Best in the World

Photo by Tracy Hyman

What does it take to be best in the world? Best in the World arrived at Stockton Arc recently to provide a few insights drawn from the world of darts of what it takes to reach for the stars.

As an audience we are asked to give our best. At the door we are provided with an emergency banana just in case at any point of the evening we feel we are flagging. On closer inspection each banana carries an inspirational motto, mine said “In The Zone,” can I deliver I thought when it matters and truly get into that special area of athletic prowess… in the audience.. for this big live performance.

Our host for the evening, Alex, tells us some stirring stories from the world of darts. Alex reveals to us some of the secrets behing great players like Phil “The Power” Taylor, Eric Bristow and the late Jocky Wilson. He often delves into the story behind the stories. But Alex also recounts big moments from his own life. Big decisions that we all must face and take, for better or for worse. They could perhaps be our 180 moments in life.

Ordinarily I dread the words “audience participation” but in Best in the World there is a real fun involvement for all those watching. And of course we have pledged to give our best. There is also the motivation that we should try and be better than last night’s crowd. In our case Harrogate. Harrogate! Come on if you can’t beat Harrogate!! That would be bad news.

After the show we all got to play darts for the prize of a t-shirt and am glad to say that our team saw off the challenge of Kate Fox, comic, poet, actress and her gang.

It may not quite have been “magic darts” but we were the best in the Arc on Tuesday 15th May.

All in all it was a hugely enjoyable evening with more than a few points to reflect on what personal achievements are all about.

Best in the World is off to Latitude Festival and then a full run through the Edinburgh Festival.



What’s on in Middlesbrough 4 May – 6 May


CongoBrits Trio featuring Robert Maseko
12 noon-1.30pm, Brittan Hall, Teesside University
Robert Maseko is a locally based musician and songwriter, who originally comes from the Congo. He has lived in the UK since 1994, playing and touring with Congobeat, which joins together the best of UK-based Congolese musicians and dancers.
Robert spends a lot of time travelling around the country teaching on educational music workshop programmes, helping to make young British people aware of the diversity of cultures in their country.
Come and enjoy some laidback music, with lunch provided from 12 noon.

Sign up by 6pm for tomorrow’s Albert Parkrun
Every Saturday at 9am join hundreds of friendly runners for 5k. It’s the perfect way to train for the SABIC 5K Riverside Run and ASDA 2K Fun Run on Sunday 13 May.

Bar and Books
6.15-8.30pm, Blu, FREE

Louise Distras + support
Doors: 7pm, The Legion, £2
Support from Frozen Rope, James Auger, Andy Jones + 1 more act.

Jazz Weekender
8pm-2am, Mink Tattoo Coffee Bar, 18+, £5
jazz weekender at mink

Revival – The 3rd Birthday Icons Party
10.30pm-Late, Medicine Bar, £5,18+
Icons are what Revival is all about – John, Paul, Jimi, Sid, Debbie, Liam and Jarvis. So come dressed as your favourite icon and get free entry plus the chance to win dinner for two in La Pharmacie. E-mail with your name and what icon you’re coming as and we’ll stick you on the guest list! Terms and conditions apply, guest list is allocated on a first come first served basis, limited availability.



Soul’ed Out Launch Party
9pm-2am, Dickens Two
Soul, Funk R+B

Headline Honeys Burlesque Show
Doors: 9PM, Spensley’s Emporium, £3 Advance, £5 on door
Burlesque show and market


Albert Parkrun
Every Saturday at 9am join hundreds of friendly runners for 5k. It’s the perfect way to train for the SABIC 5K Riverside Run and ASDA 2K Fun Run on Sunday 13 May.

#wearmima selection day
12-3pm, mima
Be in with the chance to #wearmima! Have the opportunity to wear pieces from mima’s extraordinary jewellery collection and you could end up being featured on BBC’s The Space – a pilot on-demand digital service being run in partnership with the Arts Council.

Come along to #wearmima’s exciting selection day on Saturday May 5th between 12 and 3 pm to view the jewellery and tell us why you want to haul your favourite piece.

A limited number of people will be chosen from the selection day to return to mima on Saturday 19th May to wear the jewellery, which is never normally worn and film a ‘haul video blog’. Haul videos are a recent fashion phenomenon whereby people post videos online showing off their purchases.

Those chosen will say how the jewellery makes them feel, why they chose that piece, what they would wear it with, recent catwalk trends it references, what they think it is made of, why the artist chose to make it and how much they think it is worth.

wear mima

Saturday Art Trolley at mima
1-4pm, mima, FREE
Free hands-on creative sessions, suitable for all the family. Work with mima’s Trolley Leader and the mima Art Trolley packed with all sort of materials for making and creating. Drop in to join in!

Art Trolley at mima

Jazz Weekender continues see Friday
5-7pm, Mink, 5-7pm, FREE

Big Mouth Comedy Club
Doors: 7.15pm, Show: 8.30pm, Middlesbrough Town Hall Crypt, 18+, £12.50
big mouthFeaturing:
Steffan Peddie MC
Mike Wilkinson
Peter Rush
Brian Higgins


Bandstand: The Gran Finale
8pm-2am, The Crown, 18+, £4
Bandstand’s final curtain is coming down after a year and a half of music, madness and mayhem!

The final show see’s the return of The Man Of The Century, all round nice guy, and tash magnet…RICK B ETAMAX. Rumours from the afterlife are that COLIN SPADE-GER and TERRENCE TEN SQUIRRELS have been sending mystical messages to people about Betamax’s inevitiable fate.

Thats the madness….now the music!

PLUG – Opening the show a band who have worked extremely hard on The Sessions lately and are jam packed with potential and talent.



INHALE WRECK SALE – (former members of Big Licks and FOOL)

3 FOOT NINJA – One of the areas best arriving on the last Bandstand with their super first album under their arm! Energy, power and just brilliantness, pleasure to have the boys on!

THE KINGPIN ENTOURAGE (Andy Mac, Rikki Doolan, BLUNT! The Kingpins + more) – Say no more!!!

Afraid to Sleep live at The Princess Alice
8.30pm, The Princess Alice, FREE


Tees Valley Riders: Town Hall to Preston Park
10am, start from Middlesbrough Town Hall
Get into cycling with the friendly folks of Tees Valley Riders.

Jazz Weekender continues see Friday
4-6pm, Mink, 5-7pm, FREE

Cattle & Cane (acoustic) + Sara Dennis
Doors: 7.30pm, The Olde Young Tea House, £5

Spank Holiday Sunday Pop Boudoir Special
10pm-4am, Blu Bar, Free Wristbands before 11pm with a Blu rewards Card/ £1 Without / £5 after







Bingo Players & Third Party
10.30pm-Late,  Arena, Early bird: £6 / Advance £8 / More on the day
Book online
Dutch duo Bingo Players joined by Size records boys Third Party!


Bongo Battle of the Musicians

Last Sunday had a distinctly live musical note down at the Bongo Bar, Middlesbrough where host Weam introduced the five finalists in a battle of the musicans. I was a judge at a competition that stretched back to the Autumn of 2011 but thankfully I wasn’t expected to be a Simon Cowell as this was a distinctly friendly affair. Although there was prize money at stake, everyone was there to put on a show and enjoy an afternoon of top entertainment from some of Teesside’s finest live acts and young rising stars

The Bongo Bar stands right next door to the famous Club Bongo International and the adjoining doors were wide open to allow the audience to grab a bite of curry and liquid refreshment from the bar. If you have never been to this club and bar of Teesside legend then you are in for a surprise. No smoky black hole is this but a multi coloured painted, positively tropical feel club with animal print décor and tribal masks making it a perfect antidote to the grey, wet, cold, drab British weather outside.

James Arthur
James Arthur's on the path to Bongo triumph

The first act, James Arthur set the standard and would take some beating. I had voted him into the final, since when he had auditioned for The Voice, which perhaps gives some indication of his vocal abilities. Really impressive. The singer-songwriter can switch too and from rap in the middle of his songs and make it convincing and not in the least cheesy. His subject matter is frank, personal and often matter of fact. Both wordy and worthy. He doesn’t mind delving into comedy either, all I’m saying you might get more than you bargain for when his microwave goes “ping.”

James is working a lot with a band at the moment, called the James Arthur Band, believe it or not. You can catch them playing live on 18th May at Square One in Middlesbrough.

Second act was a rapper with a Teesside accent, Mayan Ransom. Again he has a great voice and very powerful and tuneful it is too. I liked some of his lines, “If love is the drug then she is the pharmacy.” We were marking on lyrics so I gave this “rapper with The Stone Roses at the top of his play list” high marks in that category. Mayan Ransom certainly packed a lot of passion into his performance.

Cardinal were formerly known as Diamonds in the Dirt and were the first actual band to take to the stage. They certainly blasted away any lingering Sunday afternoon cobwebs with their heavy, bass rich sound, taking us deep down, “Into the Abyss.” The singer remonstrated and demonstrated with his arms as he sang, going walkabout near to the audience. I marked them high for his interaction with the ever growing crowd. The audience reaction was really positive, everyone was in for the ride that soon turned into a “Landslide.”

Frozen Rope were another band I had judged in the heats. Since then they had undergone two line-up changes. The new guitarist and drummer had not diminished any of the intensity from their blues rock. The singer shook his hair loose from his pony tail at the very start he was ready to rock us with songs like “On My Own.” “I Can’t Hide” is available for 79p on itunes and there are plenty more Frozen Rope songs available free through soundcloud.

Finally, last and certainly not least, Jacques and the Giants bounced onto stage. The singer did a lot of bouncing in actual fact. The first song was called “Industries” and grabbed me straight away. Quirky but hard hitting indie guitars and a lead vocalist that is enigmatic, a real focus for the eyes and can sing a bit too. They definitely have something about them. Actually an awful lot about them which was reflected in the marks on my score-sheet. I’m now really keen to grab hold of their new EP which we were told comes with a banana on the front. Splendid.

By this time 5 hours had elapsed. The £2 admission was surely money well spent for all that entertainment. All that was left to do was for Weam to add up the scores from the judges secreted around the venue. Apparently if it had been boxing they might have announced is as a split decision. We didn’t confer at all you see but rumour had it that we all had different designs on who should grab the award. Yet when every mark was compiled together one name came out on top of the pile.

Weam announced the winners is reverse order. Jacques and the Giants had come third, Cardinal second and winner of the Battle of the Musicians and receiving a nice prize for his troubles was James Arthur. Make sure you catch him singing with his band on May 18that Square One. Let’s hope this is a stepping stone to gaining more recognition for this solid gold Teesside Talent.

Photos – Tracy Hyman

James Arthur Bongo Bar


Holgate Wall – Celebrated

Photo by Tracy Hyman
Rob Nichols and John Wilson at Holgate plaque

The Holgate Wall is standing proud. The preservation of the last feature of Ayresome Park was celebrated and given a religious blessing this week. On the anniversary of the final match at Boro’s former home a plaque was unveiled to celebrate nearly 100 years of football heritage.

Work to stop the wall falling into disrepair was completed late last year and on Monday (April 30) a special celebration took place at the wall 12 years to the day since the last ever competitive game at Ayresome Park.

The Holgate Wall originally formed the perimeter of the Holgate Poor Law Institution which was a Victorian workhouse. It would have kept the former inmates inside the institution where they were forced to work out their days in hard labour. Breaking rocks for the crime of falling on hard times.

It eventually acted as an enclosure wall behind the Middlesbrough fans’ Holgate End and is the only remaining part of the Ayresome Park ground. In 1966 when the venue was used for the World Cup the wall was hastily raised in height to keep people from leaping over to watch games for free.

Therefore far more than a pile of bricks the Holgate Wall has had an important role in the heritage and social history of Middlesbrough town and football club.

The future of the Holgate Wall was in doubt after Ayresome Park was demolished in 1997 to make way for 130 new homes. Residents, heritage consultants, local ward councillors and Boro fans campaigned for the wall to be preserved. It was a long, hard fight but one that was eventually won.

Repairing and stabilising work was carried out thanks to a £11,800 grant from Middlesbrough Council’s Capital Programme Small Scheme Allocation and a donation of £12,500 from builders Barratt Homes.

On Monday it was exactly 12 years since Boro beat Luton Town 2-1 in the last ever league game at Ayresome Park in 1995. John Hendrie scored the winning goal that day that eventually proved enough to clinch promotion. A fitting way to say goodbye to the old ground then in footballing triumph.

Twelve years on and those attending this week’s celebration for the saved wall enjoyed a cup of Bovril, in the company of former Boro goalkeeping hero Jim Platt. The former Northern Ireland no.1 had memories of saving a penalty at this end of the ground. There were also councillors present who helped secure the funding. Rob Nichols, resident of Ayresome Park and editor of Boro fanzine Fly Me To The Moon reminisced about standing on the Holgate and the unique atmosphere experienced in the former kop end. Father Pat Keogh came along to give the wall a Catholic blessing.

The small event also marked the installation of an information board erected near the wall to inform passers-by of its significance.

Linthorpe Councillor Julia Rostron said: “To have saved the wall, which is of historical value for the town and to Boro fans, is something to be really proud of and the information board will help ensure its significance will be clear to all.”

Mike Roberts, Managing Director at Barratt North East, said: “This is good news for local residents and the restoration will retain a piece of Middlesbrough’s sporting history for future generations.”

Rob Nichols, editor of Fly Me To The Moon, said the wall will act as a reminder of three important institutions in Middlesbrough’s history – the Work House, the General Hospital and Ayresome Park football ground.

He said: “The football ground was almost like a place of worship for Boro fans for nearly a century. Preserving those bricks in situ means we keep alive great names like Mannion, Hardwick, Clough, Camsell and Maddren.

“I can picture parents and grandparents standing by the wall and passing down tales of the great Ayresome players like passing down family heirlooms.”

The height of the wall has been reduced during repair works due to the foundations not being sufficient to support the wall’s previous height. But now it will stand proud and be able to withstand the rigours of winter as a permanent reminder of Middlesbrough’s sporting history and a monument to some of the darker times of our social history.

Photos Tracy Hyman – above Rob Nichols with John Wilson author of Ayresome Park Memories.

below – Jim Platt remembers with Mike Roberts, Barratt North East.

Father Pat Keogh talks to Lisa McCormick from BBC Tees.

Jim Platt

Father Pat Keogh


Barry Robson Bows Out with Fans Award

Boro players signing on

Barry Robson took the honours when presented with the Official Supporters Club Player of the Season award at the end of season dinner Wed 25th May. The hard working midfielder also scooped the Fmttm 2012 Poll. He was delighted to be bowing out with the fans on his side.

Former Celtic man Robson spoke briefly about the ups, downs and indifferent times since his move south of the border. But injuries apart he had enjoyed his time hugely and it means the world to him that the supporters had always been so accepting towards him.

Robson joined Jason Steele (young player) and Tony McMahon (John Ovington Community award) in taking the honours. About his move to Vancouver he described it as a huge opportunity for his whole family and not a decision they had taken lightly. The timing he thought could be perfect all round as he believed Tony Mowbray would be looking to rebuild this summer. Barry hoped he could go out on a high by leading Boro into the playoffs, Wembley and beyond. Here’s hoping.

It was a top turn out from the first team squad. Every single member was present with the exception of Matthew Bates and Zemmama. All were extremely smartly turned out in suits. Faris Haroun disguising himself in a large hat. The players signed two items for every supporter present. That’s after we had dined on the food. Which as always was top nosh.

There was also big representation from the back room staff. Manager Tony Mowbray, Mark Proctor, Steve Agnew, Neil Bausor and Anthony Emmerson were all present as well as PR and ticket office staff also. The ticket office seemed to do very well on the raffle. Despite buying a massive spread of tickets Tony Mowbray went home empty handed but lets hope that is not the case tomorrow at Watford. Mowbray talked of the excitement of going into the last game with something to play for.

Sadly we didn’t win that last head to head with Watford and failed to break into the play-off positions. Now we have the long wait through three and a half months of the close season before kick off again  Just how many of those players will be lining up again for Boro on August 18th?