Boro’ got themselves a good ‘un in October 2015 with the arrival of Michael Tonge on a free transfer after the midfielder had left Leeds United. A hugely experienced midfielder, Tonge was without a club since leaving Elland Road at the end of the 2014-5 campaign. And, in joining us, he’d be playing outside the top two tiers of English football for the first time in his career. How’s that for a coup?
Michael Tonge: Before Boro’
After starting out at Manchester United, Tonge soon found a home at Sheffield United. It was here that he made his name; turning out more than 300 times in a Blades shirt, with 24 goals thrown into the mix too. In total, his time at Bramall Lane lasted seven years. In 2008, however, that time came to an end after signing for Stoke City for a rumoured £2m.
We’re not sure why Stoke signed him, though. In his five years at the Britannia Stadium, he struggled to make an impression in their first team. So, out on loan back down to the Championship he went; Preston North End (twice), Derby County and Barnsley some of the clubs he turned out for on occasion.
In 2012, however, his fortunes seemed to pick up; being reunited with former Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock at Leeds United. After a successful three-month loan spell in late 2012, Tonge made the switch to Elland Road on a permanent basis in January 2013. He made 39 appearances and scored five times during his first season there. But when Warnock left, his opportunities started to dwindle and he was off out on loan again; this time to Millwall until summer 2015.
Michael Tonge at Boro’
In joining Boro’, manager Teddy Sheringham was bringing in someone with enough know-how to work the midfield. But his senior status also came with responsibility that we hoped would help fire the club back up the League Two table. And so it came to be. His expertise often proved invaluable as we roared back following the departure of Sheringham in 2016.
Another full season followed, with Darren Sarll in charge. At the end of the 2016-7 season, however, Tonge was among a number of Boro’ players to be released from their contracts.