This afternoon we welcome the supporters of Middlesbrough to Hillsborough. 'The Boro' have had an impressive season so far and the appointment of manager Aitor Karanka in late 2013 when he replaced local legend, Tony Mowbray, seems a very shrewd move. As I write these notes on the 19th, Middlesbrough top the table. After winning the League Cup in 2004, the only major trophy the Club has won, and then reaching the Final of the UEFA Cup in 2006 when they were beaten by Sevilla, 'The Boro' gradually went into a period of decline, culminating in relegation in 2009, after 11 unbroken years in the Premiership. However we were convincing winners at the Riverside in August, with the 3-2 scoreline not reflecting the level of our dominance. Let's hope for a similar result today!
Middlesbrough have had some fantastic players over the years. Wilf Mannion, Graeme Souness, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Juninho to name but four. However due to his unbelievable managerial record, and he really was one of the greatest managers of all time, it is easy to forget what a fantastic player and striker Brian Clough was. He was Middlesbrough born and bred and out of all the players that have scored over 200 goals in the English leagues, Brian Clough has the highest goals per game ratio of the lot! He scored 204 goals for Middlesborough in almost as many games and he scored 63 goals for Sunderland in 74 games. In 4 consecutive seasons for Middlesbrough he scored over 40 goals a season. He was quite simply a phenomenal goal scorer before a bad injury curtailed his career at a relatively young age. Despite this, when playing for 'The Boro' he was a controversial, outspoken figure who enjoyed a somewhat fractious relationship with his team-mates. He publicly accused them of not trying, betting against their own team and throwing matches. He was particularly critical of the defenders in his own team; once after a 6-6 draw with Charlton Athletic he lambasted them publicly, demanding to know how many goals would he have to score in a game to secure victory and accusing them of deliberately letting in goals or being totally incompetent. Despite his brilliant goal scoring and being a Boro fan, he regularly put in transfer requests due to his disappointment in the team and particularly how the team defended.
When he was eventually sold to Sunderland, Alan Brown was the manager. Brown of course became our manager between 1964-68 and he was a strict disciplinarian who fined players for even minor indiscretions. I think Brian admired this philosophy and approach and based his own style round it!
There is no doubt though that Cloughy, as he was often called in the media, is a not just a legend at Derby County and Nottingham Forest, two teams he managed to unparalleled success. He is also a Middlesbrough legend and after sustained fund-raising, his home town commissioned a statue of him which was unveiled on 16 May 2007 in the town's Albert Park through which he walked from his home to Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough's former stadium.
R.I.P. Brian Howard Clough, a legend as a player and a manager.
WE ARE STILL RECRUITING
Enjoy the game this afternoon,
Peter Shaw, Wednesdayite