Middlesbrough Football Club


Introduction

Middlesbrough Football Club is based in Teeside, and was founded in 1876. Members of Middlesbrough Cricket Club originally voted to create a local team after a meeting in the gymnasium of the Albert Park Hotel. The club has recently had a number of successes, especially in domestic cups and the UEFA Cup. However, perhaps more important than the cups are the ongoing rivalries in the north-east with Newcastle United and Sunderland.

History


Early years

Although the club was originally founded in 1876, initial problems meant that the club could only formally "reform" in 1886. More fluctuations followed, as the club turned professional in 1889, became amateur in 1892, and then turned professional again in 1899.

That year, Middlesbrough became founder members of the Northern League. The club finished as runners-up in the 1890/91 and 1891/92 seasons, before winning the Northern League twice in a row in the 1893/94 and 1894/95 campaigns. This proved to be a particularly dominant era, as they added the FA Amateurs Cup to their collection, before once again winning the Northern League title in the 1896/97 season.

The success continued for the Teeside club, as they once again won the FA Amateurs Cup in the 1897/98 season, and also finished the season as league runners-up. It was in 1899 when Middlesbrough appointed John Robson as their first official manager, and also joined the Football League Division Two. The team improved season after season and earned promotion to Division One after finishing the 1901/02 season as runners-up.

Middlesbrough then moved from the Linthorpe Road Ground to Ayresome Park in 1903. This proved to be the start of less prosperous times, as Robson left the club in 1905 to be replaced first by Alex Mackie and then Andy Aitkin, with neither excelling in the position. Andy Walker was in charge of the club for the 1910/11 season, but left after the club narrowly avoided relegation into Division Two.

Tom McIntosh became the next manager of the club in 1911. During his time, Middlesbrough form was very inconsistent, right up to the post-war period. After the 1919/1920 season, Jimmie Howie then replaced Tom McIntosh as manager. Howie guided Middlesbrough to consecutive eighth place finishes in Division One, before a dramatic turn in form saw the club finish 18th the following season. Howie left in 1923, to be replaced by Herbert Bamlett. Unfortunately, the 1923/24 season proved to be a disaster for the Teesiders, as they finished bottom of the league and consequently dropped into Division Two.


Emergence of George Camsell

Although the club had been expecting a quick return to Division One, this proved difficult, and Middlesbrough were forced to settle for 13th place. In 1925, George Camsell made the short move from Durham City, and proved to be an instant success at Ayresome Park. This was later followed by Peter McWilliam’s appointment as manager in 1927. With Camsell leading the way, Middlesbrough claimed the Division Two title. In a season in which the club scored an incredible 122 goals, George Camsell hit 59 of them (a Second Division record which still stands to this day).

The club were unable to continue this fine form however, as immediately relegation followed. Despite this setback, the club regained promotion to Division One, after finishing the 1928/29 season as Division Two Champions. From this point onwards, the club enjoyed a long stay in the top tier of English football. However, Peter McWilliam left in 1934, after a number of disappointing seasons in which their Division One status looked under threat. Wilf Gillow immediately came to the club to replace him, and he stayed as manager for the next decade.

Although Gillow’s first season as Ayresome Park was unconvincing, he did oversee a period of continual progression at the club. Middlesbrough rose to fourth in the league in the 1938/39 season, before war once again intervened, and the league programme was abandoned. It was at this time when George Camsell left Middlesbrough, after claiming the title of all-time leading goalscorer, with 325 goals.


Post war

Wilf Gillow officially left his position in 1944, when he was replaced by David Jack. The league then resumed for the 1946/47 season, and the team finished in a secure mid-table position. For the seasons that followed, Middlesbrough struggled to challenge for the title. Sixth place in the 1950/51 season was the highest position the club achieved under David Jack, before he left in 1952.

Walter Rowley took over at the club, but after a disappointing first season in charge, Middlesbrough were relegated following a dismal 1953/54 campaign. The club then went into a new era under the stewardship of Bob Dennison. Middlesbrough’s time under Dennison is best remembered for the emergence of Brian Clough as a top goalscorer for the Teeside club. Despite Clough’s goals though, the team were rarely able to mount a sustained promotion push. Even though Dennison led Middlesbrough to fourth place in the 1962/63 season, he soon left. Raich Carter took charge during a time of slow decline at Ayresome Park. The team finished in 10th, and then 17th, before being relegated after a poor 1965/66 season.

Stan Anderson took over from Carter, and enjoyed instant success at the club. In his first season, he ensured Middlesbrough finished as Division Three runners-up, and achieved promotion back to Division Two. From then on the team performed admirably, and were expected to push for promotion nearly every year. However, after seven seasons at the club, Anderson left in 1973. Jack Charlton became the club’s next manager, and succeeded where Anderson failed, getting Middlesbrough promoted back to English football’s top tier after a title-winning 1973/74 season.

In the 1975/76 season, Middlesbrough were the inaugural winners of the Anglo-Scottish Cup, and finished the season safely in mid-table. The club also reached the semi-final of the League Cup, as Middlesbrough’s success continued. A 12th place finish was secured the following season, before Jack Charlton left Middlesbrough in 1977. His replacement was John Neil, and in his first season he guided the club to a disappointing 14th place. Middlesbrough’s form for the next three years was below average by the club’s standards, and Neil eventually left his post in 1981, to be replaced by Bobby Murdoch.


Financial troubles

Bobby Murdoch’s reign as Middlesbrough boss lasted a number of months, as he oversaw the club’s relegation into Division Two. Both Malcolm Allison and then Willie Maddren tried and failed to restore Middlesbrough’s Division One status. The club was in freefall, and were incredibly relegated to Division Three after a poor 1985/86 campaign. The club was also in serious financial difficulty during this time. The club were just minutes away from going into liquidation, before Steve Gibson and a consortium put forward the £350,000 needed for Football League registration. From then on, the club never looked back.

Bruce Rioch was installed as the new manager of the club, with financial stability now assured. A rejuvenated Middlesbrough side then won promotion to Division Two after finishing the 1986/87 season as runners-up. The success continued on Teeside, as a remarkable comeback saw Middlesbrough promoted to Division One. The club missed out on automatic promotion on goal difference, but won the play-offs after beating Bradford City and Chelsea.

Middlesbrough’s return to Division One was to be a brief one unfortunately, as they were sadly relegated in the 1988/89 season on goal difference. The following season almost saw the club once again return to Division Three, only to narrowly avoid relegation after finishing in 21st place. Rioch then left Middlesbrough and he was briefly replaced by Colin Todd. The team performed better under Todd, and qualified for the play-offs on goal difference. After drawing 1-1 with Notts County in the first leg, Middlesbrough were knocked out after losing the second leg 1-0.


Premier league founder members

Lenny Lawrence became the next manager at Ayresome Park in 1991. Middlesbrough reached the League Cup semi-final, before losing 2-1 to Manchester United after two legs. However, the season will be remembered more for finishing as runners-up in the league, and achieving promotion to English football’s top tier once more. Division One was then renamed the FA Premier League, and Middlesbrough therefore became a founding member following their promotion.

However, the team endured a torrid 1992/93 campaign, and were promptly relegated back to Division Two. The one bright spot was the transfer of defender Gary Pallister to Manchester United for a British record fee of £2,300,000. The club were unable to gain immediate promotion to the Premier League, and Lenny Lawrence left Middlesbrough in 1994.


Move to the Riverside

Bryan Robson replaced Lawrence, and his appointment proved to be an instant success. Middlesbrough were crowned Football League Champions in the 1994/95 season, and this saw a return to the Premiership, as well as a move to a new stadium.

The club left Ayresome Park for the Riverside Stadium in 1995. This was seen as vital to the club’s progression, and could also house over 35,000 people. After a solid first season, Middlesbrough endured a controversial second season. The club failed to fulfil a league fixture with Blackburn, and the FA docked three points from the club’s total. However, these three points proved crucial as the club was relegated to Division One consequently. Despite this controversy, Middlesbrough reached the finals of both domestic cups in the 1996/97 season. The team lost 1-0 against Leicester City in a League Cup Final replay, as well as losing 2-0 to Chelsea in the FA Cup Final.

Middlesbrough finished the 1997/98 season as Division One runners-up, and were promoted back to the Premier League. More significantly, the club once again reached the final of the League Cup, before losing 2-0 to Chelsea. The Teesiders secured a number of mid-table finishes in the coming seasons, before Bryan Robson left the club in 2001. His replacement was Steve McClaren, who had previously been assistant manager at both Derby County and Manchester United.


Middlesbrough in the UEFA Cup

McClaren took Middlesbrough to the FA Cup semi-final in the 2001/02 season, before losing 1-0 to Arsenal at Old Trafford. More importantly, the 2003/04 season saw the team finally win the League Cup, after a 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Success in the League Cup meant Middlesbrough qualified for the UEFA Cup for the first time in the club’s history.

Despite low expectations, Middlesbrough topped their group before eventually being knocked out by Sporting Lisbon. They had the opportunity to build on this experience the following season, after qualifying for the competition in seventh place. In the 2005/06 season, Middlesbrough once again topped their group and went on to beat Stuttgart, AS Roma and FC Basle, before facing Sevilla in the UEFA Cup Final. However, Sevilla were comfortable 4-0 winners, and Middlesbrough finished the league season in 14th place. In addition to their UEFA Cup success, the team also reached the FA Cup semi-final, but lost 1-0 to West Ham United at Villa Park.

Steve McClaren then left to take the vacant England managers’ position, and club legend Gareth Southgate was appointed as the new manager. After ensuring that Middlesbrough finished the 2006/07 season in 12th place, many were hoping that the club could progress and push for Europe again this season. However, with goalscorers Mark Viduka and Yakubu Aiyegbeni leaving in the summer, the club’s expectations have now been significantly lowered. Who knows what the future will hold but, considering their history of fluctuating fortunes, it’s unlikely to be dull viewing.


Club Honours

  • Football League Division One – Winners (1994/95), Runners-up (1997/98)
  • Football League Division Two – Winners (1926/27, 1928/29, 1973/74), Runners-up (1901/02, 1991/92)
  • Football League Division Three – Runners-up (1966/67, 1986/87)
  • FA Cup – Runners-up (1997)
  • Football League Cup – Winners (2004), Runners-up (1997, 1998)
  • Amateur Cup – Winners (1895, 1898)
  • Anglo-Scottish Cup Winners (1976)
  • Zenith Data Systems Cup – Runners-up (1990)
  • UEFA Cup – Runners-up (2005/06)


Club Records

  • Biggest Victory – 9-0 (v Brighton and Hove Albion, Division Two, 23 August 1958)
  • Biggest Defeat 0-9 (v Blackburn Rovers, Division Two, 6 November 1954)
  • Most League Goals – 122 (Division Two, 1926/27)
  • Highest League Scorer In A Season – George Camsell (59, Division Two, 1926/27)
  • Most League Goals – George Camsell (325, 1925-1939)
  • Most League Appearances – Tim Williamson (563, 1902-1923)
  • Record Transfer Fee Received – £12,000,000 (from Atlético Madrid for Juninho, July 1997)
  • Record Transfer Fee Paid – £8,150,000 (to Empoli for Massimo Maccarone, August 2002)