Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Keeping It in the Family at the Riverside; Close Bonds Have Always Been Part of the Club

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Keeping It in the Family at the Riverside; Close Bonds Have Always Been Part of the Club

Article excerpt

Byline: THE GAZETTE TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2015 Like us on Facebook facebook.com/TeessideGazette The Big Picture with Anthony Vickers THE GAZETTE TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2015 Follow us on Twitter @EveningGazette The Big Picture with Anthony Vickers

"WE are family": You can imagine Me Mark Page flicking through his record collection looking for Sister Sledge now.

As we know, the recently returned Stewart Downing is veteran stopper Jonathan Woodgate's brother-in-law.

Boro's elder stateman Woody married "our Natalie" in Ibiza in the summer as part of Boro's long term recruitment strategy.

It has strengthened not just the Teesside accent in the changies but also the close personal bonds within the squad. And within the club. Future captain and ardent fan Ben Gibson is the nephew of the chairman, Uncle Steve.

Aitor Karanka was delighted to have the Boro Band of Brothers-in-law turn up in Marbella to boost his squad and noted how the signings added to the camaraderie: "We are close to being a family here."

But that strong bond has always been the case at Boro.

Promising second string shotstopper Connor Ripley has only just signed a new three-year deal at Boro after coming through the Academy ranks.

That should make his dad proud. Stuart Ripley was one the Ayresome heroes of Bruce Rioch's Class of 86, the team that climbed out of the coffin and won back-to-back promotions to the top flight and later won through to Wembley for the first time in the club's history.

Ripley senior played 311 games for Boro and scored 31 goals between 1985 and July 1992 when he joined big spending Blackburn (yes kids, that's true) for a then whopping PS1.3m where he went on to win the title and two England caps.

Also goalkeeping in the Academy is Luke Coddington who's dad Matt was a regular between the sticks for the reserves at Ayresome Park before being released to join Darlington in 1990 - and his grandfather John was a Boro keeper coach for many years.

Another behind the scenes domestic dad-and-lad duo came during Boro's glory years when Stuart Parnaby was a first team regular after coming through the Acadamy system run by his dad Dave. …

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