WHEN Middlesbrough met Nottingham Forest on October 6, 1923, Herbert Bamlett’s Teessiders were struggling at the foot of the First Division.
Now, 87 years later, Tony Mowbray’s side welcome Forest to the Riverside in a very similar position, dangling dangerously close to the Championship drop zone.
This season, scoring goals has been a major problem for the Teessiders, who have scored only 21 goals in 22 games, and the feeling is that Boro need a goalscoring hero to shoot them up the league table.
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In 1923, Bamlett’s side were enduring exactly the same problem. In their previous two games, Boro had failed the find the back of the net and had only managed six goals in eight matches.
Then on October 6, Boro found their goal hero when Andy Wilson scored five to defeat Bob Masters’ side 5-2 at Ayresome Park.
The Scotland international tore Forest’s defence apart, despite the visitors enjoying a far better season than their hosts – and for their keeper, Sam Hardy, it was definitely an afternoon to forget.
Having started his career at Boro in 1914 after being spotted while playing for junior side Cambuslang Rangers, Wilson rejoined the Teessiders in 1921 after a brief spell at Hearts.
In his time at Ayresome Park, Wilson made 238 appearances, scoring 59 goals, finishing the league’s top scorer, before he joined Chelsea in November 1923 for £6,500 – ending the 1923-24 season as both Boro’s and Chelsea’s top scorer.
Boro had only won once prior to that game and the thumping victory was a welcome relief to the players and fans after a dreadful start.
The general consensus was that Boro were far better than their position in the table suggested and the win would kick start their season – unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
In fact, the win over Forest was probably the highlight of Boro’s season and, after the result, they only managed to win four more games that season, form which would see them relegated to the Second Division.
A week after the 5-2 demolition, Boro made the trip down to Nottingham for the return fixture, where normal service was resumed with the Teessiders going down 3-1.
After last week’s vital three points against Cardiff and a dramatic last-gasp defeat at Doncaster on Friday night, the present-day Boro side will be keen to give their fans a belated Christmas present with a win over Forest on Boxing Day.
And hopefully, unlike the team of 1923, Mowbray’s side can use a win to kick-start their climb back up the Championship table.