Remember When? The Record Breaker!
By Derek J Gaffney
Wednesday 15 Apr 2009 17:20:00
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To me he’s my Dad or affectionately I call him Pop, A legend in my eyes whatever way I look at it. To you he’s maybe a family member, a close friend, a face you’ve seen in the crowd or a complete unknown. Well all of the above are true, but this is Derek P. Gaffney (guess who I was named after?).


Back in 1988 Derek was working for Heritage Hampers as a Production and Planning Manager. At the time Heritage Hampers were the official sponsors of the Boro and were asked to paint the North stand at Ayresome Park, they agreed providing they could paint the companies name onto the roof of the North Stand.


heritage hampers


Then in the close season of 1988 along with three work colleagues he took to painting the Heritage Hampers advertising onto the North Stand, as pictured above. They did not realise that they may have set a record so they decided to contact the Guinness Book of Records to find out. Norris McWhirter CBE, co-founder of the records book, actually visited the ground to check the stand and to see if it could be a record.


Then in the early part of 1989 Heritage Hampers received a letter from the Guinness Book of Records, as they were compiling the 35th edition of its annual release. It had been declared the record for advertising hoarding and was to appear in the edition later that year.


It was a very proud moment for the Gaffney family, not only had I been given the occasional early evening walk around the ground to keep me full of stories for the playground and my school was actually next to the old ground.  My Dad had made it into the Guinness Book of Records. Wow!


When asked about the painting of the stand, Derek recalls the memory fondly “It was great to be allowed access to the ground on a daily basis and we watched training sessions and the team photo shoot but it didn’t help been scarred of heights!”


As the picture shows, just above the centre clock to the left hand side are the signatures of the four men who made history. This isn’t a well known fact amongst the Boro faithful and one deemed insignificant outside of our circle of family and friends.


But it is something we should be proud of and as the 35th Edition of Guinness Book of Records reaches its 20th anniversary, we should remember the feats of Derek and his colleagues.


Derek was also quick to point out “It was a team of four and we worked well together, it included George Bourne, Gary Fry and Les Falloon (who has unfortunately passed away) and me.”


This kind of story would be unheard of it the modern game and it is something Derek, our family and I have taken great pride in over the years.


 “ At the time I was a regular fan at Ayresome Park and it was great to stand in the Holgate end and look at the main stand thinking “I know who designed and painted that,” Derek with a glow in his eyes proudly recalls.


He has since developed his artistic streak and anyone who’s had a gift wrapped by him will testify to this. He is currently setting up his own greeting card venture following several years working for a greeting card company as a production and planning manager.


If his painting of the North Stand, which to me is better than the Michelangelo’s painting of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, is anything to go by then his greeting cards should be special.


Well done Derek, George, Gary and Les. Boro fans across the world should remember the little known fact that these men helped put the Boro in the Guinness Book of Records.


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