Middlesbrough v Barnsley, Saturday 28th April 2014, 3pm

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I haven’t bothered writing about Boro games previously, but with this now being a general sporting blog I thought, why not? The main reason that I record this stuff is to help me to remember what I’ve seen and whilst one Boro game does tend to blur into another these days, it can’t do any harm. There’s also a possibility that the photos could be interesting in twenty years time or so if blogs still exist then.

My son Tom and I drove to Middlesbrough and parked up near the University. It’s where we used to park when the games had much bigger crowds, but as we walked towards the stadium it occurred to me that we could have parked in any number of much closer places. It struck me how few people were making their way to the match. The crowd seemed to have dropped significantly since my last game in September 2013, much more so than the official attendance figures would suggest.

The busker was still at the underpass, despite the likely drop in his takings. Sometimes I give him money. It’s a karma thing, to try to buy us a result. This was a meaningless end of season game though and as a win wouldn’t have made much difference to anything, he got bugger all.

He probably did quite well ten years ago.

He probably did quite well ten years ago.

The lack of a crowd was just as noticeable at the stadium and we didn’t need to queue for tickets. We didn’t need to give names and addresses either when we bought them, which is a first, I think, since the move to the Riverside.

Tom’s been coming to the match with me, on and off, since his first game at Ayresome Park as a two year old. The attendances and the league position have gone full circle since those days in the early nineties with the glory years in between starting to feel like something that happened somewhere else.

Half past two.

Half past two.

Our seats were in the South Stand, just behind the Red Faction lads. They get a bit of stick from some of the older fans, but I think a lot of them forget just how low the average age in the Holgate was. The Red Faction drummer must have been practicing over the winter as he’s improved a lot. Or else he’d been replaced by someone who can play. Either way, any atmosphere at all in the ground came from that group of a hundred or so kids.

Barnsley on the attack.

Barnsley on the attack.

There wasn’t much went on in the first half hour on the pitch. Barnsley needed the win to have a chance of staying up, but it was easy enough to see how they had ended up in the relegation area. The Boro weren’t much better in that opening thirty minutes but we managed to create a few chances as the half drew to a close.

Barnsley took an early lead after the re-start, but were soon pegged back. A couple of goals at the death gave Middlesbrough a win that was probably deserved, but of little consequence.

It’s strange, but the win didn’t mean much to me. It might have been because the season was already over, but I’ve a feeling that I just don’t care that much these days. There were too many players that I wouldn‘t recognise if they passed me in the street with their full kit on and that makes it harder to identify with them.

On the way out.

On the way out.

There was no need to try to beat the traffic as having to queue at the underpass is a distant memory, whilst the lack of congestion on the roads meant that we were back in Norton quicker than I can ever recall managing in the past. I suppose that there are certain advantages to end of season games in the Championship.

 

 

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