Middlesbrough v Tottenham Hotspur, Sunday 5th January 2020, 2pm

I went to this one with my grandson Harry who hadn’t been very impressed with the Northern League game we’d gone to on Boxing Day at Stockton Town. I think a lot of his disappointment had been due to him thinking that we’d actually been going to the Boro and so I thought I’d make it up to him with our first visit of the season to the Riverside.

I took him last year over Christmas and whilst he didn’t seem disheartened by an hour and a half of Pulisball and a defeat, I’d had no real desire to go back since then. It’s strange the way that something that was once so important can become so much less so.

Maybe the pricing is part of it. If this had been a Championship game it would have been fifty quid for the two of us. With it being a cup game it was a much more reasonable twenty quid for me and a tenner for Harry. The kick-off was scheduled for 2.01pm, to allow for the showing of a mental health video before kick-off. Whilst it’s a very worthy cause, everyone’s eyes were drawn instead to one of the mascots, the two year old son of Robbie Keane who dribbled from the halfway line, finished with a flourish and then stood glaring at the ball which was resting at the back of the net.

Last season we’d gone in the South Stand where Harry had to stand on his seat to see. This time we had seats in the West Stand Lower just in front of the disabled section. Boro were on a roll with four wins on the trot and I thought that we played very well, considering the number of young players we had and the strength of the opposition.

It was nice to see the two loanees from Man City get a go and nicer still that the business had been done right at the beginning of the transfer window rather than in desperation with an hour to the deadline remaining. We had a good view for Ashley Fletcher’s goal and were close enough to the dugouts to witness the rare sight of Mourinho in a good mood, joking with the Boro staff.

Harry enjoyed himself, which was the main thing, and his Mam reported later that he was singing Boro songs in the shower before bed. Hopefully it wasn’t the one about us being dynamite. I’ll have to take him to see his team more often.

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