Wembley: Boro Stand On The Cusp Of History

WEMBLEY: an iconic venue that has been central to the dreams of generations of Boro supporters. School yard yearning were left unfulfilled by near-misses, freezes and failures through a barren century.  Then, when the finals suddenly came thick and fast,  we have been left powerless and impotent as those dreams turned into nightmares.

Tony Dorigo’s free-kick killer that spoiled our debut in 1990 (although you never forget your first time). Emile Heskey’s stoppage time sickener after stroppy striker Ravanelli had briefly ignited emotions with our only goal at the Twin Towers;  A cruel 43 second Roberto Di Matteo stunner that killed off our first ever FA Cup appearance before it had even begun and hammered in the final nail of a traumatic season. And Chelsea again just 12 months later in the League Cup.

The mystique of Wembley had so long taunted us and been so painfully unobtainable – then we finally got there it turned out to be a haunted hell-hole that laughed as it crushed our souls.  Now Boro have a chance for historic redemption. Believe…


On Monday Aitor Karanka’s well drilled unit have the chance to put those nightmares behind us and write their names in neon across our hearts. This team have a chance to become eternal heroes and heal old wounds. This spirited side can make dreams come true for the long suffering legions of loyalists who will march to the Arch.

They can ignite a renewed red hot pride and passion – and one hell of a party – on Teesside if they can finally make always the bridesmaid Boro winners at Wembley. That would exorcise the ghosts of past disappointments on the big stage.

But beyond the short term sentiment and symbolism,  powerful and joyous though that would be, there is a solid core of compelling financial necessity if victory.

Winning would and take us back to the promised land of Premier League.

Victory would be an epoch-shaping moment for Middlesbrough.

The pivotal play-off clash with Norwich is arguably the biggest and most important game in Boro’s modern history.  It is bigger than all the cup finals because the prize is bigger – and the risks of failure are far more frightening.

Losing in the previous cup finals hurt like hell but defeat didn’t fundamentally change the status of the club inside the game nor dramatically change the direction of travel. Winning at Cardiff was fantastic and opened the doors to exotic European adventure and gave us a temporary high and feeling of invincibility and possibility. But it didn’t ultimately engineer a new future for the club.

But this one game has the ability to totally transform Boro.  The stakes are high. It is a winner-takes-all showdown with the eye-watering £100m prize of a place in the top flight.

We know exactly how hard it is to get to the play-offs after the sobering shock of six frustrating and fruitless campaigns where we have fizzled out and faded. And we know how hard it is once you get into the pack to pull away after being squeezed out of the automatic spots in the final furlong this term.

Now we have been presented with a one off shot at a back door elevation at Wembley . And we must make it count before the financial landscape changes dramatically around us and makes it far harder in the years to come.

As an already bloated Premier League prepares to add a nought to the figures when the new TV deal kicks in, it could be now or never for Boro.

Steve Gibson has maxed out in pumping money into the club. He has supported Boro to tune of £1m a month since the toxic shock of relegation and managed to make sure the club have always had the structure and resources to compete against sides still packed with financial muscle after their stint at the top.

But the already yawning gap between the Championhsip and the big boys may soon be unbridgeable. Relegated clubs already come down beefed up by massive parachute payments that give them a huge strategic advantage. That reward for failure is about to be trebled. In just a few year time it could be next to impossible for the likes of Boro to compete with the juggernauts who fall from the gravy train only to bounce back up unharmed, cushioned by an air-bag of cash.

This could be our last and best chance to claw back onto the top table. We must take it.
Enjoy Wembley, play your part in urging the team on to history.



I THINK we’ll win. I’ve been totally convinced this steely team was on course for promotion since about the end of September. Brighton away when they went toe to toe and showed they had bottle.  Mind, I had hoped to be on a sun-lounger by now toasting a top flight return but these things are never straight-forward and so we are taking the scenic route.

We’ve beat them twice. They – the players – think we were lucky. They – the bookies – think they are favourites. They – the fans – have fallen for the strange recent media narrative that Boro are limited bus-parkers and time-wasting kickers. Good.  Let them. Boro at their best can beat anyone in this division. If Boro start at a high tempo and wrest control of the game, if they impose their shape and dynamic, then they will win.  I’m going 2-0. And if we do then I will probably cry tears of joy while writing the match report.

Usual drill: let’s have your scorecasts and predictions on how the game will pan out. Season ticket-holders first, then Pride, then anyone else on general posting.  Then let’s have your post-match celebratory assessment afterwards. I’m not sure how soon I will be able  to get my own stuff done. I may be busy after the whistle.

If you are going, enjoy the day, don’t let it pass you by. Get behind the lads.  Glory beckons.



117 thoughts on “Wembley: Boro Stand On The Cusp Of History

  1. Speaking with two ex work colleagues from Yarmouth who are big Norwich fans through and through they are not overly confident about beating us.

    They believe they are susceptible at set pieces and their defence regularly lose the players they are supposed to be marking plus have concerns about Russell Martin if he plays. I guess every side has to have a scapegoat. Vossen and Bamford terrify them plus they are only too aware that they are yet to score against us.

    They seem to be hoping to beat us rather than having confident belief with their hopes pinned on Redmond, Bradley Johnson and Lewis Grabban.

    I reckon if they go behind their faux confidence will collapse, if they go in front however then that could be a different story. My gut feeling is that AK as usual will have his charges well drilled and disciplined, sticking to a meticulous game plan to deal with their threats, frustrating them in the process and it will not have gone unnoticed how the Ref’s seem to be lenient on one or two early challenges.

    I’m expecting Boro to get their revenge in first in an up-tempo start aimed at choking the Canary’s and knocking them off their perches again. Hopefully at full time it will be another West Side Story musical. A clinical, ruthless, structural demolition 3-0 to the Boro with the last two goals coming in the last ten minutes as we sit on a solitary goal inviting them to pressure us.

    Gutted I won’t be there (unless I was prepared to line some touts pockets) but for those of you that are fortunate enough to be in the Stadium, sing your hearts out win or lose and travel safely.


  2. I’m up late can’t sleep, nervous about tomorrow but great pics from your twitter AV. Trafalgar sq looks amazing and looks like Middlesbrough Supporters South put on a great show too.

  3. Well said Redcar Red, Norfolk will be a lonely place this afternoon and evening. Red shirt on to walk the two Jack Russells this morning and they’ve got new red leads too.

    Come on Boro.



  4. Well I am not in Saudi or Bahrain, am in LONDON!!!

    Great night last night at the Walk About and then on to Trafalgar square what a crowd and what a spectacle. The back drop of storm clouds light by London’s streel lights, the thousands of supporters – magic.

    MSS do was first class a chance to unwind after 12 hours travelling across the globe and chance to touch base with old friends.

    Up early with the birds this morning trying to find a suitable meeting point from the tube station at Wembley for lunch time. [Me and probably 10,000 others]

    Anyhow thanks Boro for a great might last night and no predictions from me apart from the Emil challenge

    UTB – were all believing now!!

  5. Can’t make it over their unfortunately, local tv showing it live over here so I have my seat booked in front of the tv. Good luck to the lads, hope they pull it off, to the fans travelling down, have a safe journey and all come back safe, especially the fans who post on this blog, it would not be the same without you all. Keep the articles coming AV, they make me proud to come from Teeside. UTB

  6. Almost hit the ceiling as I dreamt Ayala heading in the first goal this afternoon, it was so real.

    Hope everyone’s journey has been/is being safe and enjoyable. Getting quite nervous here, but can’t wait for the coverage to start on SKY.

    COB #believe

  7. This is it. The day of high hopes.For some reason I am not as worried as before the Brentford games. But I am sure a certain Mr Gibson will be nervous – but he must be used to these high stake matches (like Juninho at Leeds).

    I think our advance is that AK have been at Boro for 18 months now. Theirs was appointed only in January. So we have an advance there as we know our players better.

    Also we have beaten them twice this years. That helps in preparations.

    But it won’t be easy. They have a lot of PL players (even a bit faulty as they got relagated) and on paper they should be the favourites. Their form this year was excellent.

    But still think we are better as a TEAM. So we need to click as a team from the very beginning of the match.

    Keep up the noise who are able to attend. I am glued to the TV here in Finland where it is live on a pay channel.

    Up the Boro!

  8. Nerves are kicking in now. Trying to kill time until Sky coverage starts. Sounds like a terrific atmosphere is building in the Capital. Hopefully, the fans can help see us through to glory. Come on Boro.

  9. On Chiltern line Birmingham to Wembley, good number of red shirts in every carriage.

    Hope the queues at Wembley box office are not too long.


  10. I’ve told the other half if she sees ‘bugger’ in a tweet from AV don’t tell me until she sees EIO. This is bloody unbearable.

    Come on BORO.



  11. Hope AK has a Plan B he will introduce before the 65th minute because Plan A playing tippy tappy passing to statues hasn’t worked. Tomlin wide left is a waste of talent and exposing George. Bamford’s first involvement was when the ball smashed him in the face in the 18th minute defending in his own half.

    Ayala dithering then not playing to the whistle was criminal. Who would have believed that Tettey would be all over Vossen and clattering into him,brushing him aside? Couldn’t see that one coming!

    Norwich have closed down Adomah and so we have zero outlet or threat. Tactically a 45 minute disaster, AK needs to change something and quick. We can’t beat Tettey in the air so pull Bamford off, push Vossen up front and keep it on the ground with Tomlin in the middle just alongside/behind and bring Reach on for an outlet on the left apart from Friend who is having to do all the attacking and defending on his own.

  12. Bit stunned, didn’t expect the Ayala mistake and their second, we let them play from the start and i wished Tomlin was more central, i really thought it was going to be his day. Cant quite believe all of this.

  13. Well that didn’t work then!

    One more small shuffle of the cards in the off season & let’s see how we progress next season.

    The one big positive is it’s been enthrolling with no relegation struggle or mid-table mediocrisy. We’ve beaten some good teams and hopefiily Aitor can find a fully fit 20+ striker to lead the line.

    Well done to all for getting as far as you did – no shame in the efforts this season. Next season is an opportunity to show progress can be achieved. The watchwords can be be ‘Class & Metal’. The aim, automatic promotion, nothing else will do.


  14. Boro lions brushed off the Premiership bird table by the Canaries.

    The football inevitability drive strikes again. I didn’t see the match but no doubt the whole village will give me a blow-by-blow account, repeatedly. A huge crowd, a massive audience and Boro do ‘it’ again. It’s hard work being a fan but boy do I feel for Steve Gibson, it must be even harder work for him. I was surprised Adam Reach didn’t get to run at Norwich too.

    When the other half came out and told me an AV ‘double bugger’ I feared the worst. Have we ever come back from two down this season and won?

    Still, the table tells no lies, 1st, 2nd and 3rd promoted. Two bites at the promotion cake and we were found wanting, well done Norwich.

    Bamford won’t be here next season so the game begins again. Who will go and who will stay? Now for a rather flat beer or two, there’s always next season.



  15. Out thought, out fought and out passioned, too many of our players believing in their own hype, too many woefully below par performances, George and Albert excluded. Too many sideways and intricate passing then chasing shadows for most of the game. It was as bad as the Bournemouth and Watford away games. Sadly I have to admit the best side by far won which perhaps is some consolation that we were not robbed.

    Norwich came out angry and hungry to put right those two league defeats in the same manner that we ourselves started against Wolves and Norwich recently. The behaviour of the two touchline coaches was replicated out on the pitch. All in all we were out gunned from the off in tactics, coaching, striking, midfield and defence and then took far too long to recognise, accept and change things and when we did we changed the wrong things in the wrong places.

    Surprised at Vossen coming off instead of Bamford. Just comparing Cameron’s efforts and Bamford’s was light and day. Clearly Bamford wasn’t fit and in a Wembley final that gamble just isn’t good enough it had echoes of Ravanelli revisited stamped all over it.

    Just hope now that the 40,000 at Wembley will be there on a cold and wet Tuesday night in November at the Riverside against a Preston or MK Dons at the Riverside.

    Disappointing but looking back it has been an exciting Season but one filled with “if only’s'”. I hope for next season AK progresses and has learned a few more lessons and is stronger and wiser after his first full season in the Championship. Those, Leeds, Wednesday, Blackpool and Reading games hurt more now than they did then, so close, yet so far!

    I thought Cameron Jerome was magnanimous in his immediate after match comments at the end, gone way up in my estimation. Lead by example on the pitch then an ambassador off it.

    1. Redcar Red I have just logged on and my opening comments were as yours, in fact you have summed up my opinion on that showing word for word.

      Ayala was fouled for the first goal but no matter that first 45 minutes did us in.

      Best team won.

  16. As at Ipswich, Bournemouth and Watford we just did not work hard enough or think quick enough. Bamford on an off-day is simply powderpuff and sadly there have been too many of those in the latter half of the season. The one consolation is that this team in the Premiership would have an awfully hard season – at least we have been spared today’s humiliations on a weekly basis.

  17. Oh well the joys of supporting Boro. Just wished someone would have a run forward instead of going backwards or sideways. We need to get a big tough striker or two. Enjoy your summer holidays and come back hungry for automatic promotion.

  18. But, i forgot to say, Norwich were excellent, and they deserved to go up as being the better team on the day, Still stunned.

  19. No argument, the best team won. Norwich, Watford and Bournemouth all did what they had to do when it mattered. Good luck to them all, they’ll need it. Time for us to re-group and aim for automatic promotion next year to avoid the Play off lottery.

  20. we must get in the top two…no more playoffs….my nerves can’t stand anymore…..today Aitor was beaten by a Scottish rookie manager aged 33

  21. There’s talk of other Chelsea players coming in on loan, Ake has been mentioned,but I’d like Lucas Piazon,a to replace Bamford,

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