A Right Racket In The Cheap Seats

By Anthony Vickers on Nov 10, 12 02:37 AM

As far as marketing exercises go, you can't get much better than that!

The financially frozen out fans of Teesside responded to the club's cut-price ticket offer by cramming into the Riverside Stadium and were rewarded with a sizzling show of positive product placement and an electric atmosphere as Boro crushed Sheffield Wednesday.

The bumper crowd of 28,229 - on a Friday night and for a televised game that many could easily have watched from a sofa or barstool - was fantastic. I hope every single supporter who turned out as a result of the ticket initiative went away gushing with pride, energised by the display and utterly convinced they had got value for money from the team. And I hope they are back soon.

It was a Boro display that proved a point: if the price is right and the team are performing then there is a burning passion for football on Teesside. The historic flame is still very much alight.

It was the highest gate since May 2009 when Boro last faced mighty Manchester United in the Premier League and it fizzed with the same sense of big match occasion. And you can see how that could be contagious.

The prodigal punters saw a motivated Mogganaut sparking with spirit and passion, confidence and cohesion, pace and penetration.

They saw a positive performance from a side that set out to attack and entertain.

They saw a wide range of goals from a side with an impressive offensive skill set: a cracking opening strike with a slide rule pass and sublime Justin Hoyte rocket straight from FIFA or ProEvo, a poached point blank finish by Big Ish Miller after some snapping midfield hustling and a powerful Lukas Jutkiewicz header from a corner.

They saw resurgent Boro blast to the top of the Championship table with a swaggering seventh win in eight games.

They saw some rock solid defending and a couple of superb cracking saves, a superb inexhaustible engine room exhibition of industry and guile and an assertive outlook full of attacking intent.

And hopefully they saw - and felt - the growing sense of unity within the team on the pitch and between the players and the crowd.

Supporters, both the regulars and the returnees, went away buzzing, bubbling and hoarse after singing and chanting throughout an exciting and engaging 90 minutes being part of an exhilarating collective success.

That is exactly what the heady, intoxicating emotional universe of football is about. And Boro are delivering that.

And the 14,000 extra who turned up because of the offer - the disenfranchised or those who have been disillusioned or drifted away disappointed in the aftermath of relegation - need to be told that the win over Wednesday wasn't a freak. It wasn't a one off.

Boro have been playing with that impressive steel and determination, that refreshing enterprise and confidence for a couple of months now. They have reeled off an impressive run of results in the currenty sizzling sequence that have been far from flukes.

They went to then leaders Blackburn and won convincingly. They won at form team Brighton. They won at Sunderland in a composed display that had outside observers wondering exactly which was the top flight side.

They have gone eight games unbeaten in a cut-throat and crazy division where even the best resourced sides struggle to impose any kind of consistency on the ever changing landscape of the league.

Historic institutional weaknesses have been quietly addressed on a tight budget and a new mentality forged.

They have learned to shut up shop. The brittle Boro of the recent past has gone. They are not bullied at the back (no one can bully Bikey), they do not crack under the pressure of a long ball barrage. They stay calm and commanding and play their way out of trouble.

They are not swamped or outworked in midfield by limited sides with more hunger. This Boro have allied prodigious energy with intelligent use of the ball, they control and stretch games with crisp and patient passing and combine the solidity of closing and tackling and running with the subtlety and creativity of a well weighted lock-picking pass.

And upfront they have added a cutting edge. Boro now have a potent palette of striking options to work with that gives tactical and technical variety and make it difficult for defences to get to grips with.

In Scott McDonald and Lukas Jutkiewicz Boro have strikers who are currently firing at close on a goal a game plus they have pace and trickery of Marvin Emnes and the physical presence of Miller to call on. By mixing and matching they can always find a weakness to exploit.

And crucially the goals are flying in from every other position too. Hoyte became the 17th different goal-getter this term with his worldie.

Mentally they are stronger. Two years ago if they leaked a goal it was game over. Now they regularly hit back from behind to win. No game is beyond them now.

It is all starting to fall into place. As the season has gathered momentum it has been a pleasure and a thrill to watch them in action.

The outline of a new Boro is starting to emerge from the debris of a depressing couple of years. The club are finally starting to shrug off the long post-relegation hangover and are gradually finding a new sense of purpose

Tony Mowbray is slowly slotting all the bits into place of a team that can restored pride in Boro and build a platform for a realistic promotion push.

Much of that has happened under the radar. Boro have had little national coverage - the blipvert highlights are rarely on before midnight - and a lot of estranged supporters may not have realised exactly how far-reaching the Mogga transformation has been.

The emphatic win over Wednesday in front of a massive audience will have helped put that in the spotlight.

Those watching on the box will have seen the change. Those there will have felt it too.

It was a display that should have chipped away a few layers of cynicism.

With an opportunity to go top and the expectations created by a big crowd and the cameras a lot of battle-scarred pessimists haunted by the historic "typical Boro" failures of the past may have expected a fruitless and frustrating night.

But this team delivered. In style. And that more than anything will help put bums on seats and harness the emotional energy of Teesside.

The Mogganaut is rolling. All aboard.


Nikeboro said:

UNtypical Boro.

Nigel Reeve said:

About twelve and a half minutes into the game the Boro defence were patiently passing the ball between them as they couldn't find an outlet up field. My son shouted in frustration, 'hoof it!'.

At which point the ball was passed to McEachran who turned his marker and made himself some room, it opened up Wednesday, he passed to Ledesma, his superb pass was worth twelve quid of anyones money but where Hoyte's finish came from we'll never know! That build up and goal sums Boro up perfectly at the moment.

I thought Boro's midfield particularly Leadbitter and McEachran were excellent and it was a joy to watch Boro play good football in front of a big crowd. The size of which exceeded everyone's expectations, a result of a combination of a good ticket offer and an excellent run of form.

No matter how deeply I inhaled the foam hand fumes I couldn't imagine a crowd of more than 23000 turning out. Last night may turn out to be season defining. When that mysterious brew of club, fans and team come together in perfect harmony it gives the Mogganaut an unstoppable momentum.

The success of the ticket offer will give the Chairman and CEO plenty to think about, hopefully more creative ticket offers to come.

Geordie la Forge said:

It seems a journo's education might not necessarily have included the use of a slide rule. Scientific calculators took over when they first came in. However,to this day doing a long series of calculations with a slide rule can be quicker than using a pocket calculator or PC, you don't have to wait for it to boot up either.

Back to the CAD suite with that sentence AV.

The football sounded and looked great. I wonder whether it would be too foam handed to think that the loud clicking sound you mentioned last year has just been heard. Time will tell of course.

Richard said:

Credit where it's due. MFC bit the bullet, took the risk - a pretty small one, because the downside wasn't huge, but nevertheless a risk - and the manager and playing staff delivered as necessary, if the initiative wasn't going to backfire.
Great result all round.

Well done Boro. Well done MFC. Well done, Steve Gibson. Well done Neil Bausor. Well done Gazette's Philip Tallentire, Untypical Boro; AV and posters and Rob Nichols for being effective conduits between club and fans for change.

I, personally, sincerely hope that this is just the start of a whole new model of interactive relationship between club and wider community that's MUTUALLY supportive and beneficial. It could be, if managed well, a sustainable model.

There's a "feel better" factor in the Teesside air - at least around those taking an interest in the fortunes of MFC. I still adhere to the view however, that higher crowds will only be linked to ongoing levels of team performance, particularly at home, and not (just) on ticket prices.

Both are elements in the success equation: an equation whose coefficients will be different for each club in the league. An important objective for our club management is to find the optimum equation for sustainability, given variability in a set of "independent" variables that aren't independent. I wonder if Boro have access to a career mathematician/ statistician/ modeller who can generate & solve simultaneous differential equations?

Maybe that's a bit much to ask?! But it could be a great Masters or PhD project for a student who may be looking for some educational sponsorship?

Come on Boro! Let's have some more imaginative management!

We've seen what can be done, albeit on a 1-off basis. Let's embrace some more change! (There's more than one way to link to the community and produce beneficial outcomes).

The top of the Championship table makes pleasant viewing this morning!

graham said:

Great night!

Thought Miller was bang out of order nicking Macs goal. It can be argued that as a striker thats what you do, but I watched him right to him going off and he never even looked at SMac never mind acknowledging his contribution. Macs reaction was disappointing but Miller was totally disgusting as a 'team mate'.

Anyway, UTB.

Jarkko said:

Let's hope the Boro won't lose against Palace today. Hoping for favour from the other one. WE must stay top! Up the Boros!

Forever Dormo said:

On the plus side:

Bumper crowd including a fair sprinkling of children (hopefully the next generation of ST holders), leading to a much better atmsophere than when we only have 14K in the ground.

A well-respected silence for the fallen and injured in wars and other conflicts, that brought a lump to the throat, and an impressive turnout by the Yorkshire Regiment.

A good performance - not the best, because although there was much decent possession and passing in the first half, there were also several examples of passes (often the intended "final" pass) going astray so that, sometimes, it felt as though the cutting edge wasn't quite there even if the stats would probably weight heavily in our favour at the end of the game.

Yet there was the sublime pass through and then the strike by Hoyte which was a really STONKING first goal. The ball to McDonald which led to our second goal, stolen as it was from six inches out by Miller, and the Jukey header for the goal that finished the game. We saw another good example of a keeper, not unduly overworked, yet able to come up with the goods when asked and when the team needed it.

Ledesma - tackling back and putting some great balls through for others to threaten goal (and in particular his part in the first two goals).

Leadbitter - immense in the midfield, what an addition to the squad! George Friend, who it is said had an uncharacteristic poor(ish) game at The City Ground, was back to his usual form for us - tackling, blocking and marauding up front.

And if McEchran had actually put that ball into the net after a ridiculously mazy run, his goal would have been replayed all season (we mentioned his name and Messi in the same sentence in the WSU).

We conceded a goal but, in keeping with our current confidence, it seemed as though both the crowd and the players knew we'd come back with more - and we did.

It was very pleasing that, in front of a large crowd, and the TV cameras, when the pressure was on to deliver, he team did so. Three points and, just in case anyone missed the significance, WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE!! It doesn't matter that Palace could go back on top later today. There is next week and the week after that to grind out the points that will put us back there as the season progresses.

Someone pointed out the negative side (though with a smile on his face), when he mentioned how much more difficult it was to park, and how crowded the concourse was for those tempted to buy some food or a drink. I think we can put up with that imposition because it is better for everyone to have a full ground.

Those fearing they might suffer a recurrence of their agorapobia by going to a Boro match, where in previous weeks they might have had to shout to make the nearest supporter realise someone was trying to attract his attention, would have had no such fears last night. Let's get the crowds back again.

My mate asked me to identify any recent unusccessful player purchases made by Mogga. Bearing in mind the relative lack of finance available to him, certainly compared to recent incumbents, and the number of cut-price diamonds he appears to have unearthed, I think I'll send my Christmas money to Mogga this year. I'm sure he'll spend it better than I could, and it will look as though the family's presents have come from a millionnaire.

That was a cracking night's fun. As a long established ST holder, I am delighted that others were tempted to come, in their thousands, to support the team. I am not remotely concerned that they have had cut-price tickets or that I have been "overcharged" by having paid upfront for a ST. And neither are my mates who sit next to me at the ground.

I look forward to the next initiative made by the club to get more people into the stadium. I trust some who were there last night will decide to come back into the fold (or, if they haven't been a regular before, to realise this CAN be fun).

peterboroangel said:

Impressive performance and fantastic to see the swathe of red seats with bums on them. Great atmosphere as well.

Thought the passing at the back was loose at times, but Ledesma looks like a cracking buy and what a shame the dribble from the Chelsea loanee (don't know how to spell his name) didn't produce a goal in the first half.

Well done to all.

Denis said:

One word sums up last night- perfect.

Steve said:

Good footbal, succesful team, affordable tickets - 28000 ecstatic fans.

Nuff said.

lenmasterman said:

Before all of the well-earned plaudits for the Boro's display, hats off to you AV for all of the thinking and lobbying which went into the making of last night's terrific atmosphere. It has been a wonderful personal contribution. The freedom of the town must surely follow. Well done and many congratulations.

**AV writes: *slightly sheepish* It's all part of the service.

Grove Hill wallah said:

Just out of curiousity AV. How much did the Wednesday fans have to pay?

**AV writes: £27 - the equivalent of a normal priced seat in the North/South stands.

peaeye said:

Surreal experience watching the game in my local in East Anglia, managed to persuade the barmaid to switch over from Corrie, I was the only one watching (no sound) in a busy pub with everybody else there to see the live band.

They don’t know what they missed, a stirring performance in every department, great goal from JH. It looked for a while as if my local club Posh were going to hold on and keep us in top spot, never mind, it has been a great week. (Oh, and from what I could make out the band was dire!)

I read that some clubs are auctioning their shirts with poppy logos for Service charities, AV, do you know if Boro will be doing that?

AV - After the Bolton game you said of McDonald “If he keeps scoring people will soon forget his spell in internal exile (and will increase the possibilities of a sale because the real issue around him hasn't gone away.)”

Are you able to expand on this, he is scoring and making goals and we could really do with hanging on to him, is it just because of his wages or are there still other issues?

**AV writes: It is a wages issue. He represents a major blip in the wage profile that the club can't realistically afford at this level. Unless Boro definitely go up in which case he will have helped pay for himself. Many of the other issues have been addressed: he is a less selfish player now and has bought into the team ethic.

Ian Gill said:

Some debate about whether Scottie should be miffed about Miller pinching the goal.

You cant blame a striker for scoring or wanting to score. The worry was Miller was just onside, and by that it looked like level, that it was a boneheaded thing to do. The ball looked to be going in and he gave a chance for the lino to make a mistake.

One thought I did have is that if Miller gets 15 goals from 3 yards out unchallenged I will forgive him.

Moving on, on the previous thread I was hoping for three days in the key matches. After the Foxes and Trees drew I was fairly happy with Palace losing and Cardiff winning but Posh let us down.

Never mind.

Lyle Andrews said:

Majestic... Middlesbrough...

Casey_99 said:

Couldn't agree more AV....but just wondering who these Tessiders are. Never worked out if it's one 's' or two but didn't think the e's were in doubt.

As for sliderules - I remember them, even had to make one out of layers of card at school. Perhaps today's equivalents for our younger readers could be:

A pass of laser pointer precision?
A pass of Excel workbook preciseness?
a pass as accurate as a radio controlled clock

**AV writes: A power point presentation? A killer app cross into the box?

Bob said:

So pleased for Justin Hoyte after all the criticism he has received over the years at Boro. He's kept chugging away, hasn't let the criticism (some of it quite nasty) get to him and has been excellent for the last two years. Good on him.

Of course, we can now add him to the long list of Boro scorers this year, now up to an incredible 18 in League and Cup. I checked, last year we had 15 different scorers in all competitions...all season.

It's an amazing stat. I'm trying to work out which outfield players have been involved in games this season and have yet to score. The only two I could come up with were George Friend and Kevin Thompson.

**AV writes: Josh McEachran hasn't scored and neither has Grant Leadbitter - although he got a 'ghost goal'. He is down on most data bases as having scored at Bury in the League Cup but he didn't. It was Ledesma. PA and BBC gave the goal to Leadbitter even though he was 50 yards away.

Grove Hill wallah said:

If the club are really serious about carrying on with ways of getting bums on seats, then they should ask James Arthur to pitch up with Nicole Scherzinger at the next home game!

Its about time we got a replacement for Ms Karembeu. A bit of exposure on prime time Saturday night TV wouldn't go amiss either.

I can just see Me Mark Page getting her to draw the half time numbers.

I'm sure she would love a Parmo!

Ian Gill said:

Bob -

Thommo scoring would be the equivalent to Lord Lucan turning up to Albert park giving a ride to Elvis on Shergar.

The first hurdle to cross is actaully starting a game.

The second is getting out of our half but the biggest barrier is that he would have to propel the ball forwards.

I actually like Thommo as a player, we just havent had a chance to see him play his best because he hasnt been on the pitch. When he has, such against Leicester, it was often a poor mix in midfield where everyone was doing the same job.

It may be getting to the point where it is too late.

Now Mogga has a week to get the team ready for our toughest game so far, possibly the toughest of the season, Cardiff have won all eight at home this season. We are now unbeaten in ten so a draw looks distinct possibility.

When you consider those facts it is hats off to Palace. Lost the first four were poor for a long time at the Riverside but are on a great run.

Masham wiggy said:

A great Yorkshire derby! The chairman watched his beloved small town in Yorkshire cement their place as the top team in Yorkshire managed by a manager who is Yorkshire born and bred! To do it in front of special guests the Yorkshire regiment in their traditional recruiting grounds was a fitting tribute to these true Yorkshire heroes. The Yorkshire regiment stand was bouncing!

Yorkshire Yorkshire Yorkshire !

Jarkko said:

A great win on Friday. Untypical Boro for the second game in row.

Can we make it three in row next Saturday? Cardiff City maintained their 100 per cent home record yesterday. So if we can nick a draw there I will be happy. Just avoid loosing is the name of game there.

Excellent few weeks for Boro now. And the fans - magnificent support on Friday. A part of the success is owned to this blog and its master. Well done, AV and the rest. You are one of the best!

Up the Boro!

Jarkko said:

Having seen the extended highlights at Boro+ today, I cannot really blame Ishmael Miller. Can you say 100 % sure the ball was going in from McDonald? I cannot and Ish did not have the time to see the replays! So he did what he was paid to do - even it might have robbed a goal from Scotty Mac.

The result achieved as a team is all that matter. Still well done to Scotty. And I agree that Ish should have celebrated with the Aussie. Up the Boro!

Werdermouth said:

This season is certainly exceeding expectations at the moment - is it all down to team spirit and growing confidence or are more subtle reasons at work.

Anyway, the half-price ticket scheme was a fantastic success - but what should we make of it?

If you take away 10,000 season ticket holders and around 1,000 away fans plus a normal walk-up of around 3,000 - then that means the deal attracted another 14,000 fans.

OK, the team are doing well at the moment but does that then mean reduced ticket pricing would give us 25,000+ every week? What is the cut-off price that makes the walk-up fan say not today? £15, £17?

It will be interesting to see what the attendance is for the next normal priced game - but I think the club will need to analyse this deal and work out a way to price the fans back into the Riverside given the bumper crowd - especially if as Mogga suggested it had a positive effect on the team performance.

lenmasterman said:

How do you solve a problem like McDonald?

It did not look like Mac had bought into the team ethic to me. Far more serious than his evident anger at Miller, an anger that surely should have dissipated as soon as the goal was allowed to stand, was his quite unacceptable tirade against his manager a little later.

McDonald has played well since he came back. He has been one of the most significant contributors to our recent good form. He played well and unselfishly on Friday, but took a wrong option late in the second half when he decided not to play the sensible ball out wide, but to cut inside where he ran into two defenders and was dispossessed, setting up a dangerous counter-attack. He did this right in front of his manager, who gave him a well justified flea in his ear. Mac's response was to unleash a volley of abuse at Mr Mowbray, which seemed to me to be quite intolerable, and showed not the slightest respect for his boss.

Scott seems to have learned little from his brief period of exile. He certainly does not seem to have cottoned on to the simple fact that there is only one gaffer when it comes to team affairs, and it is not Scott McDonald.

For one who has always been quick to hand out criticism, he seems remarkably thin skinned when it comes to receiving it. I think that he has given Mogga an unwanted and unenviable decision to make.

It would be regrettable all round were Mogga to decide, with the greatest reluctance, to drop McDonald yet again, with the possibility that this time his exile may well turn out to be permanent. But in the light of what I witnessed last Friday I, for one,would find that perfectly understandable and probably in the best interests of the club.

Ian Gill said:

At my age I should know better. I posted without copying. failed because no name or email address - pah!

Anyway, following onfrom AV's fag packet maths it was a good return from the club. Allowing for extra away fans and the fact they pay more it was a good 18000 at £9 plus TV money.

A good night for the club. And a good match for the fans there and on the TV. A case of Untypical Boro in that they didnt blow the opportunity.

It will be interesting to see how many come back at full price. I guess the club will be waiting to se they they can plan more offers.

Any guestimates of the hoped for figure for the next home game. I suppose 20,000+ wouldnt be bad but I dont have a feel for it, how about you AV?

One thng struck me was an interview with the chief exec before the Match on Tees, it appears the Football League has to be involved in any offers. Any news on that?

**AV writes: It was obviously a success and I know top figures at the club were delighted and encouraged. They have also been looking at the figures and weighing up the next deal, probably for a pair of back to back home games. Details soon. Possibly another one, a family package, before Christmas too. We'll see.

Boro in Bishops Waltham BACK AT WORk in Paris said:

Well things are getting better. Us Boro fans in Bishops Waltham have been planning which game we should go to as my recovery gains momentum. Looks like it might be Palace away.... certainly cause for celebration as no doubt we will be top of the league by then!



CroydonBoro said:

A huge sense of relief is my overwhelming feeling.

Congratulations to all responsible; Messrs Gibson and Bauser, the regular fans, the additional fans, Mogga's sense of adventure, the team for turning up when we really really needed them to and not least to the AV and the all at the Gazette.

I was worried prior to kick off that those who haven't been regularly this season may panic if we conceded a goal, or worse, that they may turn on the players. I couldn't have been more wrong.

They were probably won over by the atmosphere, the approach of the players, Hoyte's goal and Josh's run and what would have been goal of the season.

I've been critical of Mogga's softly softly approach in the (recent) past but his line up here was adventurous bordering on the reckless, and fortunately fortune favoured the brave on the night.

A great team performance and I thought Legbiter was MOM. I was very pleased for Hoyte (have never quite understood the venom directed towards him, it's not his fault he's not from Boro or has been played in the wrong position) but am still not convinced he meant that as a shot..

So well done to all concerned and long may it continue.

The evening does raise some questions.

Charging the Wednesday fans the full £27 seems a little.. ungenerous? It's not a long trip up and as we have to give them the entire stand anyway, why not try to fill it?

Maybe the numbers wouldn't add up from a profit point of view but from a wider fans in football perspective it would have sent out a signal as to the type of Club I hope we want to be. Plus it could have only helped the atmosphere.

Also, would it hurt to rename the stand on a permanent basis and have a stronger tie with the local regiment? Give service people a loyalty card if you like. Just thinking aloud here.

Our full backs: The best Wednesday chances came from balls slung in from the wings. Now a full back's prime directive is to stop that ball coming in. However they don't defend in isolation and do need cover from the person in front of them which would have been either Emnes or Ledesma, neither of whom are naturally defensively minded.

I realise that this contradicts what I said about applauding Mogga's adventurousness, I'm merely pointing out that it's a circle that needs to be squared before we meet a better team than Wednesday and yes I'm thinking of Swansea.

Yes I'm niggling and I'm sure Mogga is on the case.

Thank you everyone again.

**AV writes: It would be nice to think all fans were treated equally (away fans routinely get charged the top standard price, especially in London) but I'm not sure it would be practical My understanding is that Wednesday away tickets had already gone on sale - at the normal away price - before the offer for walk up fans was announced.

It is not unusal for offers, packages and deals not to be universal. For instance, you could argue that the deal didn't apply to Boro ST holders some who will notionally paid more for seats than the visiting fans .

Redar Red said:

A perfect evening all round. I optimistically hoped we could maybe hit late teens or even nudge 20K especially with it being live on the telly and stayaways could sit at home and watch for free. I'm delighted for all those involved in the gamble because it certainly paid off and probably more than most of us dared dream off.

The game itself was almost of secondary interest, the result as scripted. Not a single poor performance apart from the lino.

On the Scotty/Miller issue, for me Miller did the right thing. The ball was rolling towards the open net in what seemed like an eternity. From my seat it also looked like it was going to hit the inside of the post and just go in but there again it just might have hit the post, or worse or a Wednesday defender might have reacted as quickly as Miller.

Had the roles been reversed I have zero doubt that Scotty's instinct would have been exactly the same in the milliseconds allowed for the brain to instinctively react. The ball hit the back of the net and that's all I was bothered about and more importantly it restored the lead, turned the game and put us in the ascendancy not just in the match itself but across the diasBoro. It was a massive goal in more ways than one.

I'm sure by now Mogga has knocked some sense into his strikers. Neither of whom until recently had covered themselves in Boro glory and there were more than a few of us questioned the ability of them individually just a few short weeks ago.

Fate, Fortune and Injuries gave them both opportunity and its fair to say the combination of big man/little man has worked brilliantly. Scotty has benefited immensely playing alongside Miller and likewise. The two of them seem to have an intiutive understanding in and around the box of each others whereabouts and as a consequence the Boro as a team have benefitted(the table doesn't lie).

I'm not bothered who scores but Scotty needs to reflect that his most productive and best time ever at the club has been alongside Miller and Miller's doubters have become noticeably quieter since Scotty worked his way back into the side.

We are only a third of the way through the season and there is a long way to go but I can only see things getting better. Injuries starting to improve, Hoyte and Steele unrecognisable from last season. Parnaby is a much more confident and assured player than last time around, George is the bargain of the century, our player of the season last year Bails can't get a game thanks to McEachran and Leadbitter in the middle of the park.

Ledesma now looks to be another gem base upon that performance (a huge improvement on his discipline too), Juke's goals to games ratio now looks like a top class striker, I've already mentioned Scotty and Miller and not even mentioned last season's top scorer Emnes!

Add into that Woody and Bikey at the back more than ably supported by Hines plus the likes of Williams, Reach, Smallwood coming through then Arca, Rhys, Main and Tommo to come back into contention not to mention Zemmama and Haroun and its starting to look very healthy.

bakutony said:

Can I give CroydonBoro a reality check with regard to his comment that Middlesbrough FC are "ungenerous" to be charging visiting Sheff. Wed supporters £27 to gain access to the Riverside.

Watford £26
Charlton £27 (I think)
Blackpool £26.50p
Burnley £26

This is what we have been charged on recent away trips. Not much generosity there, in fact it seems to be what economists would call "the going rate..."

The number of supporters that we (the Boro) take to away grounds is overwhelmingly about triple the reciprocal numbers that visitors bring to the Riverside, obvious exceptions of late being Leads and Hull. I do not want to subsidise other clubs than you very much.

Finally, as a ST holder of many years standing, I pay for the season upfront and well in advance. I do not resent any deals that entice more supporters to come back into the fold. The more the merrier. #UTB

Ian Gill said:

Len Masterman -

I have no problem with spikey strikers. My own view was, looking at it, the ball was going in, Miller was boneheaded and with the standard of officiating could easily be ruled offside.

I am not going to blame Miller for nicking the goal and McDonald being miffed with Miller, goals are their lifeblood.

McDonald seemed genuinely pleased when Juke scored, see the pictures.

When you have a go at your own side, apart from the routine why the hell then you are causing problems. When you have a go at the manager then you are inviting problems. Ask any number who have had a go at Fergie!

I trust Mogga to deal with it in the right way. I am not in a position to tell him what to do with discipline, I dont know what was said at the time.

The days of forelock tugging are long gone and quite rightly but you have to have some rules. I trusted Mogga when he left him out, I trusted him when he brought him back, I trust him now.

**AV writes: Mogga was asked at the post-match presser whether Scott had congratulated Ish on the goal yet as said 'I don't think so... but I'm sure he'll get around to it when he realises that had the roles been reversed he'd do the same."

colin fairlamb said:

Very very happy with the performance on Friday evening. Well done to all concerned. And I doff my hat to you AV and all the other personalities that helped to reduce the ticket prices.

On a lesser note, that is the first time I have seen Miller this season. I hope it's the last. He is as mobile as a static caravan and has the ball control of a Toblerone.
He can't jump he can't pass. he offers us what?

If I was Scotty Mac I too would have been fuming. I do accept that as a striker Miller (excuse the oxymoron) had to make sure, but if he had been flagged offside I reckon Scotty's head would have exploded.

Ian Gill said:

AV -

I saw an unusual tweet about remembrance day that appeared to be in your name. As I am useless can you confirm it was from you. It talked about people fighting wars so they could be told what to do. Dont believe you would have done that. I assume I have got it wrong and many apologies.

**AV writes: To clarify, what I said was: "People died for your freedom to do exactly what you are told." The point being that it has become the vogue on the noisy tabloid right at this time of year to denounce people for not wearing poppies, to bully them into public compliance (James McClean is this year's Aunt Sally but in the past it has been Jon Snow, last year it was England/UEFA and shirt 'Poppygate' . Who knows who or what it will be next year?).

But if it is not voluntary, it doesn't mean a thing. Freedom implies the right not just to hold a different opinion but also not to fall into line with the majority. It does not imply a lack of "respect", just a choice not to have that respect orchestrated. For me, the drive to force people to comply with co-ordinated symbolism is totally at odds with the idea of a liberal society based on individual liberty.

And before people get on their high horse I should point out I am from a military family, I grew up on army bases, my dad did 22 years and was shot at in Aden, Borneo and Ulster. I have personally known people who were killed or injured in Ireland and the Falklands. I am not remote from the issues. But it seems to me that some people who are remote from them use this as a cover for some other (sometimes darker) political agendas.

If you follow me on twitter you will be aware there were other - appropriate and voluntary - Remembrance Day links to images and articles about Boro's forgotten heroes, players who died on active service.

CroydonBoro said:

Bakutony -

I was commenting in light of the special circumstances of the evening. I know how much other clubs charge. Sadly I contribute far more to other clubs on an average season than I do the Boro's. This season is almost certainly going to be another exclusively away season for me.

If we can maximise revenue of our fans by lowering prices then presumably there is scope to do the same out of the away fans. Boro could conceivably benefit from doing that so what is the problem?

Also I feel fans of differing clubs have more in common with each other than differences. If we can persuade ou club to listen to us with the upshot that we get cheaper tickets and a better atmosphere and we can pass on those benefits to other teams, their fans persuade their clubs and a virtuous circle is created which may result in Boro fans at away grounds getting cheaper tickets in the long run. It's a dream yes, but the first positive step has been taken.

AV I take your point about the timing of the issue of tickets. I was more suggesting that it would be something to consider in the future. (while the club are in a listening mood).

**AV writes: I agree with you completely about the common interests of all fans and the need for widespread action to push prices down as a whole. This one was complicarted by the time scale - away ticket sales had already begun - and the expectation that Wednesday would bring a decent crowd and raise a lot of revenue (with the same discounted you would need to attract an extra 1,500 to break even.)
But if a similar cut price deal looms later in the season and the away team are unlikely to bring a big following then I will certainly argue for price equality.

peterboroangel said:

My previous comment 'accepted' but hasn't appeared - yet again!!

**AV writes: There is nothing pending from you in the tubes. Nothing since 1.53pm on Saturday afternoon. I'll give it a shake though and see if anything pops out.

Ian Gill said:

AV -

Fair enough but as many have found twitter gives a soundbite which may not look good in isolation. I only came upon it as I was coming on to the Gazette site and it was visible in the twitter box.

Can you look at a soundbite?

Nigel Reeve said:

Personally, I think discounting ticket prices for away fans would only work if it was a reciprocal arrangement with the other club concerned. Which would mean advanced planning and something of a logisitical nightmare, as it would behard to predict in advance which matches would be suitable for discounting.

The other issue for me is that, to be blunt we want home advantage to count so a large, noisy away contingent wouldn't necessarily be in our interests. This is competitive sport after all and we want home advantage to count for as much as possible.

Away from football momentarily, I am in agreement with AV's concerns over the 'you must wear a poppy' brigade who make out it is a grevious sin not to do so.

An act of remembrance/solidarity has to be a personal choice for it to be meaningful, we don't live in a police state we have the right to abstain if we desire. Personally, I always contribute to the poppy appeal, but I dont always wear a poppy. I wasn't wearing one yesterday, because I'd put it on my work jacket.

I had two grandfathers and a great uncle who fought in WW1 and my father fought in WW2, so the 11th November has personal meaning for me. Wearing a poppy doesn't make me remember, not wearing one doesn't mean I've forgotten.

Back to the football, Cardiff having won eight out of eight league games are clearly due to drop a point or two, so I'm confident we'll get a positive result this coming Saturday.......

**AV writes: I actually think the atmosphere and the positive effect of the crowd is better when there is a big away following. It is something to bounce off. It raises the bar for the home fans.

Ian Gill said:

Something sprang to mind as I was listening to some commentary from Chelsea Liverpool.

The commentator was talking about the current Chelsea team pressing up the pitch and when they nick a ball they were in a dangerous position, just the way Barca play football.

It got me thinking of Josh and Ledesma niggling away and us nicking the ball off Wednesday for the second goal.

That showed the benefit of a pressing game and playing in the opponents half. It also helps if you are comfortable on the ball and have the likes of Mata amd Messi.

CroydonBoro said:

Nigel Reeve -

There's absolutely no need for a reciprocal arrangement. WE just reduce prices and/or offer two for one or whatever offer the marketing bods choose to offer. Engaging in a Cold War stand off will only ensure nothing is achieved.

I'm sure that being able to point to Derby County's enlightened approach to ticketing and say 'Look, look what,they're doing and they're getting double our crowds, surely it's worth a try' was a big factor in AV's (brilliantly successful) argument to our Club.

Also, everyone has favourite away grounds for whatever reason. I enjoy going to Charlton not because it's cheap but because it's friendly (unlike say Millwall where it's doubtful I'll be back in a hurry). But cheaper would be even better. What about Barnsley where they provided a sports hall with big screen, a bar and five a side for the kids?

If the away fans arrive in the proverbial taxi what does it really matter if they get a cheap ticket anyway? Word spreads that (despite its reputation) Boro is a good place to go because we care about fans, all fans.

I'm suggesting the away fans should get a better deal than the home fans but there is a wider question of what kind of a club do we want to be?

Masham Wiggy said:

On James McClean - a fair point and understand with his background the poppy may present difficulties bacl home but the only reason a young man like him can run around a field getting paid inordinate amounts of money is in many parts thanks to the sacrifices of many young men who laid down their lifes for the likes of him.

Its just a blatant lack of respect and the only way I'd let him off is through a donation of substantial part of his wages to a suitable charity. He's going to get a dogs life away from home now.

Nigel Reeve said:

CroydonBoro & AV -

On reflection regarding the pricing of away tickets and the treatment of away supporters I agree with you both. There is a lot to be gained from building bridges with fans from other clubs. The excellent service provided by Brighton FC will mean I will go back there without hesitation. I would never take my son to Millwall or Leeds, not because of reputation but as a result of personal experience.

JB said:

Surely Remembrance Day is for those who gave their lives in war. Any war, of any nationality, who died when they needn't have.

The money raised should be to help those who were injured. It isn't political. There is a danger that it is being hijacked and becoming "support our troops" which could be seen as partly political as it supports the cause they were sent for (and the government that sent them) as well as remembering the dead.

If that is the case, and that is how it is perceived in Ireland then I can see why James McClean would choose to stay away from it.

Good article AV, well done for the work you've done for the club. UTB

Forever Dormo said:

I agree it should be a question for the individual preference of the person concerned as to whether or not they wear a poppy.

I wear one because my father and mother were both in the armed forces in the 2nd World War, as were my uncles, and as were at least one of my grandparents in the 1st World War (I know one at least was a collier and therefore might not have been at the front line as much as underneath the ground at the coalface).

Also because I remember those who have served in the past and some who continue to serve at present, probably in wars they haven't chosen. Some have been killed and some injured, and it's good to know that some proportion of the money handed over goes to help rehabilitate the injured or to help their families.

I am not a warmonger. I realise that warfare usually occurs because sensible means of trying to resolve an international dispute have failed. As they say: "jaw-jaw is nearly always better than war-war".

Sometimes, however, it is almost impossible to avert war. Imagine the conversation around the table in Berlin: "Please Mr Hitler, we'd prefer you NOT to invade Poland. We won't actually fight about it, but we'd like to talk a little more, if that's alright with you."

Oops! He's now taken Poland very quickly and is eying up Belgium. "Please Mr Hitler, surely you can't want Belgium as well. We'd prefer you not to attack and, although we won't fight over it, we'd really be very grateful if you decided not to move your tanks in there."

Oops! Belgium didn't take long....he's looking at Holland now....and I think he's got France in his sights next.... "Please Mr Hitler, it really isn't right that you should be getting your air force and tanks ready to move again..."

I'm proud that my country, my forebears, decided enough was enough and declared war when Hitler moved against Poland. Even though, at that stage, Britain itself may not have been directly in the line of attack. Millions died in the 2nd World War, not only combatants but also many, many civilians, millions of Jews, Gypsies and others the Nazis believed less-than-human. And that ignores those who died in Asia and other parts of the world.

I'm glad that my forebears stood up against that horror even if, for some of them it involved horrors of their own (like my grandfather being chlorine-gassed in the trenches and being fit only to do a night-watchman's job for the rest of his life).

I'm glad I didn't have to make that sacrifice. But I'm equally glad that others did what they could, when they had to. Otherwise, I assume one country after another would have fallen, the whole of Europe would be speaking German, we'd live in an Aryan continent, and the Third Reich would have had a fighting chance of lasting a lot longer than it did.

How long do we think a "neutral" Switzerland would have been left unmolested if the rest of Europe had gone? Or Southern Ireland for that matter?

After the Jews who would have been next? Mormons? Baptists? Roman Catholics? And who would have been left to object to that?

It's not all about World Wars, though. The Balkans anybody? Peace Keeping duties are still required throughout the world with the UN having Peace Keeping units in 16 countries including 2 in Europe (Kosovo and Cyprus). It's not ALL about wanting to take up arms and conquer foreigners, not in 2012. Much of it is to stop foreigners (neighbours) killing each other. Unfortunately soldiers are killed or injured in those operations, too, especially doing things like trying to remove landmines in areas that would be dangerous to civilians.

But it should still be an individual's choice as to whether or not he chooses to wear the poppy. There is no freedom at all if it is freedom only to do what the other person always wanted you to do. Freedom only really matters if you are free to do what the others (governments for example) do NOT want you to do.

I can, however, foresee a difficult argument there: "No, Father! You fought in the war for my freedom to believe in what I want, and therefore I want my freedom to be a member of the Nazi Party."

kev B said:

Totally off the footy track but picking up on the thread between Ian Gill and your good self AV, I realised what you meant, and actually agree.

I totally applaud and respect everyone who has fought in my name, and sadly the many who have given their lives so that we can enjoy nights such as those at the Riverside on Friday.

But AV, you are quite correct that people shouldn't be ostracised for choosing not to wear a poppy. It dosn't mean they don't respect the day, and this year I even heard journalists on Tv news such as Sky having a pop at people who wear "fashion" poppies each year because they "might not have bothered to contribute their pound coin." Well, that just shows the silliness of a bullying atttude in a so called free society, and one we can do without.

I haven't come across anyone in my circle who doesn't completely respect and uphold quiet respectful thoughts for our heroes, but not all wore a poppy. They respect their heroes always, not just during Remembrance week.Sermon over!

Ian Gill said:

It is an interesting debate about the poppy and I must emphasise I believe it is up to the individual what they do. Nor was I having a go at Vic, just that there was this tweet that was in isolation.

I was in the car and there was a discussion on radio 5 with some students just before the second gulf war. There was one from UK, USA, France, Jordan and Germany.

The discussion ranged from support to uncertainty. Lastly the German student spoke and she said we must realise Germany has a long history of pacifism.

After the initial smile it made me think that none of us have a history of pacifism, then that clearly here was someone whose education told her the importance of not going to war. But as Dormo says sometimes things crop up in this unfair world. Do we sit and do nothing?

I wear a poppy because I choose to, others don't and that is their choice. Vic is right, it isn't a badge of honour nor not wearing one a virtual badge of shame.

Werdermouth said:

Or Dormo you could even say that my grandfather fought the Nazis so I could be a poppy fascist - also JB is right that the poppy appeal has been hijacked in recent years by some elements of the media to signify support for wars in Iraq and Afganistan.

I think the row last year over the england team wanting to wear their poppy-embroided shirts was more about wanting to be seen supporting our soldiers abroad than remembering those who fought the Nazis - I believe it was a political statement and was rightly rejected by FIFA - it's the irony of footballers who are only role models when they want to be.

It's also a bit like footballers showing solidarity by seemingly having no choice in being made to wear the 'Kick it Out' shirts recently - only a stronger statement was made by those who chose not to.

So the poppy is in danger of becoming a badge of self-righteousness for those in the media spotlight - and those who don't are then damned in the right-wing press.
I saw the look of mortification last week a man who's poppy had fallen off during an interview - he stopped the interview to explain what had happen in fear of repercussions.

I also heard Eamonn Holmes explaining on Sky News how they are all 'made' to wear them for several weeks and that many people he knows back in Northern Ireland disapprove of poppy wearing.

So all I would say is that if it has meaning for you then wear a poppy - if it doesn't then don't wear one. Needless to say that they're not on sale here in Germany.

**AV writes: To widen the debate a bit, a similar thing has happened with what used to be a very rare event, the minute's silence. It seemed at one stage last season they were virtually every week for all manner of causes and tragedies, often only very tenuously linked with the club staging it. A minute's silence at football should be reserved for those who have an obvious, tangible historical and emotional link with a particular club or an unquestionable status within the national game. Anything else will lack sincerity and hint at PR box ticking .

Football is now becoming the vehicle for a growing need for conspicuous compassion over all manner of events that are nothing to do with the game.

There are dozens, scores, hundreds of tragedies that probably deserve being marked in some way - but not necessarily collectively by football. If individual supporters are moved by any particular cause they have ample opportunity to do something in other arenas away from the ground.

BoroPhil said:

Presumably the Man U game had a full end of Man U fans, and I would guess quite a few in the Boro end, so Friday must have been the highest number of Boro fans at the Riverside for even longer?

**AV Writes: The previous game was 30,389 against Fulham and they won't have brought too many.

Percypieblocks said:

Your dad got shot at 3 times whilst in the services? Bloody hell AV there's people on here who try to shoot you down every week.

**AV writes: That's why I don't worry too much. A cool head under fire is a family trait.

Nigel Reeve said:

I hope Hartlepool has a good tanning salon!

**AV writes: Not sure they'll be needing it now.

lenmasterman said:


Could not agree more. Here we have the best reporter on Boro's affairs that we have ever had. A writer who produces great results both in print and in terms of his campaigning on behalf of all supporters. Bright ,but without pretension. And a veritable Orwell in terms of the clarity and originality of his prose. To say nothing of the reliability and thoughtfulness of his footballing judgments. And at this point in time someone who has played a significant role in the current renaissance of positive sentiment towards the club.

And who, because of the quality of his own contributions, has stimulated amongst supporters the finest blog in football, with a host of high quality contributors.

Yet some continue to take pot-shots with a litany of snide and headmasterly comments on poppies, the alleged privileges of being a full-time reporter, and the slowness and thinness of some reports immediately after the event.

Appreciation of what AV has provided for us here is widespread. It should be universal. The very idea that he should be "under fire' is preposterous.

**AV writes: Who is this bloke you are talking about? He sounds great!

lenmasterman said:

For those Boro fans who may be interested in the progress of Ben Gibson (and it has been spectacular) Tranmere's 3rd round Cup-tie at Braintree is being transmitted tonight on ITV4, and should be worth a look.

And for those that miss it, Tranmere's next league match against MK Dons is on Sky this Friday.

Apart from Ben, keep an eye open for young James Wallace, team captain at only 20, and quite a presence in the Tranmere mid-field. A product of the Everton academy, but released by Moyes at the end of last season, I have the feeling that Wallace could well turn out to be another Souness( who was, of course, a Spurs reject). He's well-built and commanding, passes and tackles well, and has a good eye for goal. Well on the way to being a hidden gem. Worth a scout Mr Mowbray, and a mention in one of your regular phone-calls to Ronnie Moore.

gt said:

To all of you bleeding heart Liberals....

Professional footballers lost their lives in the war too. How about McClean shows respect for them?

Ian Gill said:

My dad did his national service but due to an injury sustained when he was young - his leg went under a coal lorry, he never did any fighting.

He became a pharmcist and served in Egypt. He attained the rank of sergeant and had the joy of having his feet up on the troop ship whilst the rest were being drilled by 'yes, sergeant major'. Back in Catterick he was pharmacist for the north east.

On demob he went in to civvy street to become - roll of drums - a hospital porter! Eventually he went to work for ICI and did well.

Things dont change, the hue of the government doesnt matter, it will be no better elsewhere in the world. Those in power respect none of us. Trotters in troughs. Animal Farm got it right.

Now for football and well done to the club on the new offer. Out of interest AV, are there any league rules about offers.

**AV writes: The Football League have a limit of four 'local' offers. After that any deal in FL games has to be extended to all paying supporters including visitors. I think the rules date back to the era when gate receipts were shared and offers could affect the visitors' share of the take. Are they obsolete now?

Calum Law said:

Jesus! I really like your writing AV but by the time I got to the end of the fourth paragraph I simply couldn't eat another adjective.

Enough ...calm down... rein it in.

timfromsa said:

Well AV your fag packet calculations were blown out of the water because + 7000 more than calculated rocked up.

This was win win for everybody involved. Game was on live this side again which is great for me.

Another great offer on hand for the next two home games which would attract around 15000 so i think its a good idea to boost these two games. Well done to the ST holders for buying into this I am sure there will be some sort of offer for them when renewal comes around again.

Tough trip to Cardiff up next a draw will be good enough but a win will boost the home gates even more. Well done to all concerned. It is looking up to be a Boro supporter.

Nigel Reeve said:

My last comment on the poppy issue:

gt -

I think it is important that in order to understand McClean's position that you put yourself in the shoes of a Northern Irish Catholic man, who believes that Ireland should be one independently governed country.

Also his experience and opinion of British soldiers will be strongly influenced by what British paratroopers did on bloody Sunday. The context from which he views the symbol of the poppy is very different to yours. We can all honour our war dead while acknowledging that during various times in our history British soldiers have committed atrocities. There is nothing liberal about trying to understand another persons point of view. Doing so leads to less conflict.

Excellent new offer from the Boro, lets hope for a positive result in Cardiff to give extra impetus to the Mogganaut and a rekindling of desire among supporters to get down to the Riverside.

Werdermouth said:

Boro shouldn't fall foul of Championship rules if they also offer the away fans a BOGOF for our next two home games - as I doubt many Bristol fans will make the long journey mid week to watch us play Huddersfield.

Overall, i don't think season ticket holders seemed too concerned that they're paying more for the games with the deals but there are a few noisy individuals who are upset and feel they're missing out.

Maybe the club could offer a kind of dividend to season ticket holders based on the increased income over a season from the deals - that could take the form of a discount for next year's season ticket.

Though perhaps the club's thinking is that a rapid run of discount deals by the club will entice more supporters back on a long-term basis at normal prices - especially if the team perform well.

**AV writes: A few noisy individual maybe but they are shouting about a couple of issues bubbling away under the surface and if it wasn't for recent results and a feelgood factor it would be a far more vocal protest.

What happens to the unsold stock shouldn't be an issue to Season Ticket holders unless they go out of their way to find something to be upset about. These are games they have already paid for - and get at least £8 discount on - which could have been drab, muted, hushed affairs but through a bit of creative tweaking by the club now have the potential to be vibrant, noisy occasions.

You could argue that with bigger crowds and better atmosphere they are getting an enhanced product at the same discounted price.

But the problem at the heart of this issue is two-fold. Firstly, for 15 years, the club have presented the ST primarily as financial relationship - it was a cost-effective, money saving mechanism first and foremost. It was marketed like that. So whenever something happens that impacts on that it is natural that fans - customers - respond on that basis. The club make an offer and people get the calculators out to figure out exactly how it affects them. Which is sad.

A ST should be primarily about an emotional relationship, a commitment based on loyalty which transcends a grubby cash transaction. That is where the club should be concentrating their fire next: inclusion, being part of the club.

And secondly, in direct contradiction to the financial dimension, a lot of ST holders quite rightly believe that their continued loyalty through a miserable couple of years when it would have been easy to walk away - and when many did - should be recognised, and rewarded, should be elevated to the position of importance that it deserves. They want a big hug. They want to feel the love. I can understand that.

Again, it comes down to the relationship between fan and club, and that has broken down gradually over the last decade or so and a lot of unresolved issues have been allowed to fester like a loveless marriage. Once we get the short term problem of bums on seats addressed, that central relationship needs addressing.

Nigel Reeve said:

If Boro get a home draw in the FA cup 3rd round, then that presents an opportunity for the club to offer the ST's a good deal on the ticket price as a 'thankyou' for accepting the discounting of some league match tickets.

**AV Writes: I'm not sure they can do free tickets in an FA Cup game as the away team and the prize pool get slices of the gate and a say in ticket pricing. Also, the FA set minimum prices for each round.

Ian Gill said:

No doubt Eindhoven still wrankles with some season ticket holders along with the white band, badge etc. Even casting Bernie into the wilderness.

Lots of little pin pricks over the years which have built up whilst watching dreadful football (including under MacMoses despite the cup runs).

It will take some time to win everybody round and the best way is on the pitch.

Pricing will help but the harm done by ridiculing the impact of the paying fan because we had so much Sky money really has come back to haunt the club.

I was surprised they didn't wait and see how money came back before running an Xmas special but good luck to them.

**AV writes: Strike while the iron is hot.

Grove Hill wallah said:

Before we get too carried away, let’s not forget that the ST situation is a problem in the club’s own making.

When they moved to The Riverside we became a completely season ticket only crowd, (please correct me if I am wrong AV).

Subsequently we had different colours of books, determined by your historical financial backing of the club (previous holder at Ayresome Park). As we moved through the seasons you were led to understand that failure to renew would leave you a Riverside outcast, until such time the unfortunate death of an ST holder released a ticket to be purchased.

During the Premiership years with the considerable amount of TV money the club became very complacent, some may say very arrogant in their treatment of fans. This has now come back to bite them. The gradual erosion of the ST base is down to this, coupled with poor team performances over the last few seasons.

The present schemes may have been thought of as, “Slamming the gate after the horse has bolted”, but as last Friday evening proved, the horse hasn’t bolted, in fact it’s just outside the stable door patiently waiting to be coaxed back in with promises of cheap hay until the Premiership sun starts shining again.

Let’s all get together and cheer the team on to promotion glory, we can worry about who gets which rewards come the close season. The club has a list of all current ST holders and can reward them accordingly. I will be in the area at the time of the Bristol game and plan to go along; if I can’t make the Huddersfield game I shall just give it away to anyone who wants it.

Come on Boro!

**AV writes: Hmmmmmmmm cheap hay.
PS, due to the vagaries of posting on this blog, I have written this in Microsoft word, I have taken great delight in “adding to the dictionary” English words, as opposed to the American ones suggested by the programme!

Powmill said:

Well. I can't get to the Bristol game, but expect to be able to visit for the Huddersfield game (so long as business arrangements don't change again !!!!)
So, hopefully it won't be a sellout against Bristol and there will still be a ticket for me to get on the day (full price, so what, i don't get the chance to get to many matches a season anyway and I won't be begrudging any of the thousands who will be there "for free" ...... the more there will be the better)

On a different note. What do people make of the Clattenburg affair and that the police will not be pressing any charges. Don't like that that solicitor was agitating for action when no one had actually employed him to do so. If there was genuinely a case, then surely the alleged victim would have come forward. So, if no victim, no case, where is his problem?

CroydonBoro said:

AV said - 'The Football League have a limit of four 'local' offers. After that any deal in FL games has to be extended to all paying supporters including visitors'.

It might take some extra organising, a bit of forward planning but nothing insurmountable.

It does make me laugh that the football bureaucracy would enforce a rule (and don' think that they won't) that will actively work against fans (about 14,000 extra at the last count) going to a football match.

Which of our above posters mentioned Orwell..?

Though Kafka would be a good fit.

Juninhocrunch said:

If we are allowed 4 goes at this per season, there's aren't any obvious home-double-headers until April, by which time, you'd hope we were getting more in with the promotion push! :)

Maybe we'll have another go with the next home game to be shown on Sky again. If the rule is purely for league games, perhaps the club could do a deal for the 3rd round of the FA cup if it is at home (if against a lower league team)

**AV writes: As I have said, there are problems with FA Cup games. As yes, there are few obvious back-to-back games coming up but there are a few stand alone home games that are far from sexy with next to no away support in the next few months - Watford and Millwall jump out - that could be considered.

The club are keen to try out a few of the different ideas that we put forward so the next deal may be more targetted: a deal of kids or familiy groups say. We'll see. We have another meeting soon to kick a few ideas about.

Forever Dormo said:

Powmill at 4.18pm -

Peter Herbert is not a solicitor. He is a barrister. An OBE, no less, and one who has made presentations to the Judicial Studies Board (ie seminars and courses for Judges). Not that he's likely to appear very frequently in a court near you.... Certainly not expecting him to be defending a burglar tomorrow in the Teesside Crown Court.

What about the Zlatan Ibrahimovic show, then? First man to score 4 against England. Is this the start of the end for English football supremacy, or is that a battle that has been lost for nearly 60 years?

The good news after all that excitement is that CRICKET begins again tomorrow. Football is a very tasty starter but cricket is the main course.

Let's turn our thoughts to India in the morning, though not until I mention that several tweets have been suggesting that Cardiff v M'bro will be available via DodgySat or the Interwebby at the weekend. as I said to @BoroYouths, it's a pity my local has only #LegitSat. There's always Radio Brownlee...

**AV writes: And, of course, following the game on twitter via #borolive

Ian Gill said:


Tend to agree, the same subject was given an airing on the newspaper review on SkySports.

Seems to be mixed views.

peterboroangel said:

Interesting that the debate is moving towards the treatment of the fans during the 'sell out' years.

I was a red book season ticket holder, got a ticket for Eindhoven - but gave it to someone else who attended most of the uefa games. I only attended the semi v Steaua.

However, I will never forget the attitude, approach and inflexibility the club had towards me (and no doubt others) when applying for tickets during the good times.

It still leaves a very bitter taste!

Ian Gill said:

Peterbrough Angel -

Further back was the Carling Cup Ticket fiasco.

I saw three cup matches and had the stubs but couldnt get to the ground to buy a ticket. Many fans were disappointed when the club sold several at a time to people with stubs - up to five I believe.

It was reported that touts were selling stubs outside the queues.

It begs the question where the stubs came from? Logic suggests people who didnt need them because they didnt want to go to the match or already had tickets. People helped their friends but that disenfranchised fans who went regularly and deserved to go to Cardiff.

In timeline terms we non season ticket holders were hacked off before season ticket holders. There were many more deserving than me, I was more hacked off for them than me. I not saying I wasnt peeved.

Eindhoven didnt do any favours for relations with season ticket holders. It wasnt helped by the small ticket allocation in a ground not big enough for the match.

**AV writes: It is actually like a dysfunctional marriage isn't it with ancient grudges festering away ready to burst out again every time there is an argument?

john dobson said:

Can you believe it? They are robbing us seniors. Having been given a ticket from my family, a once in a lifetime visit to a hospitalty suite. Neither do they give senior concessions but the two for one doesn't exist either. This is pure discrimination against us. What price 60 years of loyalty? Come on AV what can you do

**AV writes: I'm not sure but I'll ask.

Werdermouth said:

I think many season ticket holders buy one in the knowledge that it's the most cost effective way to watch their team. If they then think as long-standing committed supporters they're paying more than 'casual' fans to see a game on several occasions, then I agree that it could well fester resentment against the club.

However, I think the problem could be resolved by designating games as 'high', 'normal' and 'low' demand and pricing them accordingly.

If you say for example an 'normal' game, in a particular section of the ground, for a season ticket costs £17, then 'low demand' games could be priced at £12 (-£5) and 'high demand' games priced at £22 (+£5).

As long as the number of games designated 'low demand' and 'high demand' are the same, the average price of a game will remain at £17 but it gives the club much more flexibilty to make discounts without undercutting a season ticket on the day.

It even allows the club to discount a walk-up ticket for a 'high demand' game to £22 if they so wished.

All the club need to do when the fixtures come out is decided how many 'low' and 'high' demand games they wish to designate (i.e. depending on the opposition or if a midweek game follows another home game) - it could be as little as four or as high as eight. Though the beauty is that it doesn't effect the overall price of a season ticket, which could still be priced before the fixtures are published.

**AV writes: That concept is being considered for next year's ST model.

lenmasterman said:

Ibrahimovic could not possibly have scored that goal without the aid of a slide-rule.

lenmasterman said:

John Dobson: Thought you had given up. Great to see you are back in the fold.

Ian Gill said:

Werdermouth -

The other thing to consider is the fact that if season ticket holders are counting up the prices week by week for the walk up fans then the club has got something fundamentally wrong.

That may well be part of the reasoning behind the club actually talking to influential groups. They lost the walk up then the season ticket fans.

It may be way beyond when they should have been doing it but they are doing it. That is great news.

What would be intriguing to know is what percentage of season ticket holdres are miffed? I dont know how vocal they are but if they still pay significantly less I can't see the issue.

There again I went on a holiday to Sorrento many years ago and stayed in a really nice hotel. From the terrace you could both the Bay of Naples and Bay of Palermo. Absolutely stunning.

People still walked a mile in 80+ temperatures to save five pence on a beer.

**AV writes: I am led to believe there were 10 letters of complaint after the Sheffield Wednesday offer and there have been 23 after this one. If the 'product' is the whole matchday experience then I can't see how anyone would complain at it being enhanced by the first offer and they should be relishing the second.

gt said:

As with the McEachran loan, I hope we can forge close ties with Chelsea, they have some really good young players,and obviously will continue to recruit these types,

We might get a future super star now and again

Forever Dormo said:

Only ten letters of complaint after the first offer (ie the Sheffield Wednesday offer which resulted in a 28,000 crowd which is probably at least double the crowd that would ordinarily have been expected)?

I suppose one might say that 27,990 must have been OK with it, then. Not even the North Korean leader would get that level of support.

On the one hand I realise that 10 letters of complaint might mean 25 times that number were unhappy (250 then, approximately?). On the other hand I realise people are quicker to criticise than to praise, and therefore there might not be many letters sent to the club in support, but it would be interesting to hear from the club if any such letters were received.

All I can say is that the ST holders I know all seemed very happy with the outcome, irrespective of any savings the newcomers may have made on the deal.

I can see that, if you pay £150 for a rail ticket to London, and you learn that the chap sitting next to you has paid only £25 for some super-duper Apex Earlybird ticket (or whatever), there might be some annoyance felt at the disparity and the unfairness.

Yet few people have an emotional attachment to a rail company and many would be content to have lots of empty seats in their carriage rather than being crushed in and not being able to sit next to their mates. A football club is different - most of us DO have an emotional attachment to our club and are delighted to find the stadium well populated, as that provides a better atmosphere and improves the whole "matchday experience".

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Sheff Wed experience was pretty tasty and I hope it can be repeated. I can feel the words "no" and "brainer" being conjoined in a phrase used to describe the whole affair, and I do hope the club is listening to the majority view that is clear from this blog.

We want an army of support for our team not a very dedicated but dwindling cult following (dwindling as death and impoverishment gradually wears down even the most enthusiastic fans).

timfromsa said:

Like the model for ST holders that you say is under discussion.

As for the specials to the walk up fans you need to keep them guessing or there will be a lot of picking and choosing. We dont want a situation where we have people thinking there will be be a special coming up soon i or we will go then.

The Friday special was short notice as the visitors tickets were already on sale.
This did not effect the crowd negatively at all.So keep em guessing.

Ian Gill said:

AV -

Interesting about the letters, do we know how many of the 23 were the people who wrote first time around?

In truth it is a tricky balance for the club to make. From far away the whole process looks to have been a rip roaring success. It will be interesting to see the numbers for the next two matches.

And then the follow up at normal prices - if we dont get a decent crowd then the club are in a dilemma.

A lot will also depend on on how the team are doing.

We don't want a double post Xmas slump.

Grove Hill wallah said:

Mr MacKay Outfoxed as Boro Boyos Escape With The Points!

(if only we had signed Fletcher instead of the Mackems!)

**AV writes: I'm going for "Dreigiau slayed fel rhuo llewod Boro."

Grove Hill wallah said:

Dragons Slayed, By George!

(I know where my daft quid on first scorer is going)

lenmasterman said:

Another chance to see Ben Gibson playing for Tranmere on TV tonight. His form has dropped away a little recently, and he was given a bit of a run-around the other night by the Braintree centre forward. Could be that he is being asked to do too much for a young lad in playing two hard matches virtually every week.

Tranmere have that fatal combination of a small squad and multiple injuries. Ben took a bad knock last Tuesday, but played on through it. I suspect he will be asked to play tonight whether he is fully fit or not. Mogga may wish to keep a wary eye on this situation.

The experience of first team football is important for the development of our young players. But Tranmere are now so reliant upon Ben that they will probably wish to play him whether it is in his (and our) longer term interests or not.

Incidentally, Tranmere are expecting a bumper crowd and terrific atmosphere for tonight's game against MK Dons. Tickets are on general sale for £5.

Nigel Reeve said:

I would be very happy with a draw tomorrow.

Grove Hill wallah said:

I know we can't afford his wages, but there is a great player going for a song.

"Liverpool winger Stewart Downing, 28, has been told he can leave in January, with the club willing to accept a huge loss on the £20m they paid Aston Villa just 16 months ago."

Ian Gill said:

Sorry folks but after a couple of games where the team in red has scored 3 at Cardiff in the matches with Boro I expect the team in blue to do the business this time round.

steveh said:

What exactly are these season ticket holders complaining about?

They pay their money before the season for all the matches for the whole of the season. They can't start dividing it up into price per game and then say they are paying more for any single game than a walk up fan. This "new model" which is being considered costs them exactly the same as the old model. It's just dressed up a bit differently. That just shows how stupid they are if they are then happy.

What is worth more, sitting in a dead quiet stadium with about 10000 fans or sitting in a ground bursting at the seams with a brilliant atmosphere? #nobrainer

Tell those that complained that they can give their tickets back if they want and be proportionally reimbursed for the remainder of the season. Then they can start paying game by game and benefit from all the specials. Will many take up that offer? I doubt it.

Boro fans love a moan, but this is taking it to a whole new level. I just cannot grasp that anybody actually complained about such a brilliant idea.

**AV writes: I think they just want a hug, to be told they are still special.

Jarkko said:

Grove Hill wallah -

How about a loan with a view to permanent signing in summer? We all know where we will be next season :). Up the Boro!

john dobson said:

Thanks for the welcome Len. Can't stay away. we are not totl very often. what do you think about the age discrimination ?


lenmasterman said:

The word here is that Ben Gibson has no desire to leave Tranmere and the certainty of first team football for the delights of being fifth or sixth choice centre back at the Boro. Hard to blame the lad and it sets up some interesting possible scenarios.

Forever Dormo said:

Cardiff away - against the team that has won all 8 home league games this season. They are third in the league and we are second. The game is in their backyard. A very difficult prospect.

On the other hand we are on a good run, with confidence spreading like wildfire and goals coming from all sorts of unexpected places in the team. Even if Cardiff are feeling confident, even if this season they expect NOT to blow it again and they believe they will go up, they will also know this may be one of their toughest games of the season, and may even define their season.

We are looking like real contenders this season. Manchester United are real contenders in the Premier League. When they lost to Spurs at home, it didn't derail their title hopes. They are still contenders and will remain so even if they lose again, this weekend. That's because they have the ability, the squad and the confidence to know they can come back from the odd defeat. It feels like that at the Boro this season.

So my view is hopeful. Obviously the immovable object of their home record will come up against the irresistible force of our form over the last couple of months. If we lose, which isn't a ridiculous prospect, we will still come back next week and our promotion challenge will still the there.

If we draw, that would be an excellent result, and it would show we can get points from the very top teams at the top of their (home) form. I wouldn't start counting chickens yet, if that happened, but I might start looking for recipes for later.

On the other hand if we were to win that would be something. I think that would be a real marker being laid down for the rest of the campaign. I think chickens would then be standing in line whilst I walk up and down with a clipboard.

I think everyone in the Championship would look up at that result, and at that stage a few of the other contenders might consider second place as a very reasonable target at which to aim for the rest of the season - and I include Palace in that.

Not an easy one to call. I'd LOVE it, just LOVE it if Boro could get a win there. But if I had to predict, I'll go for 1-1. Hope that doesn't jinx anything.

lenmasterman said:

Interesting parallels between the situations of McEachran and Gibson. Both are key members of teams which may be playing next season in the league to which each player aspires. Neither has credible prospects of featuring at that level with their own teams. Each appears more fulfilled by their current than their past experiences. Seems like a scenario for some interesting future negotiations.

lenmasterman said:

AV: Pre-match pep talk:

Don't even think of reigning in the exuberance of your reports. Have a good game.

Ian Gill said:

Well what can one say.

Last year if we had gone one down we would have lost. Oops!!!!

Truth is it happens in sport. But there are parallels in other sports. I watched the England v Australia rugby match and England squandered four clear penalty shots at goal and duly lost.

England in India have had a horrid first half of the test match and will probably lose.

Today we were poor first half and then squandered chance after chance in the second half.

We were not the first and wont be the last team to do it. Under McClaren we had a season of 13 1-0 away defeats were we started slowly, went 1-0 down then came ot life but didnt score.

Lets move on and do the business at home in front of hopefully big crowds.

Grove Hill wallah said:

Sometimes unbeaten runs can bring undue pressure, where the run is more important than the result.

Hopefully six points from the next two home games will keep us on track.

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