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Untypical Boro is a lively topical blog by the Evening Gazette's award winning football columnist Anthony Vickers that aims to get behind the headlines to flesh out the stories that Boro fans are talking about.

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Passion Is The Product

Posted by on December 13, 2007 2:52 PM | 

NOW THEN! In a perfect moment of art-imitating-life advertising synergy David Wheater would have added the word "gadge" to his hook-line or invited season ticket holders round his Mam's for a parmo. That would have landed his media message perfectly on the demographic button. Even without that though it is the club's most overt identification with the local accent since Phil Stamp's cameo on the 1997 FA Cup final record. Swear down.

Redcar rock Wheater is the unlikely hero of a new high tech film noir video marketing campaign that breaks new ground for Boro. Unlikely because he is by no means either a pin-up playboy international football celeb nor even a household name outside TS postcodes. Boro have far bigger and more high-profile media friendly players in the squad - but that makes the robust defender all the more effective a figure here because a powerful parochial identity with the ordinary members of the crowd is central to the message that Boro are promoting.


The campaign centres around a mean and moody video short that you will have no doubt seen by now as Boro have e-mailed a series of different versions tailored to differnt customer profiles and I imagine the readership on here to overlap with Boro's target audience, a sophisticated on-line community who have declared an electronic interest in the club and have given their cyber addresses when buying Red Books, cup or away tickets or merchandising.

The campaign is ground-breaking for Boro in three way. Firstly it is a slick professionally produced video that echoes all the current trends in advertising imagery. For a club so often derided as a PR disaster that constitutes a Great Leap Forward.

Past ventures into advertising have left fans cringing with their cheapness and amateurism. Unimaginative crass crowd noise and clunky cliched voice overs by either excitable Local FM Tommy Vance wannabees or one of the very small pool of recognisable Teesside accents on television would be wheeled out to read a wooden script with Pigbag playing faintly in the background. They didn't actually say "and just five minutes walk from this cinema" but you felt the spiritual vibe of Pearl and Dean resonating in every clip.

This is different. The first post-Fordy Boro marketing initiative is a well resourced campaign that ticks a lot of boxes in modern advertising practice and while it won't have the lads with the Guinness account too worried it still constitutes a revolutionary development.

It is shot in mean and moody atmospheric black and white that echoes the current vogue in male grooming ads (we should think ourselves lucky that Wheater isn't filmed Beckhamesque lounging about in his Calvin Kleins) and has the jump cuts and starkly lit close ups that feature heavily in edgy dramas like 24. The sound track is heavily edited and over-dubbed too: just listen to the wind whistle when Wheater whacks that casey. This is cutting edge stuff.

It is ground-breaking too because it is the first example of "viral marketing" employed by a football club. It is probably not strictly "viral" as it does not rely on the spontaneous spreading of the commercial message as customers pass on a clip, or game, or joke voluntarily through their own social networks. But it does involve some shrewd targeting and subtle tailoring of the central message to suit slightly different audiences: "a know you're a Boro lad", "a know you're a Boro lass", "a know you used to be a season ticket holder"... although unfortunately not "a know you're the sort of whinging get who rings up the Legends to moan even though you never went the match" or "a know you're one of the doyles who boo....". Now that would be targeting.

That works because Wheater is a Teessider, a Boro fan and, crucially, is not yet consumed by the super-stardom and stratospheric wages that would inevitably divorce him from his roots. He remains believable, which is branding gold-dust. "It wasn’t difficult to do because I was asked to say what I feel," he said of the video. "We want the fans to know that we share the same passion. I am one of them, as I know quite a few of the lads are. The supporters who turn out week in and week out have been superb but the more of them the better.� Which is a more palatable message to sell than the one Lee Cattermole was giving out a few weeks back.

But mostly this campaign is ground-breaking because it is not just attempting to sell match-tickets, or Sunday lunches in the restaurant, or replica shirts reaching the end of their shelf life in the way that previous direct mailings have ... it is selling passion.

In the past people have complained they only heard from the club when they wanted money: the season ticket renewal and the Christmas catelogue so this - not actually asking existing season ticket holders for anything but support, something that would never be denied - is a major departure from the norm.

Yes, the campaign is tied to a big push to flog half-season tickets, we know that, but the crucial qualitative difference to past sales drives is that this one not only recognises that "the noise, the passion, the excitement" is a key part of the core product but it also links that directly to the conscious actions of the crowd. Instead of saying "come and pay to watch us provide you with excitement", that is, be a passive consumer, now the club are saying "come and play your part in collectively creating an exciting atmosphere," be an active participant.

That is more than just semantics. It speaks about the tricky relationship between fans and club which has changed for the worst in the Sky era and hints that Boro have finally tumbled that supporters are a precious resource and not just a cash cow. In recent years "the noise, the passion, the excitement" that Wheater pays such fulsome homage too - and an important reason that supporters attend games - has been sidelined, demoted and stifled by the cultural straitjacket of seating, zealous stewarding and over-bearing PA muzak.

We must hope that this new approach to marketing and other developments like the poll on post-goal music indicate a change in attitude on the way supporters are regarded and lead to a new more respectful, healthy and productive relationship.

Comments (61)

simon mitchell wrote...

I have just watched the video email that Boro sent out featuring David Wheater.

Did anyone else notice that Wheater said "and when I run my guts out for 70 minutes"? And here's me thinking a game lasts 90 minutes!!!

Maybe thats why we have lost so many matches. The management forgot to tell the players there is an extra 20 minutes to the game. Isn't that about the amount of time we switched off against Villa??

Maybe if they had run their guts out for 90 minutes in all the early games we lost, we may have been in the top 10 of the Premier League by now.

C'mon Boro, you showed you can work hard for 90 minutes against Arsenal. Lets show that same drive and commitment against every team we face for the rest of the season.

**AV writes: I've moved this from the previous thread as it seemed more appropriate here.

Posted by: simon mitchell  | December 14, 2007 7:53 AM

'Ignorant' of Boroland wrote...

Dear Simon Mitchel, Wheater's comments about 'running his guts out for 70 minutes' are trying to tell the fans to keep shouting and push the team on all the way. NOT that the team deliberately give up after 70 mins.

He is trying to create some symbiosis mate between the team and the fans. Okay it is a scripted clip but his commitment makes me believe him 100percent!

As much as the team need to be confident for the full 90 so do the fans and express that vocally .[Arsenal match apart that is]

Holy Juninho, That Arsenal match has made me sound like a GIBBO disciple.... I have seen the light!

Up the BORO !!!!!

PS Great news Fab Rock is not banned for the Derby match. Same team same performance. Continuity and consistency are the way forward.

**AV writes: This one has been moved over too.

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of Boroland  | December 14, 2007 7:56 AM

Peter Holton wrote...

I would willingly run my guts out for 70, 90 or however minutes a football game lasts these days for the ridiculously over inflated wages that "big time charlies" such as David Wheater (who??) get!

People who run clubs and play the game these days just dont get it that players cannot relate to the local people anymore.

The obscene wages that these underperforming "superstars" get ensures that they look down on their paying public.

Seeing first hand how the Boro treat some of their own supporters and having seen several of the big time charlies (players) sauntering about in the pubs and clubs as if they are gods gift is sickening.

Most people I know couldn't care less about the Boro anymore, nor do they care about the ever increasing amounts of empty seats at the Riverside and in particular they dont care about the modern day "SKY SOCCER" franchise that has ruined the beautiful game.

Wheater and his whinging cronies (Cattermole - Boooo) are only bleating away on the telly about empty seats because they are frightened that they will lose their ridiculously high and undeserved wages.

Posted by: Peter Holton  | December 14, 2007 7:58 AM

Simon Mitchell wrote...

I totally agree with Peter Holton.

Todays players are paid way too much, and I have seen first hand the way they flaunt their so called fame and fortune in the pubs and clubs around the area.

I now live in America, in New England, and talk about good sports teams. We have the New England Patriots, the Red Sox, the Boston Celtics.

I have come into contact with a few of the player for these teams, and they are real sportsmen. They really do respect the fans and are true professionals. The look after themselves properly. No nights out with their mates, getting drunk and acting like gods gift.

They would be suspended if they were caught acting like the footballers mentioned by Peter Holton and myself. A lot could be learned by watching the way these teams look after their players, and the discipline they instill into them.

I am an ex sportsman who almost made it to the olympics, and it really irks me to see these players paid so much, and not give 110% every time they step out onto the pitch in front of loyal fans who spend their hard earned cash to watch 'their' team underperform. Most of these fans do not earn in a year what these players earn in a week.

I had to give up my dream of an olympic place because at the time there was no funding from the government, and sponsorship was very hard to come by for the sports I was participating in.

So, if any Boro players are reading this, you need to show the fans that you are prepared to give everything (blood, sweat and tears), every time you step on the pitch wearing the proud colors of the best small town team in the world. I know I would!!!

Posted by: Simon Mitchell  | December 14, 2007 8:42 AM

Werdermouth wrote...

At least the short video is not as bad as it could have been. OK Wheater’s delivery is still a bit wooden – but maybe he was also chosen so that it didn’t look overly slick.

Anyway, I’m too cynical to be taken in by these propaganda exercises – all I see is the fake mud on his face and close-ups and edits. And you’re right AV it does look like a male grooming advertisement – maybe he should have ended by saying “because I’m worth it�.

On the “run my guts out for 70 minutes� argument – I think he means that he wants the support of a big crowd behind him to get him through the last 20 minutes.

Peter Holton: Your 'Our high wages depend on you turning up' angle is not without its merits - it's one that any club using players to speak 'honestly' to supporter can't really square.

Finally, I wonder how long this video has been sat on the shelf waiting for a Boro win so that it can be sent out without risk of falling flat.

Posted by: Werdermouth  | December 14, 2007 8:53 AM

Never Happy wrote...

At least the club are trying something different.

However the only things that will get the fans back are:

A winning team
Cheaper prices
Better access to the ground
Limited standing areas
Keith Lamb resigning

All which are things that we have discussed before on this blog. Prehaps Mr Lambs words at the beginning of the season are now coming back to haunt him

“But there is an upside to not having the place full of season ticket holders, that is you get new fans in every weekend,�

As many said at the time, what planet is Mr Lamb living on.
It was certainly not planet Boro

Posted by: Never Happy  | December 14, 2007 9:07 AM

Never Happy wrote...

Simon Mitchell - is this the same sport in which Michael Vick has recently been jailed for dog fighting? Does the NFL have a serious steroids problem? Both Peter Holton and yourself just come across as jealous and bitter.

On to the Derby game and Paul Jewell is quoted as saying Derby are now better prepared and need to match Boro's performance against Arsenal.

Boro also need to mirror the Arsenal performance and if we do then we will get 3 points.

C'Mon Boro!

Posted by: Never Happy  | December 14, 2007 9:30 AM

Nigel wrote...

Peter Holton - are you Diablo Derek's twin brother?

Perhaps if you feel so cynical you should go and support Synthonia to avoid the 'superstars' you so clearly detest.

My first hand experience of two 'home grown' Boro super stars is that they are down to earth blokes who are happy to chat with fans who they bump into when shopping in Morrisons or in the local paper shop.

The video is a good idea, which as AV mentioned focuses on the relationship between crowd and team etc. The Boro have been rightly criticised in the past for poor PR but this initiative is a step in the right direction.

Unfortunatley Boro will never win over those 'fans' who are envious of young men earning thousands a week doing something we would all love to do. I say, good luck to them.

Posted by: Nigel  | December 14, 2007 9:37 AM

Ian Gill wrote...

Still not received the video so I will wait until it arrives.

As AV puts in his thread I receive regular missives to get an MFC credit card, take part in Sky sponsored surveys plus sundry charmless offensives to part me from my money. I even subscibe to Boro World but my last payment was pre split from Century so may review that in the future.

Occasionally I have tried communicating with MFC and it is not a great experience. I believe the people are fine but not competent in their dealings with the great unwashed.

As stated, this does look like a move to bond with the fans, to generate a sense of belonging, a move away from it is our club and we will allow you to give us your money but you are not allowed a view or any involvement. And that is to be welcomed.

The crunch will come this weekend, they have talked the talk now they have to walk the walk. All the fine words, artistic input, vows from sundry players that they are doing it for Gate will come to nought if they manage the routine response to a charm offensive and implode at Derby.. If they roll over at the Rams, if they cant win at a team so poverty striken in terms of ability then the howls of derision will come raining down on their heads. Can you have howls of derision on a blog?

The warm glow left after Arsenal will dissipate and we will be left with told you so, reinforcement of the doubters and many a dog and cat seeking refuge under the sofa.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | December 14, 2007 9:46 AM

Never Happy wrote...

Simon you wrote

"I have come into contact with a few of the player for these teams, and they are real sportsmen. They really do respect the fans and are true professionals. The look after themselves properly. No nights out with their mates, getting drunk and acting like gods gift."

A report on baseball that has just been published includes

Some of the biggest stars in baseball have been named and shamed as steroid users in a damning report into drug use by players.

Rampant use of performance enhancing drugs was uncovered by the independent Mitchell report, carried out by a former US senator.

At least 50 Major League Baseball players were listed as having used banned drugs, despite rules and health warnings.

Among those named was 'home run king' Barry Bonds, who last week pleaded not guilty to charges that he lied about steroid use.

The Mitchell report has called for year-round, unannounced steroid testing for baseball players in a bid to clean up the sport.

But the author has been accused of being too soft in his conclusions, by failing to call for sanctions against past performance drugs users

Simon this seems to contradict what you have said don't you think?

Posted by: Never Happy  | December 14, 2007 9:50 AM

tonyblack wrote...

I'm all for any new initiatives from the club, any at all.

New ideas, new thinking, renewed passion, i'm all for it.

Great. Well done. Let's have much more of it.

Perhap it would be wise to " engage " the fans a bit more by having a few open meetings in the town hall so that fans can have a chance to express their views and ideas.

Let's hear first hand what the new strategy.

Some might say that this would be a waste of time, but I think that it would be a very welcome gesture.


Posted by: tonyblack  | December 14, 2007 9:53 AM

Neil (Baku) wrote...

I haven't seen the video yet, but I have read enough about it to hope that this is the first step forward from MFC in trying to get the fans back on their side.

I take Peter and Simon et al's comments regarding superstar wages, and under performing highly paid "professionls", but it's the same at the vast majority of clubs outside of the big four if reading what is said in other mid table PL teams forums and blogs is anything to go by?

We've come from Lamb's "season ticket" gaff, and his "Tessside will get the club it can afford" quotes, but this is still the first time this season we have witnessed something that ressembles positive thinking coming out of the club.

It's a small step, agreed, and there is a lot more that MFC will need to do to convince the fans that it isn't just another Xmas marketing ploy, but we need to give them a chance don't we?

We can all sit and pick holes in this, but let's hope that this is a new marketing strategy that will lead to better pricing policy's if not this season but next.

Little acorns??

Posted by: Neil (Baku)  | December 14, 2007 10:13 AM

craggylad wrote...

Sorry for sounding like a stuck record, but as is the old 'school rule', the club started it!

My money and many more than a few thousand 'unlucky' red book holders money wasnt good enough for a cup final ticket, so why should it be any different now?

Where are all those fans from the final that thought an Ayresome Angel was a member of St Johns, never mind know wot words to sing?

Although they knew about the debacle I and others have concurred that if Mr Lamb was to go we would be there as usual, not booing, paying upfront regardless of league standings and transfers etc...

I am assuming everyone at the club is a massive Elton fan, because unless i missed it, "sorry seems to be the hardest word"

Posted by: craggylad  | December 14, 2007 10:23 AM

Never Happy wrote...

The team that beat Arsenal should be given the chance to do the same against Derby.

If Schwarzer is fit, stick him on the bench. Turnbull has done nothing wrong and as such deserves to keep his place. That is what competition for places is about.

Wheater is a prime example, he has come into the side and done well so keeps the shirt. If there is to be a change to last weeks side then it could be Arca for Rocky.

However everyone played their part last week an shoild be given the chance to do so again. No excuses for not playing with the same energy, effort and passion.

Its a big chance to climb the table and condemn Derby, Boro must take it.

C'Mon Boro!

Posted by: Never Happy  | December 14, 2007 12:00 PM

Holgate Ender wrote...

wheater is nails. when i first saw him with the camaflage cream all over his moy i thought it was an army recruitment film for iraq.

Posted by: Holgate Ender  | December 14, 2007 12:18 PM

Bob Knapton wrote...

Nice, slick video, but all classic mfc;

Cure rather than prevention.

If Gibson and co had stuck their heads out the ivory tower windows and overheard the plebs down below talking in the sumemr they would've noticed the clear issues with the club as listed by 'Never Happy' above.

-Put the white band back on the kit.
-Sack MeMark.
-Sack Lamb.
-Most importantly, get a manager who doesn't sign players with no end product or who don't turn up away from home.

Posted by: Bob Knapton  | December 14, 2007 12:35 PM

dave wrote...

"My money and many more than a few thousand 'unlucky' red book holders money wasnt good enough for a cup final ticket, so why should it be any different now?"

You can not blame mfc for the inept UEFA for picking a stadium with only 34,000 capacity and not giving the teams enough tickets

Posted by: dave  | December 14, 2007 2:10 PM

Simon Mitchell wrote...

Never Happy.

You are right, Michael Vick was jailed for dog fighting. I don't think the NFL has a bigger problem than most other sports for steroid abuse. I'm not blind to think that it does not. You will never catch all of the cheats in sport.

I was really just pointing out the level of professionalism in New England sports teams and particularly the people whom I have met.

Now as far as Baseball goes... Well that is a joke. Nothing will ever get done to rid this sport of performance enhancing drug takers, as long as there is a union involved that protects the players no matter what they do. They need to get rid of the commisioner who runs it. He is a joke.

Anyway, back to football (the real football that is). As I said in my previous post, I think all players should give 110% effort because of the money they earn.

It is ridiculous for the fans to see that they are not giving full effort. For the money they get, I would play a 90 minute match every day and go to training as well. All of this 'we played 3 matches in 10 days and we are physically tired' does not cut it with me.

I don't begrudge the players earning a good wage, I just think they should work harder and put in more effort to justify it. No Jealousy or bitterness in this at all.

Posted by: Simon Mitchell  | December 14, 2007 2:23 PM

craggylad wrote...


You can blame MFC for giving tickets away to sponsors and the like but still maintaining the fact they were giving the full 9000 allocation to red book holders.

Most, allthough not all i must confess, disappointed Red Book holders would still have went back the year after, very upset and hurt, but would have taken it on the chin knowing they were just unlucky in a draw.

Please dont insult our intelligence by repeating the same old claptrap of 'supporters knew there was more demand than supply'! We are bloody sick of hearing it and being used as a scapegoat!

Sorry bout the language AV.

Posted by: craggylad  | December 14, 2007 2:32 PM

Simon Mitchell wrote...

I think if we approached every game with the same philosophy and tactics, as we did against Arsenal, we would win the majority of games we play.

Will we just sit back against Derby?, or give them no space to play and attack with vigor.

I hope we have begun a bright new dawn in the way we approach games from now on.

C'mon Boro.

Posted by: Simon Mitchell  | December 14, 2007 2:43 PM

beeline wrote...

A good bit of slick marketing by MFC (who is the new guy in charge?), but ultimately smoke in a gale if the root problems like pricing are not simultaneously tackled.

However, this is perhaps another sign, along with the reduced price for under 11s, that the club is preparing to tackle this area head on in the coming months.

Posted by: beeline  | December 14, 2007 3:29 PM

beeline wrote...

" It is ridiculous for the fans to see that they are not giving full effort. For the money they get, I would play a 90 minute match every day and go to training as well. All of this 'we played 3 matches in 10 days and we are physically tired' does not cut it with me. "

If, as you claim, you were almost an Olympic athlete, then you should not be repeating this type of ridiculous statement.

Of course professional footballers can play 7 games a week, but that is not the point, it's about performing at the peak of your abilities on matchday. I'm sure a 10,000 metre runner can do the distance every day in training, but no athlete worthy of the name would run three in the week before amajor race.

Oh, and re our footballing friends from over the water, I give you a wonderful role-model - O.J. Simpson

Posted by: beeline  | December 14, 2007 3:40 PM

Steve Burke wrote...

Peter Holt and Simon Mitchell....

If you dont like the club and you dont care about it, stop whinging, move on and go support someone else.

Despite our varied results this season, we are still a PL Club with aspirations. You sound like a whinging geordie on the BBC 606 message boards.

People like you who dont care about the club are the people that only bother when we do ok. Did you stand in the rain against Swansea on a clold Tuesday night? Did you sit in the snow against Bolton in 1994 when only 6000 bothered to turn up? No I doubt it because no doubt you could not be bothered.

Posted by: Steve Burke  | December 14, 2007 4:34 PM

Richard wrote...

Very good article AV.

To pick up on one of the developing threads, in connection with players identifying with the public and in partial defence of players:

It's not their "fault", as individuals, that the "work" that they do is valued so highly.

Market forces and the changing structure/nature of the game, and a certain European Court case concerning a little-known mediocre player called Bosman, that have driven players earnings through the roof and into the stratosphere.

For as long as there is a market willing to pump money into the Sky machine, without some form of regulatory intervention (which would, no doubt, be resisted by the main benefactors of the present system) the only way that this situation will be redressed is when the clubs themselves -and Sky/Setanta and other networks - start to feel the returns aren't what they require as a business and the same market forces that caused the escalation and the culture change in the first place, force the change.

Either that, or a global economic meltdown causes TV viewers and consumers everywhere to be more discretionary with their spending.

As individuals, if our employers were prepared to pay us the rates that footballers are offered, would any of us turn it away? "No thanks Boss, you just keep the money. I'd rather work for less!"

I doubt if I would be so principled!

It's the going rate for player participation in the sport.

Personally, I don't like it either and my personal values tell me that nurses, policemen, fire-fighters, mine-workers, care-workers, and just about every other job that I can think of, is more worthy of greater financial acknowledgement that footballers.

But, perhaps regrettably, that's not the world we live in.

So, in the world that we DO live in. We as individuals have choices to make. Continue to pay the money required to spectate and otherwise participate in the game, or NOT.

In the meantime, there's little point, out of resentment of the causal SYSTEM, in accusing individual footballers - or even whole teams, collectively, of milking the public.

Where I agree with parts of earlier postings however, is in the public flaunting of some "neuveau rich right" of certain players to consider themselves somehow "special" or "better than us" because of their participation in a sport that has been transformed, not through efforts of theirs, but by commercial and other forces which are 'way beyond their own capacity to even understand - let alone intentionally influence!

However, they themselves are potential targets for others in society whose resentment of their earning status will lead to confrontation at times - especially in bars and night-clubs.

What these young men need to recognise is the social responsibilitythey carry. Their clubs, their managers and their mentors, owe it to them - and us - to ensure that they are decent ambassadors for the game and that reasons for resentment of their wealth and status are not aggravated to a point of bringing the game or the club into disrepute.

There are fewer more effective ways of disenfranchising an already tested public than to have your staff or representatives generate animosity.

So I sincerely hope that any young Boro player who either initiates or is the victim of public disorder is given appropriate advice and guidance - and will be held to future account - for being caught up in any anti-social activity.

It's not their fault that they're rich.

But it IS their fault if they behave badly.

Posted by: Richard  | December 14, 2007 5:44 PM

Mike Sen wrote...

So fans are not happy because of of a lack of standing area, not cheaper tickets (inflation not an issue again this season I guess?!), a winning team and - god forbid - the lack of a white band? What the....?

The white band I miss, but I'm not gonna stop supporting the Boro because of it. Lack of a standing are? We haven't had one for years chuck - no one in the top flight has. A lack of a winning team? Come on man we're the Boro!

If Boro fans suddenly start becoming glory supporters our club is doomed! I'd go if I could afford the time, regardless of whether we wee in the Champions League or League Two. Stand by your club people.

Posted by: Mike Sen  | December 14, 2007 6:32 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

At least I know that John and Phil will be travelling up to Derby in better spirits than I was on my trip to Reading.

Hopefully he will travel back in excellent spirits.

The Derby fans are hoping a new manager, a fired up team, a big crowd and a complacent Boro side add up to a great day. They have almost given up on staying in the premiership but they want to win some games. To beat the conquerors of Arsenal would make their weekend.

How big is the task for them, Lawro predicts a draw. As he wouldnt back us against Synthonia that is a comment in its own right. They are slow at the back and toothless up front, that is why they are bottom. If they go 1-0 down they tend to collapse, a goal difference of -32 after 16 matches tells its own story.

So it is up to the team to impose themselves and keep it up for 90 mins. I always say points come from strange places, lets hope this is a good routine day at the office with no surprises.

The people in Derby I speak to ask me what the score will be and I tell them honestly that it depends on what gets off our team bus.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | December 14, 2007 7:42 PM

Simon Mitchell wrote...

Steve Burke,

If you read my comments in my earlier posting you would have seen that I now live in the US. Bit hard for me to get to those games.

That being said, I have supported the Boro all my life and my first game was 35 years ago.

Were you there when we were division 3? I was.

Beeline, I think you misunderstood my point.

I said for them to complain about having to play three times in 10 days and complain about being tired irks me. It was a figure of speech saying I would play 90 minutes every day and train as well. I was merely saying I would do that for the money they get paid.

And yes, I was almost an olympic athlete. If you don't want to believe that do some research.


All I am saying is fans who pay good money to watch their team, should expect the players to show commitment and try their hearts out no matter who the opponents are.

And as for the video with David Wheater that started this for me, the person who wrote the script for it should be shot. They should have had Wheater (who I do not think lacks commitment) say "and when I run my guts out for 90 plus minutes". Now thats a better message to portray!!!

**AV writes: I agree that the "70 minutes" comment was always going to be a hostage to fortune. Maybe it should have been "when we have worked all all game but need to step it up in the closing stages... we need you to do it too".

Posted by: Simon Mitchell  | December 15, 2007 7:22 AM

Simon Mitchell wrote...

Richard (with a capital R).

Great posting. You hit the nail on the head.

Posted by: Simon Mitchell  | December 15, 2007 7:27 AM

Shaun wrote...

I live in Derby and the fans here are fired up for this one. The biggest mistake Boro can make is to underestimate them; let's just hope they don't do that.

I watched Derby play Chelsea and they gave them a game. They had a perfectly good goal disallowed which would have tied the game at 1-1. This is not a game we can take for granted. Milking last weeks performance will end up in a defeat unless the hard work continues.

The game is a sellout and let me tell you, Derby are up for it - let's just hope Boro are too.

C' mon lads!

Posted by: Shaun  | December 15, 2007 9:46 AM

Tosh wrote...

It's encouraging to see at long, long last, the penny has apparently dropped at the Riverside Ivory Towers. The club desperately need to connect with the supporters and stay tuned in to their collective psyches.

The move to reduce matchday prices for under 11s, is a welcome, albeit very small step on this process of rehabilitation with their fan base.

This particular gesture brings into question the ludicrous, mean spirited, narrow minded and a commercially crazy policy of a two tier pricing structure for school children. ie Why should an unwaged under 12 pay a great deal more to watch the Boro than an unwaged under 11?

I am also disappointed that the club in the context of the key post match euphoria of the Arsenal victory missed a trick and commercial opportunity

I can not understand why they have abandoned the previously successful 2 for ÂŁ20.0 offer to season ticket holders. If ever a game cried out for this it is the West Ham game on December 22nd.

Traditionally pre Christmas games suffer a drop in attendance, and this game should have been a no. 1 target for some commercial, artificial respiration.

I get the feeling this particular promotion has died a death because the club gave in to a minority of vociferous, small minded dissenters without really knowing what the majority of season ticket holders views actually were on the issue.

This should have been the subject of some type of market research as opposed to the more apparently mundane issues of goal celebration music and singing sections etc.

Posted by: Tosh  | December 15, 2007 10:01 AM

Peter Holton wrote...

"Steve Burke wrote...

Peter Holt and Simon Mitchell....

If you dont like the club and you dont care about it, stop whinging, move on and go support someone else."


You obviously do not have the intelligence to grasp peoples different points of view and you obviously have deep communist sympathies as your wish for everyone to toe the party line shows.

Winning games will get crowds back, not all this criticising booing crowds and making ridiculous "begging" adverts pleading for fans to come back..

(Good win today by the way!)

Posted by: Peter Holton  | December 15, 2007 6:34 PM

eddie fletcher wrote...

My God AV

Re: Wheat's promo.

What a load of ewhinge bloggers we have - here's a young guy full of guts and determination to promote his club from the heart - along with like minded Catts and they slag 'em off.

I've been bleating about the poor PR we've had to date and I must say this is a step in the right direction.

To the bloggers that bemoan overpaid demi Gods or underpaid half demigods like Wheat's and Co - don't they realise that the wages they are on are not neccesarily dictated by the Club but more out of the necessity for survival in the Big Time which is ultimately dictated by (and it really hurts me to say this word) SKY.

Sky HAS ruined the beautiful game but unfortunately is a reality and we must get on with things - and as in life as in business (premiership footy) we MUST as a club ADAPT TO SURVIVE - so go for it BORO - get ruthless both on and off the field. Well done to date.


Posted by: eddie fletcher  | December 15, 2007 6:39 PM

Richard wrote...

Memo to Simon Mitchell:

Thank you Simon.

It's a bit of a reversal - as a Boro supporter, it can often feel like I'm hitting my head on a nail!

But after the two consecutive wins, having "topped and tailed" the league, the pain is a little less acute.

Sorry for taking the easy way out of this, but, what sport did you major in by the way?

Posted by: Richard  | December 15, 2007 8:06 PM

Calif Stevie wrote...

Like Simon Mitchell i also live in the USA now and like him i was going to Ayresome Park 35 Years ago.This is my first season having to rely on the Fox Soccer Channel to watch real Football.

Ii think most of the old Boro fans recognize that we never quite did make it to Super Club status that we deserved.

The progress made here has been thanks to one man - Steve Gibson! We did try and almost succeded in buying the greatness we always strived in the heady days of Juninho, Ravanelli, Emerson etc. But market forces ie SKY ,Abromavich and people with more wealth than sense put us in to perspective.

The money that every premiership player earns is obscene, which i think us from the North East see and shake our heads at more justly than most .but I dont think anyone of us would knock back these rich trappings if offered. We are most fortunate to have a man of Gibsons integrity and its sickening to see some players not giving an honest man some value for his money.

As regards the whingeing of Boro fans it is something we are famous for, but with that comes an incredible sense of humour. We are rightly famous for being our own biggest critics and the moaning will never end. At least years ago on the terraces it was true fans who knew the rudiments of the game that they were moaning about.

I have just watched the David Wheater video and it brought back the feeling of where i belong back to me which is obviously its intention. I agree totally with Richards posting who brought up some real life points.

Well I am 8 hours behind you and i have been up since 7am to watch live "SOCCER" to see we are not on this week and were treat to 2 mins of highlights (at least we won).

Then i sat through the full Fulham v Newcastle game to see the Geordies once again fluke a win in injury time at least it was real football though (well almost).Come on Boro .

Posted by: Calif Stevie  | December 15, 2007 8:20 PM

Phil ex Warrenby wrote...

It looks like It's harder to get out of the team than it is to get in.Turnbull has two good games and is dropped because want away Schwarzer is fit again, even though he is obviously disinterested in staying at Boro - that is until no one comes looking for him and then he will be looking at the offer in a different light.

Meanwhile we cant have one of our own playing out of his skin and grabbing the headlines at Watford not to mention the goals. So what do we do? we bring him home and sit him on the bench. give him five minutes at the end when the games over that will keep him happy,..WRONG!!!

He has tasted the glory and will now be hungry for more. Have we forgotten Morrison so soon? If we are not going to use hm why bring him home.

**AV writes: I think we may have forgotten old wossisname.

Posted by: Phil ex Warrenby  | December 16, 2007 5:29 AM

Simon Mitchell wrote...


Send me your email address and I will reply to you that way.

Just think its a bit much to put my history in a blog about the Boro. email me at mitchgolf@hotmail.com.


**AV writes: This blog is a little bit Ebay, a little bit Friends Reunited of late.

Posted by: Simon Mitchell  | December 16, 2007 5:38 AM

Diablo "Derek" (Costa de la Darlingtono) wrote...

"I think most of the old Boro fans recognize that we never quite did make it to Super Club status that we deserved."



Posted by: Diablo "Derek" (Costa de la Darlingtono)  | December 16, 2007 9:12 AM

Ian Gill wrote...

Job done and a super goal and that about sums it up.

We were not very good and they were even worse. When we got the ball down and played they were shocking defensively. When we hoofed the long ball they were more comfortable.

Apart from the superb strike my lasting memory will have been of Boat getting on his hands and knees to control a ball on his chest, obviously aware of his poor first touch.

A piece in my morning paper talks about how quiet Derby fans were as contrasted with the noise from a few hundred Boro fans. Do these journalists actually go to the match? We had a full away section, dont know how many but a couple of thousand at least.

Anyway that is another three points but sterner tests to come.

**AV writes: These journalists do go but rarely take any notice of the crowd. They will have heard but maybe not looked. I looked. The Boro fans were class.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | December 16, 2007 11:15 AM

robin mitton wrote...

Dear AV and Boro Bloggerites,

It's very good to see that bi-lateral relations between the club and its fans are improving. The initiatives coming from the recent appointees show that. Well done!

Now keep generating initiative after initiative and the stadium could soon be sold out. If Derby can do it why not us?

It looks like the good ship BORO Titanic
could yet miss the iceberg of relegation with all of the submerging of achievement and ambition that would go with it.

However we need to keep the spotters in the lookout supplied with the right 'lenses' so there vision remains clear and unimpaired or down we go.

As for the other bloggers who seemed keenly interested in what we were up to I can happily report we've secured a 3 year licensing agreement with Paris St Germain (PSG)/ NIKE for 3 years in Europe with other licenses available for other territories (North America and China greatly interest us). This is what is now being set up:

1. Junior international courses.

2. Pro-youth academy.

3. Youth academies elsewhere.

4. Ethical football agency.

5. Football related franchises.

We are well into the investment cycle and don't really expect sales until Easter 2008. Maybe by 2009 I'll be able to afford a family season ticket!

All the best,

Robin Mitton

Posted by: robin mitton  | December 16, 2007 1:16 PM

Ian Gill wrote...


See your point but I have one or two issues about journos.

They can see the empty red seats at the Riverside but not the full ones in the away end on our travels.

When sat in the press box at the Riverside thay can see chimneys, steel and chemical plants but not the Cleveland Hills.

In the same seats they can see leaden grey skys in an August heat wave. Do you need special training as a journalist or do you have to pass a special opthalmic test?

**AV writes: There are different types of journos: regular match reporters who cover a region or a club in some depth and generally write about the game in a fair an accurate way; big hitting feature writers who don't have a patch but do have more space and time and have gone to a particular game because they have an angle they want to explore and to whom the details of the match itself is not overly important; and the hatchet men, sent to games for a reason, usually because the sports editor can scent blood. These people have special opthalmics as they view the game through a jaundiced prism of supercillious disdain.

The first of those would have no reason to mention the fans as they only have ten or 12 paragraphs and have to get all the details in, plus maybe some quotes and an intro. Not a lot of room for padding.

The latter two would probably only mention the fans if it fitted into their angle or their brief. Hence if the story is Boro crisis, fans' discontent etc then there is an outbreak of seat counting that wouldn't happen at, say, Blackburn (where the story is how great Mark Hughes is).

Posted by: Ian Gill  | December 16, 2007 5:49 PM

Ian Gill wrote...


Confirms my views I must admit. I always fear the report in the Torygraph if they have a picture of the journo alongside. Henry Winter is an honourable exception as I rate him very highly - there again he was one of first national journalists to expose MacMoses whilst he was at Boro.

Our email systems are down so it makes it difficult to work effectively, lets have a wander round to have a chat with some Derby fans, no gloating just consolation albeit with a smile. It is a sad comment that in a relegation six pointer not one booking or even an offside..

Posted by: Ian Gill  | December 17, 2007 9:29 AM

Score Draw wrote...

Is Arca injured ?
Please don't say he was left out.

**AV writes: He got a bit of a kick in training on Friday but should be OK for next week.

Posted by: Score Draw  | December 17, 2007 10:13 AM

Never Happy wrote...

Nice to see us follow up with a win against the worst team in the PL after beating the best team in the PL.

As we all know this is rare where Boro are concerned.

The goal was fantastic, Tuncay is now showing the quality that we all hoped he had.

Good news that Arca will be OK as he is will be needed now that Rocky is banned.

I don't understand why Turnbull was dropped, poor decision by GS.

West Ham are going through a dodgy spell and Boro need to take advantage of this.

Posted by: Never Happy  | December 17, 2007 10:33 AM

Nigel wrote...

Great to get the win against Derby, its not very often Boro follow a spectacular win with a 'mundane' one but that they did on Saturday is a good sign.

I was surprised to see Schwarzer in goal given Turnbull had looked solid, that said Schwarzer looked in command of his area, his handling was good.

Tuncay is rapidly turning into a hero, there aren't too many teams who have a hard working , skillful striker.

I also thought the team spirit on the pitch looked good, what we need to do now is continue to push on, there is an opportunity over the Christmas period to chalk up a significant number of points, starting with another win against West Ham.

Posted by: Nigel  | December 17, 2007 10:35 AM

Score Draw wrote...

Dear Darling Derek Diablo from Darlo:

I'm so glad you've come back because as I've said before you make me feel so good about myself and even more relieved that that you belong to the Man Utd global customer base.

I shudder at the thought of you sat next to me at a Boro match. I'd have the cyanide pill tucked under the tongue ready drop when it all got too much for me.

Tell me if I'm barking up the wrong tree but I see you as someone didn't play much football, doesn't watch much live football who moved to Darlington to better himself ?

Posted by: Score Draw  | December 17, 2007 10:45 AM

Diablo "Derek" (Costa de la Darlingtono) wrote...

Dear Mr "Cant Keep A Clean Sheet" Score Draw

Been a season ticket holder at Old Trafford since 1978. Just happen to now live and work in aa different place to the team I support (A bit like Mr Gill of Derby does amongst others.) Keep on amusing me by barking up the wrong tree, woof woof!

Posted by: Diablo "Derek" (Costa de la Darlingtono)  | December 17, 2007 11:00 AM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

Tuncay is the Boro Berbatov, I even think he will easily surpass the spurs man this season with his energy movement and goals.

They are equal on goals [3each] but Tunny's last one will be goal of the month or I am a Dutchman!

Everything I was upset about earlier in the season - No Tuncay upfront [dong gook or downing instead] Downing , Swartz and Boateng's performances, back 4 changing too much has all been remedied by Southgate and inexperienced or not I owe him a big pat on the back.

I would change the team as little as possible as continuity is paying dividends. Hope there are no injuries to follow { Tuncay especially]as I still think the squad is a little light.

Up the BORO!

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | December 17, 2007 12:38 PM

Score Draw wrote...

Dear Darling Diablo Derek from Darlo:

Season ticket holder to the 'theatre of dreams' since 1978 ! I'll bet you can remember when the crowd came from Manchester? You surprise me you don't seem that mature. I had you as someone a bit younger.

Work took you to Darlo ! What a shame. You must have done something very bad in previous existence. As they say "that'll teach you"

So you have a season ticket at the theatre of dreams together with all those Southerners and Irishmen and you spend your time contributing to a Boro Blog? Something isn't right Derek.

I hear that the marketing people at Man Utd are trying to get the crowds at the "theatre of dreams" to be a bit more 'shi shi' and exotic to fully reflect the global appeal of Man Utd - a bit like a Coca Cola advertisement.

The bad news is no ugly buggers from Darlo need apply

Posted by: Score Draw  | December 17, 2007 1:05 PM

stevo wrote...

Somewhere on this page someone wrote ''the best small town club in the world''

now thats clever marketing - Carlsbergesque and true!


Posted by: stevo  | December 17, 2007 1:15 PM

Nigel Reeve wrote...

Score Draw - I also enjoy standing on the moral high ground looking down on Darlo Derek, it's reassuring to know there are others worse off than yourself.

Poor old Derek clearly struggles with his footballing identity, otherwise he wouldn't be reading and posting here. He obviously follows Man Utd because he thought he'd be supporting the best English team in Europe but we all know that is Liverpool....

**AV writes: Leave him be. Every 'real' forum needs a tame troll and besides I need all the hits I can get.

Posted by: Nigel Reeve  | December 17, 2007 1:44 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

I have no problem with Diablo Derek posting on our board as long as he doesnt slag us off and is constructive.

It is a Boro message board and should remain so, if he just wants to come on and add to the debate then that is fine otherwise he should go and post elsewhere.

As for ManU fans coming from anywhere but Manchester that of course is a myth. The last figures I saw put Boro at 1st or 2nd for local fans and ManU were a respectable top ten. Liverpool were down in 16th.

There again that is no surprise because if you listen to 606 most of the callers from top clubs live in Exeter, Colchester etc. 'Rafa should go' in an Essex twang is quite amusing.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | December 17, 2007 2:19 PM

eskvalleyred wrote...

The theme of this thread: Passion!!

If we, the fans, can provide plenty of that against WHU at the weekend, then 3 wins in 3 is on the cards. Our home form will decide our season, let's sing our hearts out.

C'mon Boro

Posted by: eskvalleyred  | December 17, 2007 2:40 PM

Never Happy wrote...

Van Der 'Ignorant' of boroland, you do realise that Luke Young won last months 'goal of the month'

Boro winning it two months on the trot!? Surely the BBC has some agenda to stop this happening - Lawro has a say in the winner you know.

I am getting worried about Tuncay already, if he keeps up his work rate and new found goal a game ration how long before he is linked with one of the so called big four.

Mr Wenger is a known admirer of Tuncay.

AV, please have a word with Eric and try and keep Tuncay out of the news as much as possible.

It does not help that the Northern Echo are already comparing him to Juninho.

Posted by: Never Happy  | December 17, 2007 3:03 PM

Nigel wrote...

AV - Leave him be?? Blimey that's taking Christmas spirit a bit far isn't it?

Posted by: Nigel  | December 17, 2007 4:18 PM

Simon Mitchell wrote...


Wow, I'm glad I thought that up. Never thought someone would think it was "clever marketing - Carlsbergesque and true"!, and "Genius".

I take enormous pride to be a supporter (although now from a distance) of the best small town club in the world.

Posted by: Simon Mitchell  | December 17, 2007 6:47 PM

Clive Hurren wrote...

Diablo Derek

I had you down wrongly, too, mate. I'd always thought of you as one of the brave few who goes along to the Quakers every other week, and I respected you for that.

Not sure I'd want to watch a team in League Two, even if they are vying for promotion. Having a go at the big boys up the road was legitimate, fair game and fair play to you.

Now I know you're just a Manc I'm deeply disillusioned. Your slagging off Boro now just comes over as the usual pathetic arrogance from your ilk.

Like most of us, I look forward to the day sometime soon when the great Man U bubble bursts and you win nowt for ages. Whilst we wait for that, I will content myself with the happy memories of James Morrison taking out Ronaldo and Mendieta giving your so-called superstars a right tonking.

Posted by: Clive Hurren  | December 17, 2007 11:02 PM

Pat Mc, Dubai wrote...

I sent a text to my son back home in good old Boro recently. It was late one Saturday afternoon here in Dubai
Me : “I am laying on a sunbed on the beach with an ice-cool beer in my hand. It is 28C, and I am watching the lovely lasses in their skimpy bikinis walking on by. Magic�

Son :“Ah sounds great…but I bet you would rather be here in the Jovial Monk with the lads getting ready to go to the Boro match�

Me: “Dead right I would�

And on Saturday, my dream comes true. Back home, meeting up with the lads, and then off to the Riverside to see the beloved Boro. No matter what the performances of recent months, and thankfully they have picked up, you can’t beat an afternoon like that.

Gives me goosebumps just to write this post.

“Come on Boro, Come on Boro, Come on Boro�

**AV writes: Nice to have the exiles back. Enjoy.

Posted by: Pat Mc, Dubai  | December 18, 2007 7:34 AM

Ian Gill wrote...


Two contrasting moments, the 4-1 spanking is like the match against arsenal and will stay with people for years, a bit like the 6-2 tonking of QPR on my 18th birthday.

I am no condoner of football violence but I must admit to a little smirk as I think of Morrison becoming the most popular player in English football, a sort of Andy Warhol moment with permanence.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | December 18, 2007 10:00 AM

Never Happy wrote...

Disapointing to read that Mido is now considering playing in the African Cup of Nations.

Quite a few on this blog suggested that he would make his come back from injury in the tournament, then return from it injured. Hopefully he will reconsider and live up to his promises of scoring goals for the Boro.

I noticed that LDG scored for the reserves against the skunks, now that should add 50p to his sale price come January.

Posted by: Never Happy  | December 18, 2007 1:04 PM

Clive Hurren wrote...


I was at that QPR game, too! Hughie McIlMoyle's match! Wow - I must have been 18 then, too.

And here we are 36 years on still supporting the lads like the mad loonies we are!

Posted by: Clive Hurren  | December 18, 2007 3:04 PM

Ian Oliver wrote...

Downing and Johnson not for sale insist Boro!

Hmmm, now where have I heared this before?

Sun, 2007-06-10 16:15.

Middlesbrough chief executive Keith Lamb has again stated that their Nigerian striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni is not for sale.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren has warned the Premiership poachers Mark Viduka is not for sale.

History is not with us on this one (good competition though naming those that were 'not for sale' but went after all).

Let's see if the house of 'Gibson and Lamb' is built of bricks or straw!!

Posted by: Ian Oliver  | December 18, 2007 4:31 PM

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