What’s this? Another Monsieur Salut relative supporting the wrong North-eastern team? Well, the region is like that for a lot of families. Pete Chapman, one of my sister’s lads, was born and grew up in Middlesbrough so could hardly be blamed for his choice of club or, as he puts it himself, their choice of him. This is the first of two Who are You? features ahead of tomorrow’s league cup clash at the SoL. Pete tells Uncle Col he sees Julio Arca’s playing career ending but, maybe, another on the horizon …
Not so long ago, Boro seemed a force in the Premier, scored eight past Man City and attracted top players from overseas. What went wrong?
The game has changed, when the playground was for millionaires, our beloved Steve (one of us) Gibson was a player. I think now the game has moved on, all of the owners are billionaires (or certainly heading that way) and we simply can’t compete financially any more. Add to that the Southgate appointment, in my opinion too early to be appointed as our manager, a few bad signings and the next thing you know you are travelling to Barnsley!
And I asked Harry Pearson, Boro-supporting author, the same last season: are we on the brink of a Boro revival or are they not quite yet good enough to gain promotion?
If Harry’s response was “not yet” I agree. However, this year I can see us going all the way. We currently sit joint second in the league and have so many injuries. When all of them are back we are going to smash this league.
Some North-eastern football fans thrive on passionate rivalry, even hatred, while others always want to win but are happy for the others to be competing at the top. What is your view and where does SAFC/Boro fit into your assessment?
Living in London I must say my hatred of the rest of the North East has mellowed over the years. On top of that it’s hard to genuinely hate them when you have family members who support them (Including your mother, Oh what went wrong Mam). I suppose the ideal scenario would be a BORO/SAFC/NUFC 1,2,3 in the Premier League with all of the cups going to us.
What have been your own highs and lows of supporting Boro?
I remember as a kid, jumping over the wall or getting into the ground as the game was in the last 5 minutes, those days seemed magical. As a kid growing up on Kensington road I used to nick off school and watch them training at Ayresome Park. Then when they went into administration in 86 that was the worst time, not knowing what the next week would bring was truly awful and although the high of being at the EUFA cup final will be a memory I will never forget (particularly Amsterdam the night before the game, where the city was a sea of red and white) the real high for me was the Bruce Rioch years where he and Steve Gibson (with a little help from the smog creators ICI) took us from League 2 to the first division, as it was then. That’s the era that created the bond between Mogga, the club and its fans
Who are the finest players you have seen in the club’s colours, or wish you’d seen, and who should have been allowed nowhere near them?
I have been privileged to see some great players at Boro, some in their youth some not so! I have had this debate with lots of guys over the years and my conclusion has got to be the most exciting player was the Brazilian maestro Juninho, however Ravanelli in his year was awesome. Marco Branca, who once pinched my baby daughter’s face and said “what a beautiful baby” in his Italian accent had the quickest feet I’ve ever seen. Just a shame we got him so late in his career. Alen Boksic, Mark Viduka, Gary Pallister, Emerson, John Hendrie, Bernie Slaven…..there are too many to mention.
I think the worst player I ever saw for the Boro was Phil Whelan, mind you Paul Wilkinson had an awful first touch.
What’s your view of Julio Arca? And aong many players and managers who have been associated with both clubs, Brian Clough, George Hardwick, Stan Anderson, Johnny Crossan and, of course, Alf Common – from before our time – perhaps stand out. Any special thoughts on any of those names?
I like Arca, liked the fact that we nicked him off you…that brought a smile knowing how loved he was there. He has been a solid player, if not sometimes a little frustrating. I think his time at Boro is coming to an end, I know he has settled in the area and I’d like him to join the coaching staff as he could be the next Roberto Di Matteo.
Haha before my time you mean! Obviously Brian Clough I believe makes us all proud that he was a Boro boy, tragic that his career was cut short.
Cup games can have little to do with respective league positions as you showed in our two games last season. How do you see this going?
We are good away from home and as it’s a derby I think we will give you a good game. You have to be favourites as the Premier League team and the home team, but we could nick it.
I am sure – unless you surprised me with our last answer – you feel Boro can keep going. But who will win the League Cup, who will be promoted from the Championship?
It’s going to be a Bradford v Boro final. The Championship I think will be won by Boro, Forest second and Cardiff City through the playoffs
And the Premier top four on order, plus the three clubs doomed to relegation?
What form of cheating most annoys you and what would you do about it?
Throw ins that end up 20 yards further on, and the annoying thing about it is that referees now seem to have a factor that is deemed acceptable. The other thing that really gets me mad is time wasting. Obviously if we are 0-1 on Tuesday in the 90th minute I’ll be all for it as part of the game!
Club vs country. Who wins for you and why?
Club always. I have known a lot of plastic fans over the years and tried to explain that supporting my team is as much about supporting my area as it is about the football club. One analogy I like to give to so called Man U fans is “if a tower block collapsed in Manchester and it’s on the news, a plastic fan wouldn’t bat an eye lid. However, real fans support the area as well as the club, and they would be devastated for the area and its people”. They are the true fans and that is where the passion originally came from.
Will you be at the Stadium of Light for this game? If not how will you keep tabs and what – unless answered above – will be the score?
What’s this? Another
No I can’t make it on a Tuesday night… I’ll watch it on Iraqi goals and my prediction…..0-1 Scott McDonald 92nd minute
* Pete Chapman on Pete Chapman:
I am a lifelong Boro fan who grew up on Kensington Road. I had a view of the corner flag and about 5 yards of turf from my attic bedroom window. As a child growing up in the seventies our front garden was a makeshift hospital where fighting fans could get patched up ready for round 2. Obviously in those days I wasn’t allowed to go to the games. As you can see I didn’t choose Boro, they chose me. And for all the heartache they have caused me over the years I wouldn’t change a thing.
I am 46, have lived in London since 1988 and am a building surveyor currently working in local government.
Interview: Colin Randall