| MIDDLESBROUGH 3 CITY 0
21st September 1974
scorers Mills, Foggon (2)
ref Ken Baker
Middlesbrough Platt, Craggs, Hickton, Souness, Boam, Maddren, Murdoch, Mills, Willey, Foggon, Armstrong – sub Taylor
City MacRae, Barrett, Donachie, Doyle, Clarke, Oakes, Summerbee, Bell, Marsh, Hartford, Tueart – sub Henson (unused)
TONY BOOK’S VIEW
THE loss of Willie Donachie to a sending-off decision at Middlesbrough last Saturday is far more upsetting than the loss of both points through our 3-0 defeat.
The probable outcome is that we will be without the young Scot’s services for three games, and this is a shattering blow-I rate Willie as one of the best leftsided full backs in the country, and to suffer the absence of such a player is bound to have a weakening effect on our defensive strategy.
I do not condone what happened at Ayresome Park. It will always be wrong to retaliate, and my players have been warned about falling for the ‘sucker’ situation that exists in the game when provocation makes someone boil over in anger. The original offender is often the one who gets off Scot free-and this I maintain is what happened in Willie’s case.
City players are well aware of my reaction to disciplinary matters on the field. I will have no hesitation in punishing any City player who lands himself in trouble for incidents such as getting involved verbally with the referee or linesmen.
But in Willie’s case I plan to take no action. I have assessed all the events that culminated in the 70th minute sending off, and in my opinion Willie does not deserve to be penalised any further by his own club.
This lad is one of the best professionals any manager could wish to handle. He has never been any bother in all the time I have been at Maine Road, and he does not go looking for trouble. Willie is a tremendous type-and this is why I feel sorry for him rather than anger at his loss to the team with the inevitable suspension.
In the first half at Middlesbrough I witnessed him being trodden all over the chest by an opposing player and he caught the chap’s leg to try and stop the nonsense. For his troubles he was given a booking-and I will be interested to read the referee’s report on this incident since this is a matter which I may well feel justified in appealing about.
After half-time Willie got into bother through retaliating when a Middlesbrough player was holding his leg attempting to stop him moving freely. This sent him packing.
We were all upset about the outcome. If it was possible to take a report of all these incidents into a civil court and fight on the evidence available I am convinced we would win. But that is wishful thinking, Football discipline works differently and Willie will have to take the medicine which is dished out by the F.A.
My sympathy is not misplaced. I condemn retaliation, as I have already stated, and players have got to learn to control their tempers. Willie was wrong in this instance, but bearing in mind the events involved, and what had gone before I am not prepared to make a club ~ issue from it.
Naturally, we all came home from Middlesbrough a little downcast about the events. The result mustn’t have read too good in the sports reports-especially recalling that we conceded four goals in an away match earlier in the season at Arsenal.
Don’t read too much black into the 3-0 defeat. It was a day when City were below-par and we fell down on our basics-such as the inaccuracy of our passing. But we were only trailing by the one goal before we lost Willie, and there had been opportunities to get back on terms.
Asa Hartford, who had another fine match hit the Middlesbrough woodwork and Colin Bell just failed to take advantage of a splendid chance when he was put through. I think Colin anticipated the goalkeeper coming from his line and was planning to chip the ball home.
But to his misfortune, the goalkeeper stayed rooted on his line and as Colin stubbed his shot the ‘keeper gratefully picked up the rolling ball. There will always be frustrating incidents like that in a match, and we had to learn to live with that one.
Middlesbrough’s decisive two goals came at a period when we were down to 10 men. We had a player doing a job on Alan Foggon, the marksman on both occasions, but the disruption which was caused through losing Willie put all these plans in disarray and they picked up two goals in the final eight minutes to make the margin look like a real beating.
I take nothing away from Middlesbrough. They played very well and were full of determination. They tightened up on everything we did. They allowed our forwards to work in very little room, and the job to get a point would have been hard enough with a full complement of players for the whole match.
Adapted from Tony Book’s programme notes 28th September 1974