Ground Guide: Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Yet another international break and so after a weekend off Pool return to action in what is arguably the toughest game of the season so far.
After a couple of years in the Championship, Boro seem to have finally shrugged off the proverbial Premiership hangover and are finally living up to their 'big` club billing.
Whilst they are sat nicely in 3rd place a couple of weeks ago it seemed impossible to think that we`d be approaching this game jostling amongst the play off positions.
After some disappointing away performances Pool produced a fantastic display at Leeds and gave us a night never to be forgotten. It`s going to take another great performance to see us get anything from this game.
Ayresome Park, do we miss it? Not a chance. What a horrible, run the gauntlet place that was. Following the Taylor Report, Boro realised that the old place would be limited to 20000 with seats so they took the decision with Teeside Development Corporation to build a complete new ground. Ayresome Par, the home of football to the Boro for 92 years was doomed. There were 14 options for the ground offered along with several sites, and eventually the Middlehaven site by the river Tees was taken up. The fans chose the grounds name following the final game at AP.
Opened in 1995 the opening game saw Boro beat Chelski 2-0. It only took a mind boggling 32 weeks to complete, and even by today's standards a total build cost of £16million looks excellent value for money. There is still a reminder of Ayresome Park- the gates which were famously locked when the club went in to liquidation have been erected at the entrance to the Riverside, a constant reminder of the bad old days.
The ground has a capacity of 34,988. It has been extended over the years and is now completely enclosed. Big club = big billing as they have, wait for it, 2 electronic scoreboards!!!
And to think, we thought we'd made it when we had the countdown clock perched on the Scratching Sheds roof.
How's this for a bit of forward thinking? The club have had planning permission granted to construct a wind turbine at the site of the stadium, standing 125 metres high and capable of generating 3 Megawatts of electricity, the turbine will be used to power the stadium, with the excess being sold to the National Grid.
We'll be sat in the South Stand at one end of the ground. Room for 4500 here. It`s a decent view and plenty of space.
How To Get There
M55, M6 North, that's right NORTH. Leave the M6 at J38 (Brough) and join the A685 at the 2nd exit off the roundabout. Stay on the 685 for 16 miles then join the A66. Just after Scotch Corner Services, join the A1 North. After 4 miles and only 1 junction leave at J57 and join the A66.
The ground is well sign posted from the A66. The 66 heads eastbound towards Middlesbrough, continue on the A66 through the town centre to the next roundabout, take the first exit into Shepherdson's Way for the ground, and take the third exit for the town centre.
Parking is non-existent at the ground, for a £5 there's plenty of pop up parking on wasteland nearby. Alternatively the UCI Cinema car park is a 5-10 minute walk from the ground.
Sat navvers - TS3 6RS
For the Virgin Lovers amongst us - The ground is walkable from Middlesbrough train station. If you come out of the main entrance turn left onto Zetland Road. Then left again, onto Albert Road, and go under the railway bridge. Turn immediately right into Bridge Street East, going past the Bridge pub and then take the next right onto Wynward Way. The stadium is down this road. If you come out of the rear station entrance, turn right onto Bridge Street East. Go straight past the Bridge pub and then take the next right onto Wynward Way for the ground.
For those taking up the Samm Airways flight, Teeside Airport is 13miles away.
Where To Drink
I wonder if the Riverside set the trend for new grounds having crap parking and no pubs nearby?
octor Browns allows a mix of home and away fans and is a ten minute walk away from the ground at the bottom of Corporation Road, in the city centre. The Bridge Inn, which is next door to the railway station on Bridge street has mixed reviews, no colours should see you safe.
The town centres not a million miles away but last time we visited we drank in Yarm.
le is on sale inside the ground.
Plod & Stewards
Despite electronic turnstiles it's not unknown for some stewards to check ID's before allowing the concessions in to the ground, the 'old chancers' have been warned!
Pleasant enough on our last visit, plod had a very low profile.
Fear Factor Rating - 4. One pleasant visit last time round doesn`t heal old wounds.
This will be our second visit to the Riverside. Last time round TFG put St Ledger on his backside, twice, in what was a fantastic display resulting in a 3-0 win.
Reputations count for nothing in this division and the similarities between Leeds and Boro mean that empty seats in big impressive grounds are the norm at 'this level`.
Here`s hoping that come 5 o`clock on Saturday Pool have put another one of the 'big clubs` on their derrier whilst putting a smile on the travelling tangerine faces.
Onwards + Upwards