Gareth Southgate Looks Forward To Riverside Return

Gareth Southgate returns to the Riverside manager’s chair next Monday as the former Boro boss mastermind’s young England against the old enemy Germany. The former Middlesbrough cup final winning centre half and skipper will have a present day Boro centre back in his squad in Ben Gibson. Fingers crossed the Boro regular gets a start in this 7.45pm kick off.

A big crowd is guaranteed with tickets having been snapped up for the chance to see the stars of the future. Some of us will recall back at the dawning of the Riverside Ashley Cole making an England Under 21 appearance. It would be wonderful to think that Ben Gibson could go on to emulate some of Cole’s century of full England caps.

Here is a little interview that Gareth Southgate gave me at the squad reveal press conference at the Riverside last week. Make sure you get one of the remaining tickets to watch this intriguing friendly international, a warm up for the summer’s international tournament.

Q: How are looking forward to coming back and managing at the Riverside?

GS: Yes. I am enjoying the role I have got. They are a really good group of players to work with. Not just the lads this time that are here this time but others through the 18 months. They are not quite where they want to be yet so that means there is a hunger about them and a desire to learn. We are trying to establish a brand of football with all of the junior England teams that this group I guess are a figurehead for and so I do put them under a bit more pressure in terms of how we want to play. But we think they can handle the ball and it is important that they do that in big matches.

Q: It is surely very healthy that we have so many players playing regular first team football.

GS: We have some fantastic academies and Middlesbrough is obviously one of those but at the end of that pathway there has got to be opportunity and thankfully now I think people are getting belief from seeing other young English players go in and doing well and they’re now thinking yes we had got kids at our club that could do that and hopefully over the next couple of years that will snowball.

Q: We are seeing in countries like Spain for instance the emphasis on Under 21s and in the past players Like Juan Mata have stayed at Under 21 level for tournaments to gain experience at that level.

GS: Yes, well I think the only way to do that is to have depth and so over the last year a lot of our lads have moved up to the senior team because Roy has decided to do with some younger players. That will get harder because the group that have gone up we think are strong. We have tried not to draw from our Under 19 group too much. There’s quite a lot of the group that are with us for this trip (Czech Republic and v Germany at Riverside) that are eligible for the next campaign and that’s what we think the level should be for the Under 21s and then underneath that it should be hard for people to progress too quickly. So, we want that exposure to be right. As Roy has done, he will put them in when he thinks there is an opportunity. But we hope that that pathway gets harder and harder to get in and that the standard goes higher and higher.

Q: As for the Middlesbrough Riverside international it must be great to be bringing the Under 21s to a club on the up and having a big season?

GS: Yes, absolutely. I have felt from coming to the game against Birmingham at the beginning of the year that there was a good feel about the place. There has been investment in the team, good coaching in place, good structure in place. And clearly the club are on a high, you can see the amount of away support that is going to matches and that is always a good indication of how a team are doing, From the outside I think they look really well placed, not just because of the way they are playing but the way they are defend as well. That is key to winning championships and they don’t get exposed and that organisation is important.

Q: Talking about defending Ben Gibson is in the squad. He has claimed and kept a place in the Middlesbrough team throughout this season and come on so well to push himself ahead of Kenneth Omeruo or even Jonathan Woodgate to be a regular starter.

GS: Yes. No it is huge credit to Ben. We have really enjoyed working with him, he is an impressive character. He has got good leadership skills. He is developing into a good defender. We think that exposure to international football will help his work with the ball as well. When you have got leaders like him in the side and he is one of the younger ones then that gives you a chance. I think Middlesbrough have got good leadership, I see people like George Friend and Leadbitter and you need those strong personalties really.



Sign Up for the Fifth Riverside Run

Runners limbering up for the 2015 5k Riverside Run are officially under starter’s orders.

The popular road race was officially launched at the Riverside Stadium with The Cleveland Centre on board as the event’s new headline sponsor.

The run – aimed at runners, walkers and charity fundraisers of all ages and abilities – is now in its fifth year and takes place from the Riverside on Sunday, May 31.

That means there’s plenty of time for beginners and couch potatoes to get in shape and join elite athletes and club runners for the colourful family event.

It is a dream event really especially for Boro fans as runners start in the shadow of the Riverside and then work their way past historic landmarks at the Transporter bridge and Dock Clock Tower before catching site of the stadium once more.

Then when you finally enter the Riverside there is a roar from the crowd seated on the far side. It hits you as you enter through the corner tunnel. It is a real buzz moment and almost sweeps you off your feet.

And who could forget the inspirational dash towards the finish line accompanied by the Chariots of Fire theme as you lap the Boro pitch. You find some extra energy as you are cheered on by all the competitors in the junior fun run and friends and families. There are few community events that provide this champions finish. Believe me it is something that lives with you through the year.

The Cleveland Centre 5k Riverside Run was officially launched at the Stadium on Friday (March 6) when representatives from Middlesbrough Council and the shopping centre were joined by members of the local Swift-tees running group.

Councillor Tracy Harvey, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “Middlesbrough is proud to host some of the region’s best running events, and the Riverside Run is growing in popularity every year.

“The 5k is ideal for beginners, and is also a great opportunity for charity fundraisers to raise much needed cash for good causes.

“We’re looking forward to another great turn-out, so I’d urge anyone planning to take part to get their application in soon.”

Cleveland Centre Manager Graeme Skillen said: “As an organisation committed to supporting our local community, Cleveland Centre is delighted to be headline partner for this year’s Riverside Run.

“It is a highly popular and well respected event for runners of all abilities that promotes positive activity and community spirit, as well as helping to raise money for many worthwhile causes.”

The Cleveland Centre 5k Riverside Run will have an entry limit of 2,000 runners and entries to the event will close on Wednesday, May 20 or when the 2,000 runner limit is reached, whichever is sooner.

I would underline again anyone can have a go at running, walking or half, half around the 5km or 3.1 mile in old money, course. The run is pretty much flat a as a pancake but lots of points of interest as it takes you through the core of the old town as well as the heart of new Middlehaven developments. It is ideal for beginners and something to plan towards now. And remember that it all seems so worthwhile with the wonderful experience of being cheered over the finish line inside the Boro stadium.

Application forms to take part will be available at venues across the town and entries can be submitted online.

For further information and training plans on Runmiddlesbrough events visit



Local History: James Smith VC

James Smith

This month marks 100 years since Middlesbrough soldier, James ‘Jim’ Smith returned to Middlesbrough to recover from war injuries sustained during an act of ‘supreme heroism’ that earned him the Victoria’s Cross honour.

Private Smith, whose birth name was James Alexander Glenn, was born in 1880 and was working at Normanby Iron Works when he was called up for the war.

During the outbreak of war, Smith was considered to be a reservist and did not come out of his shell until the events of December 14, 1914.

Whilst under fire at Rogue Bancs, near Neuve Chappelle; Smith helped to rescue wounded men and dragged a dying comrade 200 yards over no-man’s land.

It was this bravery that led to Private Smith receiving the prestigious Victoria’s Cross award.

Smith was wounded in March 1915 and returned to Middlesbrough to convalesce.

Like Tom Dresser, another recipient of the Victoria’s Cross, Smith was given a hero’s welcome and several receptions were held in his honour.

One particular reception was a recruitment meeting for the Teesside Battalion in April 1915 where he was the Guest of Honour.

During this event, the Mayor expressed his gratitude to Smith for his services; afterwards, Smith gave an emotional speech to the huge crowd where he expressed his hope to return to Middlesbrough in the future.
Private Smith would eventually return to the town, but not much is known about his post-war life.

This and other stories about wartime Middlesbrough can be found in the ‘Middlesbrough and The Great War’ exhibition until 6 April 2015, Dorman Museum. Admission is free. Also in Middlesbrough: Remembering 1914-18, by Paul Menzies, published by The History Press and available from the Museum Shop, £12.99.

Image credit: Private James Smith c/o Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life website.


Local History: Tom Dresser VC

Tom DresserTom Dresser is one of only three Middlesbrough men to receive the prestigious Victoria’s Cross for his services during the First World War.

Born on April 6, 1892; he attended St. John’s School in the local town and moved to 65 Marton Road with his family when he was twelve years old.

During the Battle of Arras in Roeux, France on May 12, 1917; Dresser was a Private in 7th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. On this day, Dresser was instrumental in conveying an important message from battalion headquarters to frontline trenches.

In the middle of the raging siege, Dresser had accidentally ended up in one of the German trenches; he was ordered by his Captain to go back to British lines to deliver some Mill bombs.

Along with two other men, he set out with the bombs despite being fired at continuously by the enemy.
Despite being wounded twice and ‘suffering great pain’, Dresser continued on his mission and successfully delivered the arms.

Dresser’s actions were highly praised for his ‘most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty’ and were described as ‘the greatest value to his Battalion at a critical period.’

When he eventually returned to Middlesbrough on September 17, 1917; Dresser received a hero’s welcome with the town mayor and a huge crowd awaiting his arrival.

Once he got off the train, Dresser had to meet and greet with the civic officials before he had the chance to embrace his mother.

Dresser joined the mayor in a procession to the Town Hall where he appeared on the steps to face an ovation from several thousand people.

The evening ended on a high with a ‘Three Cheers!’ for Dresser and his parents.

This and other stories about wartime Middlesbrough can be found in the ‘Middlesbrough and The Great War’ exhibition until 6 April 2015, Dorman Museum. Admission is free. Also in Middlesbrough: Remembering 1914-18, by Paul Menzies, published by The History Press and available from the Museum Shop, £12.99.

Image credit: The Gazette website


Richard Milward – A is for Apples and B is for Baker Street

Ever since his debut 2007 novel Apples, Richard Milward has stormed to the top of the Teesside literary charts. His acne, warts, white lightning an all depictions of disaffected Teesside youth have earned him lavish praise from readers and critics alike and placed him firmly on a national platform.

Keen Boro fan, Richard, has returned to his local roots and is plotting future publications that will no doubt cause just as much of a stir. On the verge of a public reading in the area I decided to tackle the author and ask him a few questions about Teesside and the Boro.

Q: You have been a big chronicler of Teesside life and nightlife. Do you see changes, maybe welcome ones, micro pubs, music venues etc? Maybe. 

Yeah, definitely. Especially since the university’s expanded, there seems to be new places appearing all the time. It’s good to see Baker Street thriving: we’ve been sinking a few in the Twisted Lip recently. When you compare Boro to other similar-sized towns in the UK, the town centre especially has managed to reinvent itself, and save itself from stagnating. While certain pubs and clubs have come and gone, and the town never seems quite as busy on a night as it used to be a decade ago, there’s still plenty of variety.

Q: Richard tell us a little about what you are working on presently, if there is anything you would like to reveal. And how different the experience is for you to your previous books?

I’m writing a couple of novels at the moment. One’s nearly finished: it features a lot of interwoven stories, one of which follows a twelve year-old deaf boxer in South Wales with intense tinnitus, obsessively pushed by his dad to earn some silverware. This book’s a bit different to the previous ones in that it’s involved a lot more research, rather than just dipping into my own past, present and imagination. I’ve been overdosing on boxing research the last few years: interviewing lads in the amateur clubs, talking to our Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell, and struggling to hold a conversation with the young pugilists in a club in Havana. I’m hoping it’ll be out next year but still applying the finishing touches at the minute.

Q: How much do you enjoy reading in public? Do you enjoy the interaction? 

Yeah, I enjoy it a lot. Usually the readings a bit tongue-in-cheek – they tend to involve some sort of daft headgear at least: a wig, or a cardboard tower block.

Q: You are very much a proud Teessider. So, was it a big moment for you and your family to get an honorary doctorate at Tees Uni a couple of years ago?

Yeah, it was a massive surprise, and meant so much to me. I never imagined I’d be offered one, let alone before I turned 30, so it was dead humbling. Teesside has and always will be a huge inspiration to me, so it’s incredible being recognised by the university here. And great to see the campus ballooning every time I wander into town.

Q: What are your favourite things about living here? 

The people, definitely. There’s a real mix of wit, bluntness and self-deprecation that makes for some cracking storytelling on every corner. Hot-shot parmos are a marvel as well.

Q: Are you enjoying this season or is it getting far too nervy?

I’ve been enjoying it a lot. It’s great to see us thriving, having Aitor at the helm for his first full season, and it’s nice hearing all sorts of accolades and respect from the national press too, which makes a change. But aye, I’m sure the hypertension won’t let up until May.

Q: Are you managing to get to many games? Do you think it is looking set to go down to the wire?

I haven’t been to anywhere near as many games as I’d like this season, solely down to tightened purse-strings, but been keeping a sturdy eye on our lads throughout. I’m certain it’ll go down to the wire – it’s such an unpredictable league but I expect the teams around us to continue to linger right up to the bitter end.

Q: If you had to choose between a Wembley play off final win or an automatic 2nd place finish which would you take?

For the sake of my ticker, I’d take the 2nd place finish.

Q: How much of a boost for everyone do you think the Premier League would be?

I’ve enjoyed the Championship a lot, but it definitely feels like high time we were back in the Premier. I reckon it’ll be a great boost – more and more folk seem game for snapping up season tickets. It’d be incredible to see the Riverside full again.

Richard Milward will be appearing with Harry Pearson in a double header at the Waiting Room restaurant next Sunday 22nd March. 

Sunday 22nd March
Harry Pearson + Richard Milward
£6 – 8pm – All Ages
The Waiting Room, 9 Station Road, Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees, TS16 0BU
01642 780465