After a long and successful career, few people are likely to remember that Ray Houghton called time on his playing days after joining Boro’. Then again, we don’t reckon that many people will care either. His time with us was far less eventful than anything he’d ever done before and we didn’t get all that much out of him during the five times he turned up in our midfield. Media work, we think, is why he binned us – and playing football – off in the end.
And why not, eh? Joining us in 1999, Houghton was already well into his late 30s by then. The Conference wasn’t exactly a place to see out your days in luxury, so we see his point of view in that sense. According to boss Richard Hill, the midfielder felt it “unfair” to take a wage from us when he wasn’t able to commit 100%. Fair do’s, we say. Our form had nose-dived after an incredible start to the 1999-00 campaign too. So, it may also have helped a manager scratching around to arrest the slide.
Ray Houghton: Before Boro’
We have neither the time nor the patience to go through Houghton’s career in detail. He scored a famous goal for Ireland against England in Euro 88; scored a famous goal for Ireland against Italy in USA 94; and won the title with Liverpool, as well as a few other pots and pans here and there. Think the League Cup with Aston Villa is one example of those. But he never lifted the Conference trophy, did he? And that’ll surely haunt him. It’s not like he didn’t get the chance.
Of course, we may have over-estimated the appeal of that particular feat.