Thursday, 16 July 2015


When the news broke about Stewy coming back to the club, I thought na, can’t see it being possible he’s had a fine season at West Ham last season playing under Sam Alladyce in the no10 role. On big premier league wages, if we had got promoted I thought Stewy would sign no problem. So I ruled it out and have tried to dismiss it every time I have seen news on it.

2-3 weeks later and he is on the verge of returning to the club after leaving the club 6 years ago. What can I say? I am excited to see the best player out of the Boro academy in my opinion return and play for the club again. I can only praise Steve Gibson yet again for pulling this deal off and making it possible. What a signing the signing of the summer! After the disappointment of the playoff final back in May, I think the timing of this is spot and has created a great buzz on Teesside ahead of the new campaign. 

I have always been a big Stewy Downing fan since watching him break through into the first team at Boro. The UEFA Cup game v Steaua Bucharest been his best game for us, having followed his progress since leaving us in 2009. I never really understood the criticism he receives, he gets a lot of unnecessary stick. Stewy has a lot of quality, he’s going be a massive player for us. Creating chances, scoring goals and plenty of experience to help our younger players, it can only help players like Adam Reach’s game. 

It’s a win win situation. Stewy wanted to come back home, he always said the day that he left the club he had unfinished business, it be a fitting return to take the club back to the premier league. We are getting a hell of a player for a good price in today’s market, he could have easily walked in to most premier league clubs. Get promoted and we will still see a good few years of him at the top level. It really is massive capture from Steve Gibson. It is a real state of intent, ambition to get out of the Championship and back to the Premier League.

I can’t wait to see the first images of Stewy back in a Boro shirt! Exciting times ahead! Nothing beats seeing a local player pull on the shirt of the team you support. Stewy Coming Home! Maybe he can be the DJ at the promotion party! UTB! 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Wembley Heartache Again!

Was it a bad dream?

Waking up this morning to realise it wasn’t a bad dream it really did happen, Boro lost again at Wembley in a major final. A game which we started slowly and paid the price for it. They was a end to end moment with Bradley Johnson hitting the bar for Boro to go straight down other end and hit bar with Vossen long range strike. After this Norwich profit, from an Ayala slip to take the lead through Cameron Jerome. Could we comeback? it got more difficult, bang another goal for Norwich a double blow the lively Redmond with Norwich 2nd. 2 goals in 3 mins.

15 mins gone and two down was a real nightmare start, plenty of time for the comeback. It just didn’t happen 2nd best on the day, froze on the big stage. We upped the tempo 2nd half but really struggled to create any real opportunities in front of goal and test the Norwich keeper Ruddy. Struggling to break Norwich down who put everyone behind ball.

It was a guttering end to a great season, at moment it’s hard to see the positives missing out on automatic promotion by a few costly games and losing in the championship final playoff. Will we get a better chance of going up? We know how hard this league is to get out off. I cant help but think was a massive opportunity missed.

It’s hard to accept, another 46 game season in the championship, a painful blow yesterday. When I’ve slept on it and had time to reflect we will see we have made big strides this season. It’s time to enjoy a break it’s been a long season which has offered some great memories. I’ll enjoy the break and be back in August.

Everyone feeling hurt and pain right now, the team, the fans everyone around the club. I have just watched George Friend after the game interview. Who was our best player yesterday tried his best to rally us. It was a very emotional listen, you can see how gutted he is. I so glad he represents our club. An adopted Teessider like says. ‘This is a special club, special area, community, togetherness. We are going to need that togetherness again next season.

Playoffs are torture unless you win. I can’t take anymore of them! We need to see what happens in the summer, get few players in and aim to win the league in front of a sellout at The RIverside, it would be the perfect way!

Enjoy the summer! see you in August! UTB!

Saturday, 23 May 2015


 On Monday 25th of May 2015, a busy bank holiday Monday I and thousands (40,000) of other Boro fans will be at Wembley to cheer our team, Middlesbrough Football Club, on in a big stake Championship Playoff Final game v Norwich at National Stadium. I have been lucky enough to have visited the new wembley on two occasions. Both to watch England qualifier games.

Nothing will beat Monday’s game, It’s what you dream off. Seeing your own team, My club playing in a major final at the national stadium. The game itself is quite nervy, when think what is at stake. Financially it is massive, one game away from returning to the Premier League after our relegation in 2009.

Walking round the town this week everyone is talking about the game. Whether your into football or not they want the team to win for the area. Passionate about where they are from. It’s got people talking, It’s great to have the town buzzing with shops having displays of red and white good luck messages to the team.

Middlesbrough can return to the premier league after spending 6 seasons in the Championship. It would be fitting to clinch promotion at Wembley to mark our 20 year anniversary since we moved to the Riverside in the Robbo years. Getting to the premier league can only help, the town’s  profile, create more business for companies and more Jobs in the area. 

I can’t wait to arrive in London and be at Wembley to see the Boro invasion of fans in our colours of Red and White. First i’ll spend some time in Wembley way soaking up the atmosphere and hoping to bump into some familiar faces, last visit following Boro at the old wembley I bumped into Boro legend Mogga for a photo. I’m sure be plenty of past players going to watch The Boro. Then i’ll be heading into Wembley to find my seat and be part of Boro wall of noise. Like playoff game last Friday the Riverside was bouncing from start to finish, a game that will live me. It was definitely one of the top 3 atmosphere’s at the Riverside. One I’m sure we will repeat on Monday.
It’s not going be easy, going be another rollercoaster of emotions, tense, nail biting, edge of your seat stuff. Like this season, we will need the spirit like at Birmingham when we went down to 10 men and came back to draw. Everyone dug in and it felt like a win that day. The trip to Derby and Norwich away were back to the wall stuff but we grinded out top wins.

You would think the experience of playing at anfield, etihad and the emirates this season will help the players with the occasion. It is on the day and who copes with the pressure and nerves the most.

It is a new Wembley, we are not playing a team in blue, let’s make it a Premier league return for our club. Come On Boro! Be loud, be proud, let’s have a sea of Red and cheer them on to victory!

This is our time! We can do it! Our Club, Our town,  Let’s make Wembley Our’s! Come on Boro! Wear Red! Believe UTB!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

So many positives to take from our trip to Anfield

 What a night at Anfield! 

Boro made 6 changes from the weekend game with Brentford in came: Blackman, Ayala, Clayton, Tomlin, Reach and Kike. Out went: Dimi, Gibson, Whitehead, Vossen, Bamford and Nsue. A shame that young defender Gibson missed out. Liverpool made 7 changes no Gerrard or Henderson in line up keeping Sterling in the side who has been a big threat for them and England on recent displays. Keep him quiet and we have a good chance of a cup shock I thought.  

Watching the game at home, The Boro players lined up in the Anfield tunnel wearing get well soon Damia t-shirts for our Right back. The news announced recently that the new summer signing, who had settled well to the english game, would be out for most of the season with a serious knee injury picked up against Cardiff. Nice touch by players/club who have done it in past for Carayol and Williams who are coming back from serious injuries. It shows a real togetherness within the club. 

After a bad start for Boro, conceding a nightmare goal with a mix up in the defence and with the new debut goalkeeper Jamal Blackman on loan from Chelsea making his first start for the club. Boro recovered and reacted well, we were organised and restricted Liverpool to a few chances. Boro were doing well on the break getting a corner which Kike just put over the bar. Tomlin was showing in flashes some great play towards end of first half and hit a cracking shot from around 20 yards out which was parred away by Liverpool gk Mignolet. 

Ending the 1st half well and only a costly mistake separating the sides we had competed well with a team that nearly won the English league last season. It wasn’t long in to the 2nd half when we levelled through a Leadbitter freekick, which Adam Reach timed perfectly he got up well and glanced a header into the net. Get in! The goal was at end were our travelling fans were, Reach and all team celebrating in front of them. The Boro fans who had been in great voice all night long. Sterling was causing a threat when he made a good run near to the edge of the box when Reach put a great block in from Lallana who was ready to shoot on goal.  

Clayton hit a shot from 20 yards out which was scrambled to safety, Boro were really looking the more threatening team in the 2nd half creating more of the chances. On came Yanic Wildschut to make his Boro debut replacing Kike so no real presence upfront now.  George Friend made good surging run forward just before the box was brought down the ref played advantage with us keeping procession. Tomlin linking up well with Clayton who made a run into the box it was tight angle Clayton shot hit right hand post. 

It was now on to extra time and it was around 100 min mark when a sky sports commentator made me laugh with a comment about the Boro team bringing the game down to a walking pace. The team had give everything, was a lot of tired legs and minds by that time. Into 2nd half of extra time our keeper who had recovered well from his early mistake made a great save from a well struck strike from Enrique. Shortly after that shot Boro were behind, Friend blocked a Ballotelli shot which fell in to the path for Suso to hammer through a grounded penalty area and in to the net. 

Karanka made changes to freshen the side taking of Tomlin and Leadbitter they had ran themselves into the ground. Replaced by Vossen and Bamford we really had nothing to lose to try and get level again. Bamford did well to create a move darting into the box cut ball back for Adomah who was unmarked but slipped! With seconds to go Ayala now higher up pitch put a nicely weighted ball forward for Bamford to run on to, he carried on into the box where he was brought down by Toure. Penalty! Who would take it I thought with Leadbitter now off pitch. No question about it Bamford quickly got up and grabbed the ball and slammed the spot kick in! What a night of drama and two comebacks from this team that never give in we were level again. 

More drama with penalties to decide the cup tie taken at the kop end, Ballotelli takes the first one for Liverpool didn’t think he would miss, then was Bamford with Boro first which surprised me with him just taking one thought he would taken one later on so not fresh in the mind of Liverpool gk which way he had just gone. Same way and Migolet saved. Some great pens by both sides and now was Blackman turn to save from Sterling pen. Vossen level it up to 4-4 now sudden death!

Both sides continued with top pens the whole team taking a pen including the goalkeepers. I thought it was never going to end! Hard to watch and thinking this be good practise for Championship playoff final next May let’s hope doesn’t come to that hey? Don’t forget Boro were at Liverpool end and had scored some outstanding pens while fans in kop tried put our players off. Adomah was the unlucky one to miss but what a game, what a pen shoot out, we had took Liverpool all the way it was no disgrace losing 14-13 on pens and total of 30 pens taken which was a new record in the league cup.  

No disappointment at all after the match was decided only one major emotion extremely proud of my team. Fantastic display from all players a great team effort even when Adomah missed the penalty players went straight over to him. Fans, players pulling together as one you could hear the Boro fans still loud in voice after all that drama and emotion. I know how good our away support is it’s incredible every game. It has always been good, there is so many positives to take from last night and to put in a incredible performance like that for the world to see on TV will only help in bringing fans back to the Riverside. Every player give there all and showed we can be a force playing against higher level opposition, that’s all you can ask for as a fan. I don’t want to single players out as thought as team we were excellent, it’s just good see Reach scoring first goal of season and Bamford 2 in 2 for him now.

Everyone on Teesside is on a high now and we must keep it going into the league as this could turn out to be a special season. The international break came at a great time with the little wobble at home to Sheff Wed and Reading. Give us time to bed in the new signings, and we looked like a new team which is gelling well. Great results at Huddersfield, Cardiff and home to Brentford were we have options to rotate and bring players on to change a game, which we have lacked in previous seasons. We must take this Liverpool performance into our league games and suffer no cup hangover. Keep our heads held high and keep our unbeaten run in the league going. A proud night watching my team the Boro put in a top performance full of pride and passion at Anfield. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Away At Huddersfield!

As the transfer window come to an end, our squad took a new shape with the new signings of Jelle Vossen, Patrick Bamford (for the season) Yanic Wildschut coming in.

After a two week international break, it was back to league football with a trip to Huddersfield for the Boro. Over 3,500 away fans travelled to the John Smith Stadium in West Yorkshire, creating a great atmosphere throughout the game.  

It was great looking at the team news to see that Dimi was starting in goal. We don’t have the time to test the goalkeeping position this season and play catch up like in future seasons. When have player that capable at this level it’s a no brainer for me. Hopefully when Tomas is back from injury he will come back stronger. I just don’t feel he is ready to be thrown into the championship and could do with a loan move to get use to the English game.  

Regarding the game I thought Ben Gibson was solid was great to see him back involved after going off injured with seconds of the new season been played.  After his successful first season in first team he was recently rewarded with a new 5 year contract. This is just as good any of summer signings this season, Ben plays as if played there for years and really has got good future in the game. Now an England U21 international it was important to get him tied down as I’m sure will been interest with the way he was playing last season. A huge talent and speaks so well when interviewed, you can’t beat hearing passion and a local lad playing for your club as a fan. 

While I’m talking contracts it was great to get George Friend signed up to a new 4 year deal as his existing contract was due to expire in the summer. George was linked with a move away in the summer and it was vital to keep him. He’s been a key player and a fan favourite since joining the club chipping in with a few goals and having a big impact in our attacking play. The left back gained the free kick on Saturday which he’s magic Leadbitter put away in style!

Back to the game after the Dimi/Vaughan challenge which was very late studs in Dimi rib cage could quite easily got sent off, the game got heated while Dimi was receiving treatment. Leadbitter was furious with the decision and stated his points to officials, Huddersfield players and coaching staff.  Butterfield had a shot which Dimi parred and Abella cleared to safety still feeling the effects of the challenge with Vaughan.
Normally Leadbitter takes his frustration out on a player and gets a yellow card. Not this time we got a free kick 30 yards out and Grant stepped up to take it. What a free kick! He drilled it into the top corner of the net. He’s magic you know, just watch Leadbitter go! Another player we must sign up to a longer deal with his existing contract up in the summer.

The 2nd half we dominated and were in control for large spells without really testing the Huddersfield keeper. Kike headed over the bar. Adomah had a shot from a tight angle which the Huddersfield gk saved. Vossen made his Middlesbrough debut with 30 minutes to play he made an instant impact with some great movement always wanting the ball, good with the ball to feet and some great passes forward. Having a shot that just went wide of the target. He will be a very useful player for us, it’s great to have competition and subs that can change a game for us. Which I feel we have lacked in previous seasons when we need a spark to give the team and fans a lift. 

Rarely did Huddersfield have the ball in attacking areas possibly twice in 2nd half when the unthinkable happened Abella who was having a decent game I thought had switched off. A cross got through our box to Jonathan Stead to tap past Dimi from few yards. Yes him again Stead I thought when was announced over PA system. 

Luckily we got away with the lapse in concentration when we went back on the attack. Adomah crossed ball into the box, Reach was running away from goal to try get it when he was tugged in the box by Huddersfield defender Tommy Smith. The ref pointed to the spot, Reach punching the air with the decision now for the dead ball specialist Grant Leadbitter to step up and take the pen. He had just been hobbling moments before. Kept his nerve and sent Smithies the Huddersfield goal keeper the wrong way. 

It was the most celebrated penalty I can remember since Schwarzer saved Robbie Fowler penalty that clinched our European place at Ethiad Stadium. Leadbitter and all the team celebrating infront of us and our big following from Teesside, great that we won with so many there to witness it. After having some poor results in the past, when taking a big away following on the road.   

Adam Reach had a fine game Ive been impressed with him this season, he now seems ready for first team action after successful loan spells last season. His work rate is excellent on numerous occasions he tracked back and won procession 2nd half.  

The game should have been wrapped up well before and is a lesson to be learnt for other games, to be more clinical with our finishing and kill the game. It would have felt like day light robbery if we hadn’t took all the points as we controlled the game for large spells. A great away day and win!

Monday, 28 April 2014

My Vote

Well it’s been a season of ifs and buts. Sadly too many defeats and 0-0 draws have cost us dear in our chase for a playoff place. It would have been interesting had we beat Millwall to go to Reading and possibly win and go level points with them. It was a long shot of course to reach the playoffs relying on other results. It would have been good to take it to the last game. 

Over the season we have relied heavily on Mustapha Carayol and Albert Adomah goals. It’s key we get goals from elsewhere in the team. Over recent games I’ve been impressed with Jacob Butterfield and was disappointed to see him subbed on Saturday v Millwall as he was starting to make things tick. He’s a forward thinking creative player with quick feet and I like to think he be part things next season. With Danny Graham expected go back to Sunderland, we could be in need of 2 or 3 forwards. I don’t feel Curtis Main is good enough for this level and It depends on what happens with Emnes and Jukiewicz and if they have a future at the club.
Player Of The Year

 Since Mustapha Carayol got injured we have also relied heavily on George Friend to get up and down flanks to put crosses in. Since boxing day game George Friend has been in great form, with consistent solid performances and for me he’s my player of the year. I think it would been out of George, Varga and Leadbitter, with George in front for me. If Carayol hadn’t got that horrific injury he would have been up there too. He was in great form from the New Year onwards. The same can be said for Adomah, he has not been same player since coming back from his injury.

Young player of year is an easy choice Ben Gibson with 23 starts before the Reading game. He has had a great season in the first team and is one of the positives from the campaign.  

Favourite games
Burnley at home on Boxing Day stands out for me it was the best we had played for some time. Wigan away was another great entertaining game played in a good atmosphere and had everything. Doncaster at home was a great performance after Mogga's departure which was hard to celebrate fully. Birmingham at home was great especially towards end of a game battling with 9 men the crowd really did spur the team on. It was fantastic to kill the game off with Tomlin made it 3-1. I don’t think I've celebrated a goal like that in a while.

Favourite goals of the season

Albert Adomah v Doncaster - his chipped goal
Jacob Butterfield v Birmingham - Back to goal turned and hit a great strike

Mustaphol Carayol v Blackpool - nice curved finish into the net
George Friend v - Forest Great Thunderbolt shot

Looking to the summer I can see it being a busy one with lots of ins and outs. What has pleased me is the way we went to Burnley with a depleted squad and put our bodies on the line showing a real will to win. Against Birmingham with 9 men there was a real togetherness. We will need a lot of that next season if are to push on and challenge at top of the league. What disappoints me this season is that no team in this league has really stood out a being far better than us. It’s all about being consistent. Let’s hope we can end this campaign with a few wins to give us hope for next season

(FMTTM Column Barnsley 26-04-14