Love and hate Boro relationship for cult hero Mitchell

Jamie Mitchell's two-year stay at Scarborough had all the traits of the traditional love-hate relationship.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 24th March 2016, 10:06 am
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2016, 10:27 am
Where are They Now?
Where are They Now?

Mitchell adored his spell at the McCain Stadium, as he scored 10 goals in 78 games and became a cult hero among the fans.

But the attacker left the club filled with hate for the man who made this period so difficult.

Mick Wadsworth had originally signed the fresh-faced Scotsman following his release from Norwich in 1996, where the story begins.

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Jamie Mitchell in action for Boro

“I was a YTS and then a pro at Norwich, but they released me because I was too lightweight for the Premier League,” explained Mitchell.

“Wadsworth was the assistant manager to Gary Megson, he remembered me and got in touch.

“I was going to move to Motherwell at the time, but I’m glad I went to Scarborough because I had a great time.

“I went up to have talks and when I got there I couldn’t find the ground.

Jamie Mitchell in action for Boro

“I asked at a garage on Seamer Road and the attendant said that it was just across the street.

“Having come from Norwich, I was thinking that it was a local league ground, but it was the McCain Stadium. I must have made a great impression.”

Things started well for Mitchell, as he won the young player of the year award in his first season, due to a number of impressive performances.

“When I was at Norwich I was in a few squads, but after I moved to Scarborough I was in the first team every week,” he added.

“I played a lot a games, scored a few goals and loved it.

“I moved into a place on North Marine Road, so I got to know a lot of people in the town, I made a lot of friends.

“Before that I stayed in the Central Guest House. The owner was my second mum. I went back there about four years ago and it was nice to see that she still had a picture of me on the wall.”

Things were not all rosy as they seemed though for Mitchell.

He said: “I was partly to blame, but Mick just killed my confidence.

“It got to a point when as soon as I made a mistake, I just knew I was coming off.

“He had an eye for a player and he wasn’t bad tactically, but his man management was disgusting.

“He was fine with the senior professionals because they’d have said something back, but he just used to pick on Simon Bochenski and me, which made me go further into my shell.

“I can remember playing in a game at Hartlepool and he let rip at me. This wasn’t just a caning, this was unbelievable.

“Gary Bennett came over to me and said that he couldn’t believe what Wadsworth had done.

“Maybe he was just frustrated that he couldn’t get the best out of me.

“I wish I’d had him later in my career because I’d have sorted something out, but I was just a young lad living away from home.

“I was a bit disappointed that some of the senior professionals didn’t stick up for me, but I suppose that is the way it is in football.”

Because of Mitchell’s frustration, he started hitting the town, mainly with fellow Boro player and Scotsman Colin Sutherland.

“In the end it turned into party time a bit more than being a professional footballer,” he said.

“There are thousands of stories from my time at Scarborough, but not many I could mention.

“At the time Colin had just about moved in with me.

“One Thursday night he said that we should go for a drink, Colin wasn’t somebody you could say no to.

“I went out, just wanting to have one, but we had a few too many, went to a hotel and then ended up back at mine.

“It was like a scene from the Wolf of Wall Street. There were people lying everywhere.

“I was woken up by a phonecall from the club secretary, who said that Mick was asking for me.

“They said it was 11.30am, why wasn’t I at training?

“I woke up Colin, went down to the ground, and while everyone was training on the pitch, we went in to see Mick.

“We were reeking of drink and he tore shreds off us.

“I apologised, but Colin told him what he thought, jumped on a train and cleared off to Glasgow on a four-day bender.”

In the end, Mitchell was released by Wadsworth and found himself out of the game.

He added: “A few clubs came in for me when I was at Scarborough.

“John Deehan at Wigan tried to sign me in my first season because I managed to play quite well when we lost 7-1 to them.

“Middlesbrough also showed an interest and in my second season Hartlepool wanted me.

“Mick turned down all these approaches.

“In the end he released me. It was maybe because I’d lost a bit of sharpness or because things just weren’t working out.

“I didn’t know what to do because I’d gone from doing well at Norwich to being released by a Division Three side.

“Clyde came in for me in the second division of the Scottish League and I decided that I’d have to take it, despite the drop in standard and wages.

“It was all about building confidence, which was what happened.

“We won the league and I joined Partick Thistle on a Bosman at the age of 25.

“It was a bit of a dream come true because it gave me the chance to play against Rangers and Celtic and players like Ronald de Boer and Henrik Larsson during a time when Scottish football was a really good standard.”

Mitchell had to make a big decision a few seasons later though, when he was suddenly struck down with injury.

“I was getting a niggling pain in my groin and despite a few MRI scans, they just couldn’t get to the bottom of it,” Mitchell added.

“In the end I had an X-ray that revealed I had osteoarthritis in my right hip.

“I can remember going down for a pre-season game against Fulham and being called into the manager’s office.

“There were eight people in the room, the manager, the chairman, the club doctor, a surgeon and others.

“They told me that if I didn’t cut down training or stop playing then I’d end up in a wheelchair.

“I spent a bit of time like Paul McGrath. I didn’t train apart from set-pieces and the like, but it wasn’t the same.

“I lost my sharpness. I can remember going in for the first day of the next pre-season and I was last in everything. I said straight away that it was time to finish.”

Mitchell kept his focus after this, and he has since made a seamless switch into the world of banking.

He said: “I had been in football between the ages of 16 and 29, I was married with a child and I didn’t know what to do.

“Fortunately I got talking to one of Partick’s high-profile fans, who had a job at RBS.

“He got me into the sales department and I worked my way up the ladder.

“I am now a business development manager in the complaints department of another bank based in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle.

“It isn’t a bad level at all for saying I’ve only been doing it for eight years.

“It is longer hours and it is a challenge, but I really enjoy it.

“I do miss the buzz of the Saturdays, the fans and playing, but I don’t miss training.”

Mitchell still keeps in touch with a number of his former Boro teammates and he would love to come back and check out the new ground when it is built.

He said: “I drove past the McCain Stadium a while ago, looking at that shell was hard to take.

“I’d love to come back and have a get together with a few of the lads when the new stadium is up.

“I still keep in touch with Simon (Bochenski), Michael McElhatton, Chris Tate, Neil Campbell and a few of the other lads on Facebook.

“I’m still good friends with Kev Martin, I went to his wedding and he came to mine.

“I even bumped into Colin (Sutherland) in Glasgow city centre a few years back. He’s still the same.

“We had a good squad of players back then, I just wished it had worked out a bit differently.”