting” is just making us look even more farcial in the long term. It won’t put bums on seats in fact it probably turns them away.
    **AV writes: Good post. I would add that recruitment of that special talent is also hampered by what is a de facto wage ceiling at clubs like Boro.
    I think you are right that the post-match media work is an ‘obligation’ and doesn’t always provide searing insight (we hacks prefer midweek more relaxed press conferences to get real revelations and more considered analysis)… but you can bet that if the manager wasn’t quizzed after a defeat or brushed the questions aide there would be absolute hell on about ducking and hiding and accusations that we the press were letting them off the hook.

  12. AV said ‘We need a spark’.-
    With all due respect AV, you said the same thing some time ago and what’s more you have probably been right on both occasions.
    The problem lies clearly with the manager and his management team. This comment isn’t vindictive or malicious just a simple observed fact that’s been around for months.To not put too fine a point on it, if it had been a sick animal it would have been shot by now.
    Mr. Gibson, it’s gone way past funny and it’s become unpleasant to watch a local hero in distress. Now, it’s time for change (in fact it was 20 games ago but too many were in denial).

  13. Matt Christie –
    Excellent stuff.Realistic with a different perspective. Please don’t wait so long next time before posting.

  14. AV –
    Can you clear something up for me? Are we still looking to exploit the loan market?
    Does the club still think it needs CB cover as the messages seem to have now subtly changed to Gibson is the answer, let’s keep the cheque book locked up?
    I hope not as there are still defensive frailties to address – although I think the keeper needs looking at too as he isn’t the best on crosses which leads to hesitancy in the rest of the back line. Either we change keeper or find an experienced CB who will head anything flung into the 18 yard box without a second thought.
    Where was Neil Bausor this week and what was the outcome of his foreign expedition to find new recruits? Is he tasked with securing the No.10 Mowbray says the team needs (that player who scores his share but links the midfield and attack)? Was that player Vossen and have we gone back with a loan offer with a view to perm in Jan?
    If we are going to mainly play 4-5-1/4-3-3/4-4-1 (depending on how effective our wide players are in any given game) we need a player who will support Kei/Juke more.
    I fear we are now waiting for the international break to dip into the market whereas I think there needs to be a new face (the spark) around the place in the next 48 hours.
    Failing that how long before Emnes (our current No.10) is back to fitness…. actually scratch that, where’s the cheque book.
    **AV writes: My understanding is that yes, the club are still looking to bring in (at least) an experienced defender on loan (domestic) or as a short term free agent (if foreign). They were very close last Thursday – Mogga said within 15 minutes – when the intended signing was scrapped when his parent club got an injury to a team-mate in his position in training and so they needed him as cover. It seems likely that will be revived when the injured is back playing.
    I think the post-match stuff was not intended to signal a change of broad strategy but was more a ‘don’t panic’ message saying he wouldn’t just bring in anyone (a PL reserve team Johnnie) to fill the gap now and that he had faith in Gibson to step up for now while waiting for the right one to become available
    I don’t know where Neil Bausor was but if I was to ‘guess’ I would say Spain.

  15. Thanks AV. I understand that we don’t need to panic buy Johnny averages but surely we need to plug the holes at the back (Ayala, Dawson, Wheater) AND find a creative spark before October’s fixtures really get going. Speaking of creative sparks where is Luke Williams at present?
    If Bausor was not moulding a deal for Jelle Vossen in Belguim I did wonder if any of the below Kenyon/Mendes driven deals might be resurrected as initial loans as I am not aware that any them actually moved in he window:-
    Eduardo Vargas (based in Italy)
    Borja Gonzalez (more of a target man I think, too similar to Kei probably)
    Vitor (attacking midfielder, No.10????)
    Pizzi (did he move to Athletico?)
    To be honest I would be happy with someone like Robert Koren as he has proven time and time again that he can do it in the Championship (ditto Graham Dorrans). Is Koren still at Hull and getting his game? Speaking of Hull, Stephen Hunt anyone? Not everyone’s cup of tea but does get teams going and adds a bit of fight. OK, I am scraping the barrel now.
    **AV writes: You can’t do loans from Europe outside of the transfer window so they are all out but you can sign free agents. There may be one or two of them floating around. Former target the Gooch – Oguchi Onyewu – is available as is Glenn Loovens, who was with Mogga at Celtic for example.

  16. Neil Bausor in Spain. Mmmm
    I just knew the Messi injury was a red herring. That would provide the no 10 that we need
    I am trying to think of a brute of a centre back. Puyol? I know he is getting on but he is brave and just think of the wigs the shop could sell.

  17. After QPR Mowbray said we had to look to win the next four games and we failed at the first hurdle although we should have won the game with the chances we had. Huddersfield have one shot on target and score we have eight and score once. The law of averages definitely isn’t kind to us.
    There is an atmosphere of doom and gloom before a ball is kicked now on the way to the stadium and inside the ground and on the away trips on the coaches as one elderly supporter said after QPR “it’s like the chapel of rest” on here now after the games!!
    It’s not all bad and it’s not all Mowbray’s fault. Ultimately the players have to take responsibility with individual defensive errors and glaring missed chances. You can’t blame Mowbray for that!
    Ben Gibson is a huge positive,he looks the part and reads the game well. It will be criminal if he loses his place when and if both Woody and Rhys are both fit to play. By all accounts he was our best defender in pre season and should play regardless of bigger names at the club.
    Hopefully Whiteheads injury will keep him out Saturday and force Mowbray to change it not just with Varga!
    Personally team I would like to see run out on Saturday is
    Friend Gibson Rhys/Woodgate Hoyte
    Adoma Leadbitter Butterfield/Varga Carayol
    Kamara Juke
    Here’s hoping and for a much needed three points!!
    **AV writes: Boro will get two spawny penalties on Saturday.

  18. Neville Giveup
    I’m afraid, contrary to your admirably upbeat point of view, it is all pretty well bad and it is Mowbray’s fault – buck, stopping and here springs to mind. It’s mostly his team, he and his chums are the coaches, and if the players are largely unable to execute they must bear some blame for their ineptitude, but ultimately the manager carries the can.

  19. Such a fitting tribute to Frankie Bam Bam wasn’t it?
    As most fans who followed Boro away during the ’80’s and ’90’s I bumped (literally sometimes!) into Bam Bam many times, and he was always a friendly loveable rogue. Rest in Peace mate.
    I did think the tribute galvanised the spirit of Teesside, and it made me forget my anger at Boro’s current state of affairs, and remember those ’80’s days before the boom. Sat up there in the posh west upper, I remember dilapidated stadiums, including Ayresome, and disassociated fans and Police locked in a terminal confrontation. And the football was pretty awful, we were dire at times.
    On the way home I listened for the first time to the whole of Mogga’s contractual obligatory post match interview, and y’know what? He sounded exactly like a real Boro fan trying his damn hardest to bring the glory days back to Boro and the Riverside. Now, for all his limited ability, who else would fill his Boro managerial shoes and feel the same passion for our town?
    So, last night my views were changed slightly, more pro Mogga, just a touch. And that was thanks to Frankie Bam Bam.

  20. At 3.55 **AV writes: Boro will get two spawny penalties on Saturday.
    But then I thought we would click and win 6-1 last night.

  21. Even the pre-match huddle was agonising to watch. It took five cringing minutes for Kamara to call a bunch of shy embarrassed teenagers together for an uncomfortable hug.
    No team spirit, no leaders. The hope must be that Gibson who is the one shining light can galvanise this bunch of lame ducks into a group who act like a team.
    Is Cameron Park still at our club?

  22. The mood was funereal at half time at the Huddersfield game. We achieved a draw at the end of the game and MIGHT have gone on to win it. But in the first half…….
    I am getting seriously concerned about how often Boro’s opposition turns out to have been Bayern Munich or Barca in disguise. So it’s not surprising we have difficulty in getting possession then making the opposition pay for THEIR mistakes.
    And next it will be the Mighty Yeovil at home. Let’s be honest, Liverpool (or Watford for that matter) must be quaking in their boots….that we could be competing for promotion to the Premier League. A poor team performance comes in a line of poor performances.

  23. I think our current predicament is deeply rooted in GS1’s appointment as well as his sacking.
    After the heady days of Steve Mac’s departure Boro were riding high, finishing up in the top half of the Prem league on a regular basis, not to mention the European adventures. But what I will never ever understand is the thinking behind appointing a rookie manager with zero experience to a side, where presumably we could have had our pick of decent coaches? So Mistake No 1 in my view.
    To be fair to GS1, he did a pretty good job for a few years, exceeding all expectations but the party had to end at some stage (his third season).
    My biggest gripe (and Mistake 2) is cutting him loose the year after our relegation when we were third (from memory) in the Championship, and had had what was one of our best runs in this league – especially by today’s standards.
    Sure we had suffered one or two slips over half a season but what did Gibbo expect? The bottom line was GS had adapted to the league and was getting results (ie plenty of wins) and we were well placed for the play offs. Obviously this is something we can only dream of now.
    We all know what happened after that but I think it’s these two decisions that have left us in the position we’re in now. I’m not even going to mention GS2 as that was an unmitigated disaster, but that would never have taken place if GS1 had been give a chance in this league.
    I still wonder to this day how GS1 could have navigated us back to the top in his first season in charge, unlike his immediate successor.
    Not sure what people think this though.

  24. I think there has been enough spin coming from the Riverside whoever comes in on loan or otherwise without a doubt will be quoted as saying we are a Premier League team in waiting, fascilities and all that.
    Mowbray knows what type of player and squad he needs to challenge for promotion we all watched him do just that with WBA, that is why this is so frustrating sitting and watching dismal results be clocked up no matter how unlucky we may appear to be with no names of any worth mentioned.
    Did WBA supporters go through this?
    Odds as of yesterday at the bookies Mowbray is 5/4 to be dumped by the end of the week.
    The scrumpy drinkers from Yeovil will fancy putting some miles on the clock Saturday as a defeat is definately not guarenteed for their team

  25. And elsewhere FIFA discuss the winter World Cup in Qatar. Will the People’s Republic offer to host it in their place? Group matches at Darlo, Pools. Temporary stands at the likes of Guisborough and Billingham.
    The lawyer involved in the Bosman ruling is now on the case for FFP. If you have a spare moment have a look at the BBC website. It is not as straightforward as it seems and once the EU gets involved you never know.
    Closer to home Yeovil up next, skybet has 11/4 the draw which I guess looks decent value. We are 4/7. I dont bet but I hope they are right. Apparently other bookmakers are available.

  26. David in Dubai –
    Looking back I guess it was those three home defeats to West Brom, Leicester and Watford that ultimately did for Gareth.
    We were third but only two out of 24 points were against teams in the top half of the table (working from memory here). Hard working, well organised with an element of skill did for us.
    The day after Gareth was sacked a Derby fan defended the decision on the grounds they were awful and we only beat them 2-0.
    We went down because we were fragile. Oddly so did West Brom but they had toughened up with the acquisition of Mulumbu. We were light in midfield after the pre fire sale the previous summer.
    A bit like sales starting earlier, Christmas stuff out in September we started our sale even before we went in to a relegation season.
    Ron –
    Don’t forget West Brom were even worse than us in the Premiership! They only did the double once, Oops!

  27. David in Dubai –
    To some extent I agree with you, but I would go back further to McClaren as the start of the decline. You could go back further still and question the entire plan from Robson’s appointment.
    We weren’t regular top half finishers in the Premier League – we finished in the top half once under McClaren, 7th in 2005 – but because of the cup win and UEFA final expectation got out of control. As far as the league is concerned, we remember those years as far better than they actually were in my opinion. In truth we usually finished between 11th – 14th. More Fulham than Everton or Spurs.
    The problem for me was the lack of future planning.
    McClaren was a very ambitious man who saw Boro as nothing more than a pathway to bigger things. Left unchecked by Gibson and Lamb, he executed a very short term plan to get himself up the managerial ladder, bringing proven but aging and expensive players, certainly in wages, in en masse.
    He achieved his goals and left for England with an enhanced reputation, but Boro were left with a declining, immovable and unaffordable squad with the added burden of greater-than-ever expectation.
    The next manager had a very tough job on his hands, but with solid recruitment and sensitive man management it was far from impossible to keep us in the Premier League at least, though I doubt that would have been enough for a large proportion of the fans.
    We don’t know the full story as to why Gareth Southgate was appointed but it looks a big mistake from the Boro hierachy and was compounded further with some daft recruitment and player sales.
    I don’t believe Southgate would have got us promoted in that first Championship season. The good start we had was largely on the road if memory serves and confidence at home wasn’t great. His squad still had Huth, Tuncay and Johnson among others who would still all have been sold. I think we would have slipped backwards that year though not half as far as we did under Strachan.
    I think the current picture would look a lot better if Mowbray had succeeded Southgate rather than Strachan (and better still if a proven, experienced manager had replaced McClaren) but he was at Celtic at the time (I think) and anyway you can’t go back.
    It’s all history now but one of biggest lessons for me was that of the importance of long term planning. I believe we have a bit more of that now.

  28. So Saturday is probably a ‘must win’ game? Or definitely a ‘mustn’t lose’ game.
    Though if Boro did lose I can’t see Gibson pulling the trigger on Mowbray given that the board have so far failed to secure two key players – centre-back and centre-forward.
    In reality Yeovil is a more of a ‘should win’ game and you would think that Mogga has enough decent players to ensure the three home points are finally banked.
    Though one win isn’t going to be enough on it’s own to ease the pressure – Mowbray himself declared 12 points from October were the target, which has now been revised down to ten.
    I’ve no idea what Steve Gibson will deem breaking point for Mogga if the bad run continues – dropping into the bottom three? Under 10,000 turning up at the Riverside?
    I suspect losing badly at home to Yeovil would probably come close.

  29. If you have been around Middlesbrough Football club long enough and have seen a lot of the ups and downs, wins and losses, you really get to understand what is really going on right now. Its happened before.
    You understand that on the field of play there is a combination of either players who are not good enough, or they are but disorganised (manager/coaching),in that case you just become frustrated.
    But there is another element, and right or wrong its happened and that is, a lot of fans have walked away from The Chairman. There are probably many reasons why but it does seem like he has distanced himself from the muddle we find ourselves in ,at the moment.
    What do fans do if they think they are being ignored? Ask Charlie Amer

  30. Andy R –
    Agree with that. At the time of season ticket gate we were debating the fact the squad needed rebuilding.
    The expensive pros liked playing Lazio and Roma but were not so bright at Blackburn on Tuesday night in February.
    The rot became evident in the season we got our highest ever finish in the Premiership. We got just over a point per game from Xmas until the end of the season and it was not much better during our runs in the UEFA and FA Cups the following year.
    I think the FA saved Gibbo a distinctly uncomfortable conversation with Schteve before the FA took him on. Not necessarily an exit interview but the nature of the reconstruction needed would not have gone down well.
    I do not blame Gareth for all of it, we were told that he would be fine with Gibbo and Lamb at the helm, it was Gibbo and Lamb that told us. Your memory is right about the away points as I highlighted in my response.
    Strachan tried to toughen the squad up but we continued falling away to finish outside the play offs. The start of the following season saw a couple of injuries scupper plans. Thomson broke his leg straight away and O’Neill, our source of funds for further rebuild, was injured so that part wasn’t completed.
    Then it just got worse, an injury stricken Strachan squad.
    It is important to remember how we got here. And it wasn’t that the Jocks were that bad. For £10m they were better than Mido, Alves, Digard et al at good knows how much.
    Once Mogga got a fit squad we ended the season like a train and that continued over to the next season.
    I am not absolving anyone but only trying to be fair to all participants.

  31. Ian –
    Yep, I agree with your response.
    The Strachan years were a disaster but I agree that the Scottish imports weren’t terrible players, they were just on wages and contracts that have had lasting, damaging results and, once Strachan was replaced by a man with a very different approach, unfit (no pun Thommo!# for purpose.
    Initially, Strachan identified a weak mentality in the squad – I remember it being music to my ears when he said as much – but unfortunately he went about sorting it the wrong way and the fan in Gibson let him run amok in the transfer market. Too much change in too short a space of time, with no mind paid to the balance of the resulting team. Throw in the alienating of squad members, press and fans and it all adds up to, well, League One had he not walked away.
    For me though, however much of a disaster Strachan was for us, I still think he identified the problems early and he had the class to walk away without compensation at the end. He deserves some respect for that, but I do think that Gibson and Lamb could have helped him by not helping him so much, if you know what I mean. A firmer grip on strategy may have seen better results.
    I think that Gibson’s great strength as a Chairman – the support he gives his managers – is also his greatest weakness. He’s very hands-off with the football and recruitment side and I’m sure his managers love him for it, but the result is that he allows too much control and freedom at times.
    That’s especially dangerous when you employ rookies, as Gibson has three times to date, and even more so when the manager has his own agenda out of line with the club’s, as McClaren did (though I acknowledge that to attract a talented, ambitious manager you have to accept that he may see Boro as a stepping stone).
    This is all the main reason why I’m a pro-Mogga ra-ra.
    Given the way Gibson has allowed his managers to pretty much run the club how they see fit, I’m convinced that the apparent improvements to the sports science and scouting departments, which I see as absolutely key to any future, sustainable success are driven by Tony Mowbray.
    Add in his passing game principles, success in this division with WBA and his previous record for finding bargains in the transfer market and he really does look the right man for me. I’m desperate for him to succeed, and it has nothing to do with Mogga the player – that is only a nice bonus if things work out.
    That said, what works in practise always counts for more than what works in theory, and if current results continue there can only, sadly, be one outcome. I said my piece a few blogs ago on why I’m happy to stick with it for a while yet, I won’t bore everyone again, but it is what the majority, and most importantly Steve Gibson, think that counts.

  32. On another note, which we keep debating,it appears that the “young UN’s” are not doing as well as we would like to believe
    Steele not in the under 21’s, Reach told to improve, and Main, has he been recalled or sent back not wanted. No goals scored.
    **AV writes: Steele is not in the U21s reckoning now as he is too old. He’s retired from international football.

  33. I like the Spirit of Teesside idea, no meally mouthed criticism from me.
    The £12 a ticket is a good idea, the club is trying to move forwards and deserve praise.
    The way to try and keep people coming though is what is on display on the pitch and doing it when on TV is the best advert.
    Last year the televised Sheffield Wednesday match was great. The double header featuring Bristol City and Huddersfield was a disaster. I bought my ticket and can only make one game. Guess which one I saw.
    Before that lets spank Yeovil, they are poor so put them on the back foot from the first minute. If we don’t they will get a foothold in the game…….

  34. Andy R –
    Cheers for that.
    Personally, long before Mogga returned I didnt want him to come back but when the Strachan era was drifting badly then the time Mogga would get was instrumental in my support – I am sure Gibbo doesnt look for my views before he makes a decision.
    I am not an if ‘Mogga says we need to go to the toilet’ I rush off in panic.
    Despite criticisms about my views if he does something that if I was sat in the Navi looked daft I would say say so, I would about Robbo, Mc et al. As I have said before Tosh is Tosh. Despite my lack of coaching badges if it walks like a duck etc.
    My preferred option is a drubbing of Yeovil. A shudder as we change formation to match up against a poor team is the other default position.
    Sometimes people have to help themselves. A sigh followed by we set out to deny the opposition at home reaps its own rewards.
    The solution is not in my hands nor will I fire any bullets, the shotgun is in someone elses hand.

  35. Mogga has said: “The people at the Riverside at the moment are the true Boro fans, the ones who will be there through thick and thin. Many Boro fans have grown up on Juninho and Ravanelli, Yakubu and Jimmy Floyd, Merson and Gascoigne in the Premier League. Those days aren’t there any more.
    “You’re either a fan of those individuals or you’re a fan of the football team, and the town. Me as an individual would be supporting Boro through thick and thin, and 12,500 on Tuesday night hopefully keep on supporting, and the good times won’t be too far away.”
    I can only echo that. And how I hope the team starts to click soon – preferably on Saturday. That should happen – it no rocket science. A good team shoud do OK on long run. Mogga has done it before – see his history with WBA for excample.
    Up the Boro!
    **AV writes: I said pretty much the same on BBC Tees on Wednesday when talking about falling gates. If you support a team then than should be an absolute. It is not conditional on what division they are in, what the last result was, how many galacticos are in the visiting team or how badly the bean-counters are doing.
    I know there are a lot of reasons not to attend – financial, logistical, other commitments etc – and I have no problems with that. I understand people have personal circumstances that over-ride their hobby and that they remain fans with opinions and are still part of the great big Boro familiy.
    But the argument that you are not going now because they are rubbish, they don’t look like winning and you’ll only come back when they are in the Prem (and making a big song and dance about it as if you have been personally insulted by the change in circumstances) is not really a kind of fandom I recognise
    Supporting a team is about a collective expression of pride and identity. Irrespective of form and status.

  36. Playing the ” only true fans go now” card are we?
    Shame on you.
    **AV writes: That’s how I’ve always seen it. For me that is at the heart of fandom. We don’t notice most of the time because historically we have usually been in the upper reaches. It is only in the bad times the different strands are visible.

  37. You can’t argue with it. If you choose not to go because the team is rubbish you are a fair-weather fan. The demise last season was 100% the responsibility of the players, but had we had 20,000+ there every week we’d have made the playoffs at least.
    I totally share Mowbray’s frustrations when it comes to this.

  38. No, if a football fan chooses not to go because their team always plays badly and gives them no pleasure then they are probably a sane individual – it’s always a thin line between a ‘hobby’ and a dependency habit or even an addiction – recovering addicts should just take one game at a time.

  39. I do class myself as a supporter rather than a fan.
    I don’t go very often nowadays, purely because I dont have time. I have other things, and family. I go when I can, regardless of division, players or results. It should be through thick and thin. We support, or should do. iIthink that’s what sets us apart from those stripy fools up the road.
    TM is one of our own. what would the point be in sacking him? Get Pulis in and watch him ship all the players out, ship a load more in. With what? buttons?
    People need to get real:. there is no money. as Tony says ” it is what it is!”
    we are back to our historical position.
    I think the fact there is only 12k there is down to the fact that as people like myself grow up and have other things to do, the teenages should be coming through. like it was when i started out. but which kids can do that at £20 odd a ticket?
    There was a scrum for tickets, and a who cares attitude from MFC (gasp! the shock) and all those who couldn’t get in before, now don’t bother.
    And not to mention the poor form is hardly attracting new fans is it? As my son says “I’m not coming with you dad, they always get beat when I come!”
    Anyway, onwards and upwards I suppose
    well in theory anyway

  40. Redcar Red –
    You can throw in the customer experience to that discussion.
    The club ignored the fans whilst they club was doing well, cock ups over ticket allocations, paying fans not important, sit down and shut up.
    When the rot set in on the pitch the horse bolted. ‘I can put up with a poor experience when we are winning or watching the stars but I am not paying to watch rubbish as well’
    The last time we had 30,000+ crowds before the Riverside was in the post war boom when there was nothing else to do.
    In the mid fifties I remember the row of football specials by the playing fields near Langbaugh school. No internet commentary, no sky or The Football league show, no iplayer, no blogs! The days of putting up with it are long gone.
    The crowds are what they have been in the past.
    Probably the killer for me is the second mortgage to fill the car! It was easier when my son lived in the area but it is a dreary drive back after a dreary match and all my Saturday gone.

  41. Werdermouth –
    Well if everyone had the same attitude we probably wouldn’t have a team to support.
    Having said that if going to the games gives you ‘no pleasure’ then fair enough, but even in defeat I have a good time at the match. Winning/losing is secondary to an extent, I just want to go along, watch a good game and support my team.
    Anyway, it makes the winning and success so much better when you have sat through the slump.

  42. Redcar Red –
    thanks for a fantastic post. Totally agree with the views expressed and couldn’t have put it more succinctly myself.

  43. Sounds like good Teesside logic to me. This is it: “watching through the bad times makes the good times so much sweeter.”
    Up the Boro!

  44. I had a dream, well not a dream, more of a why am I hanging to the phone after pressing options through 1 to 23 to find out my call is important to them.
    Anyway as I sat there listening to inane music and messages assuring me that if I left a message they will phone me back. Anyone believe them?
    My day dream was that we came out and played from the start, 2-0 at halftime then instead of leaving early to miss the traffic the team actually turned up for the second half.
    4-0 final score. defending corners we actually had someone the other side of the penalty spot. When we attacked the midfield joined and got beyond the strikers.

  45. What I meant Phil is if someone doesn’t enjoy going to the match then it makes perfect sense for them to stop going. OK if very few enjoyed going for a prolonged period then the club would face difficulty – but who’s fault is that?
    Being a fan of football is not the same as being a football fan – the thing in the club’s favour is that once someone chooses a club they very rarely switch to another one.
    The danger for the club is that to get those who have stopped going to come back usually takes a return to sustained success to convince them.
    Obviously every club has a hard core fan-base who feel duty bound to attend but in the era of FFP that means a lack of success on the pitch will see their budget shrink and further downsizing will ensue.
    I don’t think language that further alienates those who have found something else to occupy them following a loss of belief with two wins at home all year is necessarily going to convince them to return quickly.
    You can’t really say people who follow Boro are glory hunters. Like it or not, fair weather fans are by far the largest majority of the Boro fanbase – you may have noticed almost 25,000 empty seats recently.
    When I lived in the area back in the early eighties I was among the 7,000 who regularly watched Boro getting thrashed most weeks at home. I ended up going on my own as all of my friends thought I was mad for still going. Geography has now taken that decision away from me but as Ian said, football is now competing with many other things for people’s time and money.

  46. Redcar Red, what a great piece. Rediffusion, where did you remember that from. Also the bakelite rotary switch for changing the channels,three were there?
    Yes my memories are more half empty than half full with regards to the crowds. Only the promotion seasons got full houses, and maybe the odd cup games.

  47. Police are investigating rumours that the TFF (True Fans Federation) sabotaged the internet feed from the Riverside for the game against Yeovil in protest against non attending fans.
    A male in his late forties was interviewed after the match. He was searched and when asked if that was an ethernet cable found in his pocket replied ‘It is what it is’.
    He was released and enquiries continue.
    On another note it wasnt the 4-0 I day dreamt but 4-1 will do. I had a huge shudder when teletext said we were one down after four minutes.
    The absence of commentary was frustrating but not as bad as when Century provide the feed and we ran riot against Bolton and had to listen to Toon on internet.

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