On this day in 1992, John Hendrie hit an extraordinary 15-minute hat-trick to turn a game against Blackburn Rovers on its head.
Heading into the December in the inaugural Premier League and coming up against a much-fancied, free-spending Rovers side, many would have expected a young Alan Shearer to be grabbing the goalscoring headlines.
But after Jason Wilcox’s goal left Boro trailing at Ayresome Park at the interval, the second half saw ‘Hurricane’ Hendrie (as he was dubbed by the TV commentator that day) strike three times in a matter of minutes to earn The Teessiders victory.
Hendrie’s manager Lennie Lawrence admitted post-match that he hadn’t fancied the fan favourite at the start of his tenure as Boro boss, but even he was left purring after this virtuoso display of finishing, even tipping the mercurial Scot for international duty.
As for the man himself, Hendrie has no shortage of Boro tales to tell from his 200-odd appearances for the club – and says this hat-trick ranks right up there with his most memorable moments on Teesside.
“I have some magic memories of Boro, and this is definitely one of them,” he says.
“Blackburn’s manager was Kenny Dalglish, who was my hero growing up as a Celtic fan. So for him to be bringing his team to Ayresome Park made it a special occasion anyway.
“It was the first year of the Premier League, too, which meant it went down as the first hat-trick in the division in Boro’s history, as well as being the first Scotsman. I think it was only Eric Cantona and Mark Robins who had scored one for any team in the league before that.
“When you look at what the Premier League has become now – it is something that I’m still so proud of to this day.
“In the moment, you’re just thinking about the team and the three points, and thankfully we did win the game so I was able to celebrate properly.
“But it’s only years later and people are still coming up to you and talking about it that you look back as one of the highlights of your career.
“I’ve got the matchball in my loft somewhere – but it’s probably the size of a raisin by now!”
Not every one of his teammates was as chuffed as Hendrie himself, however.
“They were all different goals at the same end, the first was a near-post effort, the second a left-footed strike, a good finish,” he explains.
“Then the third landed in the box right between myself and Craig Hignett.
“It was Craig’s debut for Boro but obviously I’m going for my hat-trick.
“Me and Higgy still joke about it now. I was like the old school bully – just bundled him out of the way!
“I’m celebrating and Higgy comes up to me and gives me a hug. I’m expecting him to say well done and he’s in my ear calling me God knows what saying ‘I wanted that for my debut!’”
Back to the present, and another former Boro teammate Tony Mowbray brings his Blackburn Rovers side to the Riverside on Saturday. Hendrie, one of our matchday hosts in the Riverside’s hospitality lounges, is expecting a typically tight Championship affair.
“I’m not surprised Mogga went into management, not at all,” he says.
“You could always see that was the road he was going to go down, because he was a leader on the pitch.
“He’s doing well. I watched the highlights of Blackburn’s game against Sheffield Wednesday and they were impressive.
“Speaking of hat-tricks, Danny Graham’s coming back into town and he got one to his name at the weekend.
“And for me, Bradley Dack is their standout player – he can create and score, and he’s one we’ll have to be wary of.”
A double promotion winner in his time with the club, Hendrie says the current squad have plenty of the hallmarks of being a similarly successful side – and believes it would be big for Boro to bounce back from our second home defeat of the season when Blackburn come to town.
“We caught a rampant Aston Villa at a bad time,” he admits.
“There was plenty to admire about their side and the way they played. But you don’t look at it all doom and gloom – we’re the one that’s fourth in the table and the teams above us are within grasp.
“In the same way, if we’d won that game you don’t get carried away and take your eye off the target. It’s an old cliché, but just one step at a time.
“We’re very difficult to beat, and that goes down to them being honest lads, working their socks off for one another.
“We’ve still got the best defensive record in the Championship. I’d just like to see us with a few more attacking options, and the manager has said that’s something we want to address.
“It’s a good squad and you can see that they are together. There’s no reason why we can’t be one of the two to get automatic promotion.
“If we are to bring players in come January, they have to have the right character as well as the right quality, and be just as committed to the cause.”
John Hendrie is part of an eight-strong team of famous faces you’ll find in our hospitality rooms on a matchday, along with Alan Peacock, Steve Vickers, Mark Proctor, Neil Maddison, Jim Platt, Bernie Slaven and Jeff Winter, as well as a variety of special guests from game to game.
Watch extended highlights from that win in 1992 in the video player above.