One Game at a Time: You're Only Here for the Pasties. The Smog Monsters (H) November 4th | PASOTI
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One Game at a Time: You're Only Here for the Pasties. The Smog Monsters (H) November 4th

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pafcprogs

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Apr 3, 2008
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Westerham Kent
One Game at a Time: You’re Only Here for the Pasties

v Smog Monsters (H) November 4th

I don’t know if Mike Cooper uses visualisation techniques in his training. If he does, however, I am pretty sure that when he visualised the threats to his goal from Ipswich Town, the last thing he had in his mind was a three-yard toe poke from his own left winger being the first goal he would concede on his return.

That said toe poke occurred following an incident at the other end of the ground a minute or so before that, which, after all the emotional reactions both ways on social media have been cast aside was agreed by both managers post game to have been a) a foul and b) a freekick and yellow card, which in all probability changed the course of the half, and therefore the game. Mind you, we have Darren England as ref this week, and he wasn't able to get it right WITH VAR, so heaven help us this week.

So, Argyle score three at Portman Road and yet still lose. Once again, the squad board the coach home the better side on paper and in the match, but two catastrophic defensive errors tilted momentum to the home side. Of greater concern will be the potential, and as yet undefined in time, loss of our two main striking options in Hardie and Bundu at least until after the international break, the latter in outpacing the Town defence before the fateful if faint ankle clip halted his progress, demonstrating the depth and detail of our recruitment process.

Frustrating as it is to consistently be told we are the best side that that days opponents have played all season, far better that than to be struggling to make chances and score. If there has been a complaint this season it is that we don’t score enough tap-ins, so it was a shame that when we finally address that deficiency it would be the equalise one of the Championship goals of the season in Morgs superb opener. It is one thing for defenders to know that he likes to cut inside onto his left, another to prevent him from doing so. In the absence of Hardie and Bundu, both he and potentially Ben Waine will have the chance to form a striking relationship, something that was close to bearing fruit with the final chance of the game at Portman Road. Narrow margins. It is worth noting Waine has three goals in League and Cup (Ok all cup) which would put him near the top of the Boro scoring charts in substantially less minutes. Needs must, so all aboard the Waine Train.

With both Wrights also available after injury and illness respectively, and Galloway also back after his hamstring, plus the Boyo Wonder Issaka, we can expect a very different bench for the visit of Boro, who have spent the week shuttling to and from Devon after their Water Buffalo cup win at Sid James Park.

Boro, who a few weeks back were having, if this can be believed, a worse start than Wednesday, have shown what a few back to back wins can do in this division (in much the same way as Lowey has shown what a few back to back defeats can do at Preston) as Michael Carrick gets to grips with a much changed squad from the one who limply failed in the play-offs against Luton, and who were widely tipped to be amongst the leading contenders this season.

Whilst links between the clubs are not that numerous, bizarrely, they may well field two players who could have been in green this season, in Sammy Silvera, who chose Middleboro over Plymouth, presumably as Mido’s wife said when he joined them, for the shopping. The on off loan of Josh Coburn which in the end resulted in the arrival of Mustapha Bundu, may well have worked out for the best, based on the last couple of games.

Like so many clubs the original origins of Middlesbrough FC were from the local Cricket club. Originally an amateur side, the club were twice winners of the Amateur Cup in 1895 and 1898, they eventually turned professional after that second win, but in a matter of three years had reverted to Amateur status. In part that was because the initial professionalism led to a split, with the formation of the splendidly named Middlesbrough Ironopolis club. An attempt to join the League strucuture with a joint bid failed, and after Ironopolis did manage to join, replacing Accrington Stanley, the city had a professional club, but they failed after a single season in the League.

Middlesbrough turned professional again in 1889 and in 1902 moved to Ayresome Park, which was adjacent to the old Ironopolis ground of Paradise Park. They really did have a much better way with words than their rivals. In 1903 Middlesbrough shocked the football world when they paid out the unheard of sum of £1000 for the signature of Alf Common. It was not the only time Boro shocked the world with how much they were prepared to pay to sign a player, and not always in a good way. Having your record signing as Britt Assombalonga also takes some explaining. Common, signed from Sunderland, made his debut against another former club, Sheffield United , scoring the only goal from the penalty spot. After six seasons he departed for Arsenal having scored a goal every three games for the club.

Boro’s only silverware in their early professional years was winning the Northern Victory league, just after the First World war, before the league system was reinstated. After dropping down to Division 2 in the early twenties the club raided Durham City for their striker George Camsell.

In 1926/7 Camsell scored 59 league goals for Boro as they won promotion, which is, still, despite whatever the publicists for Fulham and Alexander Mitrovic tell you, the second-tier record, and in overall league terms, a total bettered only by Dixie Deans 60. He also recorded a remarkable nine hat-tricks in the total. With eighteen goals in nine appearances for England he is also the most prolific ever England international on a goals per game basis.

Having retired from the game after the Second World War, Camsell became a scout for the club, and one of his discoveries was to rival his scoring prowess, before going on to be one of the most successful managers the League has ever seen. One Brian Clough. In 2022 the club unveiled a statue of Camsell at the Riverside stadium, joining the ones or Wilf Mannion and George Hardwick. You can understand why.

Clough was to score 204 goals for Boro in 224 games, before doing the reverse journey of Alf Common and signing for Sunderland. The majority of these goals were scored at Division 2 level, and by 1966, after Cloughs departure, the club had been relegated to Division 3.

1966 also saw the beginning of a remarkable story which has, despite the geopolitics of the world, continued, and which shows the power of football to transcend politics. England, hosting the World Cup, allocated group games to Ayresome Park, and allotted the North Koreans, still very much an unknown quantity, and whose participation was in doubt due to the recency of the Korean war and the Stalinist government who had taken power there, to be based in Middlebrough.

The players, diminutive in comparison to the locals, and who arrived having sung patriotic songs in Korean all the way up from London on the train, were the surprise packet of the tournament. Playing in red, which no doubt helped endear them to the local fans, they defeated the much-fancied Italian side one nil at Ayresome Park, with the goal scored by Pak Doo ik. Having qualified for the quarter finals, some three thousand Boro fans travelled to Goodison Park to support their adopted side, and like the rest of the football world, were astonished when the Koreans led three nil.

Sadly, the fairy tale ended after Eusebio, with four goals led his side to a five three win and a game with England in the semi-final. The links to Middlesbrough remained, and in 2002 nine of the players returned to visit the city, enquiring after the health of the sadly recently deceased mayor of the Borough who had given them a civic reception. They visited the site of the old Ayresome Park ground, now a housing estate, but where a golden statue of a football boot marks the exact spot where Pak Do iks shot against Italy was taken from. Subsequently the Middlesbrough ladies side has visited North Korea with their games played to packed smiling crowds and live broadcast to an audience of millions. Only in North Korea though.

If Boro had one link to the 66 World Cup they were to gain another when winner Jackie Charlton became the manager at Ayresome Park. He took the club to Division One with a then record 65 points (only two for a win in those days) and in 1975/6 won Middlesbrough’s first professional silverware, even if it was only the Anglo Scottish Cup.

Charlton would return in 1984 for a brief spell after ex Argyle boss Malcolm Allison departed, and other Argyle bosses who have also occupied the Boro dug-outs include David Jack, Tony Pulis, Lenny Lawrence and of course Neil Warnock ( because it would be easier to name the ones he hasn't also managed).

In a week where Argyles Chairman has outlined a new five year plan, after Schuey and co tore up the last one a season early, it is worth recalling the role Boro Charman Steve Gibson has had in the salvation of the club and running it on a sustainable footing. In 1986 the club was to all intents and purposes bankrupt. Ayresome Park was literally padlocked up and the players and officials locked out. Gibson marshalled a consortium to rescue the club just in time for the start of the new season.

The club, minutes away from going out of business then, judiciously using the proceeds of selling Gary Pallister to Manchester United, and were founder members of the EPL in 92/3. In 1994 Gibson appointed Brian Robson as player-manager, leading to one of the worst ever introductory photographs, of Robson wearing a suit and tie top half with a pair of shorts and boots bottom half.

If Robson, by his own admission, was trepidatious about taking on the club, Gibson was about to shock the EPL with signings that included Juninho (who in all had three spells at the club) Emerson, the Brazilian midfielder, and then perhaps most surprisingly of all, Fabrizio Ravenelli, who left Juventus for the North East having just won the European Cup, scoring the winning goal.

The “White Feather’ was not to disappoint initially, scoring an EPL debut hat-trick against Liverpool in a three-all draw. Despite playing some attractive football, the club struggled to assimilate Ravenelli, who split the dressing room. After a flu bug resulted in the club failing to fulfil a fixture at Blackburn Rovers, the club were hit with a three-point deduction. A final day one-all draw at Leeds United meant they were relegated by two points, and their World Cup stars and internationals departed for sunnier climes.

The early 2000’s saw a retrenchment back to local roots, and under Steve Maclaren, the club championed their own developed players. In a cosmopolitan league, Boro played one game against Fulham where, after Malcolm Christies was substituted, all eleven players were born within 30 miles of their ground. In fact, the Clubs owner and Chairmans nephew, Ben Gibson played for the club and had a brief loan spell at Argyle. He probably enjoyed that spell more than his recent visit here in the Norwich central defence.

MacLaren took Boro to a European final, losing four nil to Sevilla, and then headed off to England, being replaced by Gareth Southgate, as Middlesbrough continued to be a landing ground or launch pad for international managers. Southgate was preceded by both MacLaren and Venables and then succeeded by Strachan.

Carrick is now assisted by a former Boro boss and player, Jonathan Woodgate. Woodgate, who has had to disabuse the story that his nickname at Leeds was Village (as in a village is missing its idiot). It was in fact, apparently Llama, although anyone who has watched the clips of his Real Madrid debut might be thinking Donkey….or maybe we were right the first time. Own goal, booked and red carded. All before the sixty sixth minute has passed.

Middlesbrough is famous for its steel and iron industry and bridge building, which includes the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as well as its chemicals industries that created the smog that gives the club its unofficial but universally adopted nickname. Sunderland fans were known to don hazmat suits to games to make the point. The city was once voted one of the worst twenty places to live in the UK, although that prompted a diatribe from Jeff Stelling on the beauty and history of Cleveland, much in the vein of “Maggie Thatcher , your boys took a hell of a beating.” In reality Jeff was more upset that Hartlepool was also n the list, but solidarity.

Boro have rebuilt and are trying to replace the goals of Akpom and Archer with Latte Lath. Imagine if they signed Diego Costa and Phil Starbuck as well….that’s a forward line guaranteed to keep you awake at night.

As for Argyle, we don’t yet know what our forward line will look like….or indeed if we will have one….false number nine, or some new tactical variation on a theme by Scumacher? Time will tell.

Let us just hope it is not a bridge too far.

COYG!!!!
 
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