Friday, 17 February 2012

Boro's Own "Brady Bunch"

"The Brady Bunch" is not just a cult US sitcom, but also a term coined by Irish journalist John O'Brien. It refers to the players who were unlucky never to play in a major finals for Ireland, be it through poor officiating, injuries or misuse of their abilities. Quite a number of names - among them Jim Beglin, Mark Lawrenson and John Giles - popped up on the list, but the most significant was one Liam Brady. He may have been hailed as "perhaps the most purely talented player ever to emerge in the Republic of Ireland" yet he played no part in Euro '88 or Italia '90. A case can be made that this was due to injury, suspension and age, though the likes of Eamon Dunphy will keep claiming that the real reason was Brady refusing to wholeheartedly adapt to Jack Charlton's long ball tactics. Take your pick.

But anyway...

It's official. Barry Robson is on his way this summer, and I can't say I'm not disappointed to see him go. He has, after all, been a giant amongst our midfield this season, especially when Nicky Bailey hasn't been playing. On the other hand, his 34th birthday is approaching sooner rather than later, and it is probably best that he "quits while he is ahead", so to speak, rather than prolong his Boro career to the point where he is no longer appreciated. It just means that we have to work a little harder to find a good replacement now.

At least Robson has had the chance to establish himself as a cult hero. Others have not been so fortunate.

Yes, Boro have their own "Brady Bunch" - players who I believe never really got the chance to prove their full potential in a Boro shirt. To rub salt into the wound, some of them, though not all, have gone on to more than prove themselves at their future clubs.

Time to remind ourselves of what might have been, then...

Andrew Davies - Always a very useful player, be it under McClaren, Southgate or Mowbray. Injuries and inability to hold down a first team place never helped, though.
Lee Cattermole - The undisputed discovery of the 2005/06 season, and Boro's youngest ever captain. Most of the time, Southgate played him either on the right of midfield or not at all. For the most part, he has thrived in the middle for both Wigan and Sunderland.
Josh Walker -When Southgate called upon this guy, he impressed. He really did. And then there was that goal against Bayern in the UEFA Cup... Unfortunately he was also the victim of both a serious lateral ligament injury (against Sunderland) and Gordon Strachan. There was no logic in axing him so soon after an impressive League Cup display.
Danny Graham - Seeing his goals against Norwich inspired this column. What an inspiration he was for Watford. What a talisman he is for Swansea. What a waste he was at Boro.
Ross Turnbull - Okay, he wasn't enough of a presence in the box, but he was a very good shot stopper - and more reliable than Brad Jones! If only he had actually signed a new deal. If only we had handled his situation better...
James Morrison - An arguably better and more versatile version of his replacement, Gary O'Neil - and he was less expensive too. He's gone on to prove it at West Brom! Ironically, which manager signed him for WBA?
Chris Brunt - Failed to break into the first team at Boro. He didn't even appear as a substitute. Now, he's West Brom's captain and inspiration. His double in the 5-0 Riverside mauling still bites. And, as with Morrison, there's the irony of who signed him for WBA in the first place.
John Johnson - Surely he deserved more of a chance than Strachan gave him?
Nathan Porritt - Maybe he was over hyped, but he must have done something right for Chelsea to notice him...
Stuart Parnaby - It's a bit like the Gary O'Neil situation. As good as Luke Young was, did we really need to sign him? Parns had already proved himself in Europe, and had Boro in his blood.
Malcolm Christie - He always showed promise in training or on the pitch. I can't help but wonder how much more he would have contributed to the cause had two broken legs and a fractured foot not gotten in the way.
Jonathan Greening - Squeezed out by McClaren in favour of Ray Parlour. I still believe Jonno was a more durable player.
Mark Yeates - We were just starting to see the best of him when Strachan dropped him and packed him off to Sheffield United. His Adam Johnson impersonation in the 5-1 win over QPR does leave you wondering, "If only..."

All I can say is, thank heavens something similar didn't happen to Joe Bennett.

Feel free to comment if you think anyone else is worthy of inclusion on this list.


Powlay said...

Considering where Porritt has ended up it says it all in regard to him.

Anonymous said...

Hi Powlay,

I actually very nearly didn't include Porritt, for the very reason you mentioned. But then there was the Chelsea thing, not to mention the fact that with him, Downing and Johnson, we once had three very highly regarded left wingers coming through our Academy. Now, who's left?