Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Our Spike - a Legend for 358 Boro Matches

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Our Spike - a Legend for 358 Boro Matches

Article excerpt

Byline: Anthony Vickers Sports reporter anthony.vickers@eveninggazette.co.uk

BORO got a last minute leveller - from Bosco Jankovic - to earn a 2-2 Ayresome Park draw on August 30 1981.

But that isn't why the game is significant.

Five minutes before time David Armstrong fell heavily and turned his ankle and finished the game limping - a twist that ruled 'Spike' out of the next two matches.

That was the end of one of the most remarkable runs in Boro history.

Boro's Mr Reliable had just finished a staggering sequence of 358 consecutive first team games - 305 of them in the league.

That is practically a whole career.

And what a run. Spike's spell as a permanent first team fixture on the left coincided with what for fans of a certain age and waistline was a golden age: Charlton's champions, cross border glory with the destruction of Fulham to lift the Anglo-Scottish Cup and as good a crack at the title as we will ever see on Teesside.

He was a mainstay of that team - and also a keystone as John Neal built a second younger but just as promising side in the back end of the 70s.

Armstrong, born in Durham City, joined the Boro schoolboys setup at the age of nine and made his debut at 17 in 1971.

Under Stan Anderson the teenager was in and out of the team until a 1-1 home draw with Aston Villa in March 1973 after which it would need major league industrial lifting gear to displace him.

That was the start of his everpresent era of 305 injury-free games in which he kept his place on merit.

Spike had incredible engines and would patrol the left flank with great industry, tracking back, but a potent force going forward as he could pick out an accurate crossfield pass to switch play or deliver a deadly ball into the box.

He linked up superbly with the central midfielders Graeme Sounness and Bobby Murdoch in Charlton's team and also had great vision to spot forward runs from John Hickton and Alan Foggan. …

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