Riverside Stadium

Capacity: 35,100 (all seated)
Address: Middlesbrough, Cleveland, TS3 6RS
Telephone: 0844 499 6789
Fax: 01642 757 690
Ticket Office: 0844 499 1234
Stadium Tours: 0844 499 6789
Pitch Size: 115 x 75 yards
Club Nickname: Boro
Year Ground Opened: 1995
Shirt Sponsors: Ramsdens
Kit Manufacturer: Adidas
Home Kit: Red and White
Away Kit: Navy and Sky Blue

External View
External View
East Stand
East Stand
North Stand
North Stand
West Stand
West Stand
South Stand
South Stand
George Hardwick Statue
George Hardwick Statue
Wilf Mannion Statue
Wilf Mannion Statue
Ayresome Park Gates
Ayresome Park Gates

The Club moved to the Riverside Stadium in 1995 after leaving its former home of Ayresome Park where it had played since 1903. The stadium is totally enclosed, after the previous open corners to either side of the West Stand were 'filled in' with seating in 1998. All the stands are two-tiered, although the West Stand is slightly larger than the other three sides, which makes the overall appearance of the stadium look somewhat imbalanced. This stand also has a row of executive boxes running across its middle and has the players tunnel and team dugouts in front. The roof around the stadium is raised up above the seating areas to allow more light to get to the pitch, through perspex panels located between the roof and the back of the seating areas. There is also a large video screen situated in the South East corner.

Although the stadium looks a little bland on the inside, externally it looks great. This is especially so at night, when the stadium is illuminated and is visible from some miles around. Outside the main entrance you will find a pair of statues dedicated to two former Boro greats; George Hardwick & Wilf Mannion. In between the statues are the old entrance gates to Ayresome Park, which is a nice link with the Club's history.

Away supporters have now been moved to one side of the East Stand (towards the South East corner) at one side of the stadium  Just under 3,000 fans can be accommodated in this area. The turnstiles are electronic which means that you have to insert your ticket in a reader, to gain entry. Once inside then the leg room is okay and the view from the away section is excellent. There is a SportingBet bookies outlet available and there are a number of flat screen televisions, showing Sky Sports (and the match itself once it has kicked off). The catering had a fair choice of grub on offer, including the intriguingly named 'Parmo in a bun'. Apparently this is inspired by the local Middlesbrough dish that consists mostly of chicken in breadcrumbs, creamy sauce and cheese, it costs £4.20. For the less adventurous then there is the regular fayre of; Cheeseburgers (£3.70), Burgers (£3.40), Hot Dogs (£3.40), Pizza (£3), Chicken Balti Pies (£2.90), Cheese & Onion Pasties (£2.90) and Minced Beef Pies (£2.90).

In an effort to boost atmosphere inside the ground the Club have encouraged a singing section in the South Stand which is called the 'Red Faction'. Including a drummer and looking colourful with flags and banners, they try and sing for the whole match. They certainly are noisy!

One thing to point out is that there is very little in the way of pubs or eating establishments nearby, so you will need to head into the town centre for these.

Chris Taylor, recommends Doctor Browns, a ten minute walk away from the ground at the bottom of Corporation Road, in the city centre. This pub serves real ale, has SKY TV and on my last visit had a good mix of home and away fans, both inside and outside of the pub. On the corner opposite the pub, is also a sandwich bar, which was doing a brisk trade in amongst other things, trays of roast potatoes and gravy. To find this pub; If you were standing outside the stadium with the main entrance behind you, head over to your left and turn right down the road, going under a bridge. A little way down this road on your left, there is an underpass (there is usually some programme & fanzine sellers standing by its entrance). Go down through the underpass and as you emerge on the other side turn right and go down the road and through another underpass. You will emerge in a small retail park (there is a McDonalds over on your right), which you walk through unto you come to a main road. Turn right along this road and you will see the Doctor Browns pub over on your left. Dave Ellis a visiting Leicester City fan informs me; 'We found a pub called "The Lord Byron" on Dock Street, which is only around a five minute walk away from the ground. It was reasonably priced i.e a pint of Carling at £2.70 a pint or £10 for a 4 pint jug. It had a very friendly atmosphere and kids were welcome too!'

Otherwise, there is a bar at the back of the away stand within the ground which serves pints of John Smiths Bitter (£3.50), Fosters Lager (£3.70), Bulmers Cider (Bottle £3.70) and Wine (Small bottle £3.60).

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It is quite easy to find. Just follow the A66 (signposted Teesside from the A1) past Darlington's new ground and on into Middlesbrough. Carry on up the A66, 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 (in Car Park E). It costs £6 per car and spaces can be booked through the ticket office. Otherwise there are a number of private parks located (mostly on waste land) nearby. Also when you reach the turn off the A66 (as signposted) for the stadium, then rather than at the top of the slip road turning left towards the stadium, then instead if your turn right to go back across the A66, then there is plenty of street parking available in this area. It is then about a 15-20 minute walk to the away turnstiles.

Jerry Hill adds; 'I would suggest that away fans should follow the route marked "away coaches" from the A66, as this passes many private car parks along the river, all priced at £4'. Bear in mind though that if you do park at one of these car parks, then it may take 45 minutes or so after the game, before you can exit them. Otherwise, as the stadium is about one mile from the town centre you could also consider parking in a long stay car park in the town centre (about a 15-20 minute walk away from the ground).

Post Code for SAT NAV: TS3 6RS

The ground is around a 15-20 minute walk from Middlesbrough railway station which is located on Albert Road. Although there is a direct train service from the North West, fans travelling from other parts of the country, will most likely find themselves changing at Darlington, for Middlesbrough.  

If you come out of the main station entrance, turn left onto Zetland Road. Then left again into Albert Road and proceed 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. 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 into Wynward Way for the ground. The stadium is visible in the distance along most of this route. Thanks to Glenn Brunskill for providing these directions.

Find train times, prices and book tickets with trainline. Booking tickets in advance will normally save you money!

Remember if travelling by train then you can normally save on the cost of fares by booking in advance.

Visit the the trainline website to see how much you can save on the price of train tickets.

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The nearest airport is Teeside which is located just under 13 miles away, just outside Darlington. To get to the stadium it may be an idea to head into Darlington and then take a train to Middlesbrough, or to get a taxi from to airport to Middlesbrough which would cost around £20.

Like a number of Clubs, Middlesbrough operate a category system (A&B) for the pricing of tickets, whereby the most popular games cost more to watch. Category A prices are shown below, with Category B prices shown in brackets.

Home Fans
West Stand Upper Tier: Adults £39 (B £34) Over 65's £31 (B £26), Under 18's £20 (B £17)
West Stand Lower Tier: Adults £35 (B £30) Over 65's £25 (B £20) Under 18's £20 (B £17)
East Stand Upper Tier: Adults £37 (B £32) Over 65's £29 (B £24) Under 18's £20 (B £17 )
East Stand Lower Tier: Adults £35 (B £30) Over 65's £25 (B £20) Under 18's £20 (B £17)
Stadium Corners: Adults £35 (B £30) Over 65's £25 (B £20) Under 18's £20 (B £17)  
South Stand: Adults £35 (B £30) Over 65's £25 (B £20) Under 18's £20 (B £17)
Family Area: Adults £32 (B £27) Over 65's £23 (B £18) Under 18's £15 (B £13)

Away Fans 
As per an agreement with all Premier League Clubs, away fans will be charged a maximum price of those shown below for all League games:

East Stand Upper Tier: Adults £30 Over 65's £20 Under 18's £17

Category A Matches: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Sunderland.and Tottenham Hotspur.

Official Programme: £3.
Fly Me To The Moon Fanzine: £1

Middlesbrough FC fixture list (takes you to the BBC Sports Website).

Sunderland and Newcastle United.

For details of disabled facilities and club contact at the ground please visit the relevant page on the  Level Playing Field website.

Record Attendance

At The Riverside: 35,000 England v Slovakia Euro 2004 Qualifier, June 11th 2003. 

At the Riverside (For A Middlesbrough Game): 34,836 v Norwich City, Premier League, December 28th 2004. 

At Ayresome Park: 53,536 v Newcastle United, Division One, December 27th, 1949.

Average Attendance
2015-2016: 24,627 (Championship League)
2014-2015: 19,562 (Championship League)
2013-2014: 15,748 (Championship League)

If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at: duncan@footballgroundguide.com and I'll update the guide.

The video of a Bird's Eye View of the Riverside Stadium was produced by Middlesbrough FC and made publicly available for distribution via YouTube.

Middlesborough v Stoke City
Premier League
Saturday 13th August 2016, 3pm
Lee Sockett (Stoke City fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Riverside Stadium?

I was looking forward to my visit to the Riverside and was expecting a hard game with it being Middlesborough's first home game back in the Premier League. Not the game I would of picked for our first away fixture but you get what your given and I was looking forward to seeing a good competitive match.

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

Traveling up to Middlesborough on the official transport offered by Stoke caused no problems apart from the stop at a service station to meet up with a Police escort. With 28 coaches or 1500 fans all landing at a Shell Petrol Station wasn't the brightest idea and the Police soon came to the same conclusion and quickly got us back on the coaches and back on our way to the ground, where we arrived at 12:30pm.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

After arriving so early myself and my two boys had a walk around the impressive looking Riverside Stadium. As we were early we were able to see both teams official coaches arrive. Home fans very welcoming and we're looking forward to the game and in a confident mood.

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Riverside Stadium?

Having last visited the Riverside Stadium in 1998 I wasn't expecting a huge change but was impressed with how clean the ground was and it had good facilities for fans.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

The game it self was a let down for the first 45 minutes for Stoke. Think we were still in pre-season mood, the home fans were really up for it and the early goal give them a lift they didn't really need. The Steve Gibson they sung was really good. After going in only a goal down at half time, we regrouped and got a equaliser from a Shaqiri set piece. Maybe we could have nicked it late on but overall a draw seemed a fair result. Good selection of food and drinks on offer even if they were a little pricey. Stewards were fine and didn't really get involved with fans despite us standing for the 90 minutes. There was some good banter between home and away supporters but both sets of fans would of left happy.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Really quick getaway by the official coaches within 20 minutes of the final whistle, with another Police escort back out of town. Wouldn't like to be on the car park next to the official coaches as it looked like it was going to take a while to getaway from there.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Middlesbrough was a good away day for the first game of the season, would recommend vesting the Riverside Stadium for a good sing song and banter with home fans.

Middlesbrough v Blackburn Rovers
Football Championship League
Saturday 6th February 2016, 3pm
Daniel Ainsworth (Blackburn Rovers fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Riverside Stadium?

I am aiming to go to many grounds this year with my team Blackburn. With Middlesbrough doing well in the League and with Rovers not doing so well, I was hoping for an upset!

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

The trip there was easy, as we had travelled by official supporters coach. However when parking the coach was sent the wrong way so we lost time but still got there 40 minutes before the game kicked off.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

As we didn't have much time, we went straight to the ground, which we entered with no fuss. Our best striker Jordan Rhodes had left Rovers for Teesside on January transfer deadline day. So we wasn't impressed to see his photo on the front cover of the matchday programme.

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Riverside Stadium?

I can have no complaints! It was an excellent view of the playing action from the away section and the home fans were amazing in generating some noise.The ground was modern and had an atmosphere unlike many of the other current bowl shaped grounds in my opinion.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

The game was dominated by Rovers surprisingly and deservedly took the lead after 72 minutes only to be clawed back for a 1-1 draw six minutes later - ending the game at 1-1. The atmosphere was the best of the 10 away grounds I've been this year and the singing section next to us was amazing! We had continuous chants going competing with them but it was all in good spirit. The food was overpriced - especially the Parmo in a bun (chicken in breadcrumbs with cheese) at £4.20. Chips were served in small portions at a pricey £2.20 as well as Burgers nearing the £4 mark.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

We only brought 500/600 so getting out the ground wasn't difficult. Due to the 26,000 attendance the coaches had to wait for around 20 minutes to allow the crowd to disperse before we could set off. 

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Great day with a great result and I would certainly return!

Middlesbrough v Sheffield Wednesday
Football Championship League
Monday 28th December 2015, 5.15pm
Martin E (Sheffield Wednesday fan)

Why were you looking forward to visiting the Riverside Stadium?

I hadn't been to an away game for a while and I was meeting up with friends, old and new.

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

Despite the worry of the recent flooding around Yorkshire, the drive up was fairly straight forward, with no problems. We arrived in Middlesbrough fairly early, so managed to get parked up fairly easily.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

We went into the Dr.Browns pub in the centre, which had a good mix of home and away and mostly friendly natured (apart from a couple of idiots from both sides). The Police presence was pleasantly minimal too!

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Riverside Stadium?

have been before and it is certainly an impressive sight,especially at night, all lit up for miles around, although the area around the ground is still pretty post-apocalypse-esque.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

Despite it being a bank holiday tea-time, live on SKY television, costing £32 a ticket and just three days after Christmas, there were 28,000 in attendance, with just short of 2,000 away fans, which was very impressive. The atmosphere was also very good. Despite going 1-0 down after 42 seconds the visiting supporters were good vocally and for a pleasant change the home fans were pretty vocal too! Even though they did sing a lot of the cringey generic stuff.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

A bit hairy going through the underpasses but with 28,000 people all leaving and most heading back the same way, to be expected really. we were back at the car and on our way within 20 minutes.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Apart from the result, it was a good day out with friends and a decent game and atmosphere.

Middlesbrough v MK Dons
Championship League
Saturday 12th September 2015, 3pm
Michael Pala (Doing the 92)

Why were you looking forward to going to the Riverside Stadium?

Having been to Derby County FC many times, I've been intrigued by the Riverside as they are almost identical stadiums. Also being the furthest Championship ground from where I live, it had an aura of mystery.

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

It was a 220 mile journey to the Riverside from my home. I parked in the Captain Cook Square multi storey car park in the town centre and walked to the ground, which took about 15 minutes.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

I had stayed in Hartlepool the night before. I then drove to Middlesbrough via the Transporter Bridge (a must see) and also went up to the top of the Transporter Bridge by lift as they had a heritage open day. Drove around Middlesbrough visiting the Brian Clough statue, his childhood street and also went to the location of Ayresome Park; Middlesbrough's old ground. I then went into the town centre for lunch and had a quick look round the shops before walking to the Riverside. The people of Middlesbrough were very chatty, welcoming and helpful.

What you thought on seeing the Riverside, first impressions of away end then other sides of the stadium?

Being used to Pride Park, the first glimpse of the Riverside is a shock and especially when there's a large ship parked next to it!! Inside the stadium it was very similar to Pride Park except for the colour and the roof (slopes down at Pride Park but drops suddenly at the Riverside).

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

The stewards at the Riverside were very helpful and friendly. Atmosphere from the home fans was great considering being just under two thirds full. Facilities in stadium were great and toilets were clean. The game saw eventually saw the home side score two goals in the last 20 minutes, to take all three points.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

I went into the club shop before walking back to the town centre to collect my car. The traffic would have died down and getting away from the town centre was easy and I was back in Bedfordshire in just over 3.5 hours.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

A trip to Middlesbrough is definitely worth it! To make the most of it, its best to go up the day before so you can have a look around the area in the morning. The Transporter Bridge is definitely worth a visit. Whilst the town centre is the same as most town centres, there's definitely enough shops to keep someone busy if you're taking someone who isn't going to the match. People in Middlesbrough and the surrounding area were very friendly and helpful.

Middlesbrough v Bristol City
Championship League
Saturday 22nd August 2015, 3pm
Adam Chard (Bristol City fan)

With Sheffield Wednesday charging a ludicrous £39 per ticket for our first match of the season, I was happy to find Middlesbrough were charging marginally less at £32 just two weeks later. As Teesside is only 2 hours from my home in East Yorkshire and a very pleasant drive up the coast, I decided to tick off ground No 45.

With just 4 matches gone, and despite walking League One the previous season, Bristol City had already shipped 11 goals and constant speculation about big money signings didn’t seem to be helping matters. However, a last gasp draw with Leeds Utd the previous Tuesday had given us hope. Middlesbrough, on the other hand, had started the season brightly. They had lost out in the play-off final the previous season and had some decent players in their squad, including newly-signed David Nugent. So I really wasn’t hopeful for any kind of result.

As I had arrived around 1:15pm for a 3:30pm kick off I was able to park on Dockside Road, which leads right up to the Riverside Stadium. As you come off the Cargo Fleet Lane roundabout on the main A66 you turn left at the next roundabout - there are no parking restrictions. I had ample time to wander up towards the stadium on what was turning out to be a nice warm day.

One thing I had heard of, and wanted to try, was the famous Chicken Parmo in a Bun – a true Middlesbrough speciality – a breaded chicken cutlet (a bit like a schnitzel) smothered in white sauce and melted cheese. Well worth the £3 I spent on it from one of the numerous vans outside the ground.

The Famous Chicken Parmo

The Famous Chicken Parmo

I had a wander around the outside of the stadium, which was very impressive, but all the while had a desolate feeling to it, tucked away amongst waste ground and salvage yards. Obviously, as the name suggests, it is right next to the River Tees and there was the impressive site of a massive ship docked behind one of the ends – not something you see at most grounds. I did a full circumnavigation of the ground, as there was plenty to see: The old Ayresome Park gates flanked by the statues of Wilf Mannion and George Hardwick, a mural charting the history of Ayresome Park, along with old seats from the ground, and a great view of the Transporter Bridge.

The turnstiles are all equipped with bar code scanners, so my ticket had to be purchased from an office before entering.  The facilities inside were as I would expect from such a modern ground. A good concourse area, with Sky TV showing the noon match and large food and drink outlets – got a pint of Strongbow (no decent cider for us discerning Bristolians of course!) for £3.70.

The Ship Got A Good Parking Spot!

Ship Moored Next To The Riverside Stadium

The stadium from the inside was also very impressive. With the seating forming a near continuous bowl the effect. which was tremendous. The main Grandstand opposite looked huge and there was a big screen to our left. We were situated in the South East corner, so the home side effectively had two home ends. There were a lot of banners hung around the stadium by various fan groups – although some had seen better days. Leg room wasn’t bad and the view was excellent.

As the stadium filled up a good atmosphere started building, with the City fans who had made the 530 mile round trip in good voice. City got off to an incredible start – better than I could have hoped for – with a fantastic goal curled into the top right corner from our wing back, Bristol-born Joe Bryan, on 10 minutes. Cue wild celebrations in our little corner and stunned silence from Boro. Middlesbrough still looked menacing and their left winger Wildschut was causing all sorts of issues. However, it really should have been 2-0 midway through the first half as Bobby Reid blazed over from close range and it could have been even better for City had Konstantopoulos not managed to pull off a fantastic save when Kodjia’s shot looked like it was goalbound.

Boro did have the ball in the back of the net at one point, but the referee had already blown for a quite blatant foul. The second half came and went and with City looking more and more defensive many of us wondered when the inevitable equaliser would come. However, City stood firm. When the likes of Flint and Ayling weren’t clearing anything slung into the box, Ben Hamer in goal was coming up with some incredible saves.

View From The Away Section

View From The Away Section

Boro threw on ex City favourite Albert Adomah, who received a standing ovation and had his name chanted by the travelling City fans – despite the fact he was attacking our goal! However, it was to be our day as the clock ticked to full time, sparking some jubilant celebrations in the away section. Our first win back in the Championship.

It was an easy ten minute walk back to car, although I found that many more people had parked in Dockside Road, so the road was pretty jam packed with cars left in all manner of awkward places, making it difficult to get out. I queued to get onto the main road for a while and it took me around 15 minutes to get out of Middlesbrough.

So overall, a fantastic away trip: nice food, good stadium, great result!

Middlesbrough v Brighton and Hove Albion
Championship League
Saturday 2nd May 2015, 12.15pm
Michael Stoner (Brighton and Hove Albion fan)

Why you were looking forward to going to the Riverside Stadium?
I first was intrigued of this away game since about the new year. First of all, it was the last game of the season. The last game of the season historically been highly intense, especially if the club you're supporting is fighting for their place in something. Another thing that i was looking forward to was travelling the distance between Teeside and Sussex. I never really experienced travelling this distance and looked on this fixture and actually doing it. And lastly, when I actually booked my tickets in March, the promotion and title race was anyone guess and it'll be a good day out if I saw a side potentially 'Go Up' or if not, win the league. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Middlesbrough slipped up against Fulham last week which meant Watford gained promotion to the Premier League at Brighton and Bournemouth practically sealed their promotion as well (providing they don't lose to Charlton and Middlesbrough beat us with a swing a 19 goal victory)

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
I decided to coach this game as i usually do when i travel along to away games. I went with a independent 'Run by Fans, for Fans' coach, called Blues away, and left Eastbourne at 2:30am in the morning. Finally reached and left the Amex by 4. The Journey itself was relativity stress free as we didn't get stuck in traffic. We did stop at a service station about 6.45ish in the morning and stopped for 45 minutes. Besides that, the journey was spent on the motorway

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?
The coach arrived at the Riverside at 10:10am and conveniently parked directly outside the away turnstiles. There was several Burger vans dotted around the stadium however I didn't treat myself. I did enter into the shop and purchase a scarf, as you do. I felt the home fans was extremely friendly, nearly every 'Boro fan i spoke to ask the same question "... So what time did you leave this morning"

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Riverside stadium?
My first impression of the stadium, from the motorway, was a good one. Inside, the stadium looked tidy as we were located in the East Stand towards the South Stand. The leg room was adequate enough, and the concourse was big enough for the travelling fans (by the looks of it, we must of taken about 400-500 fans). The stadium is certainly of Premier League Standard.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..
The Brighton fans were 'lucky' enough to been given a free £6 voucher to spend on the refreshment bar, courtesy of our club. Personally, I had a Chicken Balti Pie and a coke. I personally didn't rate the pie I had. The facilities is what I expected from a team who spent many years in the top flight of English football. The toilets seemed clean and the concourse was adequate too. The stewards seems friendly enough. They didn't have much about presences about them. Brighton fans aren't renowned for trouble so the stewards have practically nothing to do except to guide fans to their seats, The home fans did put up a display before the game with their banners, flares and confetti. The 'Singing Section' was located in the South Stand and they did sing the whole of the first half which was led by a drummer. However they didn't make much noise in the second half as the drum failed to make an appearance.

The game itself was end to end. Each team had chances in both half's but struggled to put them away. Middlesbrough only threaten once Brighton slipped up or misplaced a pass .... which happened lot in the first half. I felt Brighton dominated in the last 20 minutes or so but failed to score. Substitution Craig Mackail-Smith came on and replaced Chris O'Grady in the second half for his last appearance with the Seagulls. Substitution and Brighton's player of the year Inigo Calderon came on and have a chance in the dying moments but it was saved. The game ended a 0-0 draw.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
As I said earlier on, my coach was parked outside the away turnstiles, so it was easy to get to. Once everyone got onto the coach, we went back home. Besides a 5 minute wait just outside the stadium due to traffic, the traffic was stress free. We did stop off at the Watford Gap for 45 minutes or so, except for that, we were mostly on the motorway. Got back home in Eastbourne about 9:45pm in the evening.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
The day itself was decent enough but was it really worth spending 19 hours or so for a 0-0 result? Well, at least the Riverside can be ticked off of the list of stadiums I've been too. Thankfully this dreadful season is over for Brighton - the sooner we forget about it, the better.

Middlesbrough v  Preston North End
Capital League Cup 2nd Round
Tuesday 26th August 2014, 7.45pm
Paul Willott (Preston North End fan)

I couldn't honestly say that I was brimming with excitement before I embarked upon this trip; the League Cup engenders a mixture of responses depending on a clubs aspirations and I for one fervently hope that this season is one that Preston North End will remember for a successful promotion campaign from the third tier of English league football, and therefore cup runs are much more of a "nice-to-have".  However, it was to be my first "fix" of football for the new season, and as much as it might "only" have been the League Cup, I was intrigued to see how the squad that has started the season quite well would fare against a team from the Championship. 

Hence I departed from Kent, and running via Croydon to collect my travelling companion, commenced the drive North which once we'd escaped the stop-start clutches of the bedeviled M25 went fairly smoothly.

Upon arrival on Teeside, we swung onto the A66 from the A19 and soon spotted the quite imposing Riverside stadium to our left.  First impressions certainly count, we certainly agreed that it looked quite striking from the outside, and that pictures on the internet don't really do the place justice.

As per the guide, I was planning on turning to the right once trundling up the ramp upon leaving the main A66 to try to find some on-street parking in the residential areas, but noticed that there was seemingly some spaces for parking on grass verges closer to the stadium, so chanced our luck and found a spot so got parked quite close to the ground and saved ourselves a few bob!

The Riverside continues to impress as you approach on foot; first there is the impressive statues of former 'Boro greats such as Wilf Mannion, then there is also the former main gates of Ayresome Park sited in front of the stadium which is a nice touch, and a link to the clubs former home. Furthermore, one thing that certainly struck me was that the ground, despite being some 20 years old, is in very good condition. Many a newer ground is already weather-stained, streaks of rust spoiling the paintwork, but no so the Riverside. Not only has it clearly been solidly built, but it is well maintained, and that struck a chord with me. A club that takes a pride in its stadium and home is doing something right.

Ayresome Park Gates

Ayresome Park Gates

Despite the lack of established eating facilities as listed in the guide, for match-day countless burger vans had appeared, and the one we chose to sample was serving up the most gorgeous grub. I opted for the more traditional 1/4lb cheeseburger whereas my buddy opted for the variant with mushrooms.  I noticed amongst the many other options was a Hawaiian burger, which we discussed and assumed would be served with pineapple? With hindsight, we should have gone back for more...

And so attention turned to the game in prospect. I knew there would be nowhere near a full house but my concern was that if hardly any turned up at all, the prospect of just a few thousand in such a handsome stadium would make for an empty atmosphere. However, although the approximately 11,000 fans that appeared, was a little lower than the league crowds experienced currently at the Riverside, it was still more than I'd feared, but crucially enough to generate a much better atmosphere than I'd dared to hope for too. Perhaps the strategy of reducing ticket prices does encourage fans to turn up on nights like these. Some matches with a derby element seem to be recapturing a degree of attraction to supporters; there was a full house at Deepdale last season for our first round clash with Blackpool, and the Leeds-Bradford match I noticed had a large attendance this week too

In fact, the few thousand in the "singing section" in the South Stand never let up all night, and with the drums and the flags waving certainly again left a positive impression that sufficient 'Boro fans were up for a cup clash even if it was against lower league opposition.

As the build-up to the match continued I perused the matchday programme which would have been ok if it didn't touch a raw nerve of mine by making a feature of this infernal ice-bucket challenge; worse was to follow on the big-screen as they showed footage of the manager followed by player after player taking part in this childish, gimmicky, and wasteful charity stunt. Fortunately, there were other things in the programme to read whilst that farce was displayed...

Once the match got underway, it soon developed into an intriguing contest. Both sides took the chance to rest a few senior players and blood some youngsters and the first 20 minutes was played in an almost continental defensive keep-ball style with very little typical English action. Unusual perhaps, but it was interesting to see and also good to see that concentrated effort on passing football. Gradually both sides started to probe a little more, with arguably the best chance of the first half falling to one of the Preston youngsters only for him to slip at the crucial moment and miss a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Riverside Stadium

Riverside Stadium Middlesbrough

In fact, it would be the second half before the game really erupted into life, with first 'Boro taking the lead with a well worked free-kick, then Preston equalising with an equally great set-piece move, only for 'Boro to take the lead again 3 minutes later. Subsequently the home side cemented their lead with a third goal, but great credit to the Preston players who were striving with intensity throughout the second half, it was only when we crept towards injury time that I sensed it was all over.

Once the final whistle blew, we trooped out and we jumped in the car and within 3 minutes we were motoring freely along the A66.  I sense the night was more remarkable for the fact that 28,000 had graced the stadium MK to witness an unbelievable 4-0 spanking of a certain club formerly known as Newton Heath; but from our little perspective we'd thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the match experience exceeded expectations too.  

All clubs take note; look after your ground the way 'Boro look after theirs, and you'll be okay!

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Updated 27th August 2016