March 2008 Archives
WE HAD been talking at cross purposes. I had said that he was the worst and most wooden thing on the box and had spoiled the entire spectacle because he just wasn't up to the job of conveying the complexity of the unfolding drama.
She redoubled the attack with added venom and upped the ante by insisting he was bitter, twisted and evil and had never been right in the head. Hold on, this is the same David Platt we are talking about isn't it?
SNAP judgements: a Teesside speciality? Exactly how long do players get to either impress the Riverside crowd - and the all important opinion formers of the Bernie Slaven fan club and the al-Jazeera bar stool brigade - as worthy of their shirt or be written off as a complete waste of space? Despite the evidence that time and time again such hasty assessments are wrong - at least three times this season - the current standard seems to be about three games.
BORO served up the mandatory nervous finish after failing to make some good possession count and supporters who expected some post-Cardiff compensation in the shape of a net-busting goal spree against a dire Derby team bidding to be the worst in Premier League history were left sorely disappointed. And with the game failing to warm the cockles of the purists, a blustery Baltic blast that saw brass monkeys donning long Johns was compounded late on with flurries of snow. It was far from being a feast of football fun.... but hey - three points. Job done.
WOULD you trade Boro's Premiership place for FA Cup glory? I would. After all that is what all those playground dreams were about weren't they? Climbing the steps, wiping a sweaty hand across a mud-spattered shirt before shaking the queen's mitt, then raising aloft the famous old trophy to ecstatic cheers, not playing out the season in grey spirit-crushing mediocrity but with a massive cheque for surviving the annual top flight cull. It is about heroes not accountants.
GUTTED! TYPICAL Boro! For the second time in a week. But this time there is a warm glow because battling Boro put in restorative display of united, organised, determined physicality at the Emirates Stadium and came within five minutes of completing a famous double over awesome Arsenal, the kings of over-elaboration.
It was a brilliant display of robust defending to claw to bonus point that few would have budgeted for when things looked so bleak in the debris of broken dreams after Cardiff. It may not be compensation for that sickening epoch-defining surrender - indeed, some may think it really rubs it in - but it is step towards some kind of collective rehabilitation.
SPPPPPOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRR-TING! I was misty eyed watching Bolton Reserves crash out of the UEFA Cup in Lisbon last night. Lisbon was a fantastic trip: brilliant sunshine, spirited display from a patched-up side, a passionate performance from the travelling fans, friendly riot police... then - ouch! - the superbok sting of Thursday night nostalgia.
But for one industrial sized collective choking against Cardiff that could have been us again next year, singing with spring suntans earned in a rowdy Rossio Square. Two games and we could have been back on the Eurotrail as FA Cup winners. Just when the pain was starting to ease it snapped with unexpected malice. There was a realisation that I won't be needing Flight Options number next year, nor, maybe, anytime soon. And boy, was I glad that Bolton lost.
RIGHT, IT'S time to channel that anger.
Yes, many are still seething, smarting and seeking a way to inflict some kind of painful revenge on the players. We have written screeds of vitriol on the message boards, ranted on the Legends and kicked the cat. We have sworn down dead that we will nor renew if a penny of it goes into the prima donnas' pockets and angrily picked fights with the lily-livered fans who are not as outwardly hostile to the spineless side who surrendered so spectacularly and cost us our best ever chance of glory. And we have scratched out the Gazette predictor in a fit of poison penned pique and got Boro relegated by miles.
Now it is time to move on. We must put the recriminations on the back burner. There are games to be played - MASSIVE ones. There are precious points be secured and we need at least seven and possibly nine from the remaining 30 to guarantee top flight safety. It may make us feel better but there is no advantage to be gained from vilifying, crucifying or heaping public dersion on the players that we now need to get ten big performances out of.
EXCITED. NERVOUS. "Tell Yer Mam, Yer Mam, Put The Champagne On Ice, We're Going To Wembley Twice, Tell Yer Mam". I'm so excited I feel a little bit queasy. Sick with anticipation and FEAR. We can't mess this up now. We will NEVER have a better chance`than this to win the FA Cup. NEVER. The big boys have all been culled. We're at home to a lower league club with a trip to Wembley at stake. No-one to be scared of..... right now I would strike a Faustian pact with the devils and gods of football and trade Premiership status for a guaranteed FA Cup final win. That's the one we all dreamed of as kids. That is Sporting Glory.
WHO WOULD have thought that a conscious, colourful, co-ordinated public show of support for Boro as they go into a massive cup clash game with a trip to Wembley as the prize for victory could provoke a bitter backlash from fellow supporters?
Plans by the Twe12th Man group to stage a pre-match big card rallying cry in the North Stand have provoked sneering and some vitriolic internet sniping from detractors. The cards will spell out the words SPORTING GLORY - a phrase Steve Gibson has used several times to sum up what he believes Boro are in business to achieve - but the supporters who naively thought that the set piece slogan before the Cardiff game reflects the essence of what the club is about are now stunned at being denounced as an unrepresentative self-elected clique of uber-fans in an undignified cyber squabble that has cast a shadow over the build-up to a season-defining showdown.
They have been surprisingly savaged over the semantics of the sound-bite, the 'small time' approach of using the now familiar big cards in what is "only" a quarter-final and the process by which the stunt and slogan was decided - but their real crime appears to be to presume that most fans would want to take part in such a collective show of club approved support.
AFTER another bout of blood-letting down at the bottom the ever shrewd bookies have fine-tuned their odds on the relegation battle - but despite the anxious gnashing and wailing emanating from Teesside after the sickening late sucker punch KO delivered by Reading it is not Boro that they have shifted closer to the trapdoor.
Yes, Boro slipped back within touching distance of the basement battlers after that coupon busting kick in the teeth - in truth they have never really been far beyond it, even after the recent purple patch - but the crucial results prompted bookies to slash the odds on not our heroes but on Bolton, battered 3-1 by Liverpool, and crisis club Newcastle, caught cold late on at home to Blackburn to lose 1-0. As far as the number-crunchers are concerned it is they, not Boro, who are looking increasingly vulnerable to being sucked in towards financial oblivion.