by Scott Thornberry - 28th October 2009
The aftermath of 'balloon gate' continued with constant media requests to do interviews. It is interesting that when I do TV or radio appearances some choose to call me a “media whore”, but I can assure you it is them that are chasing me and not the other way around.
I decided against appearing on GMTV, BBC Look North and ITN’s evening news. I still maintain that the FA, Premier League or preferably the match officials in question should give post match interviews to clear up these matters rather than having the likes of myself doing it. However if they keep on asking and paying I will not turn them down, within reason.
It was the World Cup play-offs draw and Ireland copped for France. It is a sign of the financial times though that these ties are seeded. Obviously the TV companies and FIFA want only the biggest countries at the World Cup. I hope that Ireland stuff Platini’s France, but watch out for the appointment of user friendly match officials for the second leg in Paris!!!
I had no idea what was going to happen during this day, otherwise I might have stayed in bed!!! I had decided to go to Glasgow to watch Rangers game against Rumanian minnows Unirea rather than go to the Riverside.
Scottish football, or should I say Rangers and Celtic, are in a mess. Both sides seem incapable of performing unless they are playing each other. The evening started well, a couple of pints and a good meal in the Wee Rangers Club and a second minute goal to put Rangers 1-0 set the night up nicely. As usual though, Rangers dropped back into defensive mode and invited the Rumanians on. It was no surprise when they equalised, Rothen was having a mare and Whittaker, devoid of any cover in front of him, was getting run ragged.
Just as Rangers were awarded a penalty I get a text to say Johnson has scored a pen for Boro, get in, it turns sour though as Davis has his spot kick saved. It was poor kick but the keeper moved, from then on in, it went form bad to worse as the visitors took the piss and Rangers were left a well beaten and battered team.
The highlight of the evening was the fact that Rangers had gifted the 1200 tickets that the visitors had not taken up to the armed forces. There was a mixture of Navy, RAF and Army servicemen and women at the match. Good on you Rangers, a British club with proud traditions - these brave troops fully deserved the warm welcome they received from the Ibrox faithful.
A few drinks post match to numb the pain. The only bright spot was that Boro had beaten Derby County and were now only a point off the top of the table.
Getting back to the hotel, my mate Garry and I were just settling down to a large brandy nightcap when the phone went into overdrive - news was breaking that Gareth Southgate had fell on his sword.
The next hour was spent taking calls and texts on this very surprising end to the day. My feelings on the matter can be read elsewhere on my site. I would add that later on in the week I had contact from GS and he said that “A chapter of his life had closed, but that he had been very proud to have captained and managed the Boro.”
Typical of the man, a true gentleman and someone who in different circumstances could and probably would have brought success comparative to the tools he was given at the club. Before lights out, the news started to break that Chesney Strachan was going to be the new Boro boss. Give me strength. What a fucking day!!!
A long drive home from Glasgow. Still down after last night's crap performance from Rangers, not as suicidal as some though, after a life time of disappointment watching my teams I don’t get that upset any more.
I had more to worry about though, the confirmation that Chesney was coming to town was looking more likely. I heard that Paul Ince wanted the job, but the problem here was that as with Nigel Pearson and other decent possible candidates they would cost money and the club obviously have not got it. In fairness to Strachan he did not have much to beat in the out of work manager stakes, if someone like David O’Leary had been appointed then that would have been reach for the tablets time.
Four hundred miles driving in two days meant I needed another physio session on my knackered back and shoulder, but then required some culture to get away from football. Another trip to the Darlo Civic to see the stage production of Kes. It was very good actually!!!
Pools press conference, audio on my site. As well as looking back at Pools victory at Swindon and looking ahead to the weekend's game with Tranmere Rovers, Chris also gave his views on “balloon gate” and on the sacking of Gareth Southgate.
Bags packed and off on a three day 650 mile round trip. Stop1 was the Village Inn at Headingley to speak at a Charity function organised by Skandia UK to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Moore cancer research charity. They had hoped to make around £2000 - £3000 on the night. I spoke then did the auction, raffle etc, the end result was over £8,000 raised, result!!!
Onwards to Swansea to speak at a function for Treboeth United AFC, another enjoyable night working with welsh comedian “Dickey Heart”, I presume not his real name!! My room was above a club at the venue, so I got to sleep after the last revellers had departed at 2.30am with my alarm set for 7.30am for the 340 miles back to Hartlepool.
Not the best of games but at last I saw them win at home. Boro conceded another last minute goal at Preston, but the Great North air ambulance benefited as I had gone for a draw and a 2-2 score line ( see charity bets page on the site). Darlington’s result perhaps was not a great surprise, but a big hand for the over 300 loyal Quakers fans who made the long journey south to London. Home attendances may not be too good in terms of numbers but the travelling support is percentage wise of home gates probably as good as anyone in the League.
I had “Fetish Bob” in the studios for the Radio Hartlepool phone-in; he is as loyal a supporter as Pools have. His views were, as usual, forthright and coupled with input from the “mayor” the show was lively, with tickets won by a caller for the next home League game against Orient on Nov 14th. Home, knackered a few drinks and did not even last till MOTD.
A day of catching up with MOTD, the Football League Show and two live games. Also, importantly, the FA cup 1st round draw took place.
Darlington have no luck with a trip to Saturday's conquerors Barnet, whilst Hartlepool should be fairly confident of progress and another financially rewarding cup run at home to either of non-league duo, Kettering or Redditch. (Remember Grimsby though).
On Sky Two there were games, three sending’s off and Fergie moaning again. I will cover him in Villain of the Week. Perhaps aware of his pending charges, Fergie actually congratulated the winners Liverpool, but could not resist a pop at the Ref Andre Marriner, who in my humble opinion had a good game.
Andy Gray could not resist having a go at the ref, who was actually correct in not sending off Jamie Carragher. For it to be denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity the opponent has to be moving towards his opponent’s goal. Owen was not in possession of the ball and was actually running diagonally away from goal. Again these are the facts as the law is written and supposed to be interpreted. I would not really expect Fergie to know this though!!!
THE WEEK AHEAD
Another manic week - off to Dundee on Tuesday to watch Rangers CIS cup tie. I must be mad, all that way to watch an underperforming team!! As well as that our horse “Ibrox” is due to run at Southwell, but I had already planned the Dundee trip and the horse may perform better if I am not there!!
I have three speaking engagements this week, so after Pools press conference on Thursday I am off to Coventry, Friday Wetherby races then back to another gig in Lincoln. Saturday night sees me in Burton, so as I cannot get to the Boro game and with Darlo and Pools away games not being conducive with being back in time for the dinner, I think I might go to watch a game in the Derby area.