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Middlesbrough Awaydaze
Sunday, 21st Apr 2024 21:10 by Tim Whelan

Our visit to Middlesbrough kicks off at 8pm tomorrow night, once again thanks to our very good friends at Sky TV. We’re not famous any more!

The best way to get to the Riverside by road is to take the A1 up to Darlington and then the A66 exit. Carry on through the centre of Middlesbrough and you will pick up signs for the Riverside Stadium. There is a small amount of parking available at the stadium itself, which has to be pre-booked at a cost of £8.50, but there are a number of private parks (mostly on wasteland) nearby.

The best option is to follow the route marked "away coaches" from the A66, which passes many private car parks along the river, all priced at £5, although these can take up to 45 minutes to clear after the game. Another option is to park in the town centre, which is a 15-20 minute walk from the stadium.

Finally, when you reach the turn off the A66 signposted for the stadium, you can turn right rather than left at the top of the slip road. This takes back across the A66, into an area with plenty of street parking. It is then about a 15-20 minute walk to the stadium.

It’s just over a mile from the railway station. From the main station entrance, turn left onto Zetland Road, then left again into Albert Road and carry on under the railway bridge. Turn immediately right into Bridge Street East, going past the Bridge pub (not recommended for away fans) and then take the next right into Wynward Way. The stadium is down this road and you can’t miss it.

If you get a move on after the match you might just catch the 22.26, which would get you back into Leeds at 00.53 via a change at Darlington. Otherwise there is the 23.31, which is direct and gets into Leeds at 01.10.

When the stadium first opened there was talk of building a halt on the site of the former ‘Cargo Fleet’ station (the closest point to the stadium on the railway line heading east to Saltburn) but unfortunately this has never happened.

With the stadium being built in an isolated spot on a post-industrial wasteland there are very few pubs or takeaways nearby, I believe the official away pub is now Doctor Brown’s in Corporation Road, which is on the edge of the town centre on the way to the Riverside.

The usual away pub in recent years has been Doctor Brown’s, a ten minute walk away from the ground at the bottom of Corporation Road, in the city centre, which also serves real ale and usually allows both home and away fans inside. But for some ‘high profile games’ (which presumably includes our visit), it can be home supporters only.

If you get turned away from there you can try your luck getting into ‘La Pharmacie’ on the other side of the road, which was once a chemists’ shop (as French speakers will already have worked out). The ‘Issac Wilson’ has also been known to admit away fans, and it’s close to the railway station in Wilson road.

For real ale fans there are five Micropubs, all located very close to one another a bit further from the ground in the town centre. They are; the Infant Hercules (Grange Road), Sherlocks, Dr Watsons, The Twisted Lip (all in Baker Street, hence the Sherlock Holmes theme names) and the Devil's Advocate (Borough Road).

The riverside was opened in August 1995, as Boro could never bring Ayresome Park up to the standards demanded by the Taylor report, so the site of the old stadium is now a housing estate. The Riverside was built in only 32 weeks, and at the time of it’s opening it was the largest new stadium to be built in this country since the war.

The initial capacity was 30,000, though this was increased to 34,742 in 2008, and there is room to expand even further if the need should ever arise in the future.

As with most other modern stadia it lacks character, but the facilities are very nice. The away section is now in the east stand and there would be good legroom if we ever sat down. There is a good view, but one downside is the concourse is rather narrow, so it can get a little bit crowded. Our allocation for this game is a mere 2,571 compared the usual 3,000, we were allowed on previous visits, and it has of course sold out.

Thanks to a good old reciprocal deal they cost £29 for adults, with over 65s paying £21 and under 18s £16. The official Boro website says they are expecting a crowd of 30,000, though they still seem to have tickets available. They will only sell one to those who supply their email addresses for their database, which might be a way of stopping us from buying them.

There is a bar at the back of the away end which serves lager, bitter, cider and even wine. Food-wise, the catering is mostly the usual football ground stuff, though they do have something called a 'Parmo in a bun', which is apparently a local dish involving chicken in breadcrumbs, creamy sauce and cheese. It costs a mere £4.20, so look out for that one.

Finally, those awfully nice chaps at Cleveland police are planning to search for pyrotechnics (our usual smoke bombs and flares) and drugs at the turnstiles, with the intention of arresting anyone found in possession of either. They have recognised that the majority of us are going along to enjoy the game, but they also say:-

“Football can generate strong emotions and a small minority of people will use this as an excuse to get involved in disorder and criminality. I would caution anyone who is intent on attending the fixture for these reasons that offences will be dealt with robustly. Any person who engages in these offences will be refused entry and may find themselves subject of a banning order and a criminal prosecution”.

That’s us told. All in all it sounds like a fun night out!

Some of this stuff came from www.footballgroundguide.com.


Reuters



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