Friday, 4 September 2015


Brunton Park today for my first League game of the season. I doubt the playlist will match that at Hillheads last Saturday where we were treated to a half-time selection of Jethro Tull, Foreigner and Rory Gallagher. I haven't heard anything by Robin Trower since sixth form*, but if I ever do again, I suspect Whitley Bay will be where it happens.

In the opening five games of the season season Carlisle scored 10 goals and conceded 12 , so I'd put your house on a 0-0 draw.

The transfer window closed this week, so here's some heavy-handed satire on that topic that appeared in the Fly Me To The Moon annual.

Many readers will be familiar with the antics around Teesside in the past few years of the international players’ agent, playboy and friend to the stars, Iggi Palindrome. Palindrome’s multinational business empire has its epicentre in a woolens stall at Ormesby market. Over the years Iggy's catchphrase ("All good stuff. No rubbish. C'mon ladies, treat yerselves") has become well known to a legion of Boro's top players including the immortal Fabrizio Ravishankar, goal-scorer and virtuoso sitar-player;  wayward shaggy-haired Brazilian tup, Emmerdale, and maverick midfield maestro Paul Merton whose hilarious comedic performances kept audiences in Cleveland chortling for generations.

During his association with players of the top calibre Palindrome has brokered many a deal that has seen his clients leaving from Teesside airport to a soundtrack of cheering fans and club officials yelling, "Hoy, come back here with our lightbulbs". The story of his most audacious deal, however, has never been told. Until now..........

May 1995

Iggi approaches the Transporter Bridge claiming that he has just received an inquiry about its availability from Milan whose boss Fabio Capello sees  "a 225 foot high blue steel structure that only works sporadically" as the natural replacement for the ageing Ruud Gullit.

At the same time Palindrome places a story in Italian sports daily Gazetto della Sport that runs next day under the headline "Will No One End My North-East Nightmare? - Want away Industrial Monument's Desperate Plea" and alleges that the Transporter's family have been unable to settle in the area.

The next morning Middlesbrough is engulfed in a media storm. A spokesman for the Council says, "The Transporter Bridge is going nowhere".

Milan, meanwhile, deny any approach but also stress that "As a club we are prepared to buy practically  anything". A point that is confirmed later in the day when they sign Andreas Andersson.

The Transporter itself appears uncertain about the move, "Middlesbrough has been good to me," it tells the Daily Mirror, "But at the end of the day being a bridge is a short career and I have to think about my long-term future".

Asked if it believes it will be able to adjust to life on the continent the Transporter drops another bombshell, "From what I have been told Signor Berlusconi is prepared to pay for ICI Billingham, Dundas Mews and a large chunk of Eston to fly over for the first season to stop me getting homesick" he says.

A spokesman for Cleveland Council says, "Believe me when I say Eston is going nowhere," to which many people nod their heads and mutter, "You're telling me".

Meanwhile Palindrome is moving on to the next phase of his plan, phoning Real Madrid to inform them that so far Milan have failed to match the Transporter's personal terms which are believed to include free lubrication and a complete re-paint every two seasons. President Nunez says he is "very interested" in the 2,600 ton bridge.

An hour later Iggi is chatting with Italian sports journalist "I am confident Middlesbrough will let the Transporter go," he says, "After all everybody in England knows that the Newport Bridge is a far greater and more exciting river spanning talent".

The bait is swallowed. That evening the chairman of Lazio sends a fax offering £25million plus Beppe Signori and the Coliseum for "this wonderful 1930s masterpiece with its two powerful 325hp electric motors which lift its central span 120 feet above the water". Iggi says he believes he might be able to interest Middlesbrough in such a deal if Lazio are prepared to take Yarm viaduct as well.

Two days later, after a prolonged media campaign in the region, a candlelit vigil outside the Town Hall and the intervention  Mr Tony Blair, the Newport Bridge agrees to stay on Teesside in return for a new improved contract and a loyalty bonus believed to be worth several million. Iggi Palindrome trousers 15% and two minutes later telephones Barcelona with the news that Roseberry Topping is desperate to win some medals.
* On one occasion the art teacher came into the sixth form common room, pointed at the record player and said 'It's too loud.' To which a boy named Nick responded, 'Trower is never too loud, sir.'

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