Rocking Riverside Can Spark Special Season

BORO delivered in style in front of a Bumper Boxing Day crowd at a Riverside bursting at the seams with potential.

The one sided 3-0 crushing of Forest was an important win and an impressive performance on a day that could be a milestone on Boro’s long road to redemption.

If Boro now go on to make a second half surge and secure precious promotion, the defeat of Forest will become a famous badge of honour day like the game at Hartlepool of the Sex Pistols playing the Sex Pistols, a watershed moment when so many Riverside returnees will look back proudly and say: “I was there. That’s the day I started to believe again.”

The Riversider regulars can feel vindicated. The have dug in defiantly during the long testing seasons in the shadows and had to take some flak and ridicule from refuseniks who had bailed out and questioned the sanity of those who held on. And to be fair some may have questioned their own sanity at times as yet another false dawn darkened and results and gates dropped away under Strachan and again under Mogga.  But the hardcore have grown in heart over the past year as they have seen a spirited and steely side slowly take shape and they will feel they deserve to be rewarded and see this campaign bear fruit.

And the once bitten sceptics and cynics and those who have fallen by the wayside in the bleak shrivelled seasons since relegation – or have applied higher objective standards of quality control – but who were lured back for this game have seen that too now.

And it was their presence that made the game so important. That potential extra 10,000 are the engine that can drive the club forward. It is crucial the club can harness them.

So often since relegation Boro have gathered some tentative momentum and attracted a crowd of lapsed loyalists eager to be persuaded back aboard the bandwagon only to stutter and splutter and disappoint.  But this time – in front of the biggest crowd since Manchester United visited in May 2009 – Aitor Karanka’s side delivered.

To be fair, they have passed a series of big tests in recent months and crowds have grown slowly but steadily. They shot down the high-flying Norwich 4-0 when they were the form side; they had the edge in a stalemate with Bournemouth when the now leaders arrived on the back of seven straight wins; they dismantled Steve McClaren’s title tips Derby live on TV,  all occasions when more fragile Boro teams of the past would crack.

This time the test was two-fold: how would they bounce back from defeat at Ipswich and could they handle the pressure of a sell out crowd?

But Karanka’s Boro responded in style and chopped down Forest – a long time bogey team and arriving on the kind of poor run of results that just screamed “coupon-buster!” – with a determination and a swagger that speaks volumes about the confidence and mental strength within the camp.

From the moment George Friend headed the opener there was only ever going to be one outcome. Jelle Vossen rammed home the advantage and Grant Leadbitter sealed it late on… his 11th goal of the season and his seventh from the spot.


                          By George: Friend Fells Forest With Thumping Header  

Actually, the outcome looked obvious long before the opener. Boro dominated throughout. Forest – playing a disjointed, deep and defensive shape initially with three at the back that when we got the team sheet left us (and some of our Forest counterparts) scratching our heads – beavered away and tried desperately to keep swarming Boro at arms length but they never looked comfortable. In fact, it was a bit of a mess.

Forest were poor. They lacked shape and belief. One of the Forest fanzine people tweeted that once again the team looked as if it had been selected by “the Psychotron”, a random number generator. Their three at the back included two natural full backs while neither of their wing-backs (Burke and Antonio) looked happy.  Antonio got a few crosses in early on then faded while Burke, who usually has a stormer against Boro, over-lapped and had a hopeful angled low range effort easily saved then he disappeared, they had next to no grip on the game in midfield and big money top scorer Assombalonga was anonymous and was taken off at the break. If Stuart Pearce is looking for him, he’s in Big Ken’s pocket.

But as poor as Forest were, Boro were good. Seriously. Professional, effective, functional.  It was another clinical Karanka display. Not quite at the level of the Derby demolition but still impressive. They were on top tactically and territorially in the first half without making their advantage count. The visiting keeper made three good saves and there were some habitual “one of those days” jitters starting to ripple through the crowd –  especially those who have only followed this season by proxy,  the returnees who had turned up having been sold a dream of attacking, enterprising football.

But from the off Boro had been tactically turning the screw and it was only a matter of time. It was a supremely assured display. Boro played at a high tempo, passed and swept the ball around, picked and probed, especially into the empty acres behind those fragile full-back areas and gradually started to carve out chances. Nsue and Friend got forward to add width and cross from those unguarded areas leaving fire-fighting Forest increasingly stretched and exposed. Boro seized, absorbed and consolidated midfield territory with the heavily armed arrogance of the 19th century imperial carve up of Africa.

Floundering Forest were chasing shadows for long spells and made a string of tactical changes. They went from 352 to 451 at the break and tried to be more direct to no avail. Boro looked a class above.  “And for this one reason we are happy”.  Aitor was delighted with the result and that the team were not only able to handle the pressure of the big crowd but to send them home happy.

With such a big crowd – half of them Aitor Agnostics – it was crucial that the team demonstrated exactly what the rest of us have been preaching about for months.  It was important that with upwards of 10,000 supporters who had not seen this new team live for ages, possibly years, Boro sent them away gushing.

It was important to show the returnees exactly what Karanka’s side was capable of and to give them a teasing glimpse of the possibilities, give them something to dream about, something to come back for.   Hopefully the prodigals saw that, will be persuaded of Boro’s credentials and will go away as excited evangelists for Aitor’s Army.  Hopefully we will get many of them back on a regular basis as the drama of this season of promise unfolds.

It would be very difficult for even the most practised of pessimists to argue that it wasn’t a good display or a good result. Boro were thoroughly professional, played some exciting, attacking football and got the crowd rocking.   And with the heat on because of the crowd, results elsewhere and with some supporters raising doubts after the denting at Ipswich, they showed quite emphatically they could handle it, they could flourish with it.

It was a great day. The stadium was thobbing with excitement and anticipation and the courses were packed with Christmas Jumpered queues for everything an hour before kick-off and there was an enthusiastic background buzz of chatter and upbeat predictions.
For many it was like old top flight glory days and a decade when 30,000 plus crowds and penguin walks through the underpass were the norm.  It was such a full-house flashback that the North Stand fans even managed to unveil the surfer. Old school!


       Surf’s Up:  Some long lamented old friend made a welcome return to action 

For many more though – it was the first narcotic taste of what going to the match can be like when the club is healthy and ambitious and vibrant, when the opposite ends are chanting in stereo and a rammed Riverside is really rocking.

That is exactly what football is supposed to be about: a buoyant crowd getting right behind a team playing attacking football with zest. And winning. Winning is important. Especially on days like that.

Hopefully that will be the launch pad for a renewed swagger among fans and a new optimism across Teesside. Hopefully it can become the norm.


52 thoughts on “Rocking Riverside Can Spark Special Season

  1. The ‘Daft Quid Prediction’ is Boro 2 – 1 Forest. Secretly I hope we do much better but I’m just being modestly realistic.


    John R

  2. Agree with AV. 3-0 to Boro. Wins against Forest over the years have been a rarity. Let’s hope that’s a tradition that does not weigh too heavily.

  3. We were robbed in the corresponding Forest fixture last season. I want revenge and with dividends especially after the powder puff portman outing. 4-0 to Boro!

  4. Its got to be 4-0, AK knows he’s under pressure to deliver today and I think he is up to it. We’ll see what he is made of – which I could be there, keep your fingers crossed for wiziwig.


  5. Dragged the wife her sister and her husband down to the match today.
    Come half time I was worried I’d made a big mistake but George’s header put us on the way.
    Bamford played out of his skin we must try and sign him permanently
    Omeruo back to his best again and it was nice to see rolls rhyse albeit for a cameo performance
    Roll on Blackburn
    Fat Bob

  6. When I heard the line up with no Ayala and Albert keeping his place I was concerned I have to be honest. Ken in for Dani wasn’t what I was expecting. Albert had had two anonymous games by his own standards. Against Derby I figured he was following instructions and protecting Nsue, against Ipswich he was poor. This time however he was close to being back to his best.

    Ken was composed and had Assombalonga in his back pocket to the extent that Forest’s big battering goalscorer was subbed at half time. Ken made a minor slip in the 2nd half which had us twitching but other than that had a good game. Ben alongside was superb, and even took a clattering for his trouble. Friend played like he was sore and hurting from the Portman Road defeat, full of running, defensively excellent but his attacking instinct had Forest on the back foot on numerous occasions and was deprived by Darlow in the Forest goal on a number of occasions. His opener for us came via a fairly standard Leadbitter corner and George rose around the penalty spot and looped a header just in past the post and beyond despairing Darlow to take a well deserved lead.

    Up until that point Forest looked like they had settled for 0-0, the game started to open out as Forest started to try and mount some pressure when they went behind but Boro were simply picking them apart in between and Vossen’s volley was brilliant to watch in real time from the edge of the 18 yard box leaving Darlow for dead. Kike had been clattered and Forest went down to 10 just previously when Mancienne was shown red and Vossen came on. Leadbelter’s penalty was the flaming brandy on the Christmas Pud after Bamford had stroked it a little too hard and Darlow obliged by sliding under him and giving the Ref an easy option.

    The atmosphere in the nearly full Riverside was bouncing just before the start, just a shame it was spoiled yet again by MMP insisting on playing carols just when poignantly the Boro surfer was unrolled and passed across the North Stand for the first time in years with the crowd in full voice. Thankfully MMP subsided as the North and South stands filled the ground with passion but oops too soon, we were all drowned out by another full blast of “I’m a believer” (because we all sang it at Wigan apparently and we are all now going to be force fed it from here to eternity by the man with the mike).

    That was the only downer on the afternoon as once the game kicked off the main event with his 80’s Xmas collection was forced into silence allowing the fans to fill the ground with real genuine football atmosphere and support. They didn’t fail and the Riverside was rocking for the first time in way too long, it was special and brilliant to experience and brought a lump to the throat.

    A brilliant turnout, fantastic support and very Untypical Boro turned up and delivered a 3-0 victory. Hopefully five or six thousand of the “returnees” will have had their faith restored. Seven thousand head to Blackburn on Sunday, lets hope momentum keeps the Boro love train on track.

  7. Thought the first half was eminently forgettable apart from Georgie’s efforts but all turned out OK in the end. Is it enough to persuade the returnees to keep coming? We shall see. UTB.

  8. Oops apparently it was Wilson not Mancienne who was sent off. I could have sworn Mancienne had been booked previously, I blame the Merlot and the Amber stuff.

    A special mention for the West Stand who joined in with the the “North stand, South stand” chants, brilliant effort from the mums, dads and kids.

    1. Not a moan, it was brilliant enjoying the north\south chant tennis, but apart from say 2k home for Xmas, where do the extra 10k come from?

  9. AV and Redcar Red, many thanks for the reports. It must have been a great afternoon with 32 277 people in there. It sounded great as I listened to Ali Brownlee – pity the match was not on anywhere on the net.

    So next Blackburn – cannot wait. This could be our season. Up the Boro!

  10. My favourite feature of us getting it right? Winning the ball off the oppositions defenders, making our tackles 10 yards in their half, whether it’s Kike, or Tomlin, or Vossen chasing them down and harrying them, it forces our opponents to either lump it aimlessly long, or we can start a counter attack from the front. Against Derby, we did a supreme job of forcing them to pass it round the back four, then nicking it off them to launch a quick attack, and there was plenty of evidence of that again today.

    Another positive? We seem to be just the right side of the law in almost every tackle. We’re very, very good at making a succession of 50-50’s to unsteady the opposition, put them on the floor, and come away with the ball without committing a foul. On the flipside, most evident in Kike getting Wilson sent off, our players know just the right way to twist into a challenge and get a free kick, and maybe get an opposition player booked. Real intelligent play from front to back.

  11. At last, I kept my visit quiet to see if I could get under the jinx radar, son came as well so that is some dark magic to overcome.

    The ghosts of matches got their revenge, our anticpated 7.30 arrival morphed in to *.55 following some horrendous snowy driving conditions. Poor John powls was driving back to Reading after the game.

    Going to have a couple of beers, wel earned and unlike the Trees down the A52 I arrived back with a smile.

  12. What a brilliant day! Toon, the Mackems and Leeds all lost, and Boro battered bogey side Forest in front of a massive crowd in a fantastic atmosphere! Get in!

    **AV writes: Well, it is Christmas.

  13. Happy the team delivered for the sellout crowd and sent them all home happy.

    Hopefully with the right result against Blackburn we can entice a few more back and encourage regular crowds of 23/24k.

    Great to look around the stadium and see the seats filled again,never thought I’d ever see that until we got back into the premiership.

    Steve Gibson must be over the moon!

  14. A couple of beers and some wine and I thought I would check when the FLS was on, well it isnt so I wont wait up.

    Couple of thoughts. Bamford looks better operating within the 18 yard side lines, right side doesnt suit, Tomlin is most effective with a couple of wide men or when the game is stretched.

    Good sized crowd, I think the club missed a trick with the size of the away section. I suppose we wont get many capacity crowds but another 1,000 paying 26 quid plus drinks and food wouldnt have gone amiss.

    With snow covering the East Midlands how appropriate for the weather presenter to be called Sara Blizzard.

  15. Yes, I’m a bit tipsy but …. BORO ARE GOING UP.

    I’m not getting ahead of myself but if you take the iffy August out of the stats we have shown awesome form. Since then we’ve lost two in 18. We’re unbeaten at home. We are not leaking goals. We’ve started to look a bit more ruthless when we grind teams down. We’ve battered Norwich, Brentford, Derby and Forest, drawn with Bournemouth when they were flying, drawn with Watford and Blackburn. Only Ipswich in top 8 have beaten us and they won’t next time

    The team is getting better every game, Karanka wants and gets more out of the player every week, solid at the back no matter who plays, excellent midfield pair, good on the flanks, options up front, “new signings” Rhys Williams and Muzzy to come in this next few weeks, the fans starting to get the buzz again… great time to be a Boro fan after a poor few years.

    Brilliant today, great atmosphere with North/South stand sparking off each other. Only downside all day was the “this goes up to 11” ego in chief wedding DJ Mark Page trying to hijack the stage as if people had come to listen to him. Just turn it down. Or off. There was a fantastic atmosphere and as usual he tried to drown it out.

    **AV writes: A ‘bit’ tipsy? I’ve never seen so many literals. Tidied up now. *hic*

  16. Absolutely loved being in a full house today. A real buzz. It was great to see a lot of mates who have dropped over over the last few years back in the North Stand concourse again. We need to keep them on board because big positive crowds will make the promotion run in exciting and could make the difference in a couple of close games.

    All the team were excellent today. Friend was a monster. He wanted it so much. Midfield duo were superb. Good crosses from Nsue. Two assists for Bamford against his boyhood heroes. Sizzling strike from Jelle Vossen (“duckskin”). Big brave Gibbo got stuck in and got his head whacked again. NIce to see Rhys back. So many good things to say. Loving this season.

  17. Hey, don’t youse all get carried away, its not all good news. Queues! Everywhere. Whats going on? Queues for the bogs, for the bookies, for the club shop, at the kiosks, getting out, shuffling through the underpass. Come on Gibbo, get it sorted! LOL. Good practice for when all the part-timers flock back for the Premier League (price won’t be an issue then.)

    1. Neil –

      regardless of the gate there are always queues through that flaming underpass….

      Great result, don’t know if it was just for Christmas but Sky Sports show the Championship goals as soon as with the goal report….nice bonus for not getting there

  18. Great write up AV thanks.

    33,000, cracking win and a cracking boxing day. I will enjoy this, many thanks lads.

    Three points at Blackburn, if we can grab them all, there is nothing we cannot do in this division for the rest of the season. UTB !!!!

  19. My first experience of going to “The Match”, as they say, was at the tail end of the 65/66 season, which ultimately ended in relegation. It was an attempt at reverse psychology on my father’s part. He had hoped that the crushing disappointment of relegation would put me off for life, and that I would be free of the Albatross around the neck that is, “supporting the Boro”.

    However I found the whole experience quite magical. From getting ready to go, the walk up to the ground, the anticipation and last but not least the general buzz and atmosphere that the crowd gave off. I loved every minute of it and was hooked.

    That the following season was a promotion season, culminating in one of the greatest nights ever in MFC’s history against Oxford was just the icing on the cake. I can only imagine what it must have been like for the first timers who attended yesterday. I’m sure there were more than quite a few kids embarking on the lifelong journey that is being a football supporter and what better way to start it than yesterday. A full house, raucous vocal support, three goals, a penalty, a sending off, just a pity the two sides couldn’t have provided a 10 man brawl as well!

    This side is shaping up very nicely, the manager is not just building a side to gain promotion, but also one that would flourish and not just survive in the Premier League. Take a look at Leicester City, a good Championship side and were promoted automatically but woefully unprepared for the big boys of the Prem. Burnley are the same.

    In recent years Southampton and Swansea have done so well because when they were promoted they were already the genuine article, prepared for the cut and thrust of the premiership where sheer professionalism is the order of the day. If you’re not 100% committed and fit for the task, then relegation awaits.

    We may not make it this year, but if not, then better to make it next year and kick on from there and establish a Premiership club in Middlesbrough once again. Patience is the order of the day; those recent gained points from draws that some supporters thought were poor reward, will stand us in good stead as they keep us in the vicinity of the top. Quite a few of the early starters have drifted down the table, whereas we have been lurking with intent most of the season so far. So, onward to Blackburn, and hopefully, one or even three points more into the bag.

    Heady days indeed to be a Boro supporter, loving it!

    PS, AV can you get the powers that be to have a word with Mark Page, he is supposed to supplement the match day experience. As much as he may think otherwise, he is not the main event.

    1. Clearly a brilliant day yesterday, and it was so important to recover from the Ipswich game quickly. But amidst all the positives I think there are two major concerns going forward.


      If Dimi gets injured, we are back to Tomas Mejias. It seems Blackman is not the answer, so it is vital to sign a strong goalkeeper in January. We have a great chance of promotion, but this one position could scupper that. Other than this, our depth of squad should be a significant advantage if teams start getting winter injuries.

      Away form in the big games:

      Bournemouth, Ipswich, Derby and Brentford look very strong and Norwich are on a roll. We still have to play four of these away from home, as well as Watford and Blackburn from the top eight. We need to find a way of at least drawing those games, as we fell well short against Ipswich and Wolves (9th) away. If we can’t improve, starting at Blackburn next up, we can forget automatic promotion. (Of course, we have beaten three and drawn with two of these at home, which is a good start.)

      Sorry for the wet blanketing, but these problems need to be overcome in the near future!

  20. The match summed up for me – admittedly a casual attender these days – both the good and the bad of modern-day football.

    On the plus side – the team played wonderfully well, dominated against a traditional ‘bogey’ side, and the great view that we had added to the experience. Nice to be able to sit down having paid for a seat (as opposed to being obliged to stand in the South Stand on my last visit before eventually having to move), although the halfwits in the middle of our row who were in and out four times during the first half should have been ejected.

    On the minus side – the excessive racket of the PA is one of the most off-putting features and I agree with others in this thread calling for something to be done. It is simply not necessary to be blasted with music at every spare opportunity and have one man’s ego trip forced down our throats. I know this is supposed to be the ‘modern game’ but really – if we wanted to go to a disco then we would have done so.

    On the plus side #2 – great to be part of such a wonderful atmosphere, that really did bring back memories.

    On the minus side #2 – despite such a great attendance the ground was by no means full. Forest fans – understandably on that showing – had no desire to travel in numbers and there can have been no more than 750 of them. Now surely we knew at some stage Forest were not going to sell their allocation, so why does the madness of current football regulations not allow someone at Boro to use some initiative, ensure the Forest fans were safely cordoned off, and then sell the vacant 1500+ seats to people who would have loved to have come?

    It must be my age but this sort of brainless thinking maddens me!

    Anyway well done to all of those loyal fans who have stuck with the team, I hope you all felt rewarded by such a great display and get more of the same at Blackburn. Last time I saw Boro there we won 4-0 with a Hasselbaink hat-trick!

    **AV writes: There were 1399 Forest fans which isn’t bad for Boxing Day. I think with more time there could have been a way of getting another few hundred in. The problem is more to do with the architecture of the concourses than the seating. The safety authorities – not used to dealing with sell-outs these days – were uncomfortable with Forest fans on two concourses so ruled out them using the lower tier of the East Stand. If that had been possible it would have moved them along a bit in a narrower vertical strip and would have opened up another 500 seats for Boro fans. I’m sure it could be tweaked. We may need to next year.

    1. Thanks AV. I think I need to either get to specsavers or sign up for a maths course in 2015. It didn’t look anything close to 1399 away fans!

  21. James

    A quick gander at the online ticket seat plan shows a full upper block holds over 600, i was at the oppsoite end of the South Stand Upper and it looked they had a couple of full upper blocks plus some in the lower tier, couldnt really see the corner.

    1399 seems about right, if you need specs then the Nottingham Evening Post need laser surgery, they ‘estimated’ the Trees at 2,000!!

    **AV writes: Why would they estimate it when the actual figure is announced to the press?

  22. Lets hope everyone is ready to go against Blackburn tomorrow, snow permitting. There didn’t appear to be any major injury worries apart from Kike perhaps and I suspect had the substitution not been already planned he would have played on.

    Like yesterday’s game the last fixture against the opposition has left a very bitter and sour taste in the mouth. Again I’m hoping for a fired up team talk and ruthless, merciless revenge for the Riverside robbery. On paper a point wouldn’t be a bad result but I want all three and believe we can get them and pile more yuletide misery on the Keeper foulers.

  23. AV

    Latest headline ‘Journo’s and lack of veracity Shocker!’

    If one was cynical it is the type of figure that would go down well around Forestshire. It would not upset their fan base thats for certain.

  24. RRed –

    The keeper fowlers might find that the chickens come home to roast. Those who know their onions, the sage amongst us, may think they deserve a good stuffing, whats good for the goose is good for the gander. After a day’s cold turkey, nearly 7,000 will breast the Pennines and leg it over to Blackburn.

    In my bones I wish for a win but it is that old chestnut, which came first the chicken or the egg?

    Sorry, on to Kike.

    Having looked at the Forest defence it seemed likely Kike would go up against the centre half, I even suggested to the lad we may see someone in bother. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kike had the shin pads protecting his calves, the challenge for the second yellow looked agricultural, I thought it was a straight red at first having missed the yellow being brandished.

    **AV writes: It must have been some thwack on Kike as he rolled three times.

    1. Well done on the “Foulers” Ian, glad it went down the intended intended farmyard fowling chicken plucking route. I’ll set em up, you knock em down!

  25. And now for Blackburn. Another tough test. But surely their reserve keeper can’t have another worldy, can he?

    Bring yer wellies, lads and lasses! Or better still, your aqualung and flippers. It has a habit of being a bit on the damp side!

  26. Ian –

    Considering the terrible weather conditions you braved to “sneak” into the Riverside, I’m glad you were rewarded with a win and the opportunity to return to the Midlands with that warm glow one gets when you’ve turned over one of your fiercest rivals. Just a shame that Derby had to go on a goal spree and nip ahead of us.

    As I’ve said in a number of previous posts, MMP is a major embarassment. His constant references to an, admittedly brilliant, turn out were cringeworthy and sort of highlighted the fact that our usual attendances are poor, which a lot of away fans deride. Surely, there is somebody out there who can do a more conservative MC job so that we can send this egotist back to obscurity. Hoping for revenge tomorrow but feel it may be another draw. UTB

  27. Difficult to believe but I read this on the club site: In terms of goals conceded, this current Boro side are two goals better off (from two more matches played) than the record-breaking Jack Charlton side from the 1973-74 season at the equivalent stage.

    Really this team looks better than Big Jack’s team defensively. I just cannot believe that. Respect to Karanka and the players.

    Up the Boro!

    **AV writes: 21 clean sheets from 46 games so far in 2014.

  28. Jarkko –

    That’s a great stat and a surprising one. I wonder how many points Big Jack’s team had at this stage, adjusted for three points for a win?

    To make a strong push for a top two spot, I think we need a run of several wins on the bounce, to get up to that magic two points per game ratio. Now is the time to start that run.

  29. My rapid fag packet calc, with three points for a win, Big Jack’s team would have had 50 points at this stage of the season.

    **AV writes: After beating Sunderland on Boxing Day 1973 Charlton’s stats were: P23 W14 D8 L 1 F32 A14 Pts (50)*
    After beating Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day this year Karanka’s stats are: P23 W12 D6 L5 F38 A17 Pts 42.

    1. This is a really good time and potentially a very good side indeed. But Jack’s team was the best we’ve had in the past 60 years and were also better defensively in the first season back after promotion than in the promotion year. If we can come close to matching them we will go up. End of.

      What is remarkable about this Boro defence is that any central defensive pairing seems to work as, extraordinarily, does every every right back we play.
      Dimi has been more than capable, as was Paul Smith and Carl Ikeme, but we will need that higher level stopper in the PL, so why not gamble and take on Shay Given or similar now? It will give that extra boost and momentum that we got from deadline day signings in the promotion years of 95 and 98.

  30. Slaggy –

    It was fine going up and the weather forecast had shown rain early evening and maybe snow about 10pm onwards. We were approaching Wetherby in good time when we got a call from a higher authority saying it was snowing in Derby, with 20 plus miles of roadworks on the M1, 7.30 looked likely but as I posted earlier it was nearly 9pm.

    It was even worse over in Sheffield, we came down the M18 so went round the fringe of the worst.

    Good luck to those off to Blackburn today.

  31. To Blackburn. Scene of many previous embarrassments. I remember us winning 5 of our previous 6 games in our first season in the old Second Division. We had just hammered the Hammers 6-0 on the previous Saturday and went to Blackburn on one of our biggest ever highs. We lost. 9-0. November 1954.

    Then there was the day when we went to a 5th round cup-tie on a freezing February day in1962 and saw one of our team put in such an abysmal performance that the rumours circulate about his motives to this day. Lost a game we should have walked 2-1.

    And only last year on the back of a great attacking performance the previous week, manager Venus set us out defensively, substituted Varga in the second half and saw the man he was marking score a few minutes later. Lost 1-0.

    So I’m taking nothing for granted. Especially on the back of a great attacking display.

    Blackburn had a shocking result against Bolton but played well. I’m hoping for the best, but agree with Mark’s excellent post about areas of weakness. If we are without Ayala today we may be less secure defensively than for some considerable time

    I’m going for a controversial 360-1 double after the Forest result. A mirror image via Forest of the Derby-Ipswich reversal. Boro to lose 3-0.

    I’ll consider the trip well made if we get a point.

    1. A 3-0 defeat, wow I didn’t see that coming in your post Len. Hopefully that will not manifest this afternoon. I can’t see this Boro team conceding three goals. Of late only Ipswich looked to have had the upper hand on us and I wouldn’t class Blackburn on the same level as the Tractor boys. Add in the anger and injustice which is still very raw from only a few weeks back and I can only see this going the way of the Boro.

      At the Riverside I reckon we played a little within ourselves and know we could and should have done better, Blackburn I believe are a club that have maxed out and they have little to nothing in reserve. I fancy a Boro win this frosty morning and by at least two clear goals.

  32. Why is there no chat about Ipswich and Derby playing on Tuesday? Did I miss a meeting or are we that good its not an issue. Two extra days rest? Howay. I thought this would be our opportunity to steal a march on our rivals due to Karanka’s excellent rotation of the players and our general strength in depth But no.

    What’s the craic Vic/ anybody?

    **AV writes: I don’t know but it will have been cleared with the league very early on. Last year we didn’t play on Easter Monday and instead went to Reading on a Tuesday night. No-one seemed to be able to explain why they had requested it. I think the fixtures are becoming self-aware.

  33. Ian –

    Glad you managed to avoid the worst of the snow but still a long pilgrimage all the same, although the result probably made it worthwhile. Hopefully, you have banished the jinx and will witness a few more wins in any games you are able to atend. Let’s hope that the post Christmas slump has also been banished and that 2014/5 is a season to remember for all the right reasons. UTB

  34. The daft quid is on 1 – 2 to the Boro.

    When I was walking the dogs this morning I was sure that Blackburn had hammered us sometime in my dim and distant past so thanks Len for clearing my thoughts and proving some of my synapses still work.

    Safe journeys to the travelling 7,000, the roads where we are in Norfolk were just black ice this morning, even the Jack Russell’s had paw-spin.


    John R

  35. Japesey –

    The two extra days rest for derby and Ipswich are not too big an issue because the teams they are playing have the same time off. Blackburn had the same time off we did. The converse is that we have longer to rest before the cup and next league game.

    It is unfair when the team you are playing have two more days to get ready though the short time doesnt allow niggles to clear up.

  36. Japesy I guess the logic is that whilst Ipswich and Derby will have had a few extra days off so will their opponents Leeds and Charlton so in theory its fair for those four clubs involved.

    Had we have had niggles and a depleted squad then it could make a huge difference to us, thankfully we are good to go. My thoughts are that both Leeds and Charlton may benefit from the extra rest more so than the needs of Ipswich or Derby who psychologically may feel pressure (or be more relaxed) depending on todays set of results.

    In simple terms though it would seem a lot fairer and straightforward if all the games were played simultaneously, TV rights aside.

  37. My spread sheet predictor says a point from todays game but my heart is telling me we may be able to take all 3 so I am going for a Boro victory 1-0 and a very tough match which is live on the box for us out here!! [Regrettably a dry match today as I am back in the magic kingdom]

    On the bright side, the victory against Forest gave us an extra point as we banked 3 on a 2 pointer and also Forests drop in the league as a result is now predicted as being a 2 pointer for the return fixture, instead of 1, so our points predicted tally is now 89 as opposed to 87 before Christmas.

    Come on Boro!!!!!!

  38. Thanks for the reply Ian and RR.

    I may be being obtuse, but I still feel it gives our rivals an advantage. Leeds and Charlton aren’t in the title/promotion race. If this was the Premier League, then I feel sure Mourinho et al would be upset with a similar situation.

    The big teams get to rest their best players longer than the other big teams for the matches that really matter. A depleted and weary Ipswich against a depleted and weary Charlton throws it all up in the air a bit. Lets see what their second string is like or how they respond to tired legs. For once, I would like benefit from having a strong squad.

    You just might fancy Leeds or Charlton when the fixtures get daft, doesn’t the Christmas scheduling usually throw up some crazy results because of the log-jam?

    Anyway, nevermind. I was just surprised it hadn’t been broached.

    Right, off into exile as its on tv here in Malaysia at 12.30 pm tomorrow.

    I can’t fight the optimism so will plump for a semi- sensible 2-0


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