Back in the summer of 2000 I`ve got to say I was laughing my head off when Middlesbrough signed Alen Boksic from Lazio. In typical Steve Gibson fashion he unselfishly opened the cheque book for Captain Lager to bring another end-of-the-road, perma-crock to the Riverside. Boksic had spent plenty of time flattering to deceive, as following a 23 goal season in 92/93 he had managed just 37 goals in the next 8 years. 98/99 and 99/00 had seen the Croatia score 4 goals in 22 games as doubts over his fitness, temperament and motivation had crept in. Now, after a £3m fee and with rumoured 60K a week wages, he had tipped up at the Smogs for what seemed to be one last payday.
Meanwhile we had signed up-and-coming young striker Carl Cort from Wimbledon for a princely £7m. Following a cracking season with the Dons he had scored an impressive 15 goals, including four against Monkeys Heed`s Super Seventh Placed North East Top Dogs (©Bob Murray). Comparisons were even being drawn to fellow Cockney Sir Les Ferdinand such was his prowess in the air. Basically I thought he was going to be the mutt`s nuts and him and Al were going to bag at least forty between them.
Fast-forward to the second half of the season and Mr Prediction here was about as wrong as you can get. Shearer was out with tendonitis for the rest of the season and Cort had spent most of the season on the sideline as well following a home debut against Derby. Boksic meanwhile had bagged two on his debut against Coventry and was looking the business. His fitness was shaky as predicted but considering he`d been sunning it in Serie A for 8 years he was holding up pretty well in the Premier League.
When the two teams met at SJP Boksic gave a masterclass and ran the show from up front for the Smoggies. Phil Stamp managed to run around cluelessly and get himself sent off but by that time Boro were two-nil up and Sir Bobby`s boys were rattled. Cort came back and scored in the second half but in the end the Beasts beat us at SJP for the first time since the top flight became rebranded. Sir Bobby also grabbed the horrible distinction of losing to both the Smogs and Mackems at home in the same season.
As if to rub further salt in the wound Boksic ended the season with 12 goals from 28 games, outscoring our top scorer by 5. Cort ended the season with 7 goals and much was hoped for now he had recovered from injury. In the end Boro got 22 goals from Boksic`s 68 games for them. We managed to get just one more goal from Cort and a pathetic 27 games in total for the Southwark born striker. Sir Bob oversaw a £5m loss of face as Cort ended up warming the treatment table for Wolves. Boksic retired and it looks as if he`s got some sort of involvement with Hadjuk Split now along with a consortium of other star`s of Croatia`s golden generation.