WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
We trace Middlesbrough’s Division Three runners-up from 1966-67
GEOFF BUTLER remembers the day that Middlesbrough’s season turned around – all the players were called in for a meeting at Ayresome Park.
Boro, managed by former England international Stan Anderson, has just been relegated into the third tier of English football for the first time in their history.
But after winning their first game of the season at Colchester, they started to struggle, losing four of the next five games, including a 4-0 hammering at eventual runaway champions QPR.
So the Boro directors decided that action was needed with only Brighton keeping them off the bottom of the table.
“We had flown down to Cardiff for the last game of the previous season and, despite a Dickie Rooks hat-trick, we lost 5-3 and got relegated,” said Butler, who made 42 appearances in his first full season in the first team.
“Then we didn’t do brilliantly at the start of the following season. We had a bit of a hangover and it was very difficult to adjust to another division.
“We were struggling and it wasn’t happening. The directors just called us in. They gave us a confidence boost – they told us they thought that we could do well.
“They said how much they respected us and that we were good players. It was only something simple, but from that we seemed to turn the corner.
“It did us the world of good and we started to perform and pick up some results.”
Boro started to climb the league in no small part thanks to the goals of John O’Rourke (27) and Arthur Horsfield (22), while John Hickton chipped in with 15 and Derrick Downing eight.
They appeared to be all set to take the runners-up spot behind Rangers, who marched to the title as well as shocking First Division West Brom to win the League Cup at Wembley.
But then Boro stumbled in the second week of April, losing three times in a week. They fell to seventh place with games running out and couldn’t afford any more slip-ups. Four of the last five games were at home, the only one away was at Brighton.
“We were 1-0 down at half-time at Brighton. I won’t ever forget it – Don Masson gave the ball away and he was crying in the dressing room at half-time thinking he had cost us promotion,” Butler added.
“But then John O’Rourke scored in the second half so we just needed to win our last two home games against Peterborough and Oxford United.
“We beat Peterborough 2-1, so everything was set up for the Oxford game. They scored first which gave us a bit of a fright.
“But we equalised soon afterwards and O’Rourke scored a hat-trick. We won 4-1 in front of 39,000. After the game we went into the stands to acknowledge everyone.
“The number of people on the pitch caused a wall to collapse and a few people were injured. I remember going to see them in hospital the following day.” 1. Ray Lugg: He has settled in Pompano Beach, Florida, where he has run soccer schools and a company Ray Lugg Inc. 2. John Hickton: Settled in his native Chesterfield where he worked as an agent in the insurance industry until retiring. 3. Des McPartland: After settling in Middlesbrough, he became an electrical engineer and then the director of an engineering firm until his death aged 58 in 2006 from lung cancer. 4. Willie Whigham: Returned to live in his native Airdrie where he is retired but regularly attends Middlesbrough functions. 5. Arthur Horsfield: Is now retired after working for Parcelforce, becoming manager of their Thurrock depot, and after spending seven years as a shift manager for Royal Mail. 6. Jim Irvine: He became a paint sprayer in his native Bathgate, Scotland, while his son Alan went on to play for Liverpool. 7. Dickie Rooks: After managing Scunthorpe and coaching in East Africa, he returned to his native Sunderland where he started his own building firm. 8. Bill Gates: The brother of Ipswich star Eric built up a 12shop Monument Sports chain before selling up and retiring to the Cayman Islands. 9. Dave Chadwick: Settled in the US where he signed John Hickton while coaching Fort Lauderdale. He retired in 2007, after 16 years coaching at AFC Lightning in Atlanta. 10. Billy Horner: He managed Hartlepool (twice) and Darlington, coached at York City and then was director of the Pools’ centre of excellence. 11. Geoff Butler: Managed Salisbury for 17 years and then Weymouth. Now lives in Shrewton, Wiltshire, and has set up his own home improvement company. 12. Gordon Jones: Second on Boro’s list of all-time appearances with 532. Became a shopkeeper in Stockton and served Boro’s former players’ association as treasurer. 13. Jimmy Lawson: Following a brief spell at Halifax as playermanager, he worked as a salesman for forklift trucks’ makers STILL Materials Handling Ltd. His son Ian was also a professional footballer. 14. Derrick Downing: Settled in his native Doncaster where he ran a nightclub before going to work in a local garage. He also managed Non-League Hatfield Main. 15. John O’Rourke: After settling on the south coast in Bournemouth, he became a newsagent prior to going to work at Bournemouth Airport.
NOT PICTURED 16. Bob Appleby: He worked as a water bailiff in Cumberland and is now living in Reeth, North Yorkshire, in retirement.
17. Bobby Braithwaite: A former Belfast shipyard worker, he emigrated to South Africa living near Port Elizabeth where he coached the Tech All Stars in East London. 18. Neville Chapman: Boro’s first player to be substituted was working as a tanker driver at the time of his death in October 1993 in a road accident. He was aged 53. 19. Don Masson: The Scottish international ran a hotel near Trent Bridge in Nottingham for well over a decade. Is now the owner of a five-star guesthouse, The Grange, in the Vale of Belvoir between Nottingham and Grantham. 20. Eric McMordie: After working for a builders merchants, he opened a couple of newsagents in the Middlesbrough area. 21. Alex Smith: After running a sports shop, he returned to the Riverside Stadium in 1996 to work as the club kit manager. 22. Frank Spraggon: Married the daughter of former England trainer Harold Shepherdson and became a community coach for Boro. Is now a leading light in their former players’ association.