Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Arise Sir Bruce? That Would Be a Great Birthday Present

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Arise Sir Bruce? That Would Be a Great Birthday Present

Article excerpt

Byline: Bernie Slaven

I CAN'T believe he celebrated his 70th birthday yesterday, but Bruce Rioch should have been given a knighthood for what he achieved at Middlesbrough Football Club.

What a belated birthday present that would be.

There's been some right curious characters who have been knighted over the years, but Bruce is a different kettle of fish.

Sir Bruce Rioch has got a good ring to it and for me he deserves that honour.

Jack Charlton must be up there, but for me Bruce is the greatest Middlesbrough manager of all time. He's certainly the club's best manager of the past 30 years.

Look at the backdrop he came into. It was financial meltdown, liquidation and padlocked gates at Ayresome Park.

Boro were under threat of going under for good.

I'm not saying the club wouldn't have been saved without Bruce, but we wouldn't have achieved what we achieved without him.

To win promotions from the Third Division to the second and then to the first back-to-back, unbelievable.

He was the right guy at the right time.

I always say when I do talks and make guest appearances that what Bruce did with that Boro team was more impressive than Fergie or Jose Mourinho winning the Premier League with Manchester United and Chelsea.

It has to be, doesn't it? Those two always had some of the best players in the world to call upon and had bags of money to spend.

But Bruce succeeded on a shoestring compared to them, with young local lads who were proud to play for the shirt.

He even paid Gary Hamilton and some of the younger lads out of his own pocket when times were at their hardest, which I didn't know back then but discovered years later.

The funny thing is, when Bruce first came to the club I thought I would be straight out the door _ and I'd only just arrived!

Rioch's nickname when he was a player was The Assassin because he was a gritty, tough-tackling midfielder.

I didn't think he would fancy me one bit and thought he would want his Boro team to play with a gritty, uncompromising style. …

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