Happy Birthday Tony Mowbray
By Rob Nichols
Thursday 22 Nov 2018 16:21:00
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Today is the 55th birthday of Boro’s former defensive mainstay, captain fantastic and management rescuer in chief, Tony Mowbray. Happy Birthday Mogga from Fly Me To The Moon and I am sure that goes for Boro fans everywhere.

Tony Mowbray made his debut way back in 1982, in the dark days between top flight relegation and liquidation. His first bow was in the pressure cooker atmosphere of a Tyne Tees derby. He never shirked a challenge. His defensive qualities as well as his determination and steely character meant that he was made captain at only 22 in 1986. He had the total respect of the few older heads still in the side as the team bid to battle back from bankruptcy and relegation down to the third flight.

In Bruce Rioch’s young side Mogga, led by example but also was not shy in coming forward with commands, almost a second manager, out on the pitch. Mowbray’s inspirational defending and willingness to put his head in where it could hurt led boss Bruce Rioch to overflow with praise. If Rioch should be selected be NASA for a new lunar mission, then Mowbray would be the man he would sitting by his side in the cockpit. Hence, Fly Me To The Moon.

There were so many great moments under Mowbray’s captaincy, with those two promotions. As well the league triumphs there were the epic cup battles with former Champions, Everton. And who will forget the sight of a Mogga flying header into the top corner of the Holgate net?

Mowbray and Pallister, forged a phenomenal defensive partnership. It was like Boam and Maddren all over again. Gary Pallister was rewarded with full England caps and Mowbray 3 B caps. And quite rightly so.

Mowbray picked up a serious pelvic injury that kept him out of a first Boro Wembley final but he was the popular choice to lead out the team, his team on to the pitch that day. Although Boro failed to win Mowbray dug deep to battle back from his injury to return to the defence.

When Mowbray eventually cut the umbilical chord to depart for fresh challenges at Celtic it was with the begrudging blessing of the supporters. He had given his everything for us. He waved goodbye from the touchline away at Barnsley in mid season, 1991. Sadly he would make a second departure at Oakwell when away fans clamoured for his head as manager in 2013.

Mowbray left Boro during his testimonial season and such was the reverence and respect for the achievements of the big man he was given a testimonial match at Ayresome Park against his new team Celtic in the close season.

Tony Mowbray always seemed destined to return one day as manager. He was present in Eindhoven at the UEFA CUP final and many of us wished that day that he would succeed the departing Steve McClaren but it would be 2010 when we finally turned to the big man again.

Mowbray entered a disaster zone, following the departure of Gordon Strachan. Lets not beat about the bush, in only a year in charge, Strachan had ripped up and destroyed much of what Robson/Venables/Southgate/McClaren and indeed Steve Gibson had built up over the past decade and a half. Admittedly Strachan had inherited a club at a low ebb but tore the soul out of the set up and was starting to even corrode the Academy. What a task Mowbray had on his hands.

With next to no money Mogga refloated the ship, and with a bunch of free transfer sticking plasters turned the tanker around and heading in the right direction again.

It was sad it all ended so horribly. Especially for a man whose middle name is Respect. And respect was what he brought back to the Riverside again.

Tony Mowbray is Boro through and through and will always be a legend in these quarters. Voted no.7 in the all time Boro list of legends in 2007 for me he would be leader to any team in Boro red and white.

We salute you Tony Mowbray and many, many happy returns to you. Hip Hip Hooray.

 



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