Middlesbrough v Stoke City, Saturday 30th April 2022, 3pm

My niece’s son, Alistair, came along to this one with Harry and myself. His Dad, who I don’t think is really into football, has tried to make Alistair into a Man City fan. I’m hoping that if he enjoys being at the Riverside for a few wins then he might just switch allegiance. He’s seven, so it’s ok at that age.

The Boro’s first half performance was enough to have him cheering and stood on his chair in celebration as we knocked in two goals in quick succession and had a ‘third’ disallowed.

With a real third goal in the second half, it looked as if the goal difference with Sheffield United had moved sufficiently to make a win at Preston enough for a play-off spot, assuming of course that that Sheffield only get a draw in their fixture against Champions Fulham. A last-gasp consolation skewed all of the calcs though and it now looks like we will need a two-goal win for our part of the equation.

There was a disruption in the second half when a young lad ran on the pitch to get himself a selfie with Tav. He looked in his teens to me and therefore old enough for some rough tackling by the stewards. The upshot was that his Dad, who filmed the invasion and was then abusive to the stewards, got a life ban. That’s fair enough in my view as I consider that when the pitch side fences came down, our part in the bargain as fans is that we stay off the pitch. I don’t want to go back to watching games through wire mesh.

We hung around at the end for the lap of honour and applauded the players and staff. It’s been a good season whatever the result at Preston and the form that coincided with our half-season tickets looked to have got Harry hooked. I think that if we are in the Championship next season and can keep racking up the home victories, there’s a good chance of Alistair joining him as a Boro fan.

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