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Looking downwards I see a young woman in a corset puking up on the wall outside of Spensley’s Emporium, now the only bar in town offering pre-match strippers. The Premier League good times are emphatically over.

Surveying the scene is a sturdy statue of Henry Bolckow, the father of modern Middlesbrough. As rain bounces off vomit, he gives the impression of wishing he’d stayed celibate. That, though, would have robbed the world of a vital community, one christened an ‘Infant Hercules’ by Gladstone. For a century Middlesbrough was as important to the British Empire as any place. What happened to it speaks for all post-industrial England.

Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters, Travels through England’s football provinces.

Daniel Gray

Bloomsbury 2013

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