wow, i'm tired and have something of a buzzing sort of head like heache, look you see. no matter, i will have a go at uploading a whole whack of pictures and, indeed, video footage from the day today.
what adventures did i get up to today? why, with it being the first weekend in January after the 1st has been and gone, it's FA Cup weekend here in England, or if you like the Land of Eng. as good fortune, fate or chance drew Middlesbrough at home, James and i went off to watch the team take what should have theoretically been the first of seven or so easy steps towards the glory of lifting the cup.
that is indeed the magnificence of the Riverside Stadium you can see above, set against the background of a winter day which was not, thankfully, as cold or as wet as so many of the other days thus far have been. i am led to believe that snow shall befall us soon, which would certainly make a trip to this stadium be all the more exciting.
a picture of James and myself on our way to the ground to witness the mighty Boro, the team at the top of the toughest division in the world and surely clear favourites to win this match? sure.
what inspired James and myself to go along to see this particular game? partially it was to become immersed and be imbued with the fabled magic of the cup, but mostly it was because the tickets were a reasonable price. at £15 for people of an adult age and £5 for the youth of today, we were able to go to this match for less than the cost of what one ticket for me would normally cost.
hang on, you ask. doesn't going to the Riverside Stadium mean that we would have gone past the world famous, most admired and cherished Transporter Bridge? why yes, you are quite right, and so here is an image of it from a slightly different angle to the last three or so posts that i did which featured it.
i am going to assume that the impressive and large number of fans Burnley brought with them to the game were, for the most part, inspired by the idea of being able to see this bridge.
onwards to the stadium we went then - which actually turned out to be quite a walk from the car park, but no matter - and time to stand and admire the statues of Boro Legends, as well as the old gates from outside of Ayresome Park. weirdly, it remains the case still that i saw the Boro more often at Ayresome than i have at their "new" home of the Riverside, where we've been for some 20 years now.
that is indeed the matchday programme, or "magazine" as it styles itself, which James is holding. the cover features a statement from our manager, Karanka, saying that we should keep on winning. far be it from me to suggest that this is something which all involved with football should have as their approach.
inside the ground we went, then, a good deal sooner than i would have liked to, but there we go. why was i in no rush to get in the ground itself? a total smoking ban. but hey, who needs cigarettes when you can watch Middlesbrough take the first short step towards cup glory?
the first Boro match i took James to was, oddly, 2 years ago this weekend for another shot at the FA Cup. that was a 3rd round tie against Hull, and we did not do ever so well in it. surely, as we were playing a team lower than us in all things division, the result was to be better today.
as it turned out, the match was not a sell out. the attendance was just slightly north of 18,000. this is impressive for a low key cup clash, and indeed in light of the fact that everyone's broke after Christmas and all that. still, i am struggling to understand why the internet said that all of the family stand was sold out when, as some pictures as we go here may well reveal, it was most decidedly not.
the above picture is of James watching the goalkeepers, or if you like goalies, warming up. did i by any chance take some video of this? yes i did.
i have, you may well be pleased to learn, taken a fair bit of short and mostly pointless video for you to click on and watch. if i was asked i would suggest that no, i can't think of anyone who would be searching for four second bursts of video of Middlesbrough vs Burnley, but if that is what has brought you here, welcome and i trust you enjoy.
it's not just goalies that warm up before the match, you know. the referee and the linesmen did too, and indeed so did the outfield players off of both teams. here is a poor, unzoomed and not at all clear image of them doing just that.
the Burnley fans, or if you like fans off of Burnley, are situated in the top right corner there, just next to the massive electronic scoreboard.
some footage of the players warming up? sure.
did anything unusual, interesting, curious or strange happen during the time when the players, the linesmen, the ref and the goalies were warming up? well, now that you mention it, no, not at all. it was very much all conventional and straightforward. James enjoyed watching it, though.
on that note, James actually stood by the side and watched as much of the warm ups as he could, but as it came closer to kick off time he was obliged to come and sit down in anticipation.
did fate, luck or chance allow it for it to be the case that i was able to take some minor footage of the Boro line up being named over the speaker system within the ground? yes.
i am not sure if you can make it out clearly in the sound, but David Nugent was named in the starting 11. as was, indeed, a few more "first teamers" than many of us were expecting. winning trophies is what football is all about, but at this stage we need to keep our squad fit and fighting for a push towards promotion back to the Premier League. as such, many suspected that a "reserve" team might have got picked, giving some players the chance to show off what they can do.
in fairness both managers picked very decent, recognizable and certainly competent teams to play. on that note, then, here are the managers - the bald Sean Dyche of of Burnley, and the certainly not bald, highly regarded and widely celebrated Aitor Karanka.
one thing that i had forgotten about was that the infamous, or if you like notorious, Joey Barton is currently a Burnley player. you may recall that Joey Barton was on his way to being a West Ham player, until the West Ham fans started a very passionately followed campaign to make the club change their mind. it was presumably the case that Burnley fans were not quite so distressed at the idea of him representing them as part of their team.
what's that? you don't know who or what a Joey Barton is? many would say lucky you. for the most part i will leave you to google away your interest or curiosity. i will say, however, that whilst he truly is a very gifted footballer, the off the field (sometimes on it, too) baggage - be it assaults or burning people - are absolute measurements which say, to me, that you wouldn't really want him at your club. Burnley evidently see this differently, as is their right.
we were treated to the sight of Joey Barton running up and down in front of us, warming up and what have you, until he came on as a sub with some 20 minutes or so to go. as a consequence, i took a bit of footage of him. if for some reason you are interested in Joey Barton, here you go.
the match itself? well, it got off to an exceptional start. i would not say that it was a game between two sides overflowing with the greatest players that the modern game has, but they were well matched, and both clearly came with a plan to try and win it rather than defend it out.
for the first 30 or so minutes we were superb. the shotgun like zig-zagging of passing across the pitch baffled me somewhat at first, but it worked. we pushed forward and got in a few shots, and in those rare instances in the first third of the game when Burnley got the ball we won it back very well.
and then, just after 30 minutes - i think around the 35 minute mark - some true magic happened. Diego Fabbrini scored for Middlesbrough.
the above image is of James, two or so minutes after Fabbrini scored. during those two minutes James was jumping up and down, screaming and applauding like all of the non-Burnley fans in the ground. for James this was, however, an extra special goal to celebrate, for it was or if you like is the first ever goal he has seen Boro score at the Riverside Stadium.
joy in football is a highly transient thing for us Boro fans. this jubilation and merriment, for instance, lasted for about ten minutes; right up until Burnley equalised. i am not sure if you can see highlights of the Burnley equaliser on the net, but they are worth looking for. then you too, as we did in the ground, can stare in a stunned, silent disbelief at the bizarre, stupid and irrational actions taken which saw us more or less gift the goal to our guests.
no, i have not forgotten about you, the many arse fans who read my blog. i could not catch a picture of him facing us, but i can assure you that this is the backside of Boro legend Stewart "Stewie" Downing.
re-signing Stewie Downing and signing David Nugent at the start of the season has a lot to do with where we are in the league. sure, we have some outstanding players - Adam Clayton, George Friend, etc, etc - but these two are pure Premier League class, and don't have a bad name at international level either. of the two, i think it would be fair to say that most fans got the biggest buzz off of Downing coming back home.
some footage of Stewart Downing warming up in front of us? sure, why not. if nothing else, it will show you how to warm up properly, which is to say do it without being Joey Barton.
the importance of Stewie Downing to our promotion push was somewhat underlined by him, despite some fancy warm up work, remaining on the metaphorical bench as an unused sub for the whole match. which is a great shame as it would have been good to see him, and it might have helped us get a better result.
the Burnley equaliser came just before half time, and for some reason when it came Boro decided to drop playing well in favour of playing awfully. it was like someone had instructed them that allowing a visiting team to score means that you have lost, and you should give up.
we, as many of you will have been aware of before reading this, lost the game 2-1. the calamitous nature of the equaliser appeared to have left the team bereft of all confidence and cohesion. that is a massive worry - if we do indeed get back into the Premier League and let sides scoring against us take the game out of us like that, we are going to get torn apart and it will be most unpleasant.
here you go, a last bit of video for you. this is a corner when there was about 2 or 3 minutes left in the match, and us scoring from it could have forced the tie into a replay. instead, as you can kind of see, we just decided to be wasteful with it, and might as well just have kicked the ball to their goalie.
before the match a lot of fans were saying that it would "probably be best" to not have a cup run, as we don't want more games getting in the way of our league performance. indeed i said beforehand that i wanted us to win or lose on the day, fearing a replay would cause all sorts of damage to the squad. this is particularly true when you bear in mind that we have a game against Blackburn to reschedule as it is.
there is, however, a difference between not minding there being no class cup run this season and not minding if your team doesn't try to win every match. Boro's players just weren't putting any effort in at all after Burnley took the lead, and the ref might as well have called time then. if he had, it would at the least have saved us watching Joey Barton actually take to the pitch and "play". and yes of course Barton got a booking, with the first attempt by him to "tackle" getting the yellow card.
it is not good and it is never good to lose a match. what i shall remember, though, are the many positives. first and foremost was an excellent day out with James. closely related to that is, of course, the fact that he saw his first ever Boro goal at last. and going to a Boro match that was affordable in terms of ticket costs is, i suspect, something i am more likely going to remember rather than experience again for a bit.
well, there you go. there is to be no FA Cup winner parade on Teesside this year, but i am sure we shall have some sort of formal ceremony to celebrate our promotion. if you had a team on a quest for cup glory today, i hope that the side did better than ours, and regardless that you had as an awesome and excellent day as we did.
in closing, then, i'd like to say best of luck to Burnley, and thank you for bringing along such a fantastic number of fans to the game. whilst i wish the result wasn't what it was, at least the trip you all made to our amazing town was worth it for reasons other than seeing the magnificence of the Transporter Bridge.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!