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With the huge six-pointer with Boro on the horizon, BillytheBee decided to catch up with Mark ‘MrTightShirt’ aka Stav77 about Adam Forshaw, bad boy Tomlin and the Parmo-Pan Hegarty stand off.

Talk us briefly about your first ever game

My first game was back in the dark days of 85, just 1 year prior to our financial problems. Newport County were the opposition, and all I can remember about the day was the 2-0 victory, the amazing smell of Bovril and my old man falling off his seat when the back of the seat split!

Boro are steadily making their way for the automatic promotion spot. Do you really think you can do it this year?

Every year I say tentatively that ‘this is our year’. However following our excellent business in the transfer market this summer and under he expert guidance of Mr Karanka I wagered my hard earned cash on a league title and a side bet of promotion! Confident of 1st or 2nd!

So Aitor Karanka forced you to part with cash early this season. How do you rate him compared to your previous few managers.

Having endured the shambolic tenure of the wee ginger Jock Strachan, and then the failed attempt by our local hero Mogga (Tony Mobray to the rest of the World) to shoot us back in the big time, I feel we are now being led by ‘the right man for the job’.

Karanka is an absolute workaholic who demands the very best of his entire squad on a daily basis. He is not afraid to drop big names, and gives every player the opportunity to shine.

His squad rotation raised some eye brows to begin with, but who are we to argue with the results! He is also not afraid to admit mistakes which is refreshing in an age of excuse fuelled managers!

What teams may scupper your plans do you think?

Derby! I see them as the long distance challengers. I remain convinced that Bournemouth will fall away when/if they suffer any injuries to key players. That said, I see Brentford and Ipswich putting up stiff competition for the foreseeable future!

Nothing to choose between the majority of the top 6. I believe Boro have the best squad however and this will see us though (hopefully!)

Ipswich worried me, and bullied us a little which rarely happens. Derby were absolutely horrendous at the Riverside so you cannot really gauge too much on one viewing! Bournemouth looked impressive and our game with them was like a chess match with nothing between the sides.

I still think Derby are our main challengers.

Who is the worst team you have seen play Boro this season?

I would probably say Norwich or Millwall, both shambolic defensively!

You’ve rescued Adam Forshaw for wasting away in Wigan. He’s a lucky man. Talented player. Made a mistake leaving us to go up North but he knows that now. Where will you play him?

Karanka has a philosophy of 2 players for every position, and all must be fully competent if called upon. As we only have 3 recognized central midfield players in Leadbitter, Whitehead and Clayton I see him as the man to bolster the midfield squad positions and most likely play a fair share of games.

I don’t know much about him, but from what I have read he could also potentially provide cover for Tomlin in the hole between midfield and attack.

Talking of bad boy Lee Tomlin, we haven’t hear much from him lately. He was always having run-ins with Darren Ferguson and smashing something up. Has Aitor managed to tame the shrew?

His discipline and commitment has never been questioned since he arrived at the club. Aitor seems to have a good relationship with him and rates him very highly. At first the fans opinion was split. Some rated him highly and liked his enterprising and buccaneering style of play whilst others labeled him inconsistent. His performances in January have been scorching and he appears to be back in favour!

Aitor Karanka has built a very solid, functional side as opposed to a stylish free-flowing side like Derby, Watford or (well I would have said so before seeing them hoofing the ball up last week) Norwich. Am I right with that assumption

There is no question that our side is very functional and solid (second best defensive record in England speaks for itself) but there is more to our game than that. At home we like to dominate possession and really take the game to the opposition from the first whistle.

I think we are as impressive off the ball as on it, and rarely offer our opposing team any time and space.

Our biggest weapon is our speed on the break! Reach and Adomah offer plenty of speed and our fullbacks also overlap at every opportunity. Bournemouth are probably the tidiest side I have watched this season.

You’ve got a few decent players in your side. Who should we look out for? Who is your favourite?

As mentioned on my Beesotted interview in the Middlesbrough boozer earlier this season (as can be seen in the video below), George Friend is both a fierce defender, great in the air and impeccable with the timed challenge, and also a very attack minded fullback. His shooting is atrocious 95% of the time but his distribution and willingness to get to the goal line or cut in make him a real weapon. I don’t really like to single players out in the time side, as they all do their job, and do it bloody well!

Who is your best ever Boro player you’ve seen play?

The most skillful and exciting by a country mile would be our South American pocket genius and adopted Teessider Juninho. Had just about everything in his prime and it was unfortunate that we were relegated I the 96/97 season as we would have built a team around him the following season to do him justice.

He returned twice, and in his final spell helped us to win our first ever piece of silverware! Legend!

I would also mention our own Tony Mowbray who captained the side through on of the most difficult spells in the clubs history. He was not only an inspirational leader on and off the pitch, but was also a great ambassador for the club to the younger players and without him and manager Bruce Rioch I am convinced we would not have a club today.

We met in a rather funky bar in Boro before the match (check the video below) and you vowed them you were gonna come down for the Bees match. It seems half of Teeside will be down in London for that weekend with hundreds of Boro fans booked into Brentford drinking establishments for a 9am start

If truth be told, I have very little memory of the game itself due to having a few too many real ales beforehand! I did enjoy meeting up with the Brentford contingent in the micro pub, and really looking forward to sharing more beverages this weekend!

Here’s our made in Middlesborough section

Newcastle or Sunderland?

Magicians and their mates – Paul Daniels or Debbie McGee
Both, surely they always come as a pair 😉

Night clubs – Tall Trees (Yarm) or Digital (Newcastle)
Tall Trees! Just down the road. So many memories!

Ex-footballer pundits – Alan Shearer or Chris Kamara?

Kammy! Unintentionally the funniest man on the planet! Plus Boro born and bred

North East tucker – Parmo or Pan Haggerty?
Parmo is a Middlesbrough delicacy! Chicken or Pork just get it in my belly & too ‘Northumbria’ for me!

Head to head, Boro are just shading it winning 8 games to the Bees’ 7 with 4 games drawn. Do you reckon you could widen the gap? Give us a score prediction
Picking the splinters from by back side I am going to sit on the fence and go for an entertaining 2-2 draw!


Brentford Drinking Holes

There are plenty of places to drink in Brentford. We know loads of you are coming down so we thought we’ll let you know there are more than 4 pub options in Brentford so you can spread yourselves about a bit and we can all still get ourselves a pint within a few minutes of waiting.

Three pubs are definitely open early. The Globe (Windmill Rd) – 14 mins walk from Northfields tube or 4 mins on 4 mins on the E2 bus (stops outside the station). They will be open at 9am and will be doing breakfast and lunch.

The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) is 30 secs walk from The Globe. Stuck in the middle of the houses. This is the pub the Brentford team and fans drank together in after we won promotion against Preston. They open at 9.30. Not sure about breakfast but they do lunch.

The pub crawl we normally recommend from Northfields Station is The Plough (Northfields Ave. Out station. Left. 1min walk). Then down to The Lord Nelson. Then The Globe. Finishing at The Griffin for a quick pre match pint as it’s practically right beside the away turnstile. Plough says it is open at 10am but check.

You are no doubt aware there are four pubs around the ground. The Griffin is the best option by far. It is the closest pub to the away turnstile (30 sec walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very busy. They will open at 9.30am. They don’t do breakfast but do a mean burger when Smiffy gets frying – probably around 10.30 or so this day.

The New Inn is on the other side of the ground is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and The Royal Oak (normally home fans only) are the other two options.

There is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.

Other options.

For ale head to the Magpie and Stump on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. There is a brand new pub on Kew Bridge – Over the Ait. Maybe for after the game. Right on the river. Very nice.

There are loads more too in the area.

All pubs are all very away-friendly. You can wear colours no problem.

On the way home, worthwhile checking out The Parcel Yard upstairs in Kings Cross station. Nice pub.