1068 And All That: The End of History

By Anthony Vickers on Jan 5, 13 07:51 PM

HAVE killjoy Boro no respect for history? No respect for the c milestones that mark out the long unfolding drama of this great nation? Have they no feel for the story?

The heartless team ripped up the David and Goliath script and destroy the dreams of an invasion fleet of neutrals - and the majority of the press box - by beating the plucky pyramid part-timers in clinical style.

They also missed a headline open goal when it came to spinning the number of fans.

The travelling support was announced apologetically as 1068. Are they crazy? Surely it should have been gleefully proclaimed with heraldic trumpets as 1066?

It would have nailed on a good PR story and scored some easy back-page coverage after the minnows failed to shape their own fairytale.

They should have got to the landmark click on the away end turnstile then just told the last two stragglers: "Sorry lads, you can't come in. No football colours or trainers."

Boro could have whisked them to the main stand and slipped them under the radar into the directors box. Easy. Or, at a push, just lied about the figure. No one would quibble. Who would spoil that with a Freedom of Information request to check?

Having the travelling fans been recorded as 1066 it would have gone down in history. No schoolboy football fact and trivia potboiler would be complete without the quirky stat.

And it would have salvaged the hopes of lazy hacks everywhere. The headline writers were poised to rattle off "one in the eye" if the giant-killing they yearned for materialised.

Even we at Gazette Towers had a pre-emptive puntastic script written. We were praying for Ginger Messi Luke to score (or Rhys, its doesn't matter really) so we could roll out a 'Williams the Conqueror' headline.

I even scoured every inch of the Boroyeux Tapestry to find an oblique reference to Andy Halliday getting a facial injury and Mogga's mounting crisis.

The TV coverage concentrated on the Hastings fans' long trek to the Northern wilderness. Miles are longer from the down there as you know. And their fans did alright. Considering most of them didn't know who any of the players were.

There was a hardcore of about two hundred at the heart of it who never stopped singing and dancing all game. The ecstatic regulars no doubt, milking their moment of glory for all it was worth. Respect. Good luck to them. I'm glad the cracking goal that they will pin all their memories on happened down at their end. That success is the validation of years of grassroots grind, a once in a generation moment that will warm them through slogs to Staines, Wealdstone and Whitehawk in the winters to come.

The rest - the box fresh day-trippers - started noisily enough then faded after the opener and dipped in and out as the fatigue of a pre-dawn start and lots of beer kicked in and over-rode what was only a peripheral commitment. It was like that army of 40,000 Chesterfield 'diehards' who turned up at Old Trafford never to be seen again.

Fair enough, the cup run has probably got a small town buzzing - it is after all the biggest thing since, er, well, you know - but if they were that proud of their team they would be backing their local team week in, week out.

That would be the real legacy of the Arrows' superb nine game cup run.

And you have to wonder who this lot normally support. There was a loud cheer when the Brighton result was announced - it is the nearest league team to Hastings - but if they were Seagulls fans surely they would have been there to watch them chalk up their annual cup win over Newcastle?

You had to laugh at some of their chants though: "Your ground's too big for you" was rich from a crowd that it seems had largely only been to one home game in their lives. And "We pay your benefits," ... well, let's not go there.

I tried to start a response of "Run from the Normans, you always run from the Normans," but there were no takers in the press box.

The Hastings team did well too. Very well. They deserved their ovation from Boro fans at the end. They didn't try to kick Boro and they didn't hoof it long. They played decent football and on another day may have got something.

Boro dominated but there were the odd tense sixty secs. (Groan.)

In the mandatory spell of heart-stopping minnows pressure they had one pushed onto the post, one disallowed and Jason Steele made a wondersave from Andy Halliday when it was still only 1-0.

But in truth, once Zemmama scored the opener the result was never in doubt - despite the anxious chuntering of the terminally jittery at half-time about "another Burton".

Boro fielded the strongest possible side even if it was distorted by injuries - the three centre-backs in a 343 shape included left winger Andy Halliday and human shield Nicky Bailey.

And they did a professional job, Big Ish's spot-kick aside. That would have been poor in the post-match kids' shoot-out. Boro dominated for long spells, moved well, passed it around crisply, probed and scored a couple of decent goals - Zemmama's opener was real quality - and they never got complacent.

Sure, Hastings goal was the best of the day and they finished on a high but it couldn't disguise Boro's superiority.

Of course, the big boys should win these games - but plenty of other sides slipped up, Newcastle, Cardiff and Wolves included. Boro, playing an unusual shape, made sure there were no mistakes.

Which was a shame for the assembled hack pack. The normally sparse press box was heaving. It was a roll call of the great and good from the national titles and a couple of strange beasts besides. A writer from Sky! A couple of big national blogzines. Clem. Some making their first visit of the season. Or longer.

And they were all charged with writing battle pun packed colour features on the butcher, baker, candlestick maker, waltzer spinner and the naked butler. If Hastings won that is.

As it is Boro eased through and there is no story. Boring. They will get 10 paragraphs now; tops. The story in the regional editions now is Newcastle's annual exit at Brighton.

And it was a healthy enough crowd too. Given the opposition and the general downward slope in early round FA Cup gates it was respectable. Look at some of the others: mighty Leeds drew 11,447 for their clash with Birmingham.

Plus, a couple more lively looking youngsters were blooded too. Five home wins in a row and eight out of nine. Eight goals in two games. A decent day all round.

And a decent fourth round draw too with another home tie against one of the lowest ranked teams possible. You can't argue with that. Aldershot are low on glamour maybe - their fans won't be overly thrilled either - but it is high on the possibility of repeated routine progress into the serious stages of the FA Cup where real juicy games and big bucks await.

Club bean-counters may have preferred the big payday of Manchester United away and 40% of the gate at Old Trafford now. But they'll keep.


Forever Dormo said:

Job done. A 4-1 win means we progress to the next round and a cracking goal from Bradley Goldberg will live long in his memory and those of his club's supporters. Everyone is happy.

Maybe apart from those on the blogosphere who might argue between themselves as to which contribution, between those offered by Thommo and Miller, was the poorer.

Actually, Luke Williams didn't exactly nail on a starting place for next week's game against Watford, either. This was his opportunity to shine - to show how much he could do.

Even good players sometimes have a less-than-good game, from time to time. However if you are always injured or seem to have poor games fairly regularly (and I don't include Luke W here), you can't complain if the punters who pay their entrance fee aren't very impressed.

Martin Narey said:

It's a bit rich criticising Hastings fans for not going week in week out when they got behind their team so well today. You can be quite certain that were we to find ourselves at Wembley this year that there will be plenty of Boro fans present who will not have watched much of the Championship this, last or any season.

The Hastings additional fans today were in addition to their small core support. If the Boro get to Wembley, some of those who mysteriously get tickets will be there in place of many of us who continue to attend regularly.

As to the game, Hastings were poor and gave us much less of a contest than, say, Bishops Stortford a few years ago. In truth they would probably have been better advised to hoof it long because they lost possession so easily as they tried to play football.

It was worth £10 to see Adam Reach play so well. Not sure what the fuss was about Miller. I thought he had a poor game and his penalty might be the most feeble I've seen from a Boro player. But, unlike others, I didn't hear much booing of him, indeed I thought the support, in magnitude, in support to the Boro, and in its graciousness to the Hastings team and fans was rather good.

mickymac said:

A fair summary. I wouldn't mind a few "minnows" at home to bulid up some interest and raise a bit of cash. Where's the Derby report. were you too hungover?

**AV writes: Hungover? Cheeky get. I was suffering from the dreaded lurgy but being the consummate professional still made the trip, orchestrated #Borolive, did the on-line match report, wrote up the quotes & did the two page Gazette spread (while halucinating) before crashing out and being very ill ... on my 'day off'.

Ian Gill said:

On the drive back north from the New Forest I listened to Newcastle not turning up at Brighton and sundry clips of Clem with the Hastings team.

Still in the car when radio 5 went over to the Riverside for the Boro penalty. I was surprised when I heard Ishy was taking it, surely no one expected him to score from twelve yards?

Even more bizarre when I got in and looked at the first half stats, a Mr T Vickers had got a yellow card.

Still job done and good to see a few more kids getting a game. I noted the debate on the last thread about kids getting a chance. The only comments I will make are that they spent most of last season in the gulag and that if Stricken had sent out squads with so few locals at times there would have been uproar on this blog.

lenmasterman said:

Can't believe the initial critical responses on here to one of the funniest and most perceptive pieces of football journalism I've seen in many a long day.

Not only a good match account,but terrific on the background , the atmosphere, the media context, the fickleness of fans( Martin Narey seems to have entirely missed your point), and,as usual, both avoiding and making fun of the cliches of football hacks. And making a few important and principled points to boot. Wonderful stuff.

Please don't think you're wasted. You're my next year's Nobel Prize nominee. Can't decide whether it should be for services to Literature or Football.

Thanks from all the family to whom I read it out.

john bircham said:

The criticism of Hastings "fans" reminds me of an Arsenal supporter I heard on talk sport at the end of last season who denigrated the Darlington fans for not supporting the team in numbers, after all he always supported Arsenal in their darkest hours of the mid seventies when a mid (old) first division finish and the odd cup final appearance was all he had to look forward to. I could barely hold back the tears, such devotion.

Grove Hill wallah said:

Glad to hear it was the dreaded lurgy AV (if you know what I mean).

I had visions of you sitting with a pencil up each nostril and your underpants on your head repeatedly saying "Wibble" in order to avoid any more seasonal awayday duties.

Grove Hill wallah said:

I agree AV. But what would have been said if Hastings had progressed to the next round, due to us fielding an understrength side, eh, eh?

It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye!

lenmasterman said:

Loved the conceit that any football directors would agree to the invasion of their sacred space by a couple of us riff-raff supporters just for the sake of tens of thousands worth of free PR for the club's benefit.

Who said satire was dead?

Ian Gill said:

Aldershot at home. A good draw to say the least allowing us a chance to give players a game and a rest to those needing it. As with Hastings that is not to disrespect Aldershot.

Denis said:

All credit to Hastings, they played decent football and scored a good goal.

As for us what did we learn. Miller seemed to play with his feet tied together, led the line poorly and as an orthodox striker was ineffective.

Luke Williams, this was a good opportunity for him to shine. I am not clear as to why he is rated so highly, my impression is that he floats through games without penetration and a threat to goal. He had a very poor game.

Then our absent friend Thomson: when was the last time anyone saw a player being booked for hand ball twice? The pace of the game suited him, slow, and showed us what we are not missing. Personally I would have liked to see Burgess alongside Williams especially as they only played with one striker.

We were professional and competent, exactly the same qualities we need against Aldershot who as a team I cannot recall us playing against.I can go back to 1957 but would be interested to know if and when we last played them?

**Av writes: Never played Aldershot in a competitive fixture - league, cup, Simod, Full Members,Frieight Rover or Texaco - but Big Jack's newly promoted side did go there for a pre-season testimonial game in summer of 1974 that finished either 1-0 to Boro or 2-2. Reports differ but the club statto is checking it.

Ian Gill said:

Just watched Suarez blatantly handle then score. The lad does himself no favours though we would have taken the goal - JFH against Toon?

Downing has just had his eleventh start out of twelve. I suspect we may well be able to put that loan opportunity to rest.

lenmastermn said:

No question of anyone disrespecting Aldershot, Ian. There was a time when they were the best team in the country. Bar none.

Also the only ground in the country where barracking wasn't frowned upon.

john dobson said:

Adam Reach - just watched him. He is magic, by far the best of our bright young players. It will be impossible to hang on to him. Watch out for a string of £20m bids. Should we sell? I say no,no.

timfromsa said:

Great win and well done to Hastings for trying to play football as this game could have given us more problems on the injury front.

Aldershot in the next round not bad draw will allow us to rest players again.

Watford up next wonder what the list will look like by Saturday.

Ian Gill said:


Barracking, well worked in!

Forever Dormo said:

A string of £20M bids for Adam Reach, John Dobson (at 10.30am)?

I have hopes for Adam. I think when he is on the pitch he can make things happen, and he has an eye for a spectacular goal (or two). He is young and may very well improve a lot from an already bright start to his playing career. He may become a really valuable player, hopefully in a Boro Premier Leaguer team but, if not, for a "big club".

However, let's not get ahead of ourselves. If at this stage in his development any Man City, Chelsea or whatever, offered £20m for him, the club WOULD sell.

Nigel Reeve said:

We're gonna win the cup this year, I can feel it in my water......

Hey len, that's a cracking memory you've got there!

Ian Gill said:

Forever -

I think the club could accept £1 million for Reach. It is a lot for a player with a few first team appearances in the Championship despite all his potential.

Werdermouth said:

Nigel -

Since the oldest man in Britain sadly passed away this weekend it sounds like Len may be in with a chance of being the new title holder.

Anyway, following on from the battling Hastings I was expecting a trip to Stamford Bridge, so Aldershot at home comes as a relief - still at least the army theme continues.

Perhaps the karma of the footballing cup-draw gods (should they exists) owes us plenty of easy home draws to make up for being consecutively drawn away 34 times in the League Cup.

Talking of record breakers, I see Halliday is set to have his sixth nose break in a week - who said the life of a footballer was all glamour?

David Nixon said:

Yes, we lost 1-0 at Aldershot in 1974. I was there, it was embarrassing. Judging by match highlights on the Football League Show the ground is still the same with no spectators behind one goal

Nigel Reeve said:

Andy Halliday - played with a broken nose, top man shows mental toughness.

lenmasterman said:

Steady on, gentlemen.

I suppose confusing wisdom with old age has always been the prerogative of the young. And since the UK's oldest man attributed his longevity to laziness,then I must be in with a chance. But in reality I am actually much better looking than Paul Newman. Now that poor old Paul has not been with us for a good few years.

And it was my great- great-great granddad who told me all about the Shots teams of '39-45, when the likes of Frank Swift, Tommy Lawton, Stan Cullis, Joe Mercer, Denis Compton, Jimmy Hagan, and many more were all stationed there. Had there been a Wembley final during the war years between the two best teams in the country, as likely as not it would have been between two Aldershot teams, Hut 4 and Hut 8 of Aldershot Barracks. So Respect.

Incidentally, turning out regularly for the Boro at that time was none other than the great Matt Busby.

But I have no personal recollection of this. Honest. It is the result of a personal idiosyncrasy of mine, now long gone out of fashion. It's called reading books. Thoroughly recommended.

Clive Hurren said:

AV - re the forthcoming fixture pile-up:- is there anything to stop Boro from playing the Leeds game (Leeds willing) in the week BEFORE the Aldershot game?

We're at Leicester on the previous Friday so we could conceivably meet Leeds on the Tues or Wed before the Cup match? That would mean we would avoid the dreaded fixture clutter and keep pace with Cardiff in terms of games played.

We could still rest key players for Aldershot. Surely we have enough time to get this organised? If it's a goer, how about mentioning this to Mogga or Neil Bausor when you meet them?

**AV writes: We have been musing about the changes this afternoon and can't see it. Leeds have a replay in their game so will have a midweek fixture v Birmingham the week before and if they win will play Spurs at home the day we play Aldershot. They won't fancy slotting in a tough league game before that. Plus I'm not sure the police will want it reorganised at such short notice.

The two midweek's following the scheduled date are free, although the second would have to be kept clear in case a replay is needed - for them, not us because we will batter Aldershot.

Forever Dormo said:

Reading books, Len? At your age? I suppose using bi-focals, or a set of half-moons with lenses so strong you could start a fire focusing only moonlight!

You'll be telling us next you've written some books! We wouldn't believe it though, because we are cynics to a man on this Blog.

Percypieblocks said:

What a marvellous gesture by Mansfield regarding the empty seating as a mark of respect for 'The Hillsboro 96'.

I don't remember any of our so called big clubs showing anything as dignified or as compassionate as that tribute with the obvious exception of Everton.

**AV writes: Yes, nice touch.

James Emmerson said:


"A tense sixty secs"....there is such a thing as peaking too early you know. It's only Jan 7th and I don't think you'll surpass that all year!

len masterman said:

Dormo -

Starting a fire using moonlight? How old do you think I am? I've always been a Man of the Match. I did however do my first book with a feather.

BTW did you ever get around to looking at that great Alan Gibson book your wife bought you?

Forever Dormo said:

Len at 10.38pm -

Just finished doing some work and I need to go to bed (don't know why I flicked open the Blog but there you are...) so I don't have time to go hunting out the books to clarify the situation BUT....

I remember three of the books she bought me last year, but I can't specifically remember at this stage which of them was the Gibson book. She bought me one which includes accounts of interviews with old players, not always prominent ones (though some were) starting out with our author getting some net sessions with the first ex-player. A very interesting and unusual read.

Another was (AND at this point I have remembered - this is the book in question!!!) "Of Didcot and the Demon". Great book. Loved it! Where the story of the day's play may not have been central to the column filed that day. And a note at the end of each section as to what had been happening in the Championship that year. I could remember some of the games/results!

County Championship Cricket - something to look forward to again in retirement. I had a Yorkshire season ticket 20 years ago but found I was getting to so few games and, of course, they are now mostly at Leeds (excepting the joys of Scarborough). In a few years maybe I could get to a fair smattering of Yorkshire and Durham games. But a great book!

The third book is one about local league cricket in the North (Lancs, Yorks, Durham, N'land and Cumbria) where the author, a local lad, one week goes to a match at Guisborough, next week to Nelson etc (and stories and bits of history about the old pros who played for them, Cec Pepper, Learie Constantine, Kapil Dev and so on). Super read.

And, better still, my wife a day or two ago asked if I'd heard of CLR James and "Beyond a Boundary" (which is going to be the subject of a 50th Anniversary of publication Conference at Glasgow University this coming summer). She mentioned something about intending to look out a copy for me, so I pretended to be cool about it, and dropped into the conversation the names Neville Cardus, Robertson-Glasgow and JM Kilburn.

I suspect I am going to have some reading this summer! What a diamond wife.

There don't seem to be so many decent books written about football (unless AV is about to unleash a torrent of names upon us). And I specifically don't refer to the inevitably ghosted "autobiographies" of the likes of Wayne Rooney or Gazza. So, why is there no substantial quality football literature after more than 130 years or so?

AV writes: Ah CLR James... now you're talking. I've read Black Jacobins and some of his work in another context. Marxists cricket commentary. Its the way forward. You may like the work of Mike Marqusee on cricket. He an American with an interesting view on the game. He's one of my lot.

You are right. There isn't much in the way of decent football writing. I think the assumption is from publishers are that: a) football fans are lumpen proles with limited horizons not interested in or capable of distilling and discussing the essence of the game; and b) football is about the moment, the game, the result and the players, subjects which do lend themselves to a format much beyond match reports and flimsy biogs.

Neither of those assumptions are true.

Jarkko said:

Len -

You write a lot about the old days - times before I become a Boro fan in mid 70's - so we all expect you to be much older than you actually are. Even I was expecting to meet a really old gentleman before I saw you near the statue of Clough and Taylor at Derby.

But in truth you looked around 20 years younger than I expected. I asked my wife - who also met you - to give a guess yesterday. She said you were probably five, maximum ten years older than us. You just have started to support Boro as a child and have several family members to tell you about the great old days (great-great-grandfather etc.).

Also I like to remind others that Len was driving forth and back to Derby via the Brian Clough way. And he certainly did not need a white stick hanging out the window to find way back home. Not for the next 20 years at least! So still time to write a book or two before retiring.

It is fascinating how different people there can be behind the posts at this blog. I am absolutely delighted to know a few of them personally. Up the Boro!

Ian Gill said:

Clive and AV -

I suspect Mogga would be happy with the extra time to allow people to get fit rather than rush to fit Leeds in. With so many hammies and soft tissue injuries time to rest wouldnt do any harm.

**AV writes: Yes, I think Leeds will end up being played later on. There is a free weekend in March - an international blank - but I'm not sure what the rules are on that and whether we could play if both clubs agree.

Ian Gill said:

Apart from the Boro win my favourite moment of the cup was the smile of the policeman in the tunnel at Cheltenham who had bet on Chelsea winning 5-1 at 33-1.

Jarkko said:

Dormo -

I just realised Yorkshire County Cricket Club celebrate their 150th birthday today. Concrats to you and your favourite team.

My favourite cricket club is Ingleby Creenhow CC - the only team I have seen playing live and that was in 1980's. Two times I think. Cricket is a bit odd to us from Scandinavia. I don't recall ever seeing a cricket match or even highlights on TV here. But plenty of ice hockey and floor ball on TV as Finland have won the World Championships in both sports.

In additition to those sports we have our own version of baseball - which is the national sport especially in the country side. But that is much closer to baseball than cricket.

Any news on Ingleby Greenhow CC and how are they doing?

Up the Boro!

Percypieblocks said:

Dormo -

Have a read of a book by Stuart Imlack (think spelt correctly) called 'My father and other working class footballers'. It gives a great insight into how the footballers in the 50s were treated, a real eye opener.

Clive Hurren said:

AV - I am a lumpen prole! And proud of it.

Jarkko -

perhaps cricket never really caught on in Finland because it was difficult to see the players in their whites against the snowy background? Now they all play in multi-coloured pyjamas,maybe it's time for your countrymen (and women) to give it another try. Set up a game with Australia - they're always good for a laugh.

Dormo, Len -

the best football book I've read was in fact recommended on this blog - it's 'Clough and Revie' by Roger Hermiston -the gripping story of the rivalry of these two great Boro men, and so much of it is Boro-related. I keep it on my Kindle so I can read it again in my forthcoming dotage.

Ian Gill said:

Clive -

A Kindle?. Is that what officer Crabtree and Inspector Clouseau use when the electricity goes off?

On a more sensible note I see McManus may be back with us. With people returning goodness knows what Mogga will do about selection.

**AV writes: It is ironic that Kindling has become so prevalent just as we edge towards a new era of book-burning.

lenmasterman said:

Clive -

Glad you enjoyed the Clough and Revie book, which I mentioned on here when it first came out. Nigel Reeves and a few others all loved it, and we are lucky that one of the finest books ever written about the game should be about our team and our town. It's worth repeating that it's an absolute cracker, and a must for any Boro supporter. Haven't had any response from AV about it yet, but will look forward to that.

The most recent blockbuster book about Cloughie, Jonathan Wilson's definitive biography of the great man, is also excellent in that it goes into full detail about his time as a Boro player, something that, whilst of the greatest of interest to us, is generally ignored in the Clough corpus.

It has recently become available in paperback. Scarcely any need to repeat that David Peace's The Damned United about Clough's time at Leeds is probably the best piece of imaginative fiction ever written about the game, and gets closer to the heart of the man than any number of biographical studies.

Whilst generally agreeing with AV about the quality of football literature, there are some classics out there. Ronald Reng's, A Life Too Short, is a wonderful book about the tragedy of the German international goalie, Robert Renke. Read it and you will never barrack a goalie again, or indeed any footballer, without thinking twice. It will give you renewed respect for the qualities of our own Jason Steele.

Agree with Percypieblocks about the book by (i think) Gary Imlac about his dad ,the old Forest legend,Stuart Imlac.

I also particularly enjoyed another book by Jonathan Wilson, Inverting the Pyramid, a fascinating study of the history and development of football tactics. It gives a great deal of insight into the kind of agonising that Mogga must be going through every week in preparing for each game.

A cut above most footballing biographies is Paddy Barclay's study of Mourinho: Anatomy of a Winner. It is another illuminating insight into modern football tactics by one of the best current writers about the game.

And, of course there's always Fever Pitch.

As for fiction, I have always enjoyed Brian Glanville's collections of short stories about the game. And a word for a little noticed classic, The Blinder by Barry Hines. Better known as the author of the classic Kes (or Kestral for a Knave to give it its original title ) Hines was on Barnsley's books as a youth, and knows the game well. His first novel was a study of a George Best type of footballer, a kid who had everything, but (unlike Best) also understood about the corruption and class dimensions of the game. A great novel if you can find a copy.

On cricket, glad to endorse both CLR James, and Mike Marqusee (if you can get your head around an American being such an authority on the game). But I would really like to give a plug to just about anything published by the niche cricketing publisher Fairfield Books.

The two books so enjoyed by Dormo (Of Didcot and the Demon, a collection of the Times' cricketing reports of Alan Gibson- a simply wonderful collection- and A Long Half Hour , interviews with older cricketing legends) are both Fairfield originals.

Fairfield is the brainchild and passion of Stephen Chalke, my favourite current writer on the game and a worthy successor to such great communicators of the past as John Arlott. Any thing on the Fairfield list will be of very high quality. I was particularly enthralled by studies of County Cricket in the 1950s ( Runs in the Memory), and the 1960s(Caught in the Memory), and by an anecdotal biography of the incomparable Bomber Wells (One More Run).

Yorkshire fans of a certain age will find plenty to interest them in a series of DVDs ,Yorkshire Cricketing Legends, in which Chalke interviews such former luminaries as Vic Wilson, Ted Lester, Brian Close, Bob Appleyard, and Ray Illingworth. Details should be on the website.

**AV writes: Inverting the Pyramid is excellent. My copy has LOTS of bits underlined. Also A Far Corner by Harry Pearson, a Northern League travelogue is essential social history. And The Miracle of Castel di Sangro by Joe McGuinness, a nice tale about life in Italy's lower leagues.

Clough and Revie was good stuff but I still think there is something missing about Revie. He really is an elusive character (possibly because he is not from a massive family that everyone knows). The author spent a lot of time here at the Gazette poking through the archives and it has been done thoroughly but I think there was an element about his relationship with Middlesbrough missing, Maybe because Revie himself never really articulated that. Still a good read though.

CroydonBoro said:

I only come here for the literature.

Grove Hill wallah said:

The Far Corner and Slipless in Settle (about Northern cricket) are very good, but Pearson's best is Racing Pigs and Giant Marrows, travels around Northern County Fairs. A joy from start to finish.

For the Boxing fans..Night Train, The Sonny Liston Story.

For the Racing enthusiasts..Seabiscuit Three Men and a Racehorse.

On a more literary note, if you liked The Damned United, then The Red Riding Quartet by the same author is an absolutely relentless and very powerful read.

**AV writes: And GB84 for top miners' strike/secret state conspiracy intertwined streams of consciousness.

Ian Gill said:

I dont nornally read sports books.

One I did read was by Archie Gemmill but as we know the family that is no surprise.

That was not intended as a name drop but the fact sports books dont interest me that much. I was lent one by my colleague about the sundry battles between supporters that was informative as it gave historical background to some of the bitter rivalries that exist - I will get its name tomorrow.

I found the Ayresome Angels book enjoyable but I was one and that was read for reasons of nostalgia not for journalistc excellence.

But the discussions show why we come on here, what this blog does is rise above the twittersphere - I still cant get on with it. This is by far the best sports read amongst the blogs.

Even when we disagree it is reasoned and comes from a love of the Boro. Long may it continue.

John Powls said:

Len -

The Blinder! Ah yes - remember reading it not long after it was published & then got a copy a short while later when I was at Uni (yes, that long ago!). Prompted by your posting, I've dug it out of the far reaches of the shelving and am looking forward to re-reading. Pretty racy - in all sorts of ways - for its time, I seem to recall.

Agree on Inverted Pyramid & Gary Imlach's book too.

Not footy, but The Moneyball is v good too - especially for clubs building squads on a relative shoestring (wonder where I've heard that?) & the power of the stats over the 'gut feeling'.

FinkTank in The Times has Danny Finkelstein & his stattos often debunking the 'received wisdom', factoids and myths turned to 'truths'. Don't bother with the movie, though - entertaining enough but misses all the interesting bits of the book.

**AV writes: If it stat based riffing you want then Soccernomics: Why England Fail has a couple of very good chapters on the relative success of some countries and some clubs and a bit on the moneyball metric. That said it misses by a mile on a couple of other areas.

James Emmerson said:

Football books of real merit - I would agree that given the sheer volume published, the pure gold is minimal. Simon Inglis' books on the Football Grounds of Great Britain is, however, on the 'superior' side of high quality. Thoroughly recommended.

As for cricket, I am assuming those with an interest in the most noble of games have a copy of "A Lot of Hard Yakka?" I have many cricket books - aside from the Wisdens and the Laws books, this is head and shoulders above the rest.

**AV Writes: Yes I agree on the Inglis books (and his Sightlines which is more ind depth looks at the architecture and social history of the great iconic stadiums around the world.). I think football is blessed with a lot of well written, comprehensive and essential factual and reference books.

Bob said:

Try How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer. As you can tell from the use of that horrible word 'soccer' it's written by an American, but it's a fascinating book that ranges across some very diverse topics. Well worth a look.

**AV writes: Hmmmmm. We'll have to disagree on that one. I thought the forced idea of globalisation was a flimsy conceit to draw together a lot of essays on subjects that have been done far better elsewhere. On areas where I had some knowledge of I thought there were a lot of basic errors. Stiil, reading is a game of opinions.

Forever Dormo said:

Next week: Nuclear physics, lessons to be learned from the military campaigns of Alexander the Great, and Modigliani and the painters of Montparnasse. If we are lucky, the odd mention of the game against Watford.

Anthony Vickers' Untypical Boro: the Blog that gives you more (than just football).

**AV writes: Well we have covered Chinese military strategy, Nietzsche, the paradox of Theseus' ship and the concept of club as cultural capital in the past year so why not. Anyone who fancies doing a guest post on anything esoteric with a peripheral football context, crack on.

I'm currently drawing up the bones of an 'light-hearted' essay on the gulf of terrace perception between ra-ras and chickenrunners cast as the historical idelogical arm-wrestling between the Platonic Ideal and the Aristotelian Dialectic. And no, I'm not joking. Pseuds Corner has been put on red alert.

Nigel Reeve said:

I thought Clough & Revie was an excellent book, I agree with AV though regarding Revie, info. on him is a little thin on the ground. I suspect that he is something of an enigmatic character because he wasn't quite as good at self publicity as Brian Clough was!

The Far Corner is also an excellent book, although both books are good because of their biographical/social history element rather than the sporting content. Like Ian I dont read books on sport, the only other I can recall reading was Ian Botham's autobiography, I read that because he was a hero of mine back in the day.

Away from footie/sport I can recommend 'The Old Ways' by Robert McFarlane, which was shortlisted for the Guardian non-fiction book prize last year. If you like the outdoors and appreciate a well written book this one is excellent.

Back to footie, I enjoyed watching the Bradford v Villa match last night, how can a team loose to Barnet and then comprehensively outplay Villa? Although it has to be said Villa's defending was shocking.

I sense that the match at home to Watford is a crucial game, we need to put togehter a string of positive results over the next few weeks to keep in touch with the top two. Boro's form over the last ten league games has been below par for automatic promotion and we need to string a run of wins together sooner rather than later if we are to finish top two.

TAFKAInL said:

Only read two footie related books. One by Eamon Dunphy about a year at Millwall. The year was 1973/74 and on the day Big Jacks boys played at The Den, the paragraph started "Today we were found out". I read the account of that day many times...

The other was a book about Gazza. I thought it was good but I didn't quite realise what a crazy mixed up kid he really was until reading it!

I fear a stumble on Saturday.....

boromadloon said:

Well, this is something different on AV's blog! I've bookmarked it for future reference to try and find some of these in the recesses of the university library when I manage to work through my current to-read pile.

I'm pleasantly surprised to see praise for Jonathan Wilson - I'd not heard of him until very recently, but have just bought his book ``The Outsider: A History of the Goalkeeper'' on the back of some good reviews.

I'll report back to the literary quarters of Untypical Boro in a few weeks.

Martin Bellamy said:

I've just finished, 'The Old Ways' by Robert McFarlane. Really enjoyed it although it wasn't best suited to the iPad I don't think.

The Clough & Revie recommendation from here was also excellent, partly because of my old man's claim that he gave Revie the scar on his forehead with a bow and arrow when they were kids. I never ever knew whether he was right or made it up.

Ian Gill said:

Looks like we have players coming back. Even six nose Halliday!

We need another win to be safe but beyond that limited ambition another 30 points will see us in to the play offs. Automatic promotion will need at least another 40 points. Tough but other teams have done it in the past, we have struggled a little bit but it is a case of timing the good run to best advantage.

Players coming back will be a great help as long as Mystic Mog doesnt get carried away.

Clive Hurren said:

Bloggers all -

Truly you have surpassed yourselves this time. I now have an extensive reading list, thanks to you!

I'm someone who believes that life is what fills the gap between football matches, so could we perhaps suggest some spoof reading materials to while away the time before Watford. I'll start us off with my favourites:-

A Gentleman's Word is his Honour, by John Terry.
Ref, Your Flippin watch has stopped - a Sign of the Times, by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Great Defenders of our Times, by Paul Lambert.
Shy and Retiring, by Mario Balotelli.
The Great Escape, by Harry Redknapp.
Si senor, Dos Cervezas, by Rafa Benitez.
44 years a Trophy Virgin, by Alan Pardew.

Forever Dormo said:

Cheeky, Clive (7.58pm)! -

I have just returned from the Squashed Stoat, having received a desperate plea to join some friends to watch Chelsea v Swansea in the League Cup Semi-Final. I was ready to watch another evening of astronomy on TV. I was informed by text message it had been decided we were all Welsh tonight, and it would have been churlish to refuse.

As luck would have it, Mrs Dormo had bought me a Welsh flag for Christmas. We are talking about a BIG flag here, not the sort you stick on a sandcastle. Off we went to the pub, flag was proudly displayed beneath one of the two flat-screen TV's (Hey! We might be in the sticks, but we have technology here) and we settled down
for some entertainment.

You know the result, of course: Chelsea 0 Swansea City 2. Both goals a bit of a giveaway by a generous Chelsea defence and the second scored by ONE OF OUR OWN - Danny Graham.

Oh, how we wept for the wasted Russian millions. Much effort was spent trying to work out the equation (Torres = £50m yet Michu = £2m). Hilarity ensued and so much witty banter that it was a surprise Dave failed to turn up for his usual quota.

Wouldn't football be all the better for a final between Bradford and Swansea? I realise that there is still time for a slip between cup and lip, but wouldn't that be one in the eye for foreign billionaire investment and Establishment/London teams?

Well done this week, Bradford and Swansea (even if it could just as easily have been the Boro in Swansea's place). If all the prizes were to be won in perpetuity by the clubs from Manchester and London or even Birmingham, the game would be boring and die a deserved death. Let's cheer for David when he knocks Goliath over (have I said that before?).

The Dragon roared. We enjoyed it enormously.

And now for a resurgent Watford.

peterboroangel said:

Ah, the 40k Chesterfield fans at Old Trafford. Still the best up and down emotional game and two way atmosphere I've ever experienced during a remarkable season.

Thinking about Juninhos 6ft attempted diving header after the ball bounced off the bar always makes me titter! I think it was Festa who eventually scored?

Percypieblocks said:

The Millwall book mentioned earlier has one of the funniest stories I ever read, I won't spoil it for anyone but it's about Gordon Hill playing pretend indoor tennis. You have to read it.

lenmasterman said:

Great post Clive.

Nothing lumpen there. Len Shackleton famously included in his autobiography, The Clown Prince of Football, a chapter entitled What the Average Director knows about Football, which was followed by a blank page. Caused a scandal at the time. For those who aren't so keen on reading here's a starter list of my favourite very short football books:

Quality Resting: A fitness guide by Kevin Thompson

Goals from the Back by Branislav Ivanovic

Beat the Bookies by Paul Merson

Kevin Kyle and After: Sunderland's Recent Footballing Greats.

Cheeky Get: A Football Writer's Guide to Tact and Diplomacy by Anthony Vickers.

The World's Greatest Football Arenas, No 1089; the Victoria Ground , Hartlepool.

Life Coach by Paul Gascoigne

The Chelsea Way: Managing Human Resources by Roman Abramovich

Foul! A Study of Darlington's Hard Men.

The Good Food Guide to Parmos

Respect: the Autobiography of Alex Ferguson.

Leeds United in the 21st Century: the Premiership Years.

Onside: A forward's guide to beating the offside trap by Bernie Slaven

How the Boro Nearly Won the FA Cup

Newcastle's Best Dressed Fans.

Burying It: Ishmael Miller's Guide to Taking Penalties.

A Jukebox from M&S: a sidesplitting lexicon of Boro players' nicknames by Juan Juan Powles

John and AV: Apologies in advance.

Ian Gill said:

Clive -

Lost in translation by Fabrizio Ravenelli
Titanic by Steve Gibson
Unseen by Arsene Wenger
Eeyore's Misadventues by Gareth Scapegoat
Bake Off by Mido
Lithodes Santolla by Julio Arca

Denis said:

As this blog has taken on a strong literary theme I shall offer Jonathan Wilson's weighty biography of Brian Clough; 'Nobody ever says thank you'. Well written, formidable insight into an egomaniac and as a accurate depiction of Middlesbrough in the 1950s that I have read.

I usually steer clear of sports books as they are inane and appallingly written. As an ex-English teacher it is heartening to note the attraction and appeal of the written word to mainly a male following on this blog especially when reading and writing is a profound teaching challenge and undervalued by boys in primary and secondary schools.

Oh and we need to start winning the tight games coming up- less room for error at this stage of the season

**AV writes: I found that quite hard work. Not because it wasn't well written or researched, it was, but how many Cloughie books do we need? There is now a cottage industry around him. But what new is there to be said?

Clive Hurren said:

Ian and Len -

Many thanks, many chuckles! Brilliant!

I forgot to recommend -

Whose club is it anyway? by Ken Bates and my all-time favourite... The Russian Referee's guide to the Professional Foul, by E Triptimova and I Sentimov.

Happy reading!

Spartakboro said:

I kant reed or right proper like, but I can join the dots and I kan tell you that's realy dangerous coz I got the sack for that once. Just the once like!

Ian Gill said:

Spartak Boro -

Reminds me of the sad story about Peter Beardsley. On a flight back from an England match he left his book on the plane. The tragedy was he hadn't finished colouring it in.

Ok, its an old joke.

timfromsa said:

Dont suppose Roy of the Rovers slots into this ok .But looking forward to a win on Saturday.

lenmasterman said:

And short books from the Management shelf

The Gaffer with the Whistle. Alex Ferguson, Sam Allardyce and Neil Warnock share their first hand experiences of refereeing.

Unearthing Scotland's Hidden Gems. Gordon Strachan divulges the secrets of successful scouting North of the Border.

Forget the CV...: Gareth Southgate and Gordon Strachan discuss the qualities needed to become a top TV pundit.

Nigel Reeve said:

This is a particularly excellent thread, which has raised the blog bar that bit further.

I have just read a lovely letter sent to the Gazette from a Hastings fan saying what a great day they had and how friendly he found Teessiders to be. Great to read.

**AV writes: One of their players dropped me an email this week to ask very politely if we had any unused pictures of him in action for his mam who couldn't make the trip. He had read the blog and thought it 'interesting' and fair and added that everyone at Hastings was still buzzing at what a great experience it was and how everyone - team, officials & fans - were talking about how well they had been treated throughout the day. Nice touch.

James Emmerson said:

Loving these spoof titles gentlemen, many thanks for your ingenuity.

It just struck me that one book was missing from our list of literary seminality:

"From Doom To Boom"

Just think of the title of the updated and revised version:

"From Doom To Boom To Doom Again, then a reasonable sized Bang, to Yawn, to Bloody Hell This is Amazing, to more Yawns, to Doom, to Squirm, to the Crack of McDoom, to The Makings Of Another Decent Bang In The Not-Too-Distant Future"

That would be my suggestion.

Clive Hurren said:

And as the Blackburn managerial farce reaches another hilarious chapter, Venky's have just re-released their famous best-seller, 'Headless Chickens.' It's required reading for all Burnley fans.

All I can say is, Thank Gawd for Steve Gibson.

Carltonp said:

That remarkable Uruguayan and fearless journalist, Eduardo Galeano has, for my money, written the best book on football - Football In Sun and Shadow. I used to use it as a teacher for reluctant readers who loved our game, as it is made of chapters rarely exceeding one side in length. Profound and beautifully written. I don't think many of the illustrious bloggers on here will fail to love this text as I do.

**AV writes: I don't know that one.I'll check it out. Thanks.

lenmasterman said:

Jarkko -

Thanks for your and Eija's far too generous comments. I'm afraid my reference to a great- great- grandfather was a bit of rhetorical exaggeration. In fact a complete fabrication. The white stick actually came in handy on the way back from Derby.

Ian -

Fascinated that you know Archie Gemmell. Great player. Hope he is well. The rumour at Forest was that ( like Ledley King, some years later) he did not train during the week, because he could scarcely walk. On match days he was pumped up with cortisone and sent out to run his socks off. Allegedly.

It seemed to me to be a scandal if true, and of course very worrying in terms of Archie's future welfare. So I do hope he is OK.

In a similar vein I met a chap from Mansfield a few years ago who told me that one of the ever-present stalwarts of Jackie Charlton's team, Stuart Boam, was now unable to even cross the road without crutches. He must still have been in his 50s at the time. Another single source-story admittedly, but one that saddened me.

Does anyone know (or care very much) about what the longer-term future holds for Jonny Woodgate? What is important is the next match, the show that must go on, the great meat machine that must be fed, the money making merry-go-round that has to continue.

Like most fans I don't think too much about these longer-term issues when I wonder about why we have so many crocks, why one player never seems to be fit, or why another can scarcely manage two successive games.

And I don't think much at all about what happens to players once they have left the team or the club. Nor are we,as fans, encouraged to do so, by either the club or the media. It's probably time that we were, and that the scandals that I suspect will surround this topic began to register much more on the game's radar.

**AV writes: A lot of players from back in the day are perma-crocked now with knee, hip and ankle problems. Old pros make a big deal about 'not having injuries on our day' and boast about playing through entire seasons with knocks and niggles and only using 13 or 14 players but the down side of that is chronic pain resulting directly from serious conditions that went untreated.

Powmill said:

Before we get off the theme, here's a few more essential spoof reads:

“The Making of the Italian Job” - reminiscences from Jimmy Floyd Hasslebank.

“A Bridge Too Far” - the valiant true story of how a plucky small town’s attempt to liberate Europe stalled at Eindhoven.

“Pride and Prejudice” – each edition coming with a personalised colour-coordinated set of blinkers for the most illiterate of lurkers.

“The Rule Book” – especially translated from the original German to suit the Scouse by Ricky "FA" Parry.

“Pigeon English” – how I learned to speak Dutch by Steve McClaren.

jarkko said:

Of course I am limited to just few English books. But I have read the Willie Maddre biography at least twice, Final Chapter.

I also truly enjoyed the Brian Clough autobiografy - will read it again one day. i will file this blog for future use. I usually end up in a book shop, Boro Club shop and Riverside when in the UK. Up the Boro!

Ian Gill said:

Len -

I know Archies wife better than him - she worked with my wife for many years, but Archie is fine as far as I know.

What is interesting is a discussion I had with Beth whilst Scott was with Everton. Scott has as much fat as a toothpick but even so they were trying to get his body fat down.

AV makes a good point about ex pros but that begs the question of how they would be with modern medical practices.

We just dont know and nostalgia blurs the comparisons. In a different sport which has a different skill set and fitness requirements we have players needing rests. In the sixties, cricketers played seven days a week and travelled between matches on a motorway bereft road network.

But again the physical demends can't be compared between the generations.

Whatever, we are getting players back for the game against Watford. A good result will set us up for the run in.

Werdermouth said:

"I know Archies wife better than him" - you may want to rephrase that loverboy!

Forever Dormo said:

.....and almost back to the football.

Watford - not a bad side and in reasonable form. Not an easy game by any stretch of the imagination. It will be nippy, but we might have a larger crowd than usual.

I hope the players keep us glowing warm inside with pride after a good performance but, at this stage, it is the three points for a win that counts the most.

Incidentally I am informed that the snow in Val d'Isere and Grenoble hasn't been particularly good this last week. In that case it is ironic that we are told there should be snow arriving on our east coast this weekend, and cold temperatures for the next three weeks. #ShouldHaveStayedAtHome.

Smogonthetyne said:

Dormo is dead right. Really tough game today. Watford played us off the park earlier this season until a daft red card through them. They score goals for fun and will try and move the ball quickly and neatly.

After a defeat at Derby and last seasons New Year wobble fresh in our minds this could be a huge three points.

If we can win this then it's a sign we are better than last year. Should be a great game though, and smog jnr is taking advantage of the SC offer. His record

P3 W3 F5 A0

I have a horrible feeling he's about to get his first taste of the Boro we all know and love

Up the Boro

**AV writes: Go Smog Junior!

Ian Gill said:

Werdmouth -

To mangle a saying 'every time I write some fool posts'

I suppose if there are two lines of type there is something to read between.

Mea Culpa or the in this forum of exquisite pedantry mea maxima culpa.

A win today is most desirable to set us up for a visit to the Foxes.

timfromsa said:

Boro through and through since Stan Anderson days but we are not going to make it.

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