Boro’s January Transfer Window Nightmares (2) – Michael Ricketts

Michael Ricketts – January 2003

Never buy a player who is named after a vitamin deficiency.

Boro broke that rule in January 2003 when a late transfer window triple swoop saw Michael Ricketts come in from Bolton for £3.5 million together with Chris Riggott and Malcolm Christie from Derby. It was one of those late night fax-tastic deals that Sky Sports News loves  but is usually born out of panic and is regretted before February is out.

It is typical of  Boro’s record of buying strikers that, of the  three players,   the centre-back Riggott  scored more goals than the two forwards managed between them during their time at the club.

Malcolm Christie was  in fairness a hard working player whose attitude could not be questioned. He came from a humble background stacking shelves in a supermarket. Malcolm could have been  the subject of a great headline “stacks shelves to stacks of goals” if only he had scored stacks of goals.  He is now apparently a salesman at a prestige car dealership where , wouldn’t you know, he sells overpriced goods with a good engine. However, next to the £3.5 million paid for Michael Ricketts the Christie deal was a stroke of genius

Afonso Alves was more expensive than Ricketts but at least it took a while for people to realise that he was useless. He had showed some promise in his first season and at least looked the part. Ricketts was a nailed on duck egg from day one.

Rumours had already started before his debut that the club had to approach kit manufacturers  Errea to supply an extra-large pair of shorts to fit his huge, lardy thighs. Fans were therefore not expecting a svelte,  greyhound of a centre-forward when he made his first appearance but the sight that met them was a tragi-comic moment , like your first glimpse of the gone to seed Brian Wilson in the mid seventies.

He was absolutely huge resembling  Bobby Murdoch’s Jamaican cousin with sadly only a smidgen of the great man’s talent.

Ricketts sported one of those beards that are so de-rigueur. I think he was going for the cool Blaxploitation look,  perhaps a bit Marvin Gaye circa “What’s Going On?”. He looked more like Whisper from Live and Let Die.

In fairness, Ricketts was good at one thing (apart from eating) and that was taking penalties. His technique was superb and he also benefited from the fact that it didn’t involve him having to run. He just waddled up and stroked it in the corner.

Ricketts’ only goal in open play I can recall was a crucial late equalizer against Tottenham during our  Carling Cup run and therefore he actually is an important part of Boro history. His gigantic shorts are also exhibited  at the  Boro Museum at the Riverside although currently they  being loaned out to Darlington where they use them  to protect their pitch from wintry weather.

As well as being a useless goal scorer and clinically obese Ricketts was virtually immobile. I can’t recall him moving at all on the pitch, indeed the club had to employ a company to remove moss and algae from him  every few  months. Shortly after the Carling Cup win I went to the Riverside and was amazed to find that Ricketts’ minor contribution to our victory had been formally recognised.

“Look they have put up a statue of Michael Ricketts!”

“No” said my mate, “that is Michael Ricketts”

After leaving Boro his Michael’s career went downhill as fast as if he had been pushed down Ormesby Bank on a go-kart. His overall career amounted to nothing apart from the distinction of being surely the worst centre forward every to get an England cap.

Ricketts didn’t fare much better in his personal life. In January 2011 he pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault for punching and head-butting his girlfriend outside a restaurant( where else!)and received a twelve months community order. The sentence would have been longer  because he had also tried to kick her but he missed.

Michael Barrington Ricketts – yer great  puddin’.




11 thoughts on “Boro’s January Transfer Window Nightmares (2) – Michael Ricketts”

  1. I remember him appearing at Villa and one of the ground staff but a bucket beside him for donations, a bit like a street sculpture in York. But even the painted characters moved occasionally.

    It is a little known fact he was succesfully prosecuted by the RSPCA. He was found kicking a tortoise. His excuse was it had been following him in training all day. His sentance was reduced on appeal because he hadnt eaten it.

    1. Cheers Ian – a crazy buy which begs the question, who watched him and decided he was worth a punt. I wonder how long he’d last in a high intensity Karanka training session – a minute possibly.

      1. They must have watched a long time unless the had a DVD made by one of David Attenborough’s camera men. You know the type, they make films of plants using time-lapse photography.

    1. Thanks John – we’ve rarely done well with strikers – the best one we bought was probably Hickton and he was a defender to start with, maybe that’s the key – buy defenders and convert them.

      1. I think Brian Orrit was a converted defender too. John Hickton was a full back at Sheffield Wednesday wasn’t he? The problem always seems to be buying an instant solution that everybody expects will work. Peter Davenport anyone?

        Sometimes these ‘solutions’ work well in the original team but just don’t click in the new one, I get quite cross about this pot of gold that is the 20 goal striker. Better that the goals come from all over the team and pitch because one simple tactic cannot smother the unpredictable danger from anywhere.

        As a Boro supporter I’m finding it quite hard to not find anything to moan about. Strange days.

        All the best and UTB,


        1. Some of gone the other way too John.

          “Big” Billy Ashcroft ended up at centre back as did Alan Kernaghan. I think Willie Maddren started out playing further upfield and David Wheater was a prolific striker at junior level.

          Yes, good times – into February and no wobbles yet. Come On Boro !

    2. That reminds me, black pudding goes well with haggis, turnips and spuds.

      We have had plenty of all of them. Some have managed to be a melange of the ingredients.

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