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When the country first won the Olympics I wasn’t terribly interested and didn’t pay that much attention to it. As a football fan I couldn’t help think what a waste of money and why didn’t we spend all this cash on a world cup bid.
Slowly and surely the time to apply for tickets began to creep upon us and we decided to apply for some tickets as it is likely to be a once in a life time experience. Now the demand for tickets was expected to be massive, which suggested that everything was going to sell out so we were not likely to get tickets. So we applied for two days of football in Newcastle, two days of events in London consisting of a session of beach volleyball, a morning session of athletics and finally a session of water polo. We also applied for one other set of tickets; these were ladies football tickets at Coventry, as I hoped we would at least get these.
It was a very long time between applying for tickets and actually finding out whether you were successful or not in gain tickets. The first email you received was to tell you how much money you were paying but not which tickets, which was ridiculous to be frank! Then a week later we found out that we had only missed out on the beach volleyball and sadly the athletics which were the main attraction in going to London. While we were disappointed a lot were furious at not getting any tickets at all so we realised we should be thankful for what we got.
At this point the event was a year away so it still wasn’t really real. It didn’t begin to feel real until we had to start organising accommodation and transport, or should I say paying for accommodation and transport! We booked a night in a premier inn in Coventry, two nights in a premier inn in Newcastle and as for London we are very fortunate to have relatives who live on a direct rail route in to London from Essex, so we agreed to stay with them. Even more fortunate was the fact that there were special deals on trains into London if you had games tickets so we only paid £8.40 return, first class!
For all the hotels were paid for I still was not particularly excited as it was still 9 months or so away. My excitement began when the actual tickets for the events arrived. Then we got the news that Middlesbrough would host the warm up games for Team GB’s men’s and women’s teams before the games began. This was exciting as it was before we knew which teams we would see at the Olympics so we thought at least we could see David Beckham and the team at some point!
The news soon arrived though that Beckham wasn’t in the squad so that was in a way sad but it did mean that rather than the Olympics be his swansong it would be a serious competition that the young guns could get their teeth into with the help of Ryan Giggs who was old enough to be some members of the squads father! We also finally found out the games we would be seeing at the other venues. So our full itinerary was:
Team GB Ladies V Sweden Ladies Football Team at Middlesbrough
Team GB Men V Brazil at Middlesbrough
Japan Ladies V Canada Ladies Football Team at Coventry
Sweden Ladies V South Africa Ladies Football Team at Coventry
Canada Ladies V Sweden Ladies Football Team at Newcastle
France Ladies V Colombia Ladies Football Team at Newcastle
Brazil V New Zealand Mens Football Teams at Newcastle
Team GB V Italy Water Polo at the Olympic Park
China V USA Water Polo at the Olympic Park
Now we knew who, what and when I was pretty excited. The only remain apprehension was regarding how to deal with being at the riverside for two games and having two hours in between the games to waste. The 2 hour gap did make me question whether I wanted to go to the first game as it was a long time to sit with nothing to do, especially when I was to be on my own for most of the first game due to a terribly early kick off of 4pm. Women’s football is never going to be taken seriously when the powers that be schedule it at unfriendly work times.
After umming and arghing all week I decided I would go to see the women’s game as I have been a long-time fan of Kelly Smith, so I thought this would be likely to be my one and only chance to see her play. Kelly Smith has been England & Arsenals star player for a long time and although I am not a regular watcher of womens football I probably have seen more than most and it doesn’t take long to see that she is a talented player. Since then she has released her autobiography and it is well worth a read.
The game ended 0-0 and it was a bit like a pre-season friendly with neither team going full steam ahead. It wasn’t a bad game though and I have certainly sat through far worse games watching boro! Unsurprisingly the attendance was very poor to start with but it slowly grew into a decent crowd for the men’s game. The gap between the games was indeed far too long, as were the queues for the bargain basement food at ridiculously expensive prices. However it turns out that it was fairly reasonably priced compared to what was to come at the Olympic Park.
The men’s game showed Team GB up as the rag tag, thrown together in a hurry, half a team that they were. In comparison Brazils kids looked much more of a team. Although not a team who believes in fair play as the new wonderkid Neymar was soon being booed after diving. Goals from spurs player Sandro and Neymar killed the game off in the first half and the game ended 2-0 to Brazil.
So that was the warm up over and it was time for the real thing. We set off for Coventry and made it to the hotel in perfect time to get checked in and order a taxi to take us to the ground. Now the Junction 2 Premier Inn is nothing special but it doesn’t need to be when you are only stopping one night. We got to the ground and there were lots of people around and we met our first ever games makers! It was a bit strange at first as they started to talk to you like you were their best friend! Now since I have family in Canada and a Canada t-shirt, I was supporting Canada and as I was lining up to buy a program a lady from Canada started talking to me as if I was Canadian so I had to explain I had just adopted them for the day!
Next up was our first experience of Olympic security. Coventry had two areas set up with maybe a dozen tables in each, in which you had to empty out all your pockets and bags in front of a member of the security team who placed them all inside a clear plastic bag and sealed it with a security tie. Once that was done we went to the turnstile where only the men were padded down, which was a little concerning security wise!
So we were in the Ricoh Arena for the first time, it had been renamed the Coventry Arena for the Olympics due to the Olympic advertising rules. It is a nice tidy new ground that is so much more fan friendly than the old grounds. The men’s cubicles even have soap dispensers in, which is fantastic because we all know how disgusting they can be. We got some food which was ok then we found our seats.
Japan v Canada was up first so we were supporting Canada as were many people but we were far outnumbered by the Japan fans and the Japanese photographers at pitch side. Japan are a well drilled team and deserved their 2-1 victory. The only Canadian of note was number 6 Kaylyn Kyle who worked hard throughout the game in midfield. During the break between the two games a surprising thing happened. The vast majority of Canadian and japan fans left the stadium. Presumably having no real interest in football in general and they were only there to support their own team. Having sat through Sweden’s game at the riverside I wasn’t holding out much hope for the second game. As usual though you should never assume anything, Sweden’s winger; number 10 and number 12 were on fire and Sweden quickly ran away with the game winning it 4-1 but a special mention for the South Africa goal as it was a lovely lob from the edge of the centre circle. You can see it at the address below.
All in all a very enjoyable afternoons football, On the way out there was a rather dodgy health and safety issue as the police and stewards were forcing people into one queue for buses and taxis which included queuing on stairs which is never a good idea. We finally got passed the buses and got our taxi back to the hotel. After a decent night’s sleep we went for breakfast at the adjoining restaurant. Now we have stayed at several premier inns over the last few years and the breakfast tend to be hit or miss. This one unfortunately was a miss with very poor sausages.
We decided to go the night before the football to Newcastle as it was an early kick off so it was easier to have the car parked and be checked in, than rushing around trying to get everything done the same day. So we checked in and then took a look at the restaurant with in the premier inn, it looked good but it was still fairly early so we decided to go for a wonder. We ended up eating at a Indian restaurant and it was fairly tasty but not the best quality. There wasn’t anything else to do but go back to the hotel bar and have a few drinks, so that’s what we did.
Following a good night’s sleep we went for a very nice cooked breakfast then walked down to the river to get a shot from the millennium bridge of the Tyne bridge with the Olympic rings on. We slowly made our way towards st james’s park. Now as a boro fan I had never been to the Newcastle ground so this was a great way to get another stadium ticked off my list without being at risk at a derby match. The ground is huge and they had the room to have security tables at each entrance so we went through the same procedure as at Coventry and put everything into a clear plastic bag. Now G4s had be kicked off of the st james’s park security contract so the security staff were all bouncers that nobody would ever think of challenging but they were all very nice. I was padded down twice for some reason but again they were largely only doing the men.
After walking the length of the stand we found our block and went to take a look. Then there it was the huge main stands across from us, they are enormous and really in your face I can only imagine what it is like for opposition players when it’s full of blood thirsty geordies! We then went for food and got a decent hot dog and a few supplies for later. The first game was to be between the Sweden team we had already seen twice and Canada who I was supporting again, this time in my Toronto Maple leafs hockey jersey.
It was time for the national anthems and something happened which I have never seen before occurred. The majority of the French fans in the stadium and troublingly a few locals remained seated during the two countries anthems. I was frankly appalled by this and said so on twitter, including tweeting Dave Allan former boro staff and at the time marketing guy for the Olympic games at Newcastle. Sweden started where they left off in Coventry with number 10 and number 12 deservedly getting on the score sheet but slowly Canada got going with a healthy backing from the crowd and levelled the game with 2 goals from their star striker. It was a really good game overall and was enjoyed by all.
Since this was our third double game we stayed in our seats during the break avoiding the very long queues. The France v Colombia game was expected to be a walk over and sure enough they scored after 5 minutes but despite their best efforts, especially from their very talented number 14 Louisa Necib they failed so score again. This was mainly down to an inspired display from Colombia’s goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda, who despite injuring her shoulder battled on making save after save.
For tea we ate in the hotel restaurant and it was nice. Then of course we had breakfast in there again and we came to the realisation that premier inns with restaurant built in are the decent ones and ones with any of the standard chain restaurants attached tend to be the poor ones.
We headed back across the river to visit the Baltic art gallery which frankly was a total waste of time with some ludicrously wastes of time, money and space being inside. So we headed back up the hill towards the Eldon Square shopping centre to have a look around before heading back to st james’s for another look at the Brazilian wonder kids along with world stars like Hulk and Marcelo.
Again we went through security and placed everything in plastic bags although they certainly were not as careful as they were in Coventry whom inspected every little thing but then there was probably twice as many people to get through. At the national anthems this time it felt like most of us decent folk dragged the rest of the crowd up on to their feet. I even heard one guy ask his mate why people were standing up, then eventually his pea brain kicked in and realised it was for the national anthems.
The game itself was a straight forward 3-0 win for Brazil that was never in doubt. New Zealand never had a chance especially with the likes of Pato & Hulk sat on the bench. It was the second time we had seen the boy wonder that they call Neymar and for the second time he got booed for diving, when will footballers realise that nobody wants to see cheating.
The final thing I will say about my trip to Newcastle is the men’s facilities. The first game we were right in the corner between the gallowgate and the little stand, so we used the facilities in the modern stand and they were above average. The second day however we were further along the small stand so we used those facilities and it was like a time warp back to Ayresome Park! The facilities were disgusting, damaged and stinking to high heaven.
We headed home straight after the game as the next day we would be setting off to Essex. We made it down to Hatfield Peverall in 5 and a half hours or so and headed out for tea with the relatives. It was nice but the food down south never tastes as good as I expect, I don’t know why but it is probably the falseness of the people, they always seem to think everything is better than it really is.
The lunch time train we got on was fairly quiet, considering how big the train was. We headed to the first class carriage as our relatives went into the standard class having paid 4 times as much as we did each as they did not have tickets for the Olympics. The 1st class area was very poor, consisting of only two sets of seats. We later realised that the train was actually 4 small trains put together so there were 4 different 1st class areas. This also probably explains why the conductor didn’t come round to check tickets as he was probably in the back section. It was quite funny in first class as we were the only ones in there except for a high powered banker type heading to the city so he looked unhappy to have to listen to us talk about going to the Olympics, I bet he didn’t realise we had first class tickets nor the fact our tickets will have been far cheaper than his.
Stratford was the 3rd stop so it only took around 35 minutes and we were there. Walking off the platform it suddenly hit you how big the Olympics are, the station was jammed with all the people all going the same way. Probably wisely the station gates were open so the masses of people could walk straight through. This meant though that no tickets had been checked at all so we could have got away with no train tickets at all. Further up shoppers went left and ticket holders went right so we said bye to the relatives then saw the first of the thousands of games makers urging us to keep moving to get to security as it was a bit of a walk and you wanted to take it all in so many people kept stopping to have a look around. Security was a mix of police officers and members of the military. In fact I only saw two none uniform security people all day. We did the now familiar security checks but this time it was a bit more detailed with airport style metal detectors.
As we walked around the park we could not help but be impressed. The site is stunning, with the imposing Olympic stadium, the beautiful wild flowers in the grassy areas and the fabulous central park area with grassy slopes to sit on while watching lots of action on the big screens. There was a sea of people and I would say 7 out of ten people were wearing Team GB apparel so we headed to one of the official stores. I bought a couple of polo shirts and headed to the loo and change into my Team GB polo shirt, so now I felt dressed for the occasion.
We continued our wonder around the park and began to feel hungry. We arrived at the food area and were again very impressed with the variety of options from different parts of the world. Sadly our delight was about to grind to a halt. We chose to go to the Chinese food stall and queued for a while, sadly it was not worth the wait. When we got to the front the food options were not the same as on the menu at the back of the queue but we were hungry so got one of each so if one didn’t like it we could swap. We walked off and shared a picnic table as they were in short supply. We sat down and began eating and after three mouthfuls we had had more than enough. The 5 king prawns and the other slop was lukewarm and were so over cooked they were tasteless. Now you never expect top quality food at big events but this was inedible and at £8 each it was a disgrace to the nation, if this is the best food we can do, why on earth would any international tourist ever want to come back? Needless to say both meals got chucked in the bin.
After another hour of walking around enjoying the friendly atmosphere and an ice cream we stopped outside the BBC studios in the hope of seeing someone famous but it was to no fruition so we headed over to the Water polo arena. There was a big queue to get in so we waited a while then eventually got in. We walked past the food places thinking we need something to eat as it had been a long time since breakfast! So we decided to go for the Gourmet Sausage stall, which we hoped wouldn’t be too bad but yet again we left disappointed, hungry and very out of pocket. The bread roll tasted like it had been left out the back in the open air for 7 or 8 hours and the sausage well was not gourmet! We began to eat them then realised how bad the bread was so we started just eating the sausage and that was so bad I actually started eating the bread again as I was that hungry. Overall pretty much £30 worth of food went in the bin. The food was an unbelievable disaster that leaves a big scar on the much talked about legacy.
Climbing the fifth set of stairs we were getting worried that our view would not be worth the effort but as we finally made it to the top of the stairs and entered the arena we were relieved to see that we were not that high, however we then realised our seats were still further up so our climb continued to the fourth row from the back. Our view was not great but ok for £20 tickets. As we settled our thoughts turned to our lack of any knowledge of the rules of water polo. Thankfully over the tanoy and the big screen came a basic guide to the game explaining some of the rules and format. The excitement of the crowd was growing, yet it was still slightly subdued as the teams were about to be led out and announced to the crowd, when what I guess was a university water polo team arrived and led the crowd from the start in various chants for Team GB.
Unfortunately despite the overwhelming home support GB lost and frankly were stuffed by Italy 10 – 5. The Italians had a very large lady upfront, who was a brut of a player swatting the GB players a side. The game doesn’t have many rules, the basics seem to be you can practically do anything to each other off the ball but when you have ball the referee penalises almost anyone who touches you. It was a fantastic change to be watching something other than football and we whole heartedly enjoyed the experience despite the result.
Our final match at the Olympics was the big clash against the two main rivals for the top overall medal spot at the Olympics and of course it is the classic east versus west culture clash. As the majority of the crowd was supporting Team GB the atmosphere did drop for the second game but a fair few USA fans and some Chinese whom had obviously stayed quiet during the GB game. The game reached half time with China winning 3-2 but in the 3rd quarter the USA scored 3 goals to take the lead; this included a great hattrick for Maggie Steffens. The final quarter started with another goal for the USA team, so the crowd thought that was game over. The clock began to tick down when all of a sudden china scored two goals in 40 seconds to pull the game back to within one point of the USA. In the next minute both teams capped off a hectic 2 and a half minutes with another goal each to send the crowd into raptures and the score to 7-6 to the USA. After a fabulous few minutes and three minutes left on the clock anything could have happened. However sanity returned and the teams played out the final 3 minutes without scoring.
It was a great evening getting to know a great sport, we had not seen live before, with lots of action, physicality and highly skilled athletes. We made our way down the stairs again, still hungry and made our way towards the exits past the Olympic stadium. We were still chatting about our wonderful experience when we got close to the stadium when we started hearing the amazing raw coming from the 80,000 fans when someone did something. Now as a football fan I have never been outside a ground when people have celebrated a goal but the closest we had experienced was probably after the disastrous trip to Eindhoven with Middlesbrough when the fans of Sevilla were still celebrating as we left the stadium. However this time rather than sadness we were still riding high from experience of supporting Team GB but we just felt a little disappointed / frustrated that we did not know what was getting the fans excited.
On return to Stratford station we checked the times and realised the water polo must have finished early and the station wasn’t as far as the advertising stated but I suppose they have to say it takes longer as it will take longer if you are a slow walker for whatever reason. So we managed to get the hour earlier train than we had planned, which meant we would finally get some food earlier than we had feared! After arriving back at the relatives we quickly explained how bad the food was and that we were starving. The relatives had some cooked gammon so they carved it up and we had some lovely sandwiches at 11 o clock at night!
Following a great night’s sleep, due to being exhausted from the events of yesterday we got ready and set off on the long journey home still full of enthusiasm for the event which unfolded the day before. We stopped for a Mcdonalds at lunch time, somewhere in the middle of the country and then we drove the last few miles of a fabulous journey.
The only real flaw in our whole Olympic experience was the food. At the football grounds of Middlesbrough, Coventry and Newcastle you expect to pay too much for below par food but to go to the Olympic park and pay extortionate amounts of money for vile, inedible food was an embarrassment to the whole nation.
Overall my Olympic experience was a resounding success and a thoroughly enjoyable journey that I can only hope will be repeated someday. The wonderful atmosphere around all stadia showed how good the British public are and the whole Olympics showed what we are capable of delivering on the world stage. I can only hope we get the opportunity to host a football world cup or the Olympics again in the next decade. Having the opportunity to see the Olympics at my local stadium, up north in Newcastle, in the midlands at Coventry and at the Olympic park it truly felt like it was Great Britain’s Olympics not just London’s.
This is a transcript of Steve Gibson's letter to Peter Lever of the Premier League dealing with the 3 points deduction fiasco back in 1997. It is always a topic of dicsussion as a lot of Boro fans still find it very difficult to come to terms with, many blame the main instigator, Keith Lamb while other pillory the Premier League for their role in this saga. Anhow, here it is:
IMHO, this merely serves to underpin the big part Lamb played in all of this and just how stupid he is. Nothing more than an average bean counter with little common sense or legal savvy. What do others think?
After boro's defence shipping 16 goals in a mere 6 games its time for a change. Now im not blaming the kids directly but playing with young inexperienced players in the defence and in goal has been nothing short of a disaster. A team of kids plays like a team of kids! but a couple of youngsters mixed with some experienced heads will ideally step up and blend into a team. now of course we cant do much about players getting injured and apparently we could afford to buy expensive signings in january but we did sign maxi haas, now mowbray has said he isnt ready but can he do any worse? im sadly going to have to pick on grounds here! even gordon strachan realised he isnt comfortable playing centre back and his last few appearances have certainly show it to be true, yet mowbray has continued with him why?
now of course a team should defend from the front which we certainly do not, our strikers are either too lazy, too short or too self important to worry about such things and certain midfielders are simply not capable of doing what is needed, arca and robson are too old, slow and usually limp onto the pitch nevermind off it! some might say that shows commitment but for me its pig headedness which is to the disadvantage of the team, if you are not fit you should not be on the pitch. Then there is our 4th left back in the team of late andrew taylor who is not a winger and simply looks lost in the midfield and offers nothing going forward and little defensively.
We are in big trouble, wether we win tuesday or not, we need a mass clear out in the summer and i think it will happen if we stay up or go down but no matter what happens between now and the end of the season tony mowbray must pick the right players!
Post eindhoven we have seen star after star leave for pastures new so who is next? Boro now have 27 ex players in the premiership and they add up to a fairly impressive team.
gk - Mark Schwarzer Brad Jones Ross Turnbull Carlo Nash
dr - Luke Young Stuart Parnaby
dl David Murphy matthew kilgallon
dc Jonathan Woodgate Robert Huth David Wheater Andrew Davies
mr James Morrison Chris Brunt
ml Adam Johnson Stewart Downing
dmc Lee Cattermole Herold Goulon jonathan hogg issaiah osbourne
amc Boudewijn Zenden Jason Euell Jonathan Greening
fc Tuncay Sanli Cameron Jerome
sc Yakubu Marcus Bent
so a first team of the following would be a dream come true nowadays!
young woodgate wheater murphy
johnson oneill cattermole downing
but we have to look to the future not the past and chances are thats going to involve further departures so lets take a look at the options.
Goalkeeper - coyne is probably to old to sell, ripley is raw talent who we havent seen so why would anyone buy him, Steele is the one who we could sell and make some money on, he is highly talented and has a bright future ahead of him but i really hope he stays for at least another 3 years and doesnt make the same mistake as turnbull.
right backs - mcmahon is a very good player and i hope he is boro's right back for a long time. hoyte is a decent wing back but lacks the quality defending and the technique of crossing to be a real star. chances are he is on prem wages so really should be shipped out.
left backs - grounds is fairly average but has enough height to be useful cover at centre back as well. bennett is the future! a real attacking threat who has a big future ahead of him if he reaches his potential, certainly could be sold but got to be held onto for as long as possible
centre backs - bates is a good player but needs a couple of years injury free before anyone would take a chance with him. hines is another with a lot of potential and hopefully he will work hard at boro. mcmanus is the only old head he have left in the back line but he is a bit slow and again if he is on a lot of wages he could be sacrificed in the summer assuming he is fit enough to pass a medical
right wing - franks is another full of potential, flood is hard working and finances allowing is a useful member of the squad when fit. sadly kink looks to be the odd one out he has a splendid shot on him but has gone missing in several games and rumours have already started about a move
left wing - taylor a left back really but mowbray seems to think we could be better in midfield, a decent footballer but lacking the quality to be really effective and since he is on premiership wages we has to go. halliday is a strange one after seeing him play for 5 mins it was obvious he wasnt ready for this level yet he sits there in the reserves rather than being sent out on loan
defensive midfield - tavares is nowt but cover for the injured two to follow. thomson had started to look a good player before being injured again and i cant see him going anywhere for a while. williams is another like bates has some qualities but due to his injury record he isnt going anywhere soon.
attacking midfielder - now i use the term attacking loosely! robson is as hard working as they come but really lacks quality and speed, his age means he really isnt a saleable asset. bailey is starting to look like a footballer and if push came to shove we could get a million for him but i hope we get to see more of this bailey and not couldnt find a red shirt bailey. then there is my old friend arca, any minute he could provide a defence spliting pass, only problem is it could be either defence !!! if we could sell it would be great, i just hope we dont extend his contract
strikers - another word we have to use loosely! mcdonald is certainly a saleable asset but not much of one, lita could be sold, he isnt a team player and isnt good enough to explain his attitude so who would want him? emnes is one of those players who no one really knows what his best position is a bit like aliadiere which is fine in a winning team but in ours im not sure there is room for him, it might be best to sell despite a couple of decent shows. miller was another jokee signing by strachan he barely looks like a footballer so needs to be shipped out asap. williams another kid with all the potential to make it big, i hope he keeps getting his chance at boro. then theres boyd who has been a huge disapointment and really needs to depart so we can save a fortune on wages.
so whos next ? my money is on boyd, taylor, kink, miller, hoyte, and hopefully not steele, mcmahon, bennett, franks, l williams
Saw some great quotes from Mogga publicised in the Mirror today. Here are some of the more interesting titbits:
“I’m reading about Bill Shankly and Alex Ferguson,” he says. “Heroes of mine. Working class roots, dug from the same coal pit, those two. Managers for the people. I was born 8 miles away and supported them all my life. You are where you are from. Boro is my team. The North East has fans who stick with their towns. My dad worked for 50 years at British Steel up the road as a scaffolder and I would go on his site as a young boy aged seven or eight. I’d go hundreds of feet up with him, watching him swing around doing his work with his mates. “There was camaraderie and banter, and this football club was at the centre of it. Same down the working men’s club, or on the estates. It made us a community, still does. There was loyalty and closeness to your area and your people. So I know the job I am doing matters. I am not sure if everyone knows the constraints this club is under. People just see the results, and not the other issues. When you have been a Premier League club for 11 years on the bounce and you come out of that league, you are not prepared for it. You have disenchanted players who don’t want to play in this league, but have Premier League salaries and you can’t get rid of them. “You need to get income married with what you are spending. There are some big, big holes in that at the moment here. I would assume it is only through having our owner that this club is still functioning. The balancing act I have is the realities we face, and keeping things upbeat. Making the players believe they are good players who should not be in the position we are. Some know in January they can get a move. I say: Only if the phone rings, and only if the right numbers for us. We are not a charity. No one is leaving on a fire-sale. “I am hoping this club is not as far down the road to that as we were then . I am pretty sure we are not. We have an owner with resources who can get us anchored before steaming on again. In the past that wasn’t the case. I was made captain at 22 when it happened. It was a tough time, but a good one to be young player. It got the young lads together. It created a bond, we were all in it together and that was a huge factor. I was there for the FA Cup finals and the Carling Cup win too,” he added. “Being a fan never leaves you even if you have professional loyalties elsewhere. “Everton were league champions. I got a diving header that earned a replay. Lots of people left the stadium, it was in the dying seconds, and I dived at the near post. Bruce was so elated that we were still in against the league champions that he said: “If I had to fly to the moon I’d take Tony Mowbray, my captain, with me.” It has stuck ever since!” The only regret? Not getting the job four years ago, when Gareth Southgate was given the job straight from being club captain. He added: “Everyone knew Steve McClaren was going. I had started at Hibs and did ok, third and fourth in in the league, semi finals of the cup, beat the Old Firm. It might have been the right time for me then, but from Middlesbrough’s perspective it wasn’t. “This was a club that I would never have turned down at any stage,” added the ex Celtic and West Brom boss. His hero Shankly once said: “Liverpool was made for me and I was made for Liverpool.” How true is that when it comes to Mogga and the Boro?
Team: Coyne, Shead, Otte, Oliver (Park), Weldon, Smallwood, Williams, Halliday, Kink, Alliadiere, Tavares We started off brightly enough playing some good passing football with Sunderland soaking up the pressure, pretty comfortably to be honest. Then young Kyle Oliver playing at centre back got a head injury and had to go off after about 25mins and we went to pot. Smallwood had to switch to centre-back and Cameron Park came on. It wasn't that Smallwood was poor at centre-back, we missed him bossing the centre of the park and Sunderland took control of the game. At the start, Tavares was playing on the left-wing and Halliday on the right, I thought Strachan was back for a second until I gave my head a shake. So Tavares switched to the middle and Park went to the left, when Oliver went off and L.Williams played centre mid as well, he didn't look comfortable. Anyway, Alliadiere had a run out playing lone centre forward with Kink playing behind him, neither had great games, Kink had a few shots but they were well off the mark, he also seems to play with his head down a lot and trys to take people on too much instead of looking for the pass. Halliday and Williams looked a little out of their depth although that might be because they were both playing out of position. Cameron Park didn't do much when he came on apart from one brilliant defense splitting pass which we failed to take advantage of. Shead looks like a decent right-back, he's got a bit of pace; likes to go forward and looks strong enough for a young'n, but the player who stood out the most for me was Weldon playing at centre-back; never put a foot wrong all match. He's got pace and knows how to defend properly, throwing himself around like Bates does, getting in last-ditch tackles and seems to take a lot of pride in not getting beat. He started out as a left-back I think but he'd been switched to the centre. He's looks a little lightweight for the first team yet but definitely is one for the future; he signed a two year pro contract in August and judging by today's performance, that was a really good piece of business. Franks getting a 30 minute run out was great news; that lad run his heart out for us last season when he played and it was good to see him back.
boro's battling display wasnt easy on the eyes but many a time we have come away from the ground complaining about a lack of grit and determination but yesterday we saw a poor team work hard and get three vital points.
now im a big believer in the old saying of the league table doesn't lie and the league table despite 3 more points shows we are a really poor team which was clear to see time and time again against cardiff with our lack of movement and awful control. defensively we were solid but upfront we have been an embarrassment all season. scott mcdonald has been a awful signing, he struggles to run with the ball, control it and frankly do much of anything, his lack of height and strength means he simply is never going to make it in the english leagues.
now i had a thought before saturday, shearer took over at newcastle to stop his fav club from going down and failled and mowbray has basically took over for the same reason so as he only has a contract till the end of the season, if he fails and we do go down will he walk away just as shearer did at newcastle?
Nothing like firing a rocket into space only to see it fall back down to earth and drive deep into the earth's core. The worrying trend of not being able to score nor stop the opposition from doing the same to us is the making of a team on the brink of an almighty disaster. Like Leeds, Charlton, Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday, it looks like we are destined to follow suit.
Going down to Division 1 would have such a major devastating impact on our finances it is hard to see how Steve Gibson would find a way of filtering any more cash from his other business concerns. A huge fire sale of our better (*cough*) players would leave us with fringe and academy players and a manager who will have to find other ways of motivating a group of guys that surely have no battle or will left in their bones. All we can do is hope and pray that our strikers can start finding the net.
That and some loan signings in January, including a couple of creative midfielders to help us up front. Looks like Christmas is cancelled.