Spyin' Kop: Middlesborough, Them and Us.

Posted by Armin on November 17, 2004, 08:43:24 PM

Now that we have recovered from soundly beating Palace by the resounding total of three goals to two the Redmen go to  the Riverside this week.  Middlesborough are our next opponents or should that be 'Moresborough' as this weeks' Spyin' Kop brings you not one, not two, not four but three different viewpoints from the boys located way up somewhere in the North East.  There's no getting away from it, it's a rather long one this week, as the actress said to the bishop.  I hope you'll agree however that its worth the time as our three contributors, Jon from BoroBarmy.com, Steve from ComeonBoro.com and Chris Fegan from Bororules.co.uk have done us and themselves proud with some excellent and thought provoking answers.  RAWK as ever would like to thank them all for kindly giving us their thoughts. 

On with the questions:

RAWK: How has the season been shaping up for 'Boro?

Jon: Pretty good! This season we thought it would be tough because of our first
ever European campaign, but were fourth in the league - not a bad start!

Steve: Very well indeed so far. We've been breaking hoodoos all over the place this
season, for example, our bad habit of beating the top sides and losing to teams at the
bottom. We look stronger than we have done for years and being fifth in the Premier League
and top of our European group sums it all up really. Let's hope we can keep that going.

Chris: The season for Boro has gone quite well so far, apart from getting knocked
out of the Carling Cup! We have a strong squad and it is helping us do pretty well so far.

RAWK: What are your expectations for this season? Have they changed from day one?

Jon: We wanted to do well in all competitions - especially in the UEFA Cup and
Premiership - but I think the start we've made puts a bit more pressure on
to carry on the good form.

Steve: Not at all. I state on our site that I expect a top six finish, to win the
FA Cup and to do reasonably well in Europe and with around a third of the season gone, I
stand by those predictions 100%.

Chris: I think the expectations of many of the Boro fans for this season have not
changed, apart from winning the Carling Cup again. I personally expect Boro to finish in a
top six position and qualify for Europe again; however I am not expecting us to go all the
way in the UEFA Cup. We will qualify for the knockout stages but I think we may find it
tough after the group stage.

RAWK: Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

Jon: George Boateng has been class all season - and with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
up front, we've finally got a quality goalscorer as well.

Steve: I can't name just one because we have so many important players in this
current squad. The outfield standout players are Ray Parlour, Franck Queudrue and George
Boateng at the moment. This side is built on a rock solid midfield and a hard to break
down defence. Stewart Downing is working wonders at present and Bolo Zenden is on fire as
well. I must mention our goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer who has saved countless points for us
this season and just gets better with every campaign.

Chris: I think our most important player is Gareth Southgate, as he is our captain
and encourages the whole team. He has a very commanding presence when he is one the pitch
and does well to control the side. I also think that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink will be a key
player for us this year, hopefully scoring plenty of goals for us.

RAWK: Your worst player(s)?

Jon: Few and far between, thankfully! I don't think there is any player in the
team that doesn't deserve to be there.

Steve: This is the most difficult question of the lot because I can't rightfully
criticise any of the current squad right now. What I will say is that sometimes when I
watch Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink play, I think that he could try a little harder to win the
ball but he is one hell of a striker. Joseph Job can also be a little lazy at times and
Mark Viduka is not on top of his game right now. Thinking about what I have just written,
that's all three of our main strikers I have just named there. That's worrying but these are
really minor points because all three have had more than their fair share of memorable
moments this season, especially Jimmy. And Mark will be back on form in the not too distant
future, you can be assured of that.

Chris: I wouldn’t say we have a worst player at the moment, as the whole squad is
playing well.

RAWK: What do you expect in the way of singing, etc from our away support?  Do
we compare well and how do you rate the Riverside atmosphere?

Jon: Liverpool are always vociferous with your following - and games against you
are usually full of decent football. Our atmosphere varies - against Lazio
it was superb, but it largely depends on how the first few minutes of the
game go.

Steve: I don't get to go to The Riverside as often as I would like to, as I live
quite a long way from Teesside at the moment but when I do get there, I think that the
atmosphere is good, despite what some people say about it being too quiet. We lifted the
roof against Lazio and I think that Boro's support is generally regarded as being one of
the most passionate in the country. Despite Liverpool's relative downturn in fortunes over
the last decade or so, Anfield remains one of the most intimidating grounds to go to and
The Kop still has that aura about it. I still remain convinced that we will beat you there
one day soon though.

Chris: I expect the Liverpool away supporters to be quite loud and encouraging for
their team. I think that the atmosphere at the Riverside can be a bit quiet at times and
sometime the Boro fans need encouraging to get going. However I think with the game being
against Liverpool there will be a good atmosphere and both sets of fans will perform well.

RAWK: Do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between our
clubs?  Say something that happened to you that day or a decision you
disagreed with?

Jon: I think the couple of games that stand out are Ravanelli's first game in a
Boro shirt - we drew 3-3, and he scored a hat trick. Excellent game! And the
Coca Cola semi-final where we were 2-1 down after the first leg at Anfield,
and scored 2 early goals to go through to the final - although we lost as
was traditional in those days!

Steve: The first time I saw Keegan, McDermott, Toshack et all at Ayresome Park was
a bit special but the second time that I went to a Boro Liverpool game was in around 1977
and it was the last day of the season. The place was well sold out and the only option was
to go in the away end, which we did. I was about 11 years old and instructed to stay
quiet, which I found almost impossible to do as we actually won 1-0.
Who can ever forget Ravanelli's hat trick in our 3-3 opening day match in 96 and the
League Cup semi final second leg when as underdogs, we put in one of our best performances

Chris: I remember the atmosphere at the Riverside for the game after Christian
Zeige transferred to Anfield. As far as I can remember he didn’t actually play in the
game, or come to the game for that matter. However the atmosphere was a bit hostile as a
lot of resentment centred around that transfer.

RAWK: Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about?

Jon: Think most people know about Stewart Downing by now - but our right back,
Tony McMahon who has played the last few games has come in and done very
well. He might well lose his place when Reiziger is fit, but he's shown he
will be a great asset.

Steve: We won the FA Youth Cup last year and Tony McMahon and James Morrison have
already broken into the first team with Danny Graham on the fringes. There are eight more
of them just waiting for their chance and the future is looking very bright for Boro.

Chris: One of Boro’s Under 18 stars is Anthony Peacock, a talented midfielder, who
was part of Boro’s FA Youth Cup winning squad. He has established himself Boro’s Reserve
side and came onto the first team scene when he was included in the UEFA Cup squad. He is
also has international colours after representing England at youth level.

RAWK: What impression have you made of Steve Mclaren as a manager?  Will he
stick around or is he just waiting for Nancy to pack Svens bags?

Jon: He's only got 18 months left on his contract, so I think it largely depends
on how well we do this season. He's well respected as a coach, but whether
he would miss the day to day stuff if he left for England, I don't know.

Steve: He's obviously the clear favourite to replace The Swedish Chef when he does
eventually go and you can't stand in the way of anyone who is offered the top job but he
most certainly isn't just waiting around for that opportunity. He's built on what Bryan
Robson achieved and is our most successful manager ever. This is his team and he is
continuing to develop it and improve it. McClaren is Boro through and through, is doing a
great job and is totally committed to the Boro cause.

Chris: McClaren has made a good impression on me through his time at the club. I
think he still has some learning to do as a manager but he has shown that he has go what
it takes, by bringing a first major piece of silverware to the club.

RAWK: What sort of line-up will Steve Mclaren put out against us?

Jon: Probably the same one that's played the last few games - namely - Schwarzer;
McMahon, Southgate, Riggott, Queudrue; Parlour, Zenden, Boateng, Downing;
Hasselbaink, Viduka.

Steve: Our strongest line up, that's for sure but there may be two changes from
Sunday's game at West Brom. Mark Viduka is badly lacking form at the moment so he may not
play the full ninety with Joseph Job starting instead. Michael Reiziger is back in
training and I am sure that as soon as he is fit, he will be straight back in the team,
allowing Tony McMahon to take a break. I personally think McMahon is better than Reiziger
but I don't pick the team. Apart from those two possible changes, I think it will be the
same side as yesterday.

Chris: I think he will stick with the 4-4-2 formation that has served us well all
season. He shouldn’t be too complacent after the Carling Cup defeat at Anfield and I think
he will put out a strong team. We have a lot of experience in our squad and I don’t think
Steve will have a need to use the youngsters too much.

RAWK: Do you have a favourite/best chant(s) and perhaps any that require an

Jon: Bolo Zenden didn't have the best of starts at the Boro, and this one
appeared after the Carling Cup final

There's only one Bolo Zenden,
One Bolo Zenden
We thought he was s***e
But now he's alright
Walking in a Zenden wonderland.

Steve: We're very imaginative when it comes to songs at the Boro and at
ComeOnBoro.com, we have recently received a fair number of additions to our lyrics section
from fans who have made up new songs. My personal favourites are 'The Holgate Roar' and
this little ditty that was composed by The Wizard of Smog, to the tune of Jingle Bells.

Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way
Oh what fun it was to see the skunks lose in Marseille
Bellamy’s a c*nt
Bowyer is a twat
Shepherd’s shagging prostitutes
In a council flat
It really is a shame
It’s really just not fair
The skunks have won fuck all again
And we’ve got silverware!
Oh, Jingle bells etc...
and this one to the tune of Blaydon Races-
Wor me lads, you should have seen them gannin
Shepherd and Hall where having a ball
They said in the Sunday papers
The fans are shite, they're not too bright
The lasses have ugly faces
Oh what a terrible stench there is
In the boardroom at St James'
Your supporters will require an explanation to the cry of 'But a pizza, buy a pizza, get
one free'. When we played Banik Ostrava in the UEFA Cup, their fans would constantly shout
out 'Banik pisa, Banik pisa, something something, something' and it sounded like 'But a
pizza, buy a pizza, get one free'. The literal translation of the Banik chant is 'Banik
are good, Banik are good, you are pussies'.

Chris: I think the favourite chant of the Boro fans is “C’mon Boro”, not the most
glamorous but still it is a good oldie!

RAWK: Where do you expect 'Boro and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?

Jon: Liverpool should finish above Boro - we have a history of fading badly after
Christmas - but the way we've started, the gap might not be as big as in
previous seasons!

Steve: As I said earlier, sixth place is reserved for Boro. Liverpool seem to be
improving all the time and I fancy you for a Champions League place again next season. You
may even finish in third place because I don't see your neighbours sustaining their
impressive position for much longer.

Chris: The Premier League is a tough competition and predictions can so often go
wrong, however I expect Boro to finish in the top 6and Liverpool to finish in the top 8.
Although if Milan Baros plays like he did against Crystal Palace then things could be

RAWK: Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

Jon: Luis Garcia looks to be a class acquisition - and Milan Baros is on fire at
the moment. I also gather that Gerrard could be back for Saturday. Could he
not have waited another week?! And all the best to Cisse as well -

Steve: Milan Baros is looking hot at the moment and I worry that he may turn Gareth
Southgate over. Gareth is still a solid centre half but he seems to be losing a little
pace now, probably due to last season's knee injuries and he has been caught out a couple
of times this season. Could happen again against you lot. 

Chris: At the moment I think Baros will be the biggest threat to us, it would be
interesting to see if Mellor gets a run in the team against us, if he does I think we
will have to man mark him!!

RAWK: And your feelings on the new 'Spanish flavour' Liverpool. Senor 'Rafa'
Benitez and our new latin recruits?

Jon: I remember Liverpool in the 80's, with top quality British based players,
with a sprinkling of foreigners in. It's a shame, but times change - and
it's now the other way round. I think Benitez will do very well for you

Steve: Rafa seems to be the right man for the job as you seem to have improved a
lot since last season. I have read about some of his methods and philosophies and I think
that he will take you a long way. I have only seen Liverpool a couple of times this season
but you are interesting to watch and you can see the direction that Rafa is going in.
Having said that, I prefer to judge overseas recruits when the winter is over to see if
they have survived it. They're not used to playing over the festive season and this could
have a big impact on their overall season's performance.

Chris: I think ‘Rafa’ has been an inspirational signing for Liverpool. He has
brought his own style in to the club and I think he has given the club the lift that it
needed. I he continues to influence the team like he has been and making good managerial
decisions then Liverpool could do well this season.

RAWK: As you may know our board are considering a move from Anfield to a new
stadium in nearby Stanley Park.  How have you felt leaving Ayrsome Park
and whats the atmosphere like at the new ground?  Are you happy you made
the move?

Jon: I think it's a different situation - we needed to move to bring the club
forward. It was a wrench to leave Ayresome, but most fans knew it was the
only option. It would be sad to see you leave Anfield - so much history and
tradition. I couldn't see Man Utd leave Old Trafford, or Celtic leave
Parkhead though?!

Steve: We've been at The Riverside for ten years now and although our fondest
memories were at Ayresome Park, it was a move that had to happen in order for us to
progress. The choice was clear after the Taylor Report- redevelop Ayresome or build a new
stadium. Because Ayresome was in the middle of streets of terraced housing, we could only
have developed it by a certain amount but with The Riverside, it is possible to take it to
whatever capacity we can hold. The new stadium has also been instrumental in allowing us
to attract bigger name players and be taken seriously by Europe.

Chris: Leaving Ayresome Park was a major part of the club’s history and it was very
emotional. At the time the club had two options, expand and modify Ayresome (very costly)
or move to a brand new stadium.  I think that moving to the Riverside was the best thing
that Boro have done as it was the start of a new era at the club. New manager, new ground,
new team and new prospects.
The atmosphere at the stadium can be electric when the fans want to make it that way,
however it can also be very quiet at times. When the fans get going the atmosphere is
generally very good and yes I am happy that Boro made the move to the new stadium.

RAWK: Care to predict the score?  Go on!

Jon: Hopefully, we'll sneak a win, but I'd be happy with an entertaining draw!
2 - 1!

Steve: We owe you one for puttings out of the Carling Cup. Plus, I never ever
predict Boro to lose, so 2-1 to us, Viduka to get back on the scoresheet.

Chris: Prediction time again… well I think that the teams will be very different
from those that played in the Carling Cup and so I think it will be a very good game. It
will be a very close game and if both teams play well like they have been then it will be
a good game to watch.

I’m going to sit on the fence though and although I think it might be a goals a plenty
game I am going to say 2-2.

Thanks once again to the Boro boys who go straight to the top of the Spyin Kop league
table for the depth and detail of their answers.  Thanks also to Mushy whose 'favourite memory' question looks like a winner  :wave

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