NEIGHBOURHOOD niceties may have been off the agenda this week, but the respect between Jonathan Woodgate and opposite number Tony Mowbray will always remain warm and enduring.
A boyhood Middlesbrough supporter who watched the likes of Boro captain Mowbray and his hero Gary Pallister from the terraces at Ayresome Park during a momentous era for the club in the days of Bruce Rioch in the late Eighties, Woodgate’s depth of feeling towards his fellow Teessider is obvious.
The feelings are reciprocated, even if former Boro captain and manager Mowbray will be doing his level best to deny the club who pull on his heartstrings more than any other this afternoon.
The pair are at opposite ends of the managerial spectrum, but the senior man in the Rovers chief has been impressed by the way in which Woodgate has drawn strength from adversity, something he proved proficient in during his playing days at Boro.
Saltburn-born Mowbray, sure of an appreciative welcome this afternoon, said: ‘I am delighted to see him (Woodgate) turnaround the fortunes of the club in the last six weeks or so.
“They have picked up some amazing results – particularly at home – which is why this game is dangerous for us and yet they went to Preston and West Brom and won away.
“He is a lad from where I am from. In fact, where I live now, I could walk to his house in five minutes.
“I have huge respect for him. I know what he is all about as a guy.
“They have a particularly good home record and are unbeaten in nine, so if we are going to go there and win it is got to be some performance from us.
“They base it off hard work, energy and a crowd that can drive the team on if the numbers are in the stadium.”