Football: McCall copes with passing years better than Gascoigne

Bradford City 1 Middlesbrough 1

MIDDLE AGE in the middle of the field can affect you in different ways.

On the one hand, there are Peter Beagrie, Stuart McCall and Neil Redfearn - combined age 103 - upon whose unbowed shoulders their club's prospects of Premiership survival rest. On the other, there is Paul Gascoigne.

At a mere 32, Gazza has a few years' advantage over the Bradford trio, but it is he who is experiencing the mid-life crisis. Given a starting role in the absence of Paul Ince, he did his best to be involved but found himself hopelessly off the pace for much of the game.

His botched back-header that set up Bradford's equaliser for Lee Mills was just a symptom of that. Although Bryan Robson showed more sympathy than anger over that blunder, he must know that his generous assessment of Gascoigne's contribution before that erred wildly on the charitable side.

There was the occasional touch that hinted at the back pages, but his efforts suffered cruelly by comparison with Juninho, whose imagination and movement produced the goal and could have ensured a Boro victory.

That, however, would have been harsh on City, and particularly on their triumvirate of midfield elder statesmen. Once an early injury to Dean Windass forced a beneficial change of formation, McCall and Redfearn worked relentlessly and effectively in the centre of the park, with Beagrie hardly less involved from the right flank. More than any of them, it is McCall who represents the dogged, bloody-minded determination that could still keep them in the top flight.

At 35, he might have appeared to be the sort of player that gets you into the Premiership but cannot really be expected to still prosper there. That has turned out to be as far off the mark as Gascoigne's header. Apart from retaining his mobility in a way that other 30-somethings can only envy, McCall epitomises the "us against the world" attitude that can be City's salvation. "The spirit's good," he said, recognising that it is not enough in itself. "But we need some good performances as well. If we play like we did today, we won't get despondent."

There are some hopeful signs at Valley Parade. While still not exactly prolific, they at least look at times as though they might score the odd goal - and Mills' equaliser was his fifth in eight matches after a barren start to his Premiership career. He looks happier playing alongside Robbie Blake, but the real strength of the side is the know-how behind them. If the relegation struggle turns into a dogfight, that hard edge of experience could be invaluable.

"It looked at one time as though there might be six teams involved, but now it could be down to four," is McCall's analysis. "We knew Newcastle would pull clear and Wimbledon had a good win today."

If his assessment is correct, then there is just one place in the lifeboat. It could be those who know how to jostle and elbow their way around who claim it. "But we need to start turning some of these good performances into wins," said McCall. "To be honest, we probably nicked three points up at their place at the start of the season, but we thought today that we should have had all three."

Goals: Ricard (13) 0-1; Mills 60 (1-1).

Bradford City (4-4-2): Clarke; Lawrence, Wetherall, O'Brien, Myers; Redfearn, McCall, Windass (Halle, 24), Beagrie (Sharpe, 85); Mills, Blake. Substitutes not used: Davison (gk), Whalley, Saunders.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Fleming (Maddison, 49), Vickers, Festa, Ziege; Stamp, Gascoigne (Summerbell, 74), Mustoe, Juninho; Ricard, Deane. Substitutes not used: Beresford (gk), Armstrong, Gavin.

Referee: R Harris (Oxford).

Bookings: Middlesbrough: Deane, Stamp.

Man of the match: McCall.

Attendance: 17,708.

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits