Bernie Slaven: Sporting Memories Patron

Born and raised in Glasgow, young Bernie was persuaded by his father that Celtic were the team to support and regular visits to Celtic Park ensued. A love of football also saw him playing schools football and progressing through the ranks, leading to joining Greenock Morton as a youth team player. 

In 1985 Bernie was to finish leading scorer in Scotland for Albion Rovers, a feat that lead to him moving south of the border to join Boro where he would taste success in winning promotion, play in a Wembley final and score on his international debut for Jack Charlton's Republic of Ireland.

"After two games on trial at Middlesbrough I signed a three year contract. The fee was £25,000. In my opening four years I never missed a game. In my time at Middlesbrough between 1985/1993, I reached all my personal goals. It was always my ambition to sample full time football, play at the top level, play at Wembley and gain international recognition. Thankfully I achieved all them at Middlesbrough and ended up making 381 appearances and scoring 147 goals making me the 6th top goal scorer in Middlesborough's history.

"In 1990 I was one of 22 players to be selected for the Republic of Ireland, for the World Cup Finals in Italy. Some of the other players were Paul McGrath, Ronnie Whelan, John Aldridge and Packie Bonner.

"The manager at the time was big Jack Charlton, World Cup winner with England as a player back in 1966. Jack originated from the North East of England and managed Newcastle United for a brief spell and Middlesbrough where he guided them to the 2nd Division title in 1973. During our tour of Italy for the finals Jack was asked by the kit man if he could arrange a visit to see the Pope. Jack obliged and on one of our days off we ended up in the Vatican, every player and staff attended. The following day I was told I was in every national paper back in England, at first I thought I was on the move from the club only to be told, I was alongside Jack Charlton and the Pope himself.

"As a devout Catholic, to meet and be so close to the late great Pope John Paul, will live in my memory forever."