Tag Archives: Middlesbrough

Iconic Moments: Ravanelli’s first day treble (August 1996)

Middlesbrough pulled off one of the biggest transfer surprises of the summer of 1996, as they managed to entice Fabrizio Ravanelli to The Riverside Stadium. Ravanelli had won the UEFA Champions League months earlier with Juventus, scoring in the final against Ajax. However, he was deemed surplus to requirements in Turin. Nevertheless, with some other European clubs sniffing around his services, it was a real coup for Bryan Robson to attract him to Teeside.

On the opening day of the 1996-1997 season, Middlesbrough hosted Liverpool FC and Ravanelli produced one of the most stunning debuts seen in the history of the Premier League. He scored a sensational hat-trick as Boro came from behind on three separate occasions to draw 3-3.

He quickly became a fans’ favourite and nicknamed ‘The White Feather,’ he scored 16 Premier League goals. However, despite the club reaching two domestic cup finals, they were relegated following a three-point deduction for failing to fulfil a scheduled fixture away at Blackburn Rovers in December 1996.

He joined Marseille following Boro’s relegation but left their supporters with some great memories, none more so than that first day treble.

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Premier League Files: David Wheater

Premier League Career: Middlesbrough (2006-2009), Bolton Wanderers (2011-2012)

A product of the youth system at Middlesbrough, David Wheater hasn’t played Premier League football since experiencing relegation with Bolton Wanderers in 2012. He remains with the Trotters now, captaining the side in very difficult financial times for the club with relegation to League One recently just confirmed. However, he is a wise experienced head which is just what the club needs at this time.

Wheater’s youth days saw him part of the successful Middlesbrough team that won the 2004 FA Youth Cup; a year after losing the same event to Manchester United. Promoted to the Boro first-team at the age of just 17, he was given his Premier League debut by Steve McClaren in the 2005-2006 campaign. Loan spells did follow at Doncaster Rovers, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Darlington which produced mixed fortunes but Wheater was ready for a more regular role in 2007-2008, starting the club’s opening day defeat to Blackburn Rovers.

David’s form in 2007-2008 was so impressive; his manager Gareth Southgate was more than happy to sell the more experienced Jonathan Woodgate to Tottenham Hotspur in the 2008 January transfer window. He would score four goals in that campaign and won the North East Football Writers’ Association Young Player of the Year for his efforts.

He made another 32 appearances in 2008-2009 but Middlesbrough were relegated at the end of the campaign. Nevertheless, he stayed with the aim of getting the Teesiders back to the top-flight at the first attempt. Sadly, it didn’t quite work out for him and for the club. That summer, injury meant he missed out on the 2009 Under-21 European Championship after playing a prominent role for England and manager Stuart Pearce in the qualification period. He was called up a couple of times into the senior squad during Fabio Capello’s reign but never managed to make it onto the pitch to win a maiden senior international cap.

Southgate made him captain at the start of the new club season with Middlesbrough despite being just 22 but he was sacked early into the 2009-2010 campaign and when his successor was named, Gordon Strachan, he elected to give the armband to the more experienced Gary O’Neil.

Wheater continued to concentrate on his football and this actually made him a tougher player. Bolton Wanderers were impressed with his shrewd displays in the Championship and in January 2011, a deal was concluded for David to return to the Premier League, joining Bolton for an undisclosed fee. His Bolton league debut came a month later, coming on as a first half substitute for Zat Knight in the 2-0 home win over Everton.

The 2011-2012 campaign was not a good one for Wheater as he received two red cards in the first half of Bolton’s testing campaign. His first dismissal came in a defeat at Arsenal in September for holding back Theo Walcott. This was in his first league start of the season. In November, a foul on Everton winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was adjudged to be dangerous by Michael Oliver, who gave him a straight red card. Consequently, Wheater missed the next four Premier League engagements.

His last Premier League appearance came later that season in Bolton’s 2-2 home draw with West Bromwich Albion. In what was the Trotters’ final home match of the season, they threw away a two-goal lead and ultimately, it proved very costly as they were relegated a week later. It had bigger repercussions for Wheater though. He ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and was ruled out of action for nine months.

He returned in February 2013 and extended his contract at the end of the 2012-2013 season as the Lancashire side narrowly missed out on landing a play-off position in the Championship. At the end of the 2015-2016 season, Bolton were relegated to League One. Naturally, as he was on higher wages than most of his teammates, Wheater wasn’t offered a new deal and was subsequently released. However, he continued to train with Bolton that summer and after appearing as ‘a trialist’ in first-team pre-season friendlies, the club offered him a new deal with a significant pay cut, something Wheater was more than happy to accept.

He scored an impressive nine goals from centre-back as Bolton were promoted back to the Championship at the first attempt. He was voted as the club’s Player of the Season and was voted into the PFA League One Team of the Season alongside his defensive colleague, Mark Beevers. He signed a contract extension that summer and his only goal in 2017-2018 was a massive one for Phil Parkinson’s team. It was an equaliser in the final day 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest which kept Bolton in the second-tier at the expense of Barnsley and Burton Albion.

He was appointed skipper at the start of the 2018-2019 season, succeeding the departing Darren Pratley. It hasn’t been a joyous campaign for anyone at the club, with constant threats about administration and unpaid wages to players and staff. Wheater though has been one of Bolton’s more senior pros and done a good job in difficult circumstances.

Shock Results: Middlesbrough 0-2 Sunderland (September 2005)

Goalscorers: Tommy Miller 2, Julio Arca 60

Teams:

Middlesbrough: Brad Jones, Ugo Ehiogu (Massimo Maccarone 37), Gareth Southgate, Emanuel Pogatetz, Abel Xavier, Franck Queudrue, George Boateng, James Morrison (Ray Parlour 64), Fabio Rochemback, Mark Viduka, Yakubu (Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 64)

Sunderland: Kelvin Davis, Gary Breen, Steven Caldwell, Justin Hoyte, Nyron Nosworthy, Julio Arca, Tommy Miller, Dean Whitehead (Liam Lawrence 90), Stephen Elliott (Anthony Le Tallec 84), Christian Bassila, Andy Gray

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 29,583

Sunderland arrived at The Riverside Stadium in September 2005 already looking like a side in big trouble. Having won the Championship title the previous season, Mick McCarthy’s side had registered just a solitary point to their name from their opening six games back in the top-flight. They needed a lift-off against a Boro side that had sent Arsenal packing in their last match on home soil.

The visitors made the dream start after only 90 seconds. Goalkeeper Kelvin Davis played a long goal-kick up the park which unsettled the usually trustworthy Middlesbrough centre-back pairing of Ugo Ehiogu and Gareth Southgate. Southgate’s attempt to intercept a flick-on by Andy Gray only fell into the path of Tommy Miller who had made a run into the penalty area. His gamble was rewarded and Miller shot past Brad Jones to put the Wearsiders into an early lead.

Middlesbrough made an instant response and Davis had to be in fine form to deny James Morrison from a counter-attack, before bailing out Christian Bassila after he miskicked badly and Yakubu was denied by the goalkeeper’s legs. The Sunderland centre-backs of Gary Breen and Stephen Caldwell were having one of those days where they were blocking shots and making crucial interceptions at the vital moment.

Boro continued to do the pressing after the break and should have equalised when the Black Cats were down to nine men briefly whilst Nyron Nosworthy and Bassila were both being treated off-the-pitch following a clash of heads. However, Mark Viduka fired a shot wide of the post when the experienced Australian really should have scored. Moments later, Sunderland had the critical second goal but it did come through some form of controversy.

An offside was given against Gray but referee Howard Webb elected to overrule the decision and awarded McCarthy’s side a free-kick for a foul earlier on in the build-up on Miller. Middlesbrough players were unimpressed but Webb stuck to his decision and although there might have been some doubt to whether the correct decision had been made, there was no doubt on the taking of the free-kick. Julio Arca placed it to perfection over the wall and into the net with Jones left stranded.

Middlesbrough ran out of ideas and despite throwing on Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Sunderland withstood the long-ball approach to record their first Premier League victory since defeating Liverpool FC in December 2002 – 22 top-flight games ago.

It was a rare highlight for McCarthy and for the team. They claimed just two further victories and were relegated with just 15 points, currently the second worst total in Premier League history. Middlesbrough did beat Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea at home but inconsistency like this performance against Sunderland was a reason why they only finished 14th in the final standings.

Great Goals: Jose Antonio Reyes – ARSENAL vs. Middlesbrough (August 2004)

Arsenal were looking to equal Nottingham Forest’s all-time top-flight record of going 42 league matches unbeaten when they hosted Middlesbrough in the second match of the 2004-2005 season. However, that record looked to be safe when Boro went into a 3-1 lead early in the second half.

The Gunners showed their championship instincts however and stormed back to win the contest 5-3. The goal which gave them the lead was a special moment for Spanish winger Jose Antonio Reyes. Moments after Robert Pires had equalised, Reyes cut inside Dutch international full-back Michael Reiziger and fired an unstoppable right-footed drive into the far top corner of Mark Schwarzer’s net. It was part of a sequence that saw Reyes score in the first five matches of the season.

He never quite lived up to the £20 million price tag that Arsene Wenger paid for him from Sevilla but he showed moments of quality during his two-and-a-half-years at Highbury and this goal against Middlesbrough to equal a piece of English football history is right near the top of the list.

Memorable Matches: Middlesbrough 5-3 Birmingham City (March 2004)

Goalscorers: Gaizka Mendieta 5, Massimo Maccarone 21, 45, Mikael Forssell 23, 59, Gareth Southgate 30, Clinton Morrison 44, Szilard Nemeth 90

Teams:

Middlesbrough: Mark Schwarzer, Franck Queudrue, Ugo Ehiogu, Gareth Southgate, Danny Mills, Jonathan Greening, Doriva, Gaizka Mendieta, Juninho (Stewart Downing 76), Joseph Desire-Job (Szilard Nemeth 64), Massimo Maccarone (Michael Ricketts 75)

Birmingham City: Maik Taylor, Kenny Cunningham, Matthew Upson, Martin Grainger, Martin Taylor, Stephen Clemence, Damien Johnson (Stern John 46), Bryan Hughes, Stan Lazaridis, Mikael Forssell, Clinton Morrison

Referee: Uriah Rennie, Attendance: 30,231

In March 2004, both Middlesbrough and Birmingham City were enjoying decent seasons and the pair had two of the better defensive records in the Premier League. So, an eight-goal thriller can’t have been predicted by many before kick-off on a blustery day on Teeside.

Birmingham were seventh in the table before the game started and could go fourth with victory at The Riverside, whilst Boro had recorded their first major piece of silverware earlier in the month with victory over Bolton Wanderers in the League Cup final. It was the home side who dealt with the conditions best early on and took the lead inside five minutes. Massimo Maccarone held off Matthew Upson and played the ball back to Juninho. The creative Brazilian found the in-form Gaizka Mendieta who drilled a shot into the far corner.

In the 21st minute, Mendieta turned goal provider, getting away from Martin Grainger and squaring the ball to Maccarone who couldn’t miss from close-range. Birmingham were stunned but produced a swift response. Danny Mills dithered in possession and was caught out by Stan Lazaridis. He picked out Mikael Forssell who curled a shot past Mark Schwarzer to half the deficit.

After Schwarzer tipped a Lazaridis header onto the crossbar shortly afterwards, Steve McClaren’s side restored their two-goal advantage on the half-hour mark. Mendieta’s corner was met by Mills at the back post and Gareth Southgate was in the right place to stab home his first goal of the season. A minute before half-time, Birmingham reduced the arrears again. Schwarzer couldn’t hold onto Forssell’s shot and the ball squirmed out to Clinton Morrison who tapped home.

However, Steve Bruce couldn’t get his team into the dressing rooms trailing by just one goal. The outstanding Mendieta claimed his second assist of the game by picking out Maccarone. Facing upto Martin Taylor, he curled an outstanding shot into the top corner of Maik Taylor’s net. The Italian was loving this match and so too were the crowd who had been treated to some of the best attacking football seen in the first 45 minutes of any Premier League match in the 2003-2004 season.

Goal number seven of this belting contest arrived on 59 minutes. Grainger’s free-kick was met by Forssell and his header hit the post and crossed the line despite Schwarzer’s best efforts on the goal-line. Birmingham started to open up further in an attempt to grab an equaliser but in stoppage-time, Middlesbrough finally wrapped up the three points. Szilard Nemeth came off the bench to make the most of a slip in the backline to score the home side’s fifth goal of the afternoon.

Birmingham finished 10th, Middlesbrough 11th in the final standings but they both contributed to an enjoyable afternoon for all spectators who witnessed this match-up at The Riverside Stadium.

Seasonal Stories: Middlesbrough (1995-1996)

The Riverside years start

After two seasons away, Middlesbrough were back in the Premier League for the 1995-1996 season and also, set to welcome a new home with the state-of-the-art Riverside Stadium ready for action. This was an opportunity for Boro to go and become an established force under the guidance of ex-Manchester United midfield marvel, Bryan Robson.

Middlesbrough finished in 12th position despite an alarming run in the winter months and settled in well into their new surroundings. The signing of the Brazilian Player of the Year, Juninho also attracted plenty of attention from the supporters on Teeside.

Bringing Barmby in

Middlesbrough had dominated the First Division in 1994-1995 and won the title with plenty to spare. Manager Bryan Robson brought in three new signings. He used his contacts from his Manchester United days to bring in Gary Walsh, who had become frustrated playing second-fiddle to Peter Schmeichel at Old Trafford.

The big deal though was a club-record fee that was paid to Tottenham Hotspur to bring in midfielder Nick Barmby. His £5.25 million transfer surprised many considering how important he had been to Tottenham’s improvement in the previous season.

Middlesbrough top-flight return began with the first live Sky Sports fixture of the season away at Highbury against Arsenal. There was plenty of attention on the two major Arsenal signings, David Platt and Dennis Bergkamp but neither got much of a look-in and it was Middlesbrough’s new recruit who stole the show. On his return to north London, Barmby opened the scoring and although Ian Wright equalised before half-time, the 1-1 draw was a fair result.

A Riverside carnival

The Taylor Report, which required all stadiums in the top division to become all-seater meant Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough’s home couldn’t be expanded further due to its location in a residential area.

Work started on a new stadium in the autumn of 1994 and The Riverside Stadium (the name chosen by the fans) was ready for the start of the new season. 28,286 spectators were there for its first match and the first goalscorer in the new stadium was Craig Hignett after being set-up by Barmby. Jan Aage Fjortoft scored the second as Middlesbrough beat Chelsea 2-0 to make the perfect start in their new home.

In fact, Middlesbrough made a seriously good start to their Premier League return. They lost just one of their opening 10 matches and that was a narrow 1-0 loss on Tyneside to local rivals and early pacesetters, Newcastle United.

That run also included a five-game winning sequence. Hignett was proving to be a real focal point and matchwinning penalties were enough for 1-0 wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Queens Park Rangers. The win over the latter took Middlesbrough into the dizzying heights of fourth position in the table and another carnival was set to take place days later with the introduction of a new Brazilian.

22nd OCTOBER 1995 TABLE

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Newcastle United 10 9 0 1 26 7 +19 27
2 Manchester United 10 7 2 1 21 11 +10 23
3 Arsenal 10 6 3 1 15 5 +10 21
4 MIDDLESBROUGH 10 6 3 1 11 4 +7 21
5 Liverpool FC 10 6 2 2 18 8 +10 20
6 Nottingham Forest 10 5 5 0 18 11 +7 20

Welcome Juninho

Brazilian midfielder Juninho was being tracked by numerous European clubs after his performances in the international team. So, it was a major surprise to see Middlesbrough win the race to his signature. Boro paid Sao Paulo £4.75 million for his services. He was welcomed to the club in a carnival atmosphere where a piece of Brazil seemed to have landed in Teeside.

There was plenty of hype around Juninho’s debut which came in early November. The match with Leeds United finished in a 1-1 draw and Juninho made an instant impact by setting up the opening goal in the 11th minute for Fjortoft to convert. His skills, tricks and pace wowed the supporters and he scored his first goal in his sixth appearance for the club in a 4-1 home win over Manchester City.

Although Middlesbrough’s unbeaten home record did end in November with a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, they toppled Liverpool FC days later 2-1, thanks to goals by Neil Cox and Barmby who continued to justify the price tag Robson had paid for him in the summer.

By Christmas, Middlesbrough had lost just four times in the Premier League and were in the shakeup for a UEFA Cup qualifying position alongside the likes of Arsenal, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest.

Boxing Day brought about a reality check and a real shock with a poor display on Merseyside – losing 4-0 to Everton. It started a horrendous run of form that saw the Teesiders plummet down the table.

A painful winter

The Everton defeat began a worrying run of 13 matches without a victory. There was a real lack of a goalscoring touch too with Boro scoring just five times in this period and one of those was an own goal from Newcastle United defender John Beresford.

In that period was a run of eight successive defeats which was among one of the worst sequences of the entire Premier League season. The nadir was a horrendous performance at Stamford Bridge in early February, losing 5-0 to Chelsea with Gavin Peacock scoring a hat-trick. By mid-March, Middlesbrough had dropped to 13th in the table. Luckily, the form of the teams below them was not great so there was still a nine-point cushion to the bottom three.

36 points had been garnered already and a 1-0 victory at the end of March over Leeds United thanks to a spot-kick by Graham Kavanagh eased any lasting concerns. A week later, Fjortoft scored twice in a 3-1 Good Friday win at home to Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough finished in 12th place which was a respectable position on their return to the top-flight.

Robson knew though work was required in the forward line. Only Southampton and relegated Manchester City scored fewer goals than Middlesbrough in 1995-1996 and he began to search for a new forward that summer. A flamboyant Italian would arrive and the next 12 months were going to be among the most dramatic and heartbreaking in the club’s history.

FINAL 1995-1996 TABLE – 11TH TO 16TH

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
11 Chelsea 38 12 14 12 46 44 +2 50
12 MIDDLESBROUGH 38 11 10 17 35 50 -15 43
13 Leeds United 38 12 7 19 40 57 -17 43
14 Wimbledon 38 10 11 17 55 70 -15 41
15 Sheffield Wednesday 38 10 10 18 48 61 -13 40
16 Coventry City 38 8 14 16 42 60 -18 38

Premier League Files: Dean Windass

Premier League Career: Bradford City (1999-2001), Middlesbrough (2001-2002), Hull City (2008)

In November 2008, Dean Windass became one of the oldest goalscorers in the history of the Premier League when his scrambled equaliser earned his hometown club, Hull City a 2-2 draw away at Fratton Park against Portsmouth. He was 39 at the time, becoming the Tigers’ oldest-ever scorer in the process. He is back at Hull now, working as a Club Ambassador which he has held since 2015.

It was a career that went full circle. He started his career at Hull, signing his first professional contract in 1991 at the relatively late age of 22. Previously, he had been playing at part-time level for North Ferriby United whilst holding down jobs packing frozen peas and working on building sites. With the club in financial difficulty and after scoring 64 goals in 205 games, he was sold to Aberdeen for £700,000 in December 1995.

He became a fans’ favourite at Pittodrie but a fiery temperament was always part of his game and none more so than in a league game in November 1997 against Dundee United. Incredibly, he was sent off three times in the same match! The reasons were foul play, abusing an official and kicking the corner flag as he left the pitch. He received a six-game ban from the authorities. He moved to Oxford United in the summer of 1998, scoring 15 times for them before being transferred again, this time to Bradford City in March 1999 as Paul Jewell seeked a final boost to his attacking line-up ahead of a promotion bid to the Premier League.

Windass scored twice in 12 matches including a goal in a crucial away win at Bury as Bradford won promotion as runners-up in the First Division. Rather than go on holiday, he decided to train all summer, preparing for his debut bow in the Premier League. He finished as the Bantams top goalscorer in 1999-2000, finding the target 10 times including a Good Friday hat-trick in a 4-4 thriller with Derby County. Bradford beat the odds and avoided relegation on the final day of the season.

In March 2001, he was sold to Middlesbrough for £600,000 but only made 38 first-team appearances for the club which included loan spells at both Sheffield clubs during his spell on Teeside. Sheffield United turned his loan into a permanent transfer but after being dropped by Neil Warnock for the play-off final defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers, he elected to return to Bradford for a second spell at Valley Parade.

Bradford’s fortunes had nosedived dramatically as they struggled financially but Windass enjoyed arguably the best spell of his career in terms of goals. He ended up as top goalscorer in League One in 2004-2005, with 27 goals in 41 matches and ended as the club’s third highest all-time goalscorer before rejoining Hull in 2007.

In 2007-2008, he helped shoot Hull to a surprise promotion to the top-flight, scoring 11 times in 37 appearances. During that season, he made his 700th career appearance and scored his 200th goal in English football. The fairytale concluded with a spectacular winning strike in the play-off final victory over Bristol City which secured the Tigers promotion to the top-flight for the first time in their 104-year history.

The goal at Fratton Park was one of his final Premier League contributions. In total, he played just five times in the top-flight and was allowed to leave in January 2009 to join Oldham Athletic. He finished his professional career later that year, briefly working afterwards in the player-coach capacity at Darlington. He has hoped to get into management but made unsuccessful applications for managerial positions at Grimsby Town, Shrewsbury Town and Hartlepool United. Alongside his ambassadorial commitments with Hull, he is also overseeing the development of his son Josh, who currently plays for SkyBet EFL Championship side Wigan Athletic after a spell in Scotland with Rangers.

Great Goals: Gaston Ramirez – MIDDLESBROUGH vs. AFC Bournemouth (October 2016)

Middlesbrough found the going tough on their return to the Premier League in 2016-2017. One of their bright spots was the 2-0 home victory recorded over AFC Bournemouth in October 2016. The first goal on this autumn afternoon was one of the best solo goals of the season from the enigmatic Uruguayan, Gaston Ramirez.

A Bournemouth corner didn’t lead to any significant threat and when Adam Smith’s attempted shot was blocked, the ball fell into the path of Ramirez. The midfielder skipped past Harry Arter before increasing his speed, leaving on-loan Jack Wilshere trailing in his wake. With clear space ahead of him, Ramirez kept going and going, before cutting inside Andrew Surman’s desperate challenge and firing the ball beyond Artur Boruc.

Middlesbrough fans were elated and it won the Carling Goal of the Month for October 2016. It will be a lasting memory of Ramirez for them. He returned to Italian football after their relegation.

Memorable Matches: Norwich City 4-4 Middlesbrough (January 2005)

Goalscorers: Damien Francis 18, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 34, 78, Franck Queudrue 49, 55, Dean Ashton 80, Leon McKenzie 89, Adam Drury 90

Teams:

Norwich City: Robert Green, Adam Drury, Gary Doherty, Marc Edworthy, Craig Fleming, Jim Brennan (Leon McKenzie 59), Phil Mulryne (Gary Holt 64), Damien Francis, Andreas Jonson (Paul McVeigh 60), Dean Ashton, Darren Huckerby

Middlesbrough: Mark Schwarzer, Gareth Southgate, Tony McMahon, Franck Queudrue, Michael Reiziger, Doriva (James Morrison 45), Ray Parlour, Stewart Downing, Bolo Zenden, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Joseph Desire-Job (Danny Graham 74)

Referee: Matt Messias, Attendance: 24,547

Middlesbrough were enjoying a strong 2004-2005 season in the Premier League and were favourites going into their match at Carrow Road against Norwich City. A remarkable match would follow and leave both managers sensing a missed opportunity by the full-time whistle.

Boro had only won once in their last five outings. Nevertheless, they made the better start to the contest. Midfielder Doriva fired a shot just wide of Robert Green’s goal before the England international closed down his angles to block a Stewart Downing effort. So, it was against the run of play that Norwich took the lead on 18 minutes. Darren Huckerby’s shot was saved by Mark Schwarzer but the ball fell perfectly to Damien Francis to tap home his sixth goal of the season as the visiting defence appealed for an offside that never came.

The Canaries had only won twice all season and hadn’t kept a clean sheet in the top-flight since mid-October. It was very unlikely they would keep one here and Middlesbrough’s pressure eventually told on 34 minutes. Downing’s shot on-goal was deflected into the net by the right foot of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. It was the Dutchman’s 10th goal of the season in his first campaign as a Boro player.

It was 1-1 at half-time but after the break, Middlesbrough took full advantage of some charitable defending from Norwich at set-pieces. In the 49th minute, Downing’s corner was powered home in the six-yard box by defender Franck Queudrue at the near post. Just six minutes had passed when Queudrue incredibly doubled his tally for the afternoon. From yet another Downing corner, Gareth Southgate won the first header at the near post and Queudrue ghosted clear without being spotted by any home defender to provide the simplest of finishes. The game looked comprehensively over with 12 minutes left. Hasselbaink’s terrific free-kick dipped over the wall and into Green’s net. 4-1 ahead, surely game over and Middlesbrough would head back to Teeside with all three points?

Nigel Worthington’s side weren’t going to roll over though and just two minutes later, reduced the deficit to 4-2. Huckerby crossed for Dean Ashton. The new club-record signing from Crewe Alexandra beat Schwarzer to the loose ball to score his first Canaries goal on his home debut. At this stage, it looked like a goal to add some respectability to the scoreline but hope was restored for the supporters when another Huckerby assist led to substitute Leon McKenzie scoring with a header in the 89th minute. All of a sudden, Middlesbrough became a bag of nerves.

Then in stoppage-time, Huckerby’s corner was delivered onto the head of club captain Adam Drury. He got a free header and equalised with his first-ever Premier League goal, saving Worthington’s team from a fourth successive defeat. It was a remarkable comeback but despite this fightback, Norwich were relegated back to Division One on the last day of the season.

Premier League Rewind: 17th-18th August 1996

Results: Arsenal 2-0 West Ham United, Blackburn Rovers 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Coventry City 0-3 Nottingham Forest, Derby County 3-3 Leeds United, Everton 2-0 Newcastle United, Middlesbrough 3-3 Liverpool FC, Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Aston Villa, Sunderland 0-0 Leicester City, Wimbledon 0-3 Manchester United, Southampton 0-0 Chelsea

Fans on the opening weekend of the 1996-1997 Premier League season were treated to some spectacular action and a goal that even 23 years on, is still constantly replayed again and again.

That moment came at Selhurst Park where the reigning FA Cup and Premier League holders, Manchester United were taking on Wimbledon. It was a routine afternoon for the Red Devils who were leading 2-0 going into stoppage-time with goals from Eric Cantona and Denis Irwin. Then, David Beckham did something truly special. From the halfway line, the youngster spotted Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan off his goal-line and decided to shoot for goal. He judged it to perfection. Sullivan dashed back but didn’t get there in-time and the ball ended up in the back of the net. It took the goalscorer towards global stardom.

At The Riverside Stadium, a new star of its own was being created in the form of Middlesbrough’s new striker. Fabrizio Ravanelli, a UEFA Champions League winner with Juventus just a few months earlier, made a sensational start against Liverpool FC. The Italian scored an opening day hat-trick to ensure Boro earned an entertaining 3-3 draw with the men from Merseyside, despite trailing three times in the match.

It was Nottingham Forest who would top the table at the end of the opening weekend. Like Ravanelli, Kevin Campbell hit a treble as Frank Clark’s side brushed aside Coventry City 3-0 at Highfield Road in commanding fashion. However, they wouldn’t win another match before December in the Premier League and by then, Clark was out of a job. This was as good as it got for Forest supporters during the 1996-1997 season.

Manchester United’s closest challengers in the previous campaign had been Newcastle United but after being thumped by the champions in the curtain-raising FA Charity Shield a week earlier, the Magpies lost 2-0 on the opening day to Everton at Goodison Park. First half goals from David Unsworth via the penalty spot and Gary Speed on his home debut saw the Toffees to an impressive win.

Speed had decided to join the club he’d supported as a boy. The club he’d left behind, Leeds United were involved in their own six-goal thriller at The Baseball Ground. They drew 3-3 with Derby County. Leeds would score only 25 further goals in their remaining 37 league matches during the campaign.

It had been a tumultuous build-up to the season for Arsenal. With star striker Ian Wright pondering over handing in a transfer request and Bruce Rioch sacked less than a week before the season began, the Gunners did beat West Ham United 2-0 under the guidance of caretaker manager Stewart Houston. Wright didn’t start the match and it was his replacement in the team, John Hartson who opened the scoring. By the end of the season though, Wright was still scoring goals for fun at Arsenal and Hartson had been transferred to West Ham.

Sky Sports’ first live TV selection wasn’t a classic as Southampton and Chelsea played out a largely uneventful 0-0 draw on Super Sunday at The Dell. The game was played in sizzling temperatures and it did see Ruud Gullit make his debut as a manager after succeeding England-bound Glenn Hoddle in the summer. A clean sheet was a good platform to build on for Gullit in a season that would end with silverware.

What else happened in August 1996?

  • The 1996 Summer Olympics conclude in Atlanta. It is a nightmare games for Great Britain, who win just one gold medal.
  • Boris Yeltsin is sworn in at the Kremlin for a second term as President of Russia.
  • At the Republican National Convention, Bob Dole is selected as their candidate for the presidency.
  • The Prince and Princess of Wales are formally divorced at the High Court of Justice in London.
  • Unemployment has fallen to 2.1 million – its lowest level since the summer of 1991.
  • Zoë Ball presents her final edition of The Big Breakfast, having decided to join BBC One’s Live & Kicking.
  • Influential punk rock group The Ramones play their final show at The Palace in Hollywood.

The Clubs: Middlesbrough

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
574 165 169 240 648 794 -146 661 14

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Mark Schwarzer 332
Stewart Downing 211
Robbie Mustoe 197
George Boateng 181
Gareth Southgate 160
Colin Cooper 159
Steve Vickers 155
Franck Queudrue 150
Curtis Fleming 146
Ugo Ehiogu 126

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Juninho 30
Hamilton Ricard 30
Mark Viduka 26
Yakubu 24
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 23
Szilard Nemeth 23
Alen Boksic 22
Brian Deane 18
Stewart Downing 18
Massimo Maccarone 18

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Middlesbrough 8-1 Manchester City 11th May 2008 2007-2008
Middlesbrough 6-1 Derby County 5th March 1997 1996-1997
Middlesbrough 5-1 Derby County 3rd November 2001 2001-2002
Middlesbrough 5-1 Tottenham Hotspur 3rd May 2003 2002-2003
Middlesbrough 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 20th January 2007 2006-2007
Middlesbrough 4-0 Coventry City 7th September 1996 1996-1997
Middlesbrough 4-0 Sheffield Wednesday 3rd October 1998 1998-1999
Middlesbrough 4-0 Derby County 13th January 2001 2000-2001
Blackburn Rovers 0-4 Middlesbrough 16th October 2004 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 23rd April 2005 2004-2005

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Arsenal 7-0 Middlesbrough 14th January 2006 2005-2006
Middlesbrough 1-6 Arsenal 24th April 1999 1998-1999
Chelsea 5-0 Middlesbrough 5th February 1996 1995-1996
Everton 5-0 Middlesbrough 17th February 1999 1998-1999
Middlesbrough 0-5 Chelsea 18th October 2008 2008-2009
Aston Villa 5-1 Middlesbrough 17th January 1993 1992-1993
Liverpool FC 5-1 Middlesbrough 14th December 1996 1996-1997
Arsenal 5-1 Middlesbrough 20th November 1999 1999-2000
Portsmouth 5-1 Middlesbrough 15th May 2004 2003-2004
Chelsea 4-0 Middlesbrough 3rd April 1993 1992-1993

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Lennie Lawrence 1 19th May 1994
Bryan Robson 5 6th December 2000
Terry Venables 1 12th June 2001
Steve McClaren 5 11th May 2006
Gareth Southgate 3 20th October 2009
Aitor Karanka 1 16th March 2017
Steve Agnew 1 9th June 2017

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Middlesbrough 0-0 Liverpool FC 22nd November 2003 35,100 2003-2004
Middlesbrough 2-0 Norwich City 28th December 2004 34,836 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 1-0 Newcastle United 5th March 2003 34,814 2002-2003
Middlesbrough 0-0 Leeds United 26th February 2000 34,800 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 1-1 Sunderland 6th November 1999 34,793 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 1-0 Liverpool FC 21st August 1999 34,783 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 3-4 Manchester United 10th April 2000 34,775 1999-2000
Middlesbrough 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur 7th May 2005 34,766 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 2-0 Liverpool FC 20th November 2004 34,751 2004-2005
Middlesbrough 1-0 Liverpool FC 9th November 2002 34,747 2002-2003

 

Intro

Middlesbrough have featured in 14 Premier League seasons and have often been an entertaining side. Their debut season was at Ayresome Park which ended with relegation but moving into The Riverside Stadium in August 1995 gave them the platform to become a regular mid-table team. A controversial relegation in 1997 did set them back but Boro bounced back quickly and remained in the elite until 2009. The fans have had the likes of Juninho, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Gazika Mendieta and Yakubu to enjoy during the Premier League Years.

 

1992-1993

Middlesbrough had won promotion in the previous season to become among the 22 founder members of the Premier League. They started well, winning four of their first seven games including a 4-1 victory over reigning champions Leeds United. A 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace just before the New Year though saw the club go into freefall from a mid-table position. They won just three matches after the turn of the year, collecting a meagre 10 points from 54. They were relegated on the penultimate weekend and finished second-bottom, five points adrift of safety.

 

1995-1996

This was a record-breaking season for Middlesbrough off-the-pitch. They moved into their new state-of-the-art Riverside Stadium and beat Chelsea in their first match at the ground in August 1995. Two months later, player-manager Bryan Robson managed to persuade the Brazilian Footballer of the Year Juninho to join the club which briefly turned the town into scenes that matched the colourful Rio carnival!

In late October, Middlesbrough peaked in fourth place after beating Queens Park Rangers 1-0 but they couldn’t keep up with their early tempo. An eight-game losing sequence saw Robson’s side plunge down the table but they still finished a creditable 12th, five points above safety.

 

1996-1997

In the summer of 1996, Middlesbrough recruited heavily as they signed Brazilian midfielder Emerson and Champions League winning-forward Fabrizio Ravanelli. Ravanelli sparkled instantly with a hat-trick on his debut against Liverpool FC in a 3-3 draw. Boro lost just twice in the opening two months and sat fourth but a 12-game winless sequence followed which would be very damaging for the club’s survival prospects.

In deep relegation trouble before Christmas, Middlesbrough failed to fulfil a fixture away at Blackburn Rovers due to a severe injury and illness crisis. Blackburn were incensed at the postponement at such short notice and the FA sided with them. In January, Middlesbrough were docked three points and fell seven points adrift of safety.

They went on a decent run afterwards but a fixtures pile-up saw them run out of steam in the closing weeks, despite going unbeaten in their last four matches. A 1-1 draw on the final day against Leeds United condemned them to relegation, despite herculean efforts from Juninho. Had those three points not been docked, they would have survived.

Two cup final defeats added to the agony for the supporters in what was a rollercoaster season that ended with a very nasty bump.

 

1998-1999

After one season away, Middlesbrough returned to the Premier League in 1998-1999 and achieved their highest top-flight finish in over 20 years. Bryan Robson’s side started very well and even enjoyed a 3-2 victory at Old Trafford over Manchester United in December which meant they were sitting in fourth place on Christmas Day. They lost just three games at The Riverside Stadium all season and claimed a final finishing position of ninth, drawing 15 of their 38 matches.

 

1999-2000

Although Middlesbrough fell three positions in the final standings compared to 1998-1999, they achieved one more point to finish with a new Premier League high of 52 points. Three wins from their first four games had Boro into the dizzy heights of second spot. They couldn’t quite maintain that position and even fell as low as 16th after a 4-0 loss on Valentine’s Day 2000 to Aston Villa.

A strong run of just two losses from their final 12 matches took the Teesiders clear of any relegation danger. For the second successive season, Hamilton Ricard was the top goalscorer for the club, scoring 12 times.

 

2000-2001

The 2000-2001 season was a frustrating one for Bryan Robson, Steve Gibson and everyone connected with Middlesbrough. Eight defeats in nine games saw Boro hit bottom spot in the table in mid-December and Gibson decided to act. He brought in former England boss Terry Venables to joint-manage the team alongside Robson. It worked as Middlesbrough recovered to finish 14th, despite just four home victories all season. A 3-0 away victory over Arsenal was the highlight of the campaign – a result that handed the 2000-2001 championship to Manchester United.

 

2001-2002

This was Steve McClaren’s first season in-charge of Middlesbrough after he left his post as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United. Things didn’t start well as the club lost their first four Premier League matches. However, a 2-0 home victory over West Ham United started a much better run of form. Just two defeats in their next 11 games took the Teesiders away from danger. McClaren’s side beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on their way to a final finishing position of 12th.

 

2002-2003

In early October, Middlesbrough peaked in third place in the table. Early victories included a 3-0 triumph at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur. The summer arrivals of Geremi, George Boateng and Massimo Maccarone had made the team harder to beat. However, a 1-0 loss at Charlton started a dreadful run of form away from home, which saw them lose eight successive away matches without scoring.

A 5-2 home defeat to Aston Villa in late January saw McClaren go on a deadline day splurge, signing Michael Ricketts from Bolton Wanderers and the Derby County pair of Malcolm Christie and Chris Riggott. Middlesbrough eventually finished in 11th and beat Manchester United and Liverpool FC during the campaign. However, it was a slightly disappointing result given their bright start.

 

2003-2004

Middlesbrough made an appalling start to the 2003-2004 campaign, losing four of their first five matches and collecting just one point in that period. It looked like a patchy season ahead but an unbeaten eight-game sequence in the winter months took them away from danger. For the second successive season, Boro finished in 11th place so it was another mediocre league campaign.

It was a historic season though for the club. For the first time in their 128-year history, they claimed silverware, beating Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in the League Cup final.

 

2004-2005

With Middlesbrough about to embark on a European campaign, there was plenty of experienced arrivals with Ray Parlour, Mark Viduka and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink among the summer acquisitions. The club enjoyed their best-ever Premier League season, finishing in seventh position.

They found themselves up against Manchester City on the final day of the season with a point required to secure European qualification via the league. In stoppage-time, City won a penalty but Mark Schwarzer saved the spot-kick from Robbie Fowler to seal the point required that earned the club another season in the UEFA Cup.

 

2005-2006

After five years and 250 matches’ in-charge in all competitions, Steve McClaren left his position as manager at the end of the season to fill the vacancy as boss of the England national team. His final game saw the team compete in their first-ever European final, losing 4-0 in the UEFA Cup final to Spanish club Sevilla.

The league season was a major disappointment, finishing in a lowly 14th position, hurt by a succession of injuries and deep runs in three cup competitions. There were home victories against Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea but also defeats to the three newly-promoted clubs.

 

2006-2007

Club captain Gareth Southgate was appointed as McClaren’s successor for his first job in club management. His first home match in-charge was a memorable 2-1 victory over Chelsea whilst one of their most impressive displays came in January as top-four contenders Bolton Wanderers were well-beaten 5-1. However, poor away form hampered the ability for the club to escape the reaches of mid-table. Boro achieved just two away successes and finished 12th, eight points off the European positions and also eight points clear of any relegation danger.

 

2007-2008

The 2007-2008 season saw Middlesbrough play in their 4000th league game when they played Reading in March. They broke their transfer record in January to sign Afonso Alves for £12 million. Middlesbrough finished in 13th position and unrest seemed to be around the camp with three permanent captains appointed during the season. George Boateng, Julio Arca and Emanuel Pogatetz all took it in turns to wear the armband in a fairly unremarkable campaign for results.

 

2008-2009

Middlesbrough started the 2008-2009 season with their first opening day victory in eight years as they defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. Two wins from their first three games hinted at a more positive season in the Premier League. In mid-November, the club were sitting in the mid-table positions but a 2-1 away victory at Aston Villa was their last success in 14 games. A shock 2-0 win over title challengers Liverpool FC stopped that sequence at the end of February. However, relegation was looking more likely as the season developed and just one more victory was achieved with the club’s 11-year Premier League tenure ending on the final day of the season.

 

2016-2017

After several seasons in the doldrums in the Championship, Middlesbrough managed to win promotion back to the top-flight in 2016. However, it would turn out to be a very tricky and ultimately, unsuccessful return to the Premier League. Despite having a strong defensive record, the attacking line-up was blunted by a lack of creativity. Middlesbrough scored just 27 goals in 38 matches which was the fewest of any of the 20 clubs in the campaign.

A run of 10 games without a win saw Aitor Karanka sacked as manager in early March after a 2-0 defeat to Stoke. Steve Agnew took interim charge until the end of the season but he couldn’t revive their fortunes. Relegation back to the Championship was confirmed by a 3-0 loss to eventual champions Chelsea on 8th May 2017.

Premier League Files: Christian Ziege

Premier League Career: Middlesbrough (1999-2000), Liverpool FC (2000-2001), Tottenham Hotspur (2001-2004)

German international Christian Ziege enjoyed a glorious career, winning plenty of honours at a young age and only a freakish injury whilst at Tottenham Hotspur cut short a pretty impressive spell in the Premier League.

A left wing-back by trade, Ziege started his playing career with the mighty Bayern Munich. He made his Bundesliga debut in 1990 as an 18-year-old and spent the next seven years winning three trophies with the Bavarians. These were two Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Cup in 1996. Ziege showed his instincts in attack too, achieving double figures for goals in two campaigns with his 12 goals in 29 matches from the 1994-1995 season being his best individual season, actually ending as Bayern’s top scorer.

Capped by Germany for the first time in 1993, he missed out narrowly on the 1994 World Cup squad but was a prominent part of their success in the 1996 European Championships in England. Ziege scored in Germany’s opening group win over the Czech Republic and was one of the six successful Germans to score in the semi-final shootout success against the hosts at Wembley Stadium.

Ziege was a man in-demand by the summer of 1997. He received offers from Barcelona, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Newcastle United but with Serie A still experiencing a boom of getting many top players, Ziege elected to move to AC Milan. He spent two seasons at The San Siro but faced stiff competition from Milan legend Paolo Maldini in his preferred position. Ziege did win the Serie A championship in 1999 but struggled to settle in the fashionable Italian city and chose to leave for the Premier League that summer.

His first port of call was Middlesbrough. He impressed hugely in his only season on Teeside, scoring six goals in 29 appearances and winning a recall to the German international setup for their doomed EURO 2000 title defence. After returning from their group stage exit, Liverpool FC made a £5.5 million bid to acquire Ziege’s services. This matched a clause in his contract which meant he had to talk to the Merseysiders. Middlesbrough insisted they’d received offers in the region of £8 million for the player but Christian would ultimately move to Anfield. The FA later found Liverpool guilty of making an illegal approach and in March 2002, fined the club £20,000 and the player £10,000.

Liverpool had an amazing 2000-2001 season, winning three cup competitions and earning UEFA Champions League football. However, the improving form of Jamie Carragher meant Ziege was not a guaranteed starter and he admitted in a FourFourTwo interview that for playing purposes, his move to Liverpool had been a mistake. He said: “Unfortunately I had some problems, problems with the manager [Gerard Houllier] and I still don’t know what his problem was with me. He never talked to me. I realised it was a bad move because I really enjoyed my time playing for Boro.”

Ziege played in the League Cup final victory over Birmingham City, scoring in the shootout but didn’t even make the bench for their sensational 5-4 UEFA Cup final success against Alaves in Dortmund. With a World Cup finals looming in Asia, he needed to leave to retain his national team appeal. He moved to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2001 and rediscovered his form from his Middlesbrough days. Ziege scored five times in the Premier League, including a diving header against Manchester United. He linked up well with the likes of Gus Poyet, Simon Davies and Teddy Sheringham as Tottenham reached the League Cup final. Ziege scored in the showpiece but this time, it was a losing cause as Glenn Hoddle’s side lost 2-1 to Blackburn Rovers. His form was enough for him to feature prominently at the 2002 World Cup, reaching the final as Germany lost 2-0 to a Ronaldo-inspired Brazil in Yokohama.

Throughout the years, he developed a reputation as a fearsome direct set-piece taker. This was demonstrated in the North London Derby of December 2002 at White Hart Lane. Less than two weeks later, his career was nearly cut short after two dramatic matches in a few days.

First, despite setting up two goals in Tottenham’s 3-2 victory over Manchester City, he was sent off for two bookable offences in the closing stages. On Boxing Day, he suffered a similar fate in the 2-2 home draw with Charlton Athletic. However, it was the aftermath that left more than his footballing life in the balance.

In the FourFourTwo interview, he revealed: “I was close to dying. I was playing for Tottenham against Charlton and I got a knock on my thigh. It wasn’t a big kick but my leg swelled up really badly after the match. I was in massive, massive pain. They operated on me, and I can’t remember too much about the next few days because they put me on a lot of medication to help relieve the pain. They told me if we’d left it another 30 or 45 minutes, they would have had to cut off the leg as otherwise I would have died.”

Ziege left Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2004 and returned to Germany to finish his career with Borussia Mönchengladbach. A persistent ankle injury restricted him to 13 appearances only and in October 2005, he announced his retirement.

Christian has gone into coaching since. He has had spells as manager of DSC Arminia Bielefeld and SpVgg Unterhaching, worked as a coach with the German international junior sides and moved to coach in Thailand in December 2017. However, he departed by mutual consent after just two games.