Hammer Horror For Boro Fans At Sterile Stadium

BORO clocked up a string of firsts in their 1-1 draw at West Ham’s box-fresh ground but it wasn’t a game that will go down in history.

It was the first time in the Hammers’ new home, the first time  Boro had faced the use of goal-line technology and the first time Jordan Rhodes had started in the Premier League – ahead of Alvaro Negredo too.

A lot of Tees travellers, collectors with plenty of miles on the clock, will be delighted to have ticked off a new ground that has an echo of Olympic glory about it – but few will be dishing out many medals for the trip or want to return in a hurry as the day was marred by a cowardly post-match attack on innocent supporters by knucklehead West Ham ‘fans.’


The ground is a strange and dislocated construction and has a deeply unsatisfying atmosphere that may well be contributing to the repeated trouble in and around the ground so far this season. It wasn’t a great experience from the moment you walked out of Stratford tube station into Westfields,  a Metro Centre sized mall.

It is an impressive sight as it looms on the skyline and well appointed in a lot of ways inside but it doesn’t feel like a football ground and it is far from a fan-friendly experience.

The walk up is sign-posted by makeshift hoardings and stewards that funnel fans quickly through the mall, discouraging any browsing and creating an unwelcoming vibe. Poor segregation and crowd traffic flow, along with question marks over the almost invisible policing and ill-prepared stewards new to the ground, have created problems.

Approaches to and exit from the ground have created bottlenecks and flashpoints along the main route back from the game to Westfield and the tube station, and it was in that exposed area that there were some unpleasant moments after the game, a low key match that had very few moments of friction on the pitch.

Afterwards some Boro supporters were penned in and others were ushered out straight into the flow of  home fans creating unnecessary confrontation that left supporters caught up in chaos. There were reports of sporadic violent attacks on pockets of fans heading to the tube and heading back to the coaches. There were some very disturbing images on social media of what appears to be a blade brandished by one lowlife idiot and reports .

Even inside the ground there had been trouble with several Boro fans in the lower tiers hit by missiles lobbed from higher West Ham areas after the opening goal.


And that is not for the first time this season. There has been fighting among Hammers fans inside the ground and outbreaks of trouble at the Bournemouth, Watford and Southampton games, fixtures you wouldn’t naturally think of as high risk.

That needs addressing urgently by the club, the police and the outside company that supplies the stewards. The security and safety of visiting fans has to be ensured. The FA must take full responsibility for the situation and demand an immediate review of the entire match-day operation before someone is killed.

West Ham have a notorious fan-base but have somehow escaped punishment for a string of incidents. These are the fans remember that marked the exit from Upton Park by attacking the Manchester United team coach. And whose owners initially defended the thugs and yobs and suggested it was United’s fault for arriving late.

It is a powder keg situation. Boro must be a relatively low key game but old rivals Chelsea visit soon in a night game in the League Cup, will take a far bigger allocation and will be approaching not just from one direction but from all routes. And you dread to think what would happen in the shopping centre should they draw long time sparring partners Millwall in the cup.

And it is not just outside the ground that things fall short. Some strange internal architecture, dislocated crowd dynamics and a sterile sense of theme park illusion leave the distinct feeling that this is not really a football stadium.  Athletics yes. Gigs. Yes. But it doesn’t feel like the vibrant home of a football team with heart and passion and a loud proud history of intimidating visitors with noise and colour. Even the bubbles felt like an ‘on the hour, every hour’ tourist trap historical recreation.

It was strange. The innards of the ground are on show. There are wide open empty drawers of space in the prime location where the temporary front seats are supposed to tuck away in the ground’s other life as an athletics stadium.  That central band, a prime location which in most grounds is the perfect height and position, is fenced off and hidden away like a disused trampoline park.

Inside there is a temporary feel to much of the bowels of the beast. Bare concrete. Hastily knocked together signage in Olympic livery and fonts.   Everything is fine. Adequate. But it doesn’t feel engineered as a football ground. It doesn’t feel lived in or loved. It had a the feel of a one-off, like a semi-final at a neutral ground with both sets of fans strangers.

There is a sense that everyone, not just the away fans, are here for the first time, were blundering through. And that leaves an air of bewilderment. Few of them were familiar wit the lay-out. It took several attempts and a string of stewards to find the press entrance. They were over-manned in some areas and getting in each others’ way looking lost and under-staffed in places where they  were needed.

Some of that spatial confusion may have spilled onto the pitch. Boro were certainly left looking lost as tour guide Dimitri Payet – who definitely knows his way into the box – slalomed through for the goal.

Jordan Rhodes started a Premier League game for the first time. That was a first. And ahead of Negredo too. It was a shock selection but the Spaniard couldn’t argue after some ineffective and inhibited recent displays.

And Rhodes did well. He didn’t score but he brought some intelligent moves and combined well with a lively front four that was fluid and had a bit of balance about it. And he had a few chances too. He glanced a header wide and hooked an overhead effort that sailed over but was always looking for it. So that bodes well.

Boro came up trumps in another first though. When Cristhian Stuani’s header squeezed through the crowd and was hooked away from the vicinity of the line there were palpitations in the away end.

It looked over but it was chaos in there and it would be just our luck to have it ruled out but the wonders of 360 degree computer modelling gave us the goal and the edge.

It swung the mood dramatically. “You’re going down with the Mackems” taunted previously nervous Boro fans as the maths at the foot of the table sharpened.


But within minutes the away end was muted and West Ham fans were bubbling again as Payet was allowed to weave into the box past five static stoppers – Antonio Barragan, Marten de Roon, Calum Chambers, Ben Gibson and then George Friend – before cutting back to level. The speed with which Boro are leaking levellers after scoring is a worry.

And the manner. That wasn’t a first. In fact is become the norm. In the last three games now opponents have waltzed in from the flank before hammering in costly strikes. That will need to be consigned to history if we are to flourish.

So overall, it was a new ground ticked off and we won the video vote but apart from that there won’t be much to stick in the memory banks bar the post-match trouble.

An away point is always a “good point” – Aitor was happy enough – and Boro will be happy to have stopped the rot after three defeats. With away points at West Ham and West Brom and the win at Sunderland the record away at teams in the lower level mini-league is not bad. Solid but not spectacular.

But you can’t help but think that the game was there to be won with just a little bit more assertive intent, a little bit more pressure applied to a side who looked fragile at times. Mind, both bosses will be thinking that.


And here’s my ever popular “what game were you watching Vickers you blind get?” player rating from the West Ham game….



241 thoughts on “Hammer Horror For Boro Fans At Sterile Stadium

  1. Have had a good read and listen to sundry bits on the Gazette.

    It appears premiership footballers are faster, fitter, stronger and more skilful than those from the Championship and that is contributing to our problems.

    I am surprised nobody has mentioned on the blog before!


    The bleeding obvious.

    1. Ian

      They’re watching you!!!

      Be afraid! Be very afraid!!

      In fact be sooo afraid that your musings may even find it’s way into a short fluffy puff piece in the Guardian no less, written by a certain female writer who may or may not have a crush on one Boro left back.

      Don’t laugh – it can happen.

      Meanwhile rumours have it that one Nigel Pearson has NOT been approached, in a motorway rest area toilets, to fill a non vacancy at the Boro.

      You could not make it up!

      Meanwhile the Tories have come over all Labour Partyesque and the Labour Party have yet to report ANY of the dissenting MP’s have left the building – Labour Party that is in a roundabout way.

      Meanwhile, J Corbyn is leading the close to 600 000 Labour Party members to added influence in a new highly democratized political party whilst the Tory leader says mummy knows best and you’re just bad little children if you disagree with her.

      You couldn’t make it up – and yes there is soooo much more to come.


  2. Elsewhere, sad news up the road at Durham CCC in their relegation after running up debts.

    You cant help but think the authorities must bear some responsibility over encouraging teams to expand grounds to play tests, get them to pay huge fees to allow them to have a test then giving them a test match with little attraction in early season.

    1. In Business if I was looking at a proposal to spend to the point of my eyes watering and clenching my buttocks in fear of any unintentional movements then I would be highly unlikely to go ahead with it.

      If someone provided a Business Plan which was virtually watertight and guaranteed to benefit huge returns to the speculator then I may be tempted. However if there was little to no historical precedent in such a scheme becoming a get rich quick passport and heavily dependent upon being given “favours” (in terms of big games) just to break even then I would want some caveats drawn up that protects said club from the possibility or indeed inevitability of the many (too many in this case) “what if’s”.

      Seems to me that Durham CCC were incredibly naive and foolish. It also seems to me that the authorities are also heavily to blame for their irresponsible encouragement and tacit support of such behaviour. Its not unique to Cricket, we have seen this weekend what happens when “deals” get done to provide first class sporting venues and the aftermath of such poorly planned and thought out incompetence.

      And finally who would have thought that the annihilation of a Northern club would hugely benefit a Southern club in English sport, it’s just not Cricket!

  3. Spartak – Didn’t SG get rid of GS1 because the crowd had turned against him and he could see the writing on the wall? Its also no coincidence that Boro’s form bombed that season once the best players had been shipped out.

    As for Cloughie, he was always controversial, but when he went to Forest after Leeds he had a First Division title on his cv, something Big Nige can only dream about.

    Big Nige may be a cracking manager, I like him, but his issues at Leicester with the press and now some internal issue yet to be explained are going to taint him. He’ll have to rebuild his career from a relatively low base is my guess.

    I agree with Chris, Valdes’ distribution was woeful at times on Saturday, I suspect he’s not used to giving it the big boot up the pitch, I don’t think they play that way at the Nou Camp!

    I heard Robbie Savage slagging off Gareth on Radio 5 last night, it must be a cracking gig getting paid to have no responsibility and telling the world your contemporary’s are all rubbish.

    1. The crowd turned against GS1 in the Premiership and was going slowly downhill as belief had gone. We used to refer to “Rabbits in Headlights” on here routinely at the time.

      SG’s mistake was firstly in appointing someone who hadn’t served an apprenticeship let alone had zero experience for a key role in his business. Had he brought a Venables type “Executive Director” to coach and mentor GS1 whilst in the Premiership it could have worked out long term.

      The sacking of GS1 was inevitable but at that point SG had virtually rendered any hopes of Boro bouncing back impossible because of the fire sale. The reasons for that were purely financial after Schteeeve had left us with an ageing, overpaid squad with no resale value and relegation compounded potential financial ruin unless desperate measures were taken.

      The whole folly of putting a Player in charge was ridiculous then and now with hindsight even more so. No doubt SG looks back and shakes his head himself as I suspect it was first activated with an emotive heart over head decision but ended with a heartbreaking one.

      I’m certain GS1 will have learnt a lot both during and after that time. His success with the youngsters shows that he isn’t without ability and he may even make a decent fist of the real England job and becomes permanent. In fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he returned at some future point as Boro boss.

  4. Spartak

    As a student we called it the Grauniad because of atrocious spelling errors so I would be safe because I would be granted anonymity, Ian Gill is too difficult for them to spell.

    If I mention I read the Torygraph they would have a dicky fit so no need to be concerned.

    1. Torygraph

      One needs to keep appraised of the ‘truth’ and Mother May’s choice of footwear no doubt.

      Now you don’t have a footwear fetish do you, Ian?

      Don’t laugh, it does happen 🙂 Apparently!

  5. The ECB seem to have been taking lessons from the FA. Take a Northern Club and use them as an example to others.
    Maybe Durham have been naive but the punishment meted out seems draconian, to put it mildly.

  6. Poor old AV, more cricket on the blog!

    The ECB does seem to have been somewhat harsh with Durham, but maybe they are simply applying the rules?

    It does appear from the outside though that Durham have been badly managed.

    I wonder just how sustainable county cricket is though, after all its a sport that nobody watches.

    1. I wonder just how sustainable county cricket is though, after all its a sport that nobody watches.

      TV revenue, Nigel 65 million UKP a year Sky TV to ECB


          1. With nearly 6 million people attending more than 1,400 race meetings last year and an annual betting turnover of £10 billion ($15 billion), according to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), everything may appear lucrative for the “sport of kings.”

            1. Sparta
              that’s the problem, ten billion turnover going to people who do not put a single horse on a single course. They even had trouble imposing their rights to the copyright of racing. Of course the betting industry have a track record of letting the power people run very large gambling debts but hey, what’s new?

  7. Redcar Red

    I think you can throw in the disastrous transfer activities in the preceeding season with the likes of Rochemback, Boateng, Catermole, Young leaving and being replaced by Hoyte, Digard and Emnes.

    Add JFH, Yak and Viduka leaving to be replaced by Aliadierre, Midough and Alves.

    Ugo, Mendi and Parlour doing a last of the summer wine tribute gig.

    It all added up to ‘The event that no one saw coming’ at the club. Oddly we were debating the dangers on here in August 2008 but what did we know? We are only football fans with scores of years of experience.

    If it walks like a duck,…………..

    The Unholy Trinity of Gibbo, Prince of darkness and Scapegoat sat there like san’en or sanzaru.

    1. That period was a modern era low point for Boro, some of the decisions made were awful.

      I still shudder when I see the names Aliadiere and Digard.

      We got rid of Schwarzer to.

    2. They are the professional Ian. You know you should know that!

      You couldn’t make it up! And there’s more to come.


  8. Spartak

    And I didn’t catalogue all the other poor pieces of business, Jason Euelluseless, Caleb Forlorn, Donkey St Ledger, Dong Goal Less.

    And people still blame it all on GS2. At least we got something out of Barry Robson, Scott McDonald, Steve McManus.

    Kevin Thomson seemed a good acquisition, his stay marred by the broken leg that hadnt healed and the fitness/medics kept telling him he was fit to play. Two aspirins and run it off.

    Kris Boyd turned out to be a bit of a duffer.

    But all of Strachans buys added together cost less than two thirds of an Alves or Mido plus Aliadierre or Emnes plus Digard plus Hoyte.

    It just depresses me again.

    And we got the wonderful badge!

    1. Met him ONCE from a distance of some meters inside the main office at the Riverside Stadium. He clocked my face for a few brief seconds with the look that once seen he never forgets a face and not for good reasons either, if you catch me drift.


  9. Now we’re in an International break perhaps news of things ‘international’ maybe moot.

    News outa Northern Ireland (where each citizen is ENTITLED to an Irish passport due to the Good Friday Peace Treaty – and many have them) is that a so called Hard Brexit may see the VETO of the same due to the possible NI control over constitutional matters. Apparently 56% of people voting there voted for remain.

    What on earth! It’s getting a bit complicated to say the least. In addition, what ramifications are there for the EFL in real terms, practical terms? Will already resident players be able to stay? Will conditions become difficult for EU citizen players/managers who are not deemed of the right level ie. internationals with history of previous playing. What about the Boro?

    Maybe a fudge will result and players/managers wanted will get into fortress UK, which maybe plus or minus Northern Ireland and Scotland?

    The irony, if I can put it like that, is that if there is a Hard Brexit and that is seen as particularly problematic for NI, then surely it would be in their best interests, Unionists and all to break away from UK?

    Questions, questions

    There is the big possibility that sports fans of all persuasions will need visas to travel to European games both inter-national and international.

    1. Spartak

      “Unionists and all to break away from UK?”

      It would literally be like Turkeys voting for Christmas. Besides too many of those genuflection types prevalent in all those European countries, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy etc. Before long the Orange Order would be marching to the Vatican about being charged VAT on their Sashes and complaining about immigration (oh the historic irony).

      Like the Bravehearts over Hadrian’s wall when it came to FREEDOM it was a case of ohhh, mmmm, ahh, but, mmm, not sure, well, maybe, ahhmmmm………..nope!

      They simply covered up their derriere’s, pulled their Kilts back down for modesty sake, put their pants back on and went home for their Haggis. Currently led by the oil-less Mrs Krankie I would doubt an Independent vote any time soon. Although she does generate a fair amount of hot gasses by herself I doubt its enough to regenerate an ailing Scottish economy on her own, although only just!

      1. Yes RR, there’s plenty of present and historical ironies there, not to mention the ‘Unionists’ have x amount of MPs in HoP pulling a very nice salary and benefits package. However, if it looks pretty dire for their economy pressure may prevail. The most obvious choice would simply to veto the whole thing and put everybody in a spin. Can you imagine two years of very expensive negotiations and then NI says not on your nelly, mate! Where then?

        Then, you’ve got the hairy haggis eaters and their fervent independence crew. Any chance that they have to compromise and you’ve got cabers being tossed over the wall and claymores being unsheathed. I wonder if they will organise a march down to the old smoke and burn the mother of all parliaments down – best not give them ideas.

        It’s turning into a right old dog’s breakfast/lunch/tea. Not surprising the limited intellects of the Tory Brexit battalion commanders can’t get their heads around it and are squawking for a Hard Brexit to save them all the trouble of trying to think. My god, Bojo states he’s a big picture man. Well he’s going to have a big headache after all this is done and dusted. What a prat, he didn’t want to leave in the first place and it was only a means for him to grab the PM baton quick style that he put himself up front and centre in the first place.

        “You are lions led by packasses.”
        Francisque Sarcey ‘ Paris During The Siege, 1871’ (and repeated by many others)

  10. Mrs Krankie can be strident about Trident safe in the knowledge that whiislt they still have England to moan about we will continue to pump money in to the numerous areas around bases in Scotland to keep people employed.

    There are principles and employment figures, besides who could they blame if they gained independence?

    1. The Tories had 6 years of blaming New Labour for all the world’s ills. I can see Krankie using the same device to the same effect. Funny, can’t see Corbyn doing the same thing. Then again, he’s not a proper politician and he don’t sing the national anthem.

    2. Ian,

      For Mrs Krankie and the Fat Out of controller it’s a work in progress and they can just moan and complain about everything from injustice to, well, whatever they want or wish because the responsibility isn’t theirs.

      If however they were to suddenly get what they want the crosshairs, not the spotlight, would fall on them and everything would be their responsibility. At that point they would be the focus for the blame game.

      They don’t want that do that though do they, it’s a bit like being in opposition lots of crazy ideas and promises but they don’t have to keep them.



  11. Any chance of injecting some cricket back into this blog?

    Just askin’, like……

    (Incidentally I think the ECB have really put the boot into Durham over this. A 46 point deduction for THIS year, when they were coincidentally 45 points ahead of a relegation spot, and therefore starting next season in Division Two with MINUS 48 points to make it very difficult to get promoted back to Division One. A salary cap which will drive some players away and make it hard to recruit. A rule that any prize money to the club, won against the odds, would be paid back to the ECB for their financial support. And points deductions in the limited overs tournaments, too….. Need;less to say, no more Test Matches to be played at the “other” Riverside ground despite its having been a condition that the new County Club had to build an international standard stadium shortly after being admitted as a First Class County.

    All for financial expenditure taken on with the encouragement of the ECB as clubs were required to bid unrealistic amounts for Test matches. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

    A good suggestion for those not of a Yorkshire disposition has been made on Twitter by @LydiaJane13. Instead of spending maybe £200 to get tickets for a Lords or Oval Test, what with the travel and eating/drinking or staying overnight costs, supporting the ECB, cricket followers from the north east might consider instead buying a Durham CC season ticket, and get a LOT more cricket for their money, on their own doorstep. And it would help Durham CC out of the mire the ECB has made much deeper.)

    1. I agree with that, Dormo. I think the relegation should have been enough punishment. Instead, we get this draconian points reduction. So if Durham might be able to earn a bit more money by getting promotion back to where they belong, well the ECB has just stuffed them good and proper. I’m a Yorkie, by the way, but I wouldn’t want what’s happened to DCCC to happen even to Lancashire.

  12. Just a bit about Brexit – Theresa May says ‘Brexit means Brexit’ but does she know what has driven the vote to Brexit and can she deliver what people think they voted for?

    I don’t know if any of you caught the piece on Newsnight last week by Danny Dorling, who is Professor of Social Georgraphy at Oxford University. But here’s a summary of what he found:

    He’s been examining the data from various polls and surveys to see how the vote broke down by social class. What was interesting is that in terms of actual numbers of those who voted to leave, 59% were middle class (A, B, C1) with 34% of those being professionals (A,B) compared to only 17% of the total leave vote being skilled manual workers (C2’s)

    What he was arguing is that rather than being a working class revolt, Brexit was achieved thanks to the middle classes. Even though 57% of middle class voters chose to remain, the fact that they were the largest voting block of those who voted leave meant they were the largest social block who actually voted leave.

    Whilst it’s true that the working classes (C2, D, E) voted 67% to leave – not as many voted so they wouldn’t have achieved Brexit without a large middle class leave vote.

    He also busted the myth that it was a northern leave vote as 52% of all leave voters were from the ‘south’ – though as an aside what constitutes the boundary on the north-south divide seems a little arbitrary to me.

    Plus the NHS was a major issue in the campaign, which he thinks may be a major factor for the elderly – especially given that life expectancy of elderly women has been falling since 2012 – and the leave campaign’s ‘promise’ of increased NHS spending if we Brexit probably swayed many elderly voters – He noted if the UK was to match German health spending then the UK would need to spend an extra billion pounds per week.

    Also there is an increasing perception of the UK being an unequal country by many voters – in fact it is the most economically unequal country in EU – with the top 10% taking home 28% of the country’s income as a whole with the top 1% ‘earning’ half of that.

    One of the panelist’s who discussed the film had also interpreted the vote by race and found whilst 53% of white Christians had voted to leave, 70% of Moslems, 66% Asians and 80% of the black population had voted to remain. Indeed 4 out 5 of people who regarded themselves English rather than British voted to leave – which indicates a trend towards nationalism is happening in England, something that the mainstream parties haven’t necessarily got an answer for.

    So whilst people voted to leave for varying reasons, it was probably a manifestation of English nationalism combined with an anti-establishment kick as people were feeling unhappy with their current economic circumstances and wanted change.

    But whether the government can deliver on what people want could be difficult – of those who voted leave, 80% wanted more control on immigration but nearly 60% wanted to remain in the single market – a combination which is seemingly unlikely to be on offer from the EU as the phrase ‘cake and eat it’ may be thrown back.

    So the powers that be must take heed of what message s being sent and the worrying thing for me is more nationalism won’t solve any of the problems people are facing – in fact it will probably create a whole set of new ones.

    1. But as you point out Werdermouth, there are numerous different and incompatible reasons people voted for Brexit. Now it is down to the incumbent power, sadly driven by slightly hysterical, Europhobic, jingoistic, xenophobic, nationalistic (with a little Englander tendency), right leaning numpties that have been trapped (perhaps at birth) in a time warp of Imperial supremacy with the mis-guided and lazy post-Edwardian belief that we showed the world how to do it and, by Harry and King George, they know they owe us a living in perpetuity.

      Or, to put it another way, God help us !!

      PS. Are DCCC appealing their punishment
      PPS. I liked the Riverside Syndrome bit Jarkko

      1. Powmill

        Nothing is new, one hundred years before the fall of the Roman Empire, it was driven to distraction by the incursion of all sorts and conditions of races across the Roman borders. Remember this was the Roman Army, feared throughout the known world.

        They came across the Rhine, and the Danube, from the eastern borders and the African. As the army tried to halt them in one place, so they poured across in another. A strange side effect of desire to plant themselves on someone’s country was the longing to become the friend and partner of Rome by all sorts of small backward nations, and they were persistent in this desire, being very difficult to shake off.

    2. People generally are irrational – choice of car, choice of wife/husband, choice of footie club to support.

      I suppose to rationalise the irrational is something of a paradox, but the Tories have their finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist and are heard to give it full speed ahead. To what degree they will actually walk the walk rather talk to talk is still to be seen.

      Tories, you’ve gotta love em. They want power and they have no shame in what they do to get it and keep it.

    1. wet kipper with ‘lime’ – interesting thought!

      Perhaps you’ve missed your vocation in life GHW. It’s the Great British Bake-Off for you me lad.

      Same goes for Powmill


  13. The experiment of playing U21 teams from the top academies in the Checkatrade Trophy has not proved a roaring success.

    Of the 28 games played so far the U21 teams have won 8 and drawn 5. Our own U21’s have lost both their matches so far and are out of the competition.

    1. Ian, do you not think that playing against a first team, no matter which division, is valuable experience for the under 21’s.

      Come on BORO.

      1. Boro (like other Clubs) have had their fair share of genius youngsters, blessed with unquestionable and envious talent. Problem was (like most other Clubs) these kids believe their own hype and start to go off the rails with attitude and other recreational problems before they even start shaving.

        Playing the likes of Scunny and Cambridge and getting beat may help condition the mind set of some of them with a huge portion of reality. It will make some of them hungrier, leaner and meaner when they realise that despite the verbal diarrhoea uttered by many’s a Sunday league Coach, Parents and Grand Parents to the contrary, they aren’t actually that good.

        As exmil says I think its a valuable experience

  14. Am I right in thinking the youngsters also do academic studies? Perhaps AV can comment on that.

    **AV writes: Yes. Dave Parnaby takes that side very seriously and he aims to make sure that everyone leaves the Academy well grounded and fit for employment whether they make it in football or not.

  15. Exmil

    Totally agree, it shows how far they have to go in the game and takes them out of their comfort zone.

    There was an article in the Torygraph sports section about Micheal Keane and his rise since leaving manU, I don’t have it with me but it mentioned that he was viewed as a typical academy product, nice polite young man from a nice family and doubts whether he would make it.

    One of the benefits of the loan system is that these young lads from top academies have to go out and stand on their own two feet.

  16. Talking of polite young men I noticed that nice Mr Barton is to be charged with 44 betting offences by the Scottish FA.

    Down here in Derby talk is of a return to Derby County for Schteve. Apparently big Nige was bullying the players.

  17. Redcar Red

    Your post about the academy starlets who don’t make it, and AV’s brilliant Reflection piece on Massimo, prompted a thought. Whilst we’re in the middle of yet another interminable international break, watching the tumbleweed blow by and counting the blades of grass on the lawn, how about blogmates’ ideas on the ones who were predicted to make it big with Boro, but never did? I’ll start the ball rolling.

    Andy Campbell and Luke Williams. Such fantastic promise. So much hype. So much disappointment.

    Any offers?

      1. Andy –

        Alan Moore. I watched him do the young player thing, and how! Aany young player will score the odd blinder and fool you into thinking that the club has got lucky. But I want to tell you, Alan was something else again, a series of George Best goals, over his shoulder, drop volleys, twenty yarder’s, curver’s into the top corner. On memory alone, we spent two years wondering where it went, and praying it would come back to him. It never did.

    1. I played against Andy Campbell lsdt year. Nice chap but never reachrd the real top. But he was still better than – bit also younger. Not as good as Bernie who I yried to mark, thpugh. And Bernie is older!

      Up the Boro!

      **AV writes: I’ve played against Bernie and it is impossible to get the ball off him. Mind, I’ve played WITH him its impossible to get the ball off him.

          1. I’ll just kick his ball which keeps coming in my garden back over the fence with a note saying you wished him all the best

  18. Steven Bell, one of the most exciting teenage talents some of us had ever seen. Made his Boro debut aged 16. Had a fantastic season as Boro”s star player. Lost it all and was playing Sunday League football at 22. Tragically died at only 36. What a great young player, What a sad loss.

      1. Interesting to see the posts liking Stan Cummins as the player they liked..

        For a few years I was part of the refereeing team that officiated at Hutton Road for Harold Shepherdson. Shep who was the perfect gentleman had trial matches with teams from all over the country spotting young up and coming players. I used to pride myself on spotting the talent and two players stood out for me. One was Craig Johnson who went to Liverpool from Boro. He used to play centre forward in those early days and as he came from Australia his nickname was “Roo” !

        The other player who stood out was Stan Cummins. He had it all and it was amazing to watch him develop. Unfortunately he didn’t grow very tall but he was our own little fella. Even Jack Charlton said he was going to be the first million pound footballer but he was wrong.

        Happy Days I was young and fit !

      2. Alan

        I take no pleasure in noting that all the players of real promise that we have turned up in my memory(a long time) have all lacked size and bulk. It must be a Boro blind spot because we shoved our giant Brazilian midfielder out the door and he said he was happy to stay. I must say that having him in the team was the greatest comfort blanket any fan could have, we will never know how many hard men took one look at him and though, nah, not to day. By the way, I’m talking Emerson.

        I suppose it is hard for lightly built players today.

        **AV writes: Boro did not “shove Emerson out of the door”. He spent a year trying to get away after actually doing a runner.

  19. Like JFH I too will love Massimo until the day I die.

    It’s impossible to put a value on MM, as you cannot put a price on the raw emotion he served up. Only a football fan can appreciate it.

    Whatever happened to Nathan Porritt? Last seen in Portugal, and coveted once, suspiciously, by Chelsea.

  20. Alan Willey(?), saw him play in an FA Youth Cup tie against Spurs, I am sure Hoddle played in that match. Looked to be going places but never did.

    I think Stan Cummings scored against Sunderland, might even have been a header of all things.

  21. For those that can only get to see the BORO on TV, here are the dates that Sky will announce the rest of the seasons live matches:

    Oct 12 – Dec & Jan fixtures

    Dec 12 – Feb fixtures

    Jan 25 – March fixtures

    Feb 27 – April fixtures

    Apr 6 – !st May fixture

    Apr 13 – 2nd May fixture

    Apr 20 – 3rd May fixture

    It may also be useful for fans that have to plan travel arrangements, to avoid unnecessary expense.

    Come on BORO.

  22. Another +1 for Porritt. He looked like the business and then disappeared without a trace. I would also add Cattermole to the list. Yes, he is an established PL player, but if he’d kept his head right he could have been England’s Gattuso without too much of a suspension of disbelief.

    And on Massismo, I fully agree with GHW, the emotion and history that his fabulously bald pate served up will arguably never be rivalled. In 20 years time that will probably become another one of those games, like the post-86 revival, that turns out to have had 100,000+ people in the stadium at the time.

    As someone who was there (genuinely guvnor!) the game against Steaua was quite simply the best and most exciting game of football I have ever witnessed. It was amazing. Thank you Massimo!

    1. Smoggy

      Massimo, I always blamed the manager for not playing him in the final. All cups have an element of luck, and not to pick a player who was the star in two stupendous matches, in the final, was a no brainer, particularly as he was brought up on European football, and very fit. He could have made the difference.

      **AV writes: He played the full second half. That you don’t remember perhaps goes to the heart of the problem.

  23. I could list 3 or 4 names from our current “Premiership” squad but will desist Maybe in time the Bolo Zenden song will be reintroduced for them and they will “be alright” and I will happily eat my words.

    Massimo at home to Steaua is the best moment for me of my Boro supporting life only nudging Cardiff out because of the sheer incredulity and disbelief of it all when despair had just about took hold and the resultant euphoric scenes around the Stadium. We don’t get many of those moments supporting Boro but when we do they are truly treasured and appreciated.

    Add a dose of Alistair’s commentary to the back drop and that night history was made.

  24. Stephen Bell, a really tragic loss.
    Did Big Jack’s prediction put too much pressure on Stan Cummins? He did, however, seem to have it all.
    Who knows why things go awry for these talented youngsters?

  25. I got 13 in the Jonno quiz and 2 out of the first four correct. I think one of those questions has two right answers.

    It was one about who scored and had an assist. Fischer had a shot saved that Negredo knocked in. I thought Negredo played the final ball for Fischer to run on to and score.

    May well be wrong, again.

  26. Was watching Austria vs Wales last night and it reminded me of when our international claim to fame regarding players was having Wales John Mahoney in our side.

    It was rare in my formative Boro years for us to have international players on our books. It brought to mind Eric McMordie and Johnny Crossan. Here’s an interesting story about Crossan. Wonder how it would be treated in this day and age?


    **AV writes: Brilliant tale. Football was pretty much a feudal system when it was in black and white wasn’t it? Clough and Taylor worked in the woodshop my mam worked in one summer. I know Ayala does a shift or two on the turkey farm but you can’t see many of the working in the summer because their wages had been halved.

    1. GHW

      Incredible story that shows the levels of untouchability and stupidity are not recent developments in the world of football. I wonder what the outcome would be if even today he spoke to Lawyers about the events all those years ago.

    2. I think Boro were his last club but one Easter, in 1968 or ’69, while working and living in London my wife to be and I saw him play at Charlton and Crystal Palace and he was some player then. Huge clearance kicks bouncing miles in the air on rock hard ground but when he got the ball it was down on the ground and pinged around.

      I can’t remember the scores, just Crossan.

      Jarkko you’re not the only one to test a future partner’s patience with visits to Boro matches!

      By the way, that article about him, you couldn’t make it up. Unbelievable, as someone says.



  27. It isn’t just modern footballers who lead a pampered life.

    Lee Westwood told the story about flying, they shared private jets to travel. He went on holiday with his family like the rest of us and his son asked what all those people were doing on Daddy’s plane.

  28. Now we have Gate as England manager are we going to be a bit more interested?

    I am willing to bury my antipathy for a while.

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