Hillsborough disaster in 1989 the Taylor Report was published, which
recommended that all major football stadiums should be converted to
all-seater stadiums. The Football League introduced regulations that
clubs in the top 2 divisions must comply with the recommendation.
Ayresome Park had
for many years been hemmed in amongst the terraced streets of
Linthorpe and the only feasible option, to expand the stadium, was
to build upwards. Chairman, Colin Henderson (1986-1993)
was always in favour of redevelopment, but he had opposition in
directors Steve Gibson, George Cooke and
also chief executive Keith Lamb, who all favoured a move to a new
When Steve Gibson
took over as chairman in 1994, following numerous
boardroom power struggles, it signalled the green light for
Boro to move from Ayresome Park. Teesside Development Corporation
offered the Middlehaven site to the club and following
designs tendered from
five companies, the Miller Partnership were
Taylor Woodrow and
structural engineers Ove Arup were then
chosen to bring the Miller Partnership's design to life.
At a cost of just
£16m it was the first new stadium to fully comply with the Taylor
Report and was the largest football
stadium built since WWII.
The gates were
opened for the start of the 1995-96 season and it had taken just 32
weeks to build. The first game saw Boro beat Chelsea 2-0 with goals
from Craig Hignett and Jan-Aage Fjortoft, in front of 28,826 fans.
Stadium, a name chosen by the fans, was sponsored by Cellnet and
known initially as the Cellnet Riverside Stadium. The other
potential names in the selection process were Teesside Stadium,
Middlehaven Stadium and Erimus Stadium. Following several years of
sponsorship (Cellnet and BT Cellnet) the stadium lost its sponsor
and since 2002 it has been known simply as the Riverside Stadium.
capacity of the stadium was set at around 30,000 but after three
exciting and eventful seasons it was increased to just over 35,000
with two extensions, in the North West and South West corners.
Planning permission has been granted to raise the capacity further,
to around 42,000, should the need arise!
The ‘curse’ that
had haunted the club during their tenure of Ayresome Park was
finally lifted in 2004 when Boro won their first major trophy, the
Carling Cup, in a memorable day at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Boro would also play their first European football at the new
stadium, progressing to last 16 of the
UEFA Cup in the 2004/05 season, and the following season, by
reaching the final of the same competition.
On route to the
final in Eindhoven in the 2005/06 season Boro were involved in two
unbelievable comebacks. After losing 2-0 to Basel away in the first
leg of the quarter-finals, and being 1-0 down at home in the second
leg, they miraculously fought back and won 4-1 on the night (4-3 on
aggregate). Then in the semi-finals there was a feeling of déjà vu
as Boro lost the first leg away to Steaua
Bucharest 1-0, and were 2-0 down at home in the second leg, before
lightning struck again, and Boro roared
back to win 4-2 on the night (4-3 on aggregate).
Sadly, Boro lost
the final 4-0 to Seville, but the score line does not reflect the
match in anyway. At 0-1 Boro were in the
game until the final twelve minutes when
Seville punished Boro for their efforts looking for an equaliser.