This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest events in English sporting history, no most likely THE greatest moment, namely the winning of the World Cup in 1966. One Middlesbrough man was right there in the front line of action on the bench, assisting England boss Alf Ramsay all the way. Middlesbrough and England trainer, Harold Shepherdson is featured in a new mini exhibition at Dorman Museum.

In a quiet corner of Middlesbrough’s free town centre museum there is a display celebrating our major part in the 1966 World Cup. Harold Shepherdson’s role in the finals is explored as well as a second story that made footballing history right here in Middlesbrough. The day in July 1966 when the town had a starring role in the 1966 World Cup.

World Cup 1966The 1966 World Cup final was England’s only home finals and of course even now half a century later the final victory remains our greatest football triumph. But there was a second big story from the 1966 World Cup and it was played out in Middlesbrough. One of the greatest giant killings in international football history happened right here, less than a mile from the museum at Boro’s former home of Ayresome Park.

Middlesbrough and the 1966 World Cup looks at the story of the unforgettable games played at Ayresome Park, alongside the invaluable contribution made to England’s World Cup success by a Middlesbrough great – Harold Shepherdson.

The exhibition is open now and is the first in a series under the umbrella title of “From the Bob End” looking at the history of Middlesbrough Football Club.

The Dorman Museum has teamed up with a group of Middlesbrough supporters, collectors and enthusiasts, affiliated to the Durham Amateur Football Trust (DAFT), who are researching and gathering collections of supporting historic material, souvenirs and commemorative items to stage these small changing glimpses into fascinating aspects of Middlesbrough’s football heritage.

World Cup exhibitionThe main feature is the remarkable story of outsiders North Korea, a team taken to heart by fans of the area and supported to a shock defeat of favourites Italy at Ayresome Park in July 1966. The displays include posters, banners, badges, programmes and tickets mainly relating to the North Korean team and their later return visit to Middlesbrough in 2002.

Also included is the story of Harold Shepherdson, the England trainer who, with Sir Alf Ramsey (original letter of appreciation from Sir Alf included in the display), took the England team on to their only World Cup final success at Wembley.

You can see the actual blue, three lion-badged tracksuit that Shepherdson wore on that momentous day, along with many mementoes of his illustrious career.

From the Bob End: Middlesbrough and the 1966 World Cup will be followed by the story of Middlesbrough’s great 1926-27 season, starting on Saturday, September 17.

Senior Curator Museums Phil Philo said: “It is a real privilege to have the support of these enthusiastic and knowledgeable Middlesbrough supporters who have given freely of their time and generously lent their fascinating collections to share with our visitors to bring this amazing story to life.

“The Museum hopes that “From the Bob End” will go from strength to strength.”

The display can be seen during Dorman Museum opening hours: Tue – Sun (& Bank Holiday Monday) 9.30am-4.30pm. Closed Mondays. Remember Dorman Museum is free. It has to be a must visit in the school holidays.



Running Through Boro’s History

If you are from the generation that has grown up in the past 20 years then all you will know is the Riverside era of Boro watching. A guided run at the weekend aimed to look back at all the Boro venues that came before in the long and definitely winding trail that led to 1995 and the start of first class football in the first class stadium in Middlehaven.

History Runner, and chair of Swift-tees, Michael McCann led a group of runners of all ages and genders around the four former homes of Middlesbrough FC. Members of Community running group Swift-tees and athletic friends from over the river, in Billingham Marsh House Harriers were more than willing participants as Mike told his Boro tales. Setting the context in the development of football as a booming sport in the late nineteenth century Mike exploded the foundation myth of the tripe supper, a very unlikely supper for the gentlemen of Middlesbrough cricket club looking for sporting exercise for their players during the winter. The gymnasium of the now empty Albert Park Hotel was the venue for the historic first meeting some 140 years ago this year.

archery groundThe run set off in soaring temperatures and bright blue skies, very apt for the running Swifts, a name also utilised, as Mike pointed out, for the second team in the early days of the club. From a 35 a side knock around in the old cricket ground in Albert Park the fledgling club started playing home games on the adjacent Archery Ground. The first recorded game here ended 1-1 with Tees Wanderers. The main problem seemed to be finding opposition as football clubs were still far and few in these early days of the game.

As crowds began to build for matches, Middlesbrough were soon given their marching orders by aggrieved parkies. A local farmer, Mr Kemp was only too keen to step in and offer the rent of his field at Breckon Hill. The only trouble is he soon wanted a bigger cut as he eyed up of all the coins collected as gate money.

Middlesbrough’s first proper sports ground was at Linthorpe Road, playing at the ground entered along Clifton Street from 1879. The first changing rooms were over the “road” at Swatters Carr Hotel. A stand was erected along one side and a big fence to keep out all those not prepared to pay. Although this wouldn’t have stopped the more adventurous from climbing a tree to steal a view from the plantation at the far end of the ground.

Mike told us of how the club made momentous leaps forward while playing at Linthorpe Road. Soon champions of the Northern League, the second oldest football league in the world. Then twice winners of the FA Amateur Cup, before turning professional and entering the Football League.

Back towards Albert Park the Swifts and Harriers jogged and along Kensington Road, then a farm track to Old Gate Farm. Here on the outskirts of the growing new town, a field here, known as the Paradise Ground, after a tiny church building became home to the breakaway club, Middlesbrough Ironopolis. The team playing in maroon and green stripes turned professional while Middlesbrough initially stubbornly remained amateur. Ironopolis were actually the first Middlesbrough club to play in the Football League in 1893. Sadly the Infant Hercules was perhaps too Infant to support two football clubs and the Nops rise to fame was all too fleeting as they lost a fortune and crashed out of business.

It is in the Turnstile that Mike McCann handed over to the fanzine editor and Ayresome resident, Robert Nichols to guide the tour around the sculpture trail created by artist Neville Gabie to commemorate Middlesbrough’s home for 92 years. The stadium built by celebrated Scottish football engineer, Archibald Leitch was opened to an incredible crowd of 30 000 in 1903. More than the 24 000 then capacity that watched the final game in 1995. Boro’s Joe Cassidy was the first goal scorer though sadly we were defeated by Sunderland in this Tees Wear derby opener at Ayresome Park. Which is probably something I should have said while guiding the large party of runners around the sculptures hidden away in the modern housing estate.

holgate wallWe paused alongside only remaining structure from the former grounds, the Holgate Wall, once built to keep residents of the Workhouse in and later heightened to stop people legging over the wall for free in the 1966 World Cup.

Goal scorer Pak Do Ik and seven survivors plus the coach from the North Korea team that defeated Italy here in July 50 years ago revisited in 2002. Although initially bemused and disappointed to find the scene of their triumph no longer standing they were quite overcome with emotion at hearing that artist Neville Gabie had marked Pak’s winning goal with a tiny pitch puddle sculpture, the only art work recording a player’s achievements on the former ground site.

After taking a look at the centre circle the runners returned to Albert Park to recreate the first game of 1876 and another near 35 a side match on the old Archery Ground. A post match picnic was eagerly devoured and the signed match ball raffled to raise over £100 for Mike McCann’s chosen prostrate cancer, Mike being a survivor of this cancer, it is a charity close to his heart.

archery ground gameThanks to Mike, for all the research and top delivery, the staff at Albert Park, the expert marshals from Swift-tees and everyone from Swift-tees and Billingham Marsh House Harriers for making this a special event in this summer of our Premier promotion.

The next step will be to hopefully turn the former Boro grounds into a guided trail so that everyone can follow it and unpick the 140 years of our football club whilst keeping fit.

Thank you Kerri Muldowney for allowing me to swipe your photos and Michelle Bytheway for the image below.

albert park boro run


In Their (Sixth) Element

There is an indie publisher that is helping local authors realise their dreams. Over the last year or so I have come across several books that have been published right here on Teesside by Sixth Element Publishing. The Billingham Green based business produce books with a professional finish, the recent We Are Premier League being a real case in point. They are also responsible for bringing some great new talent to our book shelves, such as Will Net and author of the Middlesbrough Holmes stories, Mel Small.

I met up with Gillie Hatton of Sixth Element recently and talked to her about all the various services and support they offer aspiring authors. We started by Gillie telling me about one of their Self Publishing Workshops. They are proving very popular and extremely useful.

sixth elementQ: You had a recent event with Sixth Element.

Gillie: It was a self publishing workshop. It is aimed at people who are writing or have written a book and who have made the decision that they want to do something with it. So whether that is getting it ready to send out to an agent or publisher to go down the traditional route or whether they want to actually want to self publish it themselves.

sixth kherisIt is a friendly, informal get together where we can go so some of the process. What it takes to go from a written manuscript through the editing process. The revising, editing and proof reading and getting the story and the book actually right. Then taking people through what it takes to turn that into a book on the shelf. So it is things like typesetting. Some of the tips and hints from the trade that make it look like a real book from any of the big publishers, to little things that you can do that make it look right as opposed to looking self published and home made. Things like getting the cover designed right, writing the blurb. Getting an ISBN Number. How to get it on Amazon. How to get your online platform with twitter and facebook and Amazon. Get it all set up.

We could take for hours or even days but we squash it into one or two hours. On Saturday 25th June we had just one hour. The way we do it is to see who is there and what they are interested in and we go through the process and then if people have specific questions we are happy to wing it and see if we can help people. As a writer you are quite isolated. Even if you have a big publisher a lot of the sales and marketing is left to you on your own.

What we try to do is take you by the hand and give a bit of support and confidence to do it. That could mean a book is published as opposed to not being published.

Q: You are speaking from experience of having been in publishing for several years.

sith holmesG: Yes we have been doing this for six years now. We do non fiction and non fiction. We do through the whole range from science fiction, crime, thrillers, we have done erotic books. Non fiction, we have done humorous, football, local interest. We have had some brilliant writers from the local area that have written about the local area. Some have been fictionalised like Mel Small and his Holmes volumes. Based in Middlesbrough with fictional characters. My Only Boro is one of ours with Will Net, which is non fiction and is a walk through the town’s history and the football club but with such an edge of humour it is so dry. It has been constantly in print for the last 5 years and it is still popular.

We can help people by taking what they’ve got if it is a bit raw and polish it up or give them the knowledge that they can go and do it themselves confidently to end up with a really good book.

We can go right from mentoring to one to one sessions. We can help people get their story right. Even things like point of view, structure, plot. Then down to the nitty gritty of how to format dialogue and how to set up your word document with the indents and getting the line spacing right. Right the way through to helping them make sales, do book signings, write press releases. Get a website up and running.

Q: A great service there that you are delivering to people here locally.

sixth element 1G: We don’t just work with local writers, for instance we have worked with a writer down in Cornwall over the phone. We like actually talking to people and finding out exactly what they want to do with their book and where they want to go with it and how they want it to be. So we do like working face to face. Meeting up and talking about someone’s book is fantastic.

Q: Have you found that there are a lot of writers out there and a lot of talent?

G: Yes, we were surprised. We did the self publishing day last summer for Crossing The Tees and we did one at Storytellers pub in Stockton with Drake’s bookshop in Stockton. It is fantastic to have a bookshop in Stockton. We have been really chuffed with the number of people that have come up and said I am writing a book. It is really encouraging that there are people in this area that want to do it and actually get their books out there.

Q: You have got this brand new publication We Are Premier League photographs from the final game of the season, Boro v Brighton. The promotion cliff hanger. Tell us about it please.

we are premier leagueG: What we wanted to do was capture the emotion of the crowd; it is all about the fans and the people of Middlesbrough on that day. It was lunch time kick off, a really cold, misty day and it was the crowds going to the game and then everyone coming out of the game afterwards. Whether we had a book or not hinged on the final whistle. It had be promotion, it was no good dropping down to the play offs, it had to be guaranteed clinched promotion. The whole future of the town seemed to rest on those nine minutes of extra time and just whether Middlesbrough were going to do it. When they did it was amazing. Everybody going in was so excited and up for it. The atmosphere inside the ground was incredible. Afterwards it was just as if people were almost stunned, so emotional.

There were people outside crying just willing those minutes to go and the referee to blow his whistle. The whole town was waiting for the moment to see whether it was going to be OK or not. And it was and it was brilliant. Actually taking pictures of everyone coming out.

boro fans gillieQ: So there are photos of people before and after and you see the emotions written across peoples faces, of tension and delight.
G: Yes, everybody going in was up for it, come on lets do it. Coming out it was just such an emotional.. I think people were stunned. People sent us pictures from inside, the reactions after the game where people were so amazed and it was such good feeling that it actually happened. To think that the Premier League is coming to Middlesbrough next season is awesome.

Q: It is a Premier quality publication because the photos are so good and have been so well reproduced.

G: Thank you.

Q: It has been printed in Middlesbrough as well, hasn’t it?

G: Yes it is printed in Middlesbrough with a really fast turn around. We are very grateful for the printers for working with us on it. The pictures are a mixture of digital and film. So those taken on film we didn’t know for a week afterwards whether we had any pictures or not. You take digital pictures you can see straight away. As for the Film it was just amazing and magical for it to come back.

boro fan bnwQ: You have got the contrast in techniques as well.

G: Yes. And the black and white and the red. A lot of people have said that the black and white images are just incredible.

Q: There will be a lot of people unaware that they have been photographed in this book.

G: Yes, we have people now saying look there is so and so etc.

Q: It is on sale at WH SMITHS, Teesside Park and where else.

G: Middlesbrough Cleveland Centre WH SMITHS have got it now as well. And at MFC Retail (Boro shop). And you can get it direct from the website too.



Roll Up For Stewart Parkrun 4th Birthday

Time to pull on your trainers and get down the park. There will be a birthday party with cakes waiting for you at the end of a run tomorrow morning at Stewart Park, Marton.

Saturday (9th July) is the 4th birthday of Stewart Parkrun. When set up Middlesbrough was the first provincial town in the country to hold two of these free weekly community runs. The original Albert Parkrun was so popular the runners was bursting off the paths. We are obviously such fitness fiends in this town that we needed a second venue. Thankfully the council were fully behind the initiative. A heritage lottery grant for Stewart Park resulted in amongst other things a new perimeter path for the park. Sharon Caddell was the name of the person charged with taking the run to the Marton park and what a success it has been.

parkrun 1Parkruns have exploded into parks all over the country and indeed in Europe and even further afield. It is a simple but highly effective premise. A 3 mile run is a target most people can aim to achieve. Perhaps starting by jogging and walking and building up to a full run. The starting time is always 9am on a Saturday and everyone is timed around the course. You register first, print off a barcode and then your time is logged.

You can just do it for the fun but you can also compare your times and indeed compare yourself nationally to others in your age group. If you like stats there are endless possibilities here. The stat I like is after 50 runs you get a t-shirt. Then another after 100. I am only a couple off my 250th t-shirt. That represents a few years of getting up early on Saturday mornings to run around a park. I feel I have earned it.

Even without the t-shirt rewards it is so worth it because the community spirit is something else. It is volunteers that make the runs possible. Then afterwards there is usually a chance for a natter and a tea and a cake at the park café. Many natter during the runs themselves but quite frankly I haven’t got that kind of energy or multi tasking skills. As for the cakes, well, what is the point of doing all that work and burning off calories if you cannot stick them back on again?

Parkruns are open to all ages and all levels of ability. The underlying ethos is that it is a run in the park not a race. Of course many do take their times very seriously indeed but it is the community running together that is the most important aspect. It is a weekly even that brings people together. Not so much self help, more everyone helping everyone else to be a little fitter.

This summer there will also be a junior parkrun coming to the town around Hemlington Lake This will be a real rallying point to keep the town’s youngsters fit. Starting on August 14th children from 4 up to 14 will be able to tackle this 2 km course. Kids of all ages are also welcome at the Saturday parkruns but under 11s must be accompanied around the course.

As a teacher friend of mine once said the real benefits of this (inter)national phenomenon will be counted in a generation’s time when there could be a fall in projected hospital admissions and health demands because of the preventative benefits of a free weekly run in the park.

So go to the parkrun page register, print off a barcode and bring it along. The run is free but bring a couple of quid for tea at Henry’s cafe afterwards. Turn up about 8.45am. Park up at Ladgate lane car park and then follow the pied piper of runners up the bank to Captain Cook Museum, the starting point at 9am for Stewart Parkrun, twice round the park. See you for cake afterwards.


Teesside’s Industrial Gladiators

Paint What You See and What You Know – That was the guidance given by his art teachers at Sarah Metcalfe School Secondary Modern School to Brian Collins and he has held fast to that motto in an exhibition about the workers and works of Teesside. Inside knowledge of the processes and labour and technical prowess required to keep the towers and smoke stacks operating has been harnessed to provide a revealing exhibition.

industrial 1There is poetry in some of these paintings of the working river as well as a great deal of sweat and toil. The brilliant night shows to rival any Lumière are captured, colour exploding from stacks and Brian’s palate. You feel admiration for the workers expertise in battling faults, correcting outages and failures in the plants and keeping us all safe.

industrail tall 1As well as Brian’s painting there is an exhibition presented by the Heritage Gallery and Janet Jeffrey of black and white archive photo footage and newspaper reports about the Cargo Fleet Works that once surrounded the former office block HQ that now houses the gallery. It puts Brian’s paintings in a historical context in what has always been Teesside’s industrial corridor on the south bank of the Tees.

The Heritage Gallery is one of the more vibrant galleries in Teesside today as the Iron Company Coffee House bistro always seems to be busy. In fact it is very much a canteen for those working in the modern office block, the nearby industrial estate and workers at the surviving heavy industry in the vicinity. So, once again the exhibition could not be in a more apt setting.

Brian Collins worked as a fitter for 40 years in the petrochemical industry here on Teesside, away from his day work he is a skilled painter. He honed his skills at after school art classes along with David Mulholland, Len Tabner and Dave Watson. Not bad company to keep and like that group his painting is based on acute drawing skills as well as keen observation in the field and an intimate knowledge of his subject.

industrial tall 2I have not seen a similar exhibition before, an inside track into the Wilton complex. It reveals some of the secrets behind the industrial complexes that we all view in passing as we speed past on the A174. I find it as fascinating as the arresting sight of the works themselves.

Sadly after 40 years in the trade Brian was handed his cards. A sour way to end an association with an industry he has given great service to as well as celebrating to in this exceptional exhibition.

With Cargo Fleet once being the headquarters of British Steel in Teesside, the exhibition should stir memories of work in the steel works as well as the former ICI petrochemical industry.

Teesside’s Industrial Gladiators will be showing until 5th August. The Heritage Gallery is in the old Cargo Fleet Works and then Langbaurgh Council Office Block and is free of charge and open 8.30am-5pm Monday to Friday. Do sample the gorgeous home cooked meals and snacks at Iron Company Coffee House (8.30am to 3pm).

industrial archive 1

industrial 2