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Middlesbrough memoirs - 31/10/2002

Middlesbrough memoirs
He put Neil Cox in hospital!?
   Robert Lee
   David Ginola
   Steve Watson

Bez is presently providing commentary and ‘pundit’ opinion for ESPN in Singapore. With Newcastle facing Boro on Monday, we’ve dusted off a few of his recollections from past Boro fixtures…

7/10/92 v Middlesbrough (a) 3-1 Coca Cola Cup R2 (2nd leg) "The home leg was 0-0 at St. James' and had been Rob Lee's debut. Lennie Lawrence was the Boro manager then and, as we all now know, he had almost signed Rob Lee. Rob chose United because Keegan had persuaded him that Middlesbrough was too far North and Lennie and Rob had a laugh and joke about it after that first game.

"We won the second leg 3-1 and with Boro being a Premier League team at the time it was regarded as the first real test of our Premier League credentials. Liam O'Brien got a fantastic long range effort and David Kelly got the other two. Boro's scorer was Paul Wilkinson and I've got good reason to remember his 'performance'. We were both chasing a ball and Paul caught the back of my neck with his nails. He must have had really long nails because after the game I had three great weals running down my back. They were painful but I thought nothing of them until my [then] wife returned from a trip and discovered them. We'd not been getting on too well and she wouldn't believe that they were a football-related injury. She needn't have worried - I can't imagine ever getting a woman to do that...!!

30/08/95 v Middlesbrough (h) 1-0 Premiership This was the night that David Ginola hit the headlines with an unbelievable performance. It was a midweek game covered by the BBC and Ginola played superbly. "The bloke on the receiving end of it all was Neil Cox who didn't know how to handle Ginola at all. We met him the next day in a shop near Washington that would do discounts on Nike gear for all the local players from United, Sunderland, Boro, Darlington and Hartlepool. They would only do it on Thursdays so we would often bump into the Boro lads.

"I asked Neil how he was after the previous night, he replied that he'd just come back from the hospital. A surgeon had spent all morning trying to put him the right way round after being turned inside-out the night before! He said he'd tried every trick in the coaching manuals to stop Ginola: he'd gone tight, he'd dropped off him and he'd even ended up booting him but still not stopped him. He asked the bench to take him off but all the subs were too scared to come on...."

10/02/96 v Middlesbrough (a) 2-1 Premiership The debut of Tino Asprilla as a 67th minute sub. Within a few minutes he performed some magic and put in a cross for Steve Watson to score.

"The first we knew that Tino was playing was when he was sat in the dressing room with his boots on, so the players were as surprised as anyone that he was on the bench. At that time Tino didn't know a word of English so we had to hope when he came on that he would slot in OK. Of course, he won us the game and performed stunning pieces of skill - not just for the goal - a drag-back through a defender's legs near the touchline was incredible. "I was grateful that he'd got me off the hook - I was credited with the own goal in the first half that put us behind. Juninho played it into the near post and I thought I would clear it but I was off-balance and it got stuck under my feet. I got a rotten review in the papers for that game but I thought I'd played well. That often happened. If you'd had a bad moment in a match the papers would often ignore the rest of your game, give you 5 out of 10 and then for the rest of the week everyone would tell you what a bad game you'd had. It made me realise how influential the local reporters could be. It also made me wonder how much (or little) they actually knew about football....

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