Mark Roberts: Captain’s Column

Boro’s skipper on his return to the club where he grew up

We have played lots of football since my last column but the easiest place for me to start is in the wake of our fantastic victory away at Crewe Alexandra.

After disappointing results on the road at Bury and Shrewsbury as well as last Tuesday’s draw at home to Oxford, it was important to get back to winning ways.

For me, the game at Crewe saw a return to the club I spent 11 years at and where my professional career began.

Playing against any former club will make a game that extra bit special for a player. Players will have either good or bad memories from places they have played at and will always look for the game once the fixtures are issued.

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On a personal level, I was returning to the club for the very first time where I literally grew up.

We played at my other former club, Accrington Stanley, earlier in the season but I spent only one season there.

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Crewe was a big part of my life, I have friends and family still there and it was nice to see some familiar faces, whether that be the kit-man or the 85-year-old tea boy.

Walking down the corridor I once cleaned as a YTS and onto the pitch where I made my league debut brought a lot of memories back for me.

To be totally honest when I left Crewe it wasn’t under the best of circumstances so I had waited nearly six years for Saturday’s game.

The level of commitment shown by the lads is testament to every single one of them.

The desire and determination we showed throughout the game fully justified our last-gasp winner and we will take a lot of confidence from the win.

It was a moment of great personal satisfaction to leave the Alexandra Stadium victorious but we all know we need to build on that now.

Tuesday night sees us travel to Port Vale who, before the game, occupy one of the play-off places.

They are the only team in the division with a defensive record better than ourselves and that is something we as a team want to be ours.

They had a good victory on Friday night at home to Bradford City and with the game being on TV it gave us a great opportunity to watch them play.

I know several players from my time at Crewe having played alongside them in both youth and first team sides - their goalkeeper, Stuart Tomlinson, is one of my best friends and I definitely owe him one as he kept goal for Barrow in our Trophy Final loss last season.

Any time you come up against a friend or former colleague it is similar to facing a former team, you want to ensure you come out on top.

We played them in the FA Cup last season and were unlucky not to come out on top but the amount of growth we have had as a team since then is incomprehensible.

We now go into the game in the same league as them and determined to make it back-to-back away victories.

Saturday sees us return to home action against Cheltenham so hopefully we will see as many of you as possible down at the Lamex cheering us on.

Until next time...


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