Posts Tagged ‘Karanka’

Blackburn Rovers v Middlesbrough, Sunday 28th December 2014, 3pm

January 15, 2015

1 - opening shot

Blackburn is usually a pretty good away day. It’s not too far from Teesside and tickets tend to be either cheap or plentiful. Sometimes both. This year had the potential to be one of the best, with it falling between Christmas and New Year and Blackburn offering us seven thousand tickets.

Jen and I were in the UK on holiday and as we had to stay somewhere we thought we may as well make it near Blackburn for the night. If I’d had a look as to where our hotel at Mellor was located I’d probably have gone across to the M6 and arrived from that direction, but as I hadn’t paid attention we ended up on the M62 and had to drive through Blackburn and then out of the other side.

Jen has less enthusiasm for watching football at close to zero temperatures than I do and so I left her at the hotel and took a taxi to Ewood Park to meet up with my son Tom and his mates. The Indian fella who was driving me had more interest in cricket than football but was intrigued to hear about the Hero Indian Super League football that I’d seen on telly a couple of weeks earlier, particularly when I mentioned that Tendulkar was in the crowd. Or more accurately, an executive box.

Jack Walker statue.

Jack Walker statue.

There’s a fanzone area near to the Jack Walker statue where you can watch the early game on a big screen whilst having a beer. I imagine it’s quite handy for the smokers who like to get to the ground early.

It wasn’t really a day for standing outside though and we gambled that the concourse inside would be a little warmer. As kick-off approached there was a minute‘s applause for all the Blackburn fans who had died in the previous year. As we stood and clapped, dozens of photographs were flashed up on the big screens, each of a different fan who had passed away in 2014. It’s no wonder there were so many empty seats in the home stands. Living in Lancashire doesn’t seem to come with much of a life expectancy.

It was full in our end though, with the entire seven thousand allocation having been sold. There was a decent atmosphere too, with the heartwarming sound of pensioners and small children alike singing their hearts out to “…they play in red and white, and they’re fuckin’ dynamite…”

Boro fans at Ewood.

Boro fans at Ewood.

Karanka had made a few changes to the Boxing Day line-up, but we’ve got a decent squad and I’d like to think that being able to rest players whilst still being competitive will benefit us later in the season. Whitehead at right back seemed an unusual choice, but I’m not going to be overly critical.

Some late action

Some late action

It was one of those days when it didn’t quite go our way. You could say we were unlucky not to take the three points as Kike and Bamford both hit the woodwork in quick succession, but on the other hand Leadbitter cleared one off our line right at the end. So, we could have won and we could have lost. A draw was probably about right.

 

 

Middlesbrough v Nottingham Forest, Friday 26th December 2014, 3pm

January 11, 2015

1 - opening shot

This was the first game of the season for me. Well, the first Boro game anyway and with it being a rare sell-out I suspect that there will have been quite a few others in the crowd also making their seasonal debuts.

I picked up Tom, Paul and Mike and we parked near the University before calling into the Southfield Hotel for a pre-match drink. If I’d been in there before, I’ve forgotten about it. It was quiet though and we were able to get  served quickly and sit down.

Southfield Hotel.

Southfield Hotel.

A couple of pints later and we were off to the Riverside. It’ll be twenty years old in the summer, but I still think of it as a new stadium. I suppose most people of my age will see it the same way. I wonder if I’ll have got used to it in twenty years time.

On the way to the ground.

On the way to the ground.

It’s been a good season so far. Gibson has backed Karanka to what I imagine are the absolute limits of FFP and the money looks to have been well spent. We also seem to have made very good use of the loan system, particularly with Bamford and Omeruo.

Tom and I were in the South Stand and were able to stand and sing all game. The relaxed stewarding has been one of the biggest plusses of the last couple of years for me and has contributed to the improved atmosphere, even when the ground is less than half full

A full stadium.

A full stadium.

The game was goalless at the break, but three second half goals secured an easy win for the Boro, keeping us up there in the play-off positions.