Premiership here we come.

7 has always been my favourite number ever since I was a kid.
I was fortunate enough to wear the no 7 jersey for the majority of my 382 games for Middlesbrough FC.
Now after 7 years in the wilderness, we have finally made it back into the Premier League.
Gaining promotion is not just about the football club, it’s about the town and the community, its great for the area and it puts us back on the map.
The game and the occasion was very emotional and nervy.
I have never witnessed an atmosphere like it since the days of the road to Eindhoven.
I was delighted for everyone concerned, the players Aitor Karanka and his staff, the fans and of course chairman Steve Gibson.
During my 30 years in the area I have regarded Steve Gibson on many occasions as the King of Teesside and after our return to the promised land his crown is firmly in place.
Since his appointment of AK he has backed him financially to the hilt and steadied the ship during the choppy waters of the walk out.
To witness the sheer delight on his face at the end of the game was a joy to behold.
I have known Gibbo for years and he has no airs and graces, he is a down to earth guy, he loves to play the game and loves this football club.
He is passionate, loyal and addicted there is not a guy in football that deserves it more than him.
The one thing that I admire greatly about Steve is that he supplies the goods, for his team and then sits in the shade, he never craves media attention.
I’m sure he had a restless sleep on Friday night with a reported £200 million riding on the result.
He will be able to sleep well over the summer knowing that we will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United,and Arsenal next season.
It was great to have the fans chanting Ali Brownie’s name again and very emotional to see a pic of Ali on the big screen.
I would have loved to have heard Ali’s comments after today’s success on Heaven radio.
That pleasure will go to all them Boro fans alongside him they will all be having It will be one hell of a party.

BERNIES BOLT 27th April 2016

Last week I praised the away point at Burnley, but on Saturday, a point at home against an average Ipswich team, in front of our 30,000 plus crowd, was majorly disappointing.
As we all predicted, it turned out to be a tense, nervy affair both on and off the pitch.
Boro’s passing was erratic, and example of that was Ayala four times in succession, he tried to pick out Adomah on the right and four times the ball went out of play.
The left side looked frail with the absence of George Friend in the last third.
On another day, we would have scored four or five, but we could have played till next Saturday and not scored, it was just one of those days.
Of course, it is still in our hands, but we all know we cannot afford any more slip-ups.
I read quotes after the game that we’re tired, and the legs and heads are tired. I understand that to a degree.
With the stakes been so great, it creates pressure, nerves, and vulnerability, which in return can disrupt performances and drain energy levels.
I have, to be honest, and say, in my eight years at Middlesbrough, whether we were chasing promotion automatically, via the playoffs, or we were involved in a relegation dogfight. I never once heard the manager or players mention the work tiredness.
Talking about tiredness publicly I have always thought is an insult to the paying public. And it hands the players an excuse if they don’t deliver.
If certain players are tired, it is of paramount importance that we go up automatically, as opposed going into playoffs, with possibly three extra games.

Good luck against Birmingham.
UTB.

Reds Football Academy is growing.
We have opened more venues this week and look forward to seeing any new footballers that want to be coached by the best coaches in the area at our Middlesbrough, Billingham or Ingelby Barwick sessions.
For more info, please call 07403478998.

BERNIE’S BOLT 20th April 2016

I laughed when I read Aitor Karankas quotes ahead of the game against Burnley when he claimed the Clarets can have “no excuses” if they fail to achieve promotion.
Aitor went on to say “ Imagine if I had a team with ten to thirteen players from the premier league and my chairman sent me Gray and Tarkowski and other players, maybe we would be in the premier league in February.” Of course, it was mind games and kidology.
Sean Dyche tried similar tactics at the start of the season when he was quoted as saying. The “Pressure is on” Middlesbrough FC to clinch promotion this season, after a summer spending spree.
He went on months later to sarcastically say he has no problems with Boro’s spending spree, splashing out more than £15 million on Downing, Stuani, Nugent and De pena.
Let’s be honest Aitor Karanka and Sean Dyche, deserve to be under the spotlight and pressure due to the talent they have got at their disposal, and the financial clout they have been given.If either fails to clinch promotion it would be disastrous and classed as failure, I’m sure they are both aware of this. Up until now both their teams have handled the pressure very well.
Any point away from home is classed as a good one.
We all know it was gut-wrenching losing a goal at ninety odd minutes. But remaining in pole position is a psychological boost. The overall winners on the night were Brighton. What a turn around they have had since we thrashed them 3-0, and credit must go to my former Republic of Ireland team-mate Chris Hughton.
On the subject of my Republic of Ireland, team mate big Mick McCarthy he brings his Ipswich team to the Riverside on Saturday. I’m fed up hearing people saying they have nothing to play for. I recall playing against Leicester City back in 1988 on the final day of the season at Ayresome Park.
The Foxes had nothing to play for we had to win to go up automatically. Everyone thought we just had to turn up and turn them over. We were beaten 2-1.
There is no doubting it will be a tense affair, but I’m confident we can take all three points providing our standards of recent weeks don’t drop.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Jordan Rhodes on his recent goal haul. Let’s hope he continues banging them in for the remaining games.

BERNIES BOLT 13th April 2016

What a remarkable turnaround in fortunes since the well documented fiasco within our football club.
Five straight victories speaks volumes and sitting top of the League with five games to go is an indication what kind of characters we have within the dressing room. Credit must go to the squad of players and the management team for putting their differences to one side and focussing on the only thing that matters, for Middlesbrough Football Club, our route back to the Premiership.
Certain players could have moped, caused disruption or switched off. But I have witnessed no evidence of that whatsoever.
I’m not saying that we have been good on the eye or played scintillating, free flowing football. But we have been united, dogged and determined to grind out results and each and every one of them deserves the credit.
As someone who has experienced fall-outs and getting promoted into the Premier League with Middlesbrough back in 1992, when we defeated Wolves at Molineux.
My advice to the lads would be to go out, enjoy and savour every minute of the remaining games.
Try to enjoy and soak up the pressure.
Pressure of fighting relegation is a damn sight greater. I can assure you I have sampled both.
Togetherness, mental toughness, belief, and focus are the key to our success.
Now is not the time for glamour, it’s not about impressing the purists, it’s about points on the board.
In hindsight if that clear the air meeting had not taken place our Premiership dreams could have been in tatters.
The celebrations after Forshaw’s 94th-minute winner were as good as I’ve witnessed for a long, long time.
The player’s piling up on top of each other, the fans nearly took the roof off The Riverside. Myself and former teammates Gary Pallister and Colin Cooper were hugging each other along with strangers.
A victory on Saturday against Bolton would indicate even to me as a pessimist, that this is the year.
UTB

Reds Football Academy announces new venues at Billingham and Ingleby Barwick. We also have our sessions at Middlesbrough. From age 5 upwards, boys and girls welcome. For more info call 07403478998.

Reds Football Academy announces a new venue

Due to the success of Reds Football Academy at the Sports Village in Middlesbrough.
We are looking to progress and branch out in the area.
Reds Football Academy announces a new venue at Bede College in Billingham.
To launch this our first training session will be between 6-7pm on Thursday 14th April, everyone is welcome.
Our Academy coaches are:
Bernie Slaven, Craig Hignett, Curtis Fleming, Jim Platt, Gary Pallister, Lee Bullock and Steve Howey.
For more information and inquires
please phone 07403478998
or email info@redsfa.co.ukreds logo

Fiasco should never have happened.

So, AK has been persuaded to stay in the hot seat. I have personally found the whole fiasco astonishing.
Here we are 2nd in the Division, with the best players and the most expensive squad, we all know the pressure has been building recently due to poor performances and results, so what do we do? We create more pressure from within our club. This bust up, fall out, whatever you want to call it should never have happened or hit the public arena, whoever leaked it whether its player or staff should be driven out of the football club.
It’s evidently clear, from the outside looking in that AK’s dictatorship style of management is wearing thin on certain players. Discipline is essential in any business, but dictatorship is on a different level. I’m personally not a fan of it and would rebel in this environment. Certain fans cherry pick certain players to criticise without knowing the ins and outs.
The biggest problem now is AK getting the rebels back on board, of course, this is easier said than done.
No doubt we will see the response in the remaining 10 games one way or another.
It’s great news that AK stays in the hot seat and that we continue to have the best chairman around, but neither can gain us promotion, that’s down to the players.

Ali was simply the greatest.

Ali’s passing indicated to me what I have always believed, there is no justice in this world.
He was loud, infectious, charitable, biased, intelligent, funny, witty and generously helpful.

My first commentary game with Ali was against Arsenal,we went on to work together for 15 years doing Middlesbrough’s Match Day Commentary and Boro TV, for six days a week we lived in each others pockets, clocking up 500 games with record figures and picking up a New York Gold Radio award along the way.
Our highlights were commentating on three Wembley finals, we saw Middlesbrough winning our first major trophy The Carling Cup at Cardiff and the UEFA Cup Final in Eindhoven.
Ali was the master of commentary his enthusiasm was second to none, he would make an average performance sound like Barcelona at their best.
The chemistry we had on and off the airwaves was irreplaceable.
Ali was the blinkered, biased, rose-tinted, spectacle wearer, who could see no wrong in anything or anybody, I was his complete opposite. But the dynamics worked and the rajar figures we had during our time on air proved it.

We had some laughs together travelling around Europe. I recall flying to a European game and Steve McLaren came up the back of the plane and sarcastically asked me if I had a video of all my goals to show on the screens, the players wanted to see them. Ally as quick as ever, replied. “It’s only a two-hour flight we have not got enough time.”
On another flight unknown to me Ali had set me up. A very camp air steward came on the intercom and said, “I would like to wish Middlesbrough football club all the best in their game and I hope Bernie Slaven gets a hat- trick.” Hasselbaink, Viduka and co all turned round in our direction and I was totally embarrassed. Ali found it hilarious.
Ali was the ultimate pro he was vastly knowledgeable knew all his stats and always arrived at games with hours to spare, sometimes we would arrive at stadiums and they weren’t even open.
Some More funny stories are the time we were playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, we could not get parked, so Ali decided that we should try and park underneath the football ground which was reserved of VIP etc, as we approached the attendant, he stopped us, Ali turned and pointed to me and said, “Keith Lamb Middlesbrough Football Clubs Chief Executive.” The barrier lifted and we gained access, we could not stop laughing and laughed even more when we parked our clapped out Century car alongside Richard Attenborough’s Rolls Royce.
I remember receiving a phone call from him, I was still in bed, he said, “Right, Bernard this is the statement I’m putting out to enter you for Middlesbrough Mayor, I’m ready to send it to the press are you happy with it?” The coverage and laughs we had over this episode, both of us knew it was a crank, I think!
Of course it was Ali who got me involved in showing my backside in Binns window.
On a trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool, while in the car Ali told me after I heavily criticized Juninho on air, Boro Tv had received thousands of emails saying, I should be sacked. When we went live on the radio, he repeated the same thing. I instantly said, “if you or anyone wants me sacked because of my comments this will be my last show I will go.”I was fuming, the manager of Boro TV actually phoned Ali during the live broadcast and said, “tell the public Bernie is going nowhere.” While traveling back after the game Ali turned to me and said, “you know all them complaints we got.Do you know how many we actually received? It was four.” He had wound me up the two of us laughed all the way home.
I have got a million stories about Ali, I will always cherish them.
Ali’s legendary status will live forever in Teesside.
Knowing Ali he will be wanting to replace the gates of Heaven with the Ayresome Park gates.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

(There is a light that never goes out.)

DAVID BOWIE

On Monday 11th Jan 2016,I woke up to a text message which read ” Sorry to start the day with bad news but I just heard that Bowie has passed away after battling cancer. ”
I was genuinely devastated to hear that ‘The Thin White Duke’ had passed away.
David Bowie was the man who got me into music.I was aged 11 when I heard Life On Mars after that I was hooked.
I recall jumping regularly on the local bus from my council estate in Castlemilk to a record shop near Hampden Park to purchase Bowie vinyl, single and albums.The first single I recall purchasing was Young Americans,as soon as the release date was out I would be there on the day to pick up my copy.
The excitement on the way to collect it was unbearable and all the way back I would be scrutinising the sleeve cover and checking that there were no scratches on the vinyl . When I got back to my room, once it was on the turntable it stayed there until I knew every lyric and note.My late father was forever shouting change that record will you.
From a tender age I was intrigued, fascinated and hypnotised by Bowie. The fact that he wore makeup and at times dressed lady like added to the fascination.
My only regret was I never saw Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars live although the that was my first album I bought,back in 1972.
I did travel to Edinburgh in 83 to the Serious Moonlight tour,held at Murrayfield Stadiumn.
My memories of Bowie on that day were blonde hair and blue suit,he sang some of his classics like Star, Heroes, Golden Years, Life on Mars, Rebel Rebel, Cracked Actor, Space Oddity and Jean Genies.
I remember going with the school to Innsbruck in Austria skiing and getting snowed in one night,our only source of entertainment was a duke box.That is when I discovered the b side of Space Oddity which was a song called Velvet Goldmine, I must have wore the record thin the amount of times a played it.
I had every Bowie vinyl album when I moved to join Middlesbrough as a player,I left them all at my parents house and many years later I discovered that my parents had given them away.If I’m being honest they would have been scratched and abused due to the amount of times I played them and left them out of their covers,on the turntable collecting dust.
We all know that irrespective of fame and fortune our destiny is the same, but I have always believed that icons like David Bowie should live forever.
His music certainly will.

Book Launch to celebrate 3 decades on Teesside.

My new book titled November Spawned a Monster will be launched at 11am on 29th October 2015 in Debenhams in the Hill Street Centre Middlesbrough.

During my 30 years on Teesside as a player, on the radio and in my Evening Gazette column I’ve always had strong opinions about everything and everybody. But this is me talking about myself and my life, being as honest and hard-hitting as I am with my football opinions.

The book reveals the truth about a rollercoaster three decades on Teesside and my public and private life after football. It is forthright about bust ups with bosses and rows with some senior figures at Middlesbrough FC and in the media.

But it also goes into my private life and talks about my divorce, my bankruptcy and my battle with depression. But it is not all self pity and bleak there are a lot of funny tales in there too and as many ups and downs.

I hope Boro fans will find it honest interesting and entertaining.

Get a peek of Bum and Book in Debenhams.

My new book November Spawned a Monster will be launched on the 29th October 2015 from Debenhams in the Hillstreet shopping centre Middlesbrough.

In my latest publication I talk about my own trials and tribulations in general,my truculent behaviour towards my former managers, also my inner struggles with life in general and my confrontations with so-called influential people.Its a warts and all account of my last 30 years on Teesside.

As Middlesbrough take on Manchester United at Old Trafford in the league cup the night before the launch I’m willing to repeat showing off my rear in Debenhams window ahead of the book signing.I have had confirmation today from Debenhams that the dirty deed can take place providing we can get the required result.

Let’s hope they have a window big enough. UTB