Tony Mowbray was born in November 1963 in Saltburn by the Sea. Aged 19 in 1982 he made his Boro debut against Newcastle at St James’ Park, marking a certain Kevin Keegan during the match. He joined Middlesbrough at a turbulent time, the club’s finances were all over and the future looked uncertain for them; but what was certain was that Mowbray was making himself a constant in Boro’s back four.

“Mogga” was Boro’s captain aged just 22, named player of the year in 1985 and 1986 but he could not stop his side from dropping into the Third Division. Bad turned into worse in 1986, a year synonymous with Boro fans. The club were on the brink of liquidation and with both players and staff being banned from Ayresome Park; they made the short trip to Hartlepool where they kicked off their new season at Victoria Park. Mowbray lead his side out through the darkest time in the club’s history and Boro were ultimately saved by young businessman Steve Gibson.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Middlesbrough Football Club rose from almost dead to being subsequently promoted in the years that followed; all with local lad Tony Mowbray at the helm, keeping the club together and leading a rock solid defence partnership with Gary Pallister. Manager Bruce Rioch had so much faith in his captain he uttered the now famous line “If I had to fly to the moon I’d take Tony Mowbray, my captain, with me. He’s a magnificent man.”

Tony Mowbray
Credit: Middlesbrough FC

Top flight success was difficult for Boro as they went down into Division Two and parted ways with Bruce Rioch. Struggling with injury, Mowbray missed out on playing for his club at Wembley when they reached the 1990 Zenith Data Systems Cup Final; but manager Colin Todd insisted that his captain still lead the team out onto the hallowed turf despite not being match fit. Under Todd, Mowbray steered Boro to play off places before joining Celtic in 1991 for £1 million; after scoring 29 goals in 419 appearances in all competitions.

Tony Mowbray had cemented himself as a club legend aged only 27, his new and old side faced each other in a testimonial match at Ayresome Park the year he made the move to Glasgow.

Whilst in Scotland, he became popular with Celtic fans and was said to have originated the now famous “Celtic Huddle” before match, a symbol of unity and togetherness in the team which still happens today. After Celtic he made the move to Ipswich Town where he captained the side for 5 years, retiring in 2000.

Now a head coach, he was interim manager at Portman road in 2002 then moved to Hibernian, West Bromwich Albion and back to old club Celtic, where he spent a year then was sacked following a poor run.

Whilst Mowbray was at Celtic, Boro were going through another tough time under Gordan Strachan. They were a very poor side who were destined for relegation to League One under Strachan. Then on October 26th 2010, Tony Mowbray returned “home”. Becoming an instant hit with the fans as he brought the so called “Spirit of 86” back to Boro, he steered the club away from relegation, finishing 12th in his first season.

Already a club legend as a player, he was now in high regard as a manager. A local lad who had once again saved his Boro from the brink and was respected for giving other local lads a chance in the team. After being in touching distance of the play offs and a bad run the following start of the season, Tony Mowbray left the club by mutual consent and made way for a new era under Aitor Karanka in 2013. Although it wasn’t the fairytale ending for Tony Mowbray as manager at Boro he has since gone on to manage Blackburn Rovers; but he will always be appreciated by Boro fans of all generations for his services and hard work for his boyhood club.

Coventry City appoint Boro legend Tony Mowbray as new manager - Teesside Live
Credit: Teesside Live

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