Middlesbrough FC

6 02 2008

One of the largest passions I seem to have developed during my time in the UK is football (or soccer as it’s called over here for some bizarre reason).  The atmosphere at a game is unlike anything you will ever experience at a North American sporting event and the game itself is beautiful.  It also has the advantage that it is not like American football or baseball in that the action is pretty continuous for each half.  There are no breaks for the TV viewers to get bombarded with adverts (I am sure the Americans would love FIFA to adopt a 4 quarter approach purely for tv revenue purposes).

I’ve been a Middlesbrough supporter as soon as I took to seeing football matches in the UK.  This mostly derives from the fact that is where my parents are from so it seemed as good a reason as any to follow a team.  This is despite the time I was in Leeds during the quick rise of Leeds United’s fortune that saw them go all the way to the European Cup final and their equally spectacular demise due to bizarre transfers and internal club management issues.  I also had the dubious pleasure of being behind the Middlesbrough goal when Brian “Donkey” Deane scored the goal that relegated us 😦  It would be easy to be like most people I’ve encountered who ‘support’ football in North America who support Manchester United (and who probably could not name 5 first team players).  But that’s another issue…

Supporting a ‘non-glamour’ club like Middlesbrough has its ups and downs.  I went to our first ever FA cup final game at Wembley (and was behind the goal when Ben Roberts let in the fastest goal ever scored in a FA cup final).   I was fortunate enough to see the arrival of superstars like Juninho, Ravanelli and Emerson and they were awesome to watch.  Emerson’s thunderbolt shots from outside the area were something you had to see in person to appreciate.  Check out the video below to see Juninho and Emerson in action…

I moved back to Canada by the time we qualified for Europe which was a bit of a shame as I would have gladly went to some of those away matches (and the home ones, I was a season ticket holder for three years).  The UEFA cup final was probably our highest profile game although the result was disappointing.  Seville were the better team on the day clearly but it might have been so different if he had that penalty called when one of their defenders plastered Viduka onto the pitch…

This season has been nothing to write about so far.  We sold our best strikers Viduka and Yakabu and have no suitable replacements at all and we’ve been shown up week in and week out for that shortcoming.  However, brighter times may be ahead now we’ve signed the Brazillian Alfonso Alves from Heerenveen.  He’s had a phenomenal strike rate in the Dutch league so let’s hope he can reproduce that form in the Premiership and keep us above the drop zone.  I don’t think there is much to play for this year (we’re still in the FA Cup however) but his impact next year could be impressive.  I’m looking forward to his debut against Fulham this weekend.  It’s a shame the games are harder to come by on TV over here in Canada.  The only places I can catch the occasional games are a couple of pubs here in town.  Even during the world cup they would rather show baseball than the football (unbelievable or what?).

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