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Mowbray's magical Middlesbrough memories

Tony takes a trip down memory lane as he discusses his upbringing as a supporter and player of Boro

6 December 2018

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Tony Mowbray has a soft spot for Middlesbrough, and it's obvious to see why, with the Rovers boss being a self-confessed Middlesbrough fan, a former Boro player and an ex-manager of the Teesside outfit.

Born locally in Saltburn, just 12 miles away from the centre of the town, all of the boss' friends and family are Boro fans, but Mowbray wants just one result this weekend - victory for Rovers.
 
“I look for Middlesbrough games, yes, but only because I have supported Middlesbrough since I was eight or nine," he admitted to iFollow Rovers.
 
“I followed Middlesbrough in the 70s, Jack Charlton’s team with Graeme Souness, John Hickton up front.
 
“My total loyalties, as always over the last 14 or 15 years, are with the team I am managing. You throw your life into the job and I want to make sure it’s a good day for our fans by getting the points."
 
Growing up, a young Mowbray, or Mogga as he is affectionately known as by Boro fans, would head down to watch his local team on a regular basis.
 
And he raises a smile when talking about his upbringing as a supporter of his side.
 
“I remember Ayresome Park, which isn’t there any more, that was where I grew up really. I remember walking up the concrete steps and seeing the oasis of grass in the middle," he added.
 
“You’d then decide if you are going to watch on the outside or get right in the middle with the fans . In those days the crowd would sway as the ball flashes across the box.
 
“It would be amazing as an eight or nine-year-old to be right in the middle of it and getting carried along with your feet up the floor. They were great days.
 
“I’d go with my dad in those days and wander off before coming back to him at full time. Later, in your teens, you’d go with your mates.
 
“I left school and went in to be a player. They were great experiences growing up in the area.
 
“As a young boy, I only ever wanted to be a footballer. As you go on, you see the huge drop out of people falling away. Only a very small number make it."
 
Straight out of school, Mowbray linked up with Boro as a player and admits he maybe got fortunate in getting his chance as a regular in the Boro side.
 
“Strange things happen. I remember John Neil had a very good team. But things went wrong, with Craig Johnston and David Hodgson going to Liverpool," he recollects.
 
“David Armstrong went to Southampton. A great team broke up and I was left to fill the void. A team that was top half turned into a team full of kids and journeymen.
 
“We became less of a power and it ended in 1986 when I was 21 or 22. We went into liquidation, the padlocks went on and we didn’t have a training ground.
 
“We had nowhere to go. I remember somebody has spray-painted R.I.P above the gates. Bruce Rioch would meet us at the gates but we wouldn’t be able to get in there to get kit.
 
“We’d end up wearing out own kid and we’d end up training at schools and on local pitches. We ended up playing games at Hartlepool United’s ground.
 
“In the end we managed to get promotion one season and then promotion again to get back to the top flight. I remember in the team then we had Stuart Ripley, Gary Pallister, Gary Parkinson, Colin Cooper and myself.
 
“It was a team that gelled together under a pretty harsh regime. It ended up being successful and worked well. I think it sticks with a generation of supporters in Teesside. 
 
“We were on our backside, and in the space of two years we got playing back in the top flight against the likes of Manchester United.
 
“Steve Gibson has financed a recovery. His fame grew when he brought in Fabricio Ravanelli and then Juninho. 
 
“Boro have had some great players over the years with the likes of Alen Boksic, Mark Viduka, players like that, which were all brought in under Steve’s ownership."

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