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Address: Riverside Stadium,
Capacity: 34,742 (All-Seater)
A nice, practical ground that fits in with the design and feel of others in the northeast, the Riverside Stadium is an ideal place to watch football.
The stadium was built between 1994 and 1995 in response to the Taylor Report, which required all top division football grounds to be all-seater venues.
Middlesbrough Football Club had previously played at Ayresome Park between 1903 and 1995, but were unable to meet the required expansions there due to its location in a residential area. The decision was made instead to build a larger all-seater venue, with Teesside Development Corporation offering the club the Middlehaven site by the River Tees as the place that it would be built.
Construction took nine months and Middlesbrough played their first game here against Chelsea on 26th August 1995, with over 28,000 people in attendance.
Location and Getting There
The Riverside Stadium unsurprisingly gets its name from its extremely close proximity to the River Tees, with its North Stand looking out to the river’s south bank. The centre of Middlesbrough is just one mile west of the ground, North Ormesby is due south of the stadium, Cargo Fleet is to the southeast, and heading due east of the stadium leads you to a large industrial park right on the bank of the river.
Given how close the ground is to the town, it’s easy for fans to get here by either car or train.
There are a lot of car parking spaces around the whole of the stadium’s exterior. These of course do cost money to park in but you should certainly find some free parking spaces available if you head south of the railway and don’t mind a little walk to the stadium.
I arrived here for a game with a friend close to kick-off and we found a pub called The Navigation Inn on Marsh Road which had opened its gravel parking area for fans to use. It was a simple walk from here across the train tracks to the stadium, and given we were there as away fans, the turnstiles we needed were the very first ones we came to.
Middlesbrough Station is just a 15-20 minutes walk west of the stadium on a very simple route down Windward Way that runs alongside the train tracks.
Outside the Stadium
The Riverside Stadium’s exterior has a very nice balance to it. Much like other large football grounds that were built around the same time, the stadium has a white cantilever roof that runs the whole way around its fully enclosed exterior.
The South Stand is taken up mostly by the cantilever roof which comes down the back and into the ground around it, but there is also a nice, sandy coloured brickwork base where the turnstiles into this stand can be found. A large red tower protrudes out of the southeast corner and close to this is the club’s Away Ticket Office, right next to the away turnstiles.
One of the larger club car parks is out beyond the South Stand, accessible by heading along The Leeway and entering over by the southeast corner.
Continuing round in a clockwise direction brings you to the West Stand, which is easily the most interesting part of the Riverside Stadium’s exterior.
It is taller than the other three stands and you can clearly see the cantilever roof jump up in both the northwest and southwest corners, though it still remains connected to the rest of the stadium.
Middlesbrough’s Official Club Shop as well as the entrance into the Middlehaven Suite can be found in the northwest corner, whilst the entrance into the Legends’ Lounge is in the southwest corner of the stadium.
In the centre of the West Stand is the Players' and Officials' Entrances between two large red towers that form part of the modern-looking façade. Large grey panels and opaque glass windows run along the upper levels of the West Stand, with the cantilever roof up above this.
Out beyond the centre of the West Stand is a large red gate alongside two statues.
The one on the left is of George Hardwick, regarded as the greatest defender in the club’s history and a player who also collected 13 England caps. His legacy lives on in the George Hardwick Foundation dedicated to helping carers, former carers and patients. The foundation has three main sites in Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough and The University Hospital of North Tees.
The statue on the right is of Wilfred Mannion, a forward who made over 350 senior appearances for Middlesbrough and is arguably considered the club’s greatest ever player. He was also a former England International who in 2004 was inducted into the English Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum in Manchester.
A small building for ticket collections is out further beyond the red gate and the two statues, whilst the club’s Main Ticket Office is located in the West Stand itself, over towards the southwest corner.
As you would expect, there are more car parking spaces here than can be found anywhere else around the stadium.
The North Stand’s exterior looks almost identical to the South Stand opposite, but the main noticeable difference is that there is no red tower in one of the corners.
There are two rows of car parking spaces out beyond the stand, and part of the River Tees is out beyond here, with a metal fence put up to keep people off the bank itself.
Tickets for the North Stand can be bought and collected from a small opening in the brickwork wall next to Turnstiles 30-34.
The East Stand follows a similar design to the North and South Stands, but also includes a row of glass windows above the turnstiles.
The entrances into the Willie Maddren Education Centre and the Hardwick Bar are located in the centre of the stand under a small curved roof, and there is a single row of parking beyond its exterior, which is again dominated by the white cantilever roof.
Inside the Stadium
The South Stand is split into two tiers, with the upper tier blocks much bigger than the lower tier blocks. Given how the roof jumps up over in the southwest corner, the final block of this stand is taller than the rest, but the rows of red seats here have been carefully placed so that the small wall next to the block does not restrict anyone’s view.
There are no supporting pillars in the South Stand due to the cantilever roof and as a result you can get a great view of the whole pitch from any seat. An electronic scoreboard also hangs down from above.
Middlesbrough’s most vocal support, including their ‘Ultras’ group known as the ‘Red Faction’ use this stand on matchdays and you can expect the best home atmosphere to be generated here.
The West Stand is noticeably taller than the rest of the stadium.
You can see how the roof comes up in the northwest and southwest corners to cover the greater number of seats here. It is still made up of two tiers, but each tier is split into two similarly sized sections. A row of executive boxes separates the lower tier from the one above. The letters BORO are spelt out in white in the middle of the upper tier, using additional black seating to give each letter a 3D effect.
Middlesbrough’s executive and director’s seating is in a small block below these letters, and the press boxes are up beyond the very back row in the middle of the upper tier.
The club’s changing rooms and tunnel are located in the West Stand, whilst the substitute benches are built into the lower tier. The home side have red seats and the away side have white seats.
Much like the adjacent North Stand, your view is perfectly clear from anywhere inside as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the cantilever roof above.
The North Stand is a near carbon-copy of the South Stand opposite.
Continuing the two-tiered design, the upper tier is once again larger than the tier beneath. The roof also jumps up in the northwest corner but the seating up here is carefully placed to ensure that fans can get a clear view of the pitch from this part of the stadium.
There are no supporting pillars anywhere in the North Stand and an electronic scoreboard hangs down from the roof above.
The East Stand follows the same two-tiered design as the South and North Stands, and this means that these two levels form a continuous ring around the northern, eastern and southern sides of the Riverside Stadium. The letters MFC are spelt out in white seating in the middle of the upper tier, and there is an additional sliver of black seating used to give each of these letters a 3D effect.
The East Stand doesn’t have a scoreboard hanging from its roof like the South and North Stands do, but because of the cantilever roof there are no supporting pillars around and so you have a perfectly clear view of the pitch from any seat in either tier.
Away fans are housed over in the southeast corner.
They used to be given the South Stand, but since the 2013-14 season this has become available for home fans instead.
Depending on the travelling allocation, they can be given just the seats in this corner or the available seating area can be expanded to include some blocks in the East Stand upper tier. Stewards and large sheets are normally used to segregate these away fans from the home supporters around them.
The away section of the Riverside Stadium offers perfectly clear from every seat.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:
-The Devils Advocate (89 Borough Road, TS1 3AA) (Away Supporters Welcome) (Located near Middlesbrough Town Centre)
-Doctor Browns (135 Corporation Road, TS1 2RR) (Typically Away Supporters Welcome, but often Home Supporters Only for High-Profile Games)
-The Infant Hercules Micropub (84 Grange Road, TS1 2LS) (Away Supporters Welcome) (Located near Middlesbrough Town Centre)
-The Isaac Wilson (61 Wilson Street, TS1 1SF) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Navigation (Marsh Road, TS3 6AR) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Twisted Lip (11-13 Baker Street, TS1 2LF) (Away Supporters Welcome) (Located near Middlesbrough Town Centre)
There are few things you can complain about with the Riverside Stadium. Every effort has been made to ensure that fans are treated to a great view of the action no matter where they are sat. It has a great location close to the town centre and you can get here easily be either car or rail.
Whether you’re coming here to back the Boro or support your team on their away travels, the Riverside Stadium is a top quality venue that you’ll really enjoy the match at.
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