Scott McDonald has admitted he made things difficult for Tony Mowbray as soon as the Holgate hero joined the club as manager in 2010.
Mowbray sold McDonald to Boro in January of that year, but the pair were swiftly reunited following Gordon Strachan’s resignation. The reunion took a shocking twist of fate for McDonald, as he would end up being Mowbray’s next door neighbour.
Speaking to Simon Ferry, McDonald said: “Actually it was weird because when Tony became the manager, he lived right next door to me!
“So we were next door neighbours and obviously he’s got a couple of young children and I had my first as well.
“But look, you start to mature, you start to put football to one side. He’s such a great man, he’s genuinely a really nice man.”
The striker recalls the day Mowbray started at Boro, and whilst his teammates were eager to make a good impression, he certainly wasn’t.
“I had four years left on my deal there so it’s kind of like, we’re going to have to make this work mate, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
“I remember the day he came in, we all went into the meeting room with the projector and everything and all the boys were like, ‘right, I’m going to sit down the front and let him know I’m there!”
“I was like, ‘am I f***, I’m sitting round the back, he knows I’m here anyway!’
“Just being the little Aussie s*** that I am, he’s going to have to speak to me!
“But all in all, it was a fresh start. He spoke to us all individually. And it was a fresh start. The bedding in period of the first six months was tough.
“I think it was hard for us to accept the Gordon had gone as well because we had hung our hat on coming down the road to work with Gordon and to be successful.
“We were in deep trouble, we were in relegation trouble that year.
“So we had to get our heads together quickly, work hard for the club, work hard for Tony and things went from strength to strength.”
Although Mowbray did steady a somewhat sinking ship, lifting Boro from relegation-bound to promotion contenders in his first full season, things didn’t always go to plan.
“We had some great moments with him,” McDonald said. “A couple of times we were top of the Championship I think at Christmas time.
“But for some reason, we all know how tough it is down there, but we couldn’t buy a win in the second half of the season.
“At one point your thinking, elements of this are really good. I had to change, I had to adapt.
“I wasn’t always going to play up front. I started to play in this inside left role. So I learned that side of the game and how to be a bit more intelligent.
McDonald admitted his relationship with Mowbray was still strained, and a fall out led to the striker being left out of the Boro squad entirely at one stage.
“There were still rough patches with me and Tony, I’m not going to lie.
“There was a period where I was in Siberia – I was well and truly in Siberia! We fell out, and I didn’t see myself back in the fold for three months.
“But me being me again, as soon as he gave me the opportunity, I scored seven goals in the first eight games. I was kind of like, ‘well that will shut you up!'”