Gael Force: Boro Batter Bairns In Tongue Twisting Culture Shocker
COLLECTORS' item: watching Boro live on the box with commentary in Scots Gaelic.
Ball-coise beò le geama càirdeal eadar an Eaglais Bhreac agus sgioba bho Fharpais an Lìog Shassain Middlesbrough! I think.
As a cosmopolitan, well travelled bunch most Teessiders will have had brushes with many of the major language groups. They may well have a working knowledge of some of the common tongues and a smattering of a few more esoteric far flung dialects, being able to order a beer and a parmo confidently across the world.
The economic expats of the Smoggy diasboro are everywhere making an honest dollar on every major civil engineering, military or energy enterprise around the planet and whatever the time-zone, climate or technical limitations have always managed to somehow tune-in to follow the exploits of mighty Boro, if neccessary in the local lingo .
Under gunfire in Afghanistan using military hardware to unscramble the cypher from Sky China or rigging up illicit aerials on Nigerian oil-rigs to find a flickering signal bounced back from deep space, Boro fans have always found a way to keep up with the action.
And thanks to overseas broadcast deals across hundreds of international satellite stations they have collectively watched Boro games accompanied by commentary in a bewildering phonetic kaleidoscope of obscure and alien languages: Afrikaans, Inuit, Tajik, Basque, Geordie and the guttural Wegie growl of "Slavenesque."
That may have prepared some of them for the surreal sonic culture shock of BBC Alba's Scots Gaelic coverage of mighty Boro's glorious trophy triumph North of the wall.
Boro played Falkirk in the "final" of the Ramsden Charity Challenge. The fast-growing Teesside pawn-brokers sponsor the Scottish lower league knockout competition - a sort of Johnstone's' McPaint Trophy - and part of the prize for Stirlingshire's finest was a home friendly with mighty Boro, who have Ramsden emblazoned across their chest.
Alba, the minority language cultural propaganda station in Scotland, a kind of tartan S4C, cover the Ramsden Cup and picked up the rights to the game as part of their TV deal.
It will have been a rating bonanza for them. Scots Gaelic has 58,000 speakers according to the last census, with most scattered in the crofting stronghold of the Highlands and Island. Not a natural football constituency. In fact, the sports pages on Alba's website leads with shinty, a violent kilt-wearing version of hockey.
Viewing figures will have had a massive spike on Sunday as Teessiders settled down at home and in pubs and clubs to get their first glimpse of Tony Mowbray's new look side. It has probably guaranteed their generous subsidy for next season. And we'll all be invited back. To play third division runners-up and Ramsden Cup winners Rangers. Result.
It was fantastic. Not just because of the 10 goal thriller and the prestigious trophy cliched with Boro's tiki-taka. It was a novel experience. Here's the highlights. And here's the best of the #borolive banter pulled together on storify.
Gaelic is a very strange tongue, a dead-pan mash-up of a Icelandic trawlerman with a trace of a Scots accent reading out the shipping forecast and a prepared hostage statement in Irish read out nervously at gunpoint to camera by a sweating Dutch captive.
It is a fascinating, hypnotic, mystical language. Then every so often the spell would be broken by an English word or name dropped in with an incongruous phonetic clunk.
"Shybhl mishnacourne aessweesh n'Charc ruare a Sassain Tony Mowbray".
And who could disagree?
"Smurfs lick A dhachaidh mere lappen càirdeal Gaerrish agus acoiusvere Middlesbrough," was the ecstatic verdict on Falkirk's shock early opener.
By then plenty of people had reached for the remote.
"I'm putting it on mute," tweeted Boro left-back Joe Bennett, watching at home after being left out of the big international showdown with a slight knee niggle.
"Half English, half Gaelic. Mostly mental," added another bemused tweeter.
Forget Radio Brownlee on the red button or Gordon Cox on Boro World, this impenetrable heavily accented sing-song consonant mangling was the best thing since Bernie. And it made more sense.
The programme was fronted by an intense man who appeared to be called Calum MacCliche'anneche, every inch a hospital radio commentator and presumably the only Gaelic speaking football pundit in the business. Boy was he excited. Although, while for us it was just a friendly away at a team who would probably struggle in the Conference, for him it was literally a cup final.
He did his best, bless him, but it must be hard work to stay so perky when you know the vast majority of the armchair audience don't understand a single word you are saying. And that's just in Scotland.
And dispiriting too for a committed Gaelic speaker to have to admit the basic flaw in the station's remit when it comes to those all important touchline interviews. None of the players or managers can speak a work of the lingo so all the set-piece chats are conducted begrudgingly in English.
And strangely, some of them were conducted immediately after goals so chunks of the action were missed.
There was a natural bias towards the Scots players on show - Stephen McManus was described in what appeared gushing, almost awestruck tones of reverence at times, like a Beckenbauer of the Glens - and the most used words, apart for 'gol' were 'Rangers' and 'Celtic.'
But overall, it wasn't bad. The action was covered in an unfussy manner, they knew the names of the players - easy with Falkirk as they all had 'Clark Eriksson' across their shoulders - and there were a couple of good interviews.
The half-time confessional with walking wounded Kevin Thomson was engaging and frank and may have clawed back some sympathy from a previously hostile Boro public, sections of who have branded him a glass-legged flop.
The injury-dogged midfielder admitted openly that his time at Boro has been disappointing, that he has fallen far short of his own standards of performance and has rarely been more than 60% fit. He even played 16 games with a broken leg in his first season.
He seemed genuinely upset in relating how having been a firm fans' favourite at Hibs and Rangers it "beats me up" that he hasn't got that relationship with the Riverside crowd too. He vowed to show the Riverside faithful exactly what he can do this term.
And to be fair, he started well. He had a good game at Falkirk in a solid looking midfield along with Grant Leadbitter and Oooooh Nicky Bailey.
It was a polished performance of promise, pace and penetration and a months supply of goals on last year's stingy rations - and, after a summer of strange pre-emptive gloom on Teesside, it was good there was a wide audience for the new look side's first outing.
Yes there were some clunky moments at the back but that is to be expected with a makeshift and positional challenge unit unlikely to see the light of day in a real game.
But there were a lot of boxes ticked: young guns like Adam Reach and Grangetown's Ginger Messi Luke Williams - or dinnsear Messi as Alba may have it - who scored a wonder goal played well enough to suggest they may feature more this year while there were goal scoring debuts for Barry Robson body double Leadbitter and Pampas playmaker Emmanuel Ledesma.
It was a top turnout from the Parmo Army too, travelling Teessiders making up a quarter of a 1,600 crowd - not bad for a foreign trip and more than many Championship sides brought here last term.
And of course, Boro picked up the prestigious glassware, the most coveted cross-border gong since the Anglo-Scottish Cup... and remember what a fuss we made of that one before the glory days unfolded.
In fact, it was bubbling Boro's second trophy it 24 hours.
On Saturday a reserves side won the Eric Powell Charity Cup, a new format that pits the champions of the North Riding and Durham County FA against each other. Boro won on penalties after a 1-1 draw away at a very expereinced and motivated Spennymoor side who have won the Northern League three years on the bounce and are no mugs.
Double winning shot-stopper Connor Ripley - "mac a Stuart Ripley, Ball-coise Shassain" - played in both.
So two trophies in the bag, international glory, goals galore and a new language experience ticked off. Next year away to Pobol Y Cwm?
THis is the An t-eadar-lìon remix of this week's Big Picture column with added seachd trì ball-coise sgioba
GAZETTE man Phil Tallentire is in Portugal with Boro for the first team warm weather training camp and is doing a regular diary on the progress out on the pitch and also the human side of the squad as they relax around the hotel in Lagos. For all the japes, in-jokes and to see what Woody has for breakfast you can read his regular updates on the gazettelive website and follow him on twitter via @EGazetteSport