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Match Day Banter - memories of our opponents - Middlesbrough

Posted on 23 September, 2016 at 6:55

Those of a certain age know that in the bad old days of football violence, going to Middlesbrough for a definite non derby was often worse than travelling to the other place for a real derby.

I don’t recall a worse visit to the ageing Ayresome Park than 7th February 1981. For the record, we lost one-nil to a Graeme Hedley goal although the events on the pitch were almost incidental to the utter mayhem which went on around the game.

My memory does not extend to whatever pre and post match skirmishes went on during the walk to and from the station although I have no doubt it was “lively” as the euphemism goes.

What was remarkable was the amount, level and prolonged nature of the fighting which went on inside the ground and in at least three sections of it. I have no doubt that police and stewards were present but even by Cleveland Constabulary standards of non-intervention, amply demonstrated since the move to the Riverside, this was remarkable.

If there was meant to be segregation, it had broken down completely soon after kick-off. As was common, Sunderland had infiltrated home areas in numbers.

This led to waves of fans from both sides charging up and down the terracing at each other, landing blows and kicks, retreating, regrouping and repeat the process for what seemed most of the game. I really don’t remember the security services even making a token effort to snatch and arrest people as a deterrent or to form a no man’s land between them.

The good old days, eh?

Jim Fox


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