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Middlesbrough: Grounds for Celebration or complaint?


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Programme contributor Mark Mitchener takes a historical look at Bournemouth’s previous visits to particular away venues. Have they been happy hunting grounds – or fortresses the Cherries have failed to conquer?


CHERRIES RECORD AT AYRESOME PARK – Played 6, Won 0, Drawn 1, Lost 5, Goals for 3, Goals against 15. 

CHERRIES RECORD AT RIVERSIDE STADIUM – Played 4, Won 0, Drawn 3, Lost 1, Goals for 4, Goals against 6. 

Middlesbrough were formed in 1876, and their first home was the Linthorpe Road cricket ground which once staged a first-class match between Yorkshire and Australia in 1882. 

They were still at Linthorpe Road when Boro were elected to the Second Division of the Football League in 1899, but four years later, needing a bigger venue, they moved to nearby Ayresome Park which was to be their home for most of the 20th century. 

Ayresome Park hosted three group games at the 1966 World Cup, with Group 4 based in the north-east and the matches – featuring Chile, Italy, North Korea and the USSR – split between Middlesbrough and Sunderland. All three Middlesbrough games featured North Korea, who famously beat Italy 1-0 to pip them to a quarter-final place, but 1966 also featured a decline in Boro’s fortunes as they were relegated to the Third Division for the first time in their history. 

This meant a first meeting with third-tier stalwarts Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic, who had never played Boro before. Both league games took place in the second half of the season, with Ray Bumstead netting in a 1-1 draw at Dean Court in February 1967 before Boro triumphed 3-1 in the reverse fixture a month later, on their way to securing an immediate return to Division Two. 

Middlesbrough then brought the Cherries crashing back down to earth in 1984. Bournemouth had completed one of the great FA Cup giant-killings by beating holders Manchester United 2-0 in round three, but found second-tier Boro far doughtier opponents as the hosts won 2-0 at Ayresome Park in the fourth round. 

By 1986, Boro had not only been relegated to the Third Division again, they were in the midst of a financial crisis which left the club on the verge of liquidation before a late rescue package allowed them to start the season. With Ayresome Park’s gates locked by bailiffs, Boro’s first “home” game was played at Hartlepool. 

They were back home in time to hammer Bournemouth 4-0 in early November, but the two sides ended up slugging it out for most of 1986/87 at the top of Division Three as Harry Redknapp’s Cherries took on Boro, who were managed by Bruce Rioch and included future Premier League winners Gary Pallister and Stuart Ripley. A 3-1 Cherries win at Dean Court in March proved decisive as Bournemouth and Boro earned the automatic promotion slots, but the Cherries took the title by three points. 

However, Redknapp’s side could still not win at Ayresome Park – going down 3-0 and 2-1 there in the Second Division, before drawing 1-1 there in the League Cup in 1991 but losing the home leg. 

Bournemouth and Middlesbrough did not meet in league football between 1990 and 2013, and in that time Boro were on the move again, as the new all-seater Riverside Stadium was opened in 1995 to herald a new era in the Premier League. 

Eddie Howe’s Cherries side drew 3-3 on their first visit to the Riverside in the Championship in 2013 (see “Classic Matches” below), before a goalless draw there a year later. 

Since then, Boro triumphed 2-0 in a Premier League meeting in 2016, before a 1-1 draw last September means Bournemouth have made a combined 10 visits to Middlesbrough’s grounds – but are still awaiting their first victory there. 


Only five Bournemouth players have scored away at Middlesbrough, with Brett Pitman’s double in 2013 making him the leading marksman there. 

Tony Priscott, Luther Blissett, George Lawrence and Dominic Solanke are the other Cherries goalscorers at Boro, along with a Jonathan Woodgate own goal. 

Winger Lawrence’s goal in the League Cup was the last of his six goals for the Cherries in three seasons – which all came away from home. 


Middlesbrough’s traditional red colours, with white trim that has occasionally been the main colour of their shorts and/or socks, means it has been a straightforward place for Bournemouth to wear away colours – such as blue, white and black, which have all been donned there in recent years. 


Bournemouth’s first trip to Middlesbrough in 1967 was the final Cherries appearance for Joe Ashworth and Rod Taylor, the latter being replaced by substitute Peter Norton for his debut. 

Defender Billy Clark made his final appearance there in 1987 before joining Bristol Rovers. 

Tokelo Rantie made his first Cherries start at the Riverside in 2013, while it was the 158th and last start of Richard Hughes’ Bournemouth career across two spells. 


Saturday 21 September 2013 – Championship 

Middlesbrough 3-3 Bournemouth 

With no Cherries wins at Middlesbrough to pick from, this was one of the more dramatic and entertaining visits. 

Having won promotion from League One in 2013, Bournemouth were back in the second tier for only the fourth season in their history. Early results had been mixed – four wins from five league and cup games at home, but they had suffered some early hammerings on the road (losing 6-1 at Watford and 5-1 at Huddersfield), although Brett Pitman had given them a 1-0 win at Doncaster. 


Much was expected of new club record signing Tokelo Rantie. The South Africa striker had debuted as a substitute in the previous game against Barnsley, and would make his first start here as Bournemouth looked to shake off the stat of having never won a game at Middlesbrough, who had drawn five of their previous six league games. 


And it started so well for the Cherries, who earned a penalty as early as the fourth minute when Lewis Grabban played in Rantie, who was sent flying by Rhys Williams as he burst into the box, and Pitman slammed home the spot-kick. 

It got worse for Boro in the 12th minute as a right-wing cross was headed back across goal by Grabban, Fraser Richardson was adjudged to have handled and referee Graham Salisbury pointed to the spot again. Once more, Pitman gave keeper Jason Steele no chance from 12 yards. 

Boro hit back as Bournemouth failed to clear their lines, Albert Adomah had a shot blocked and Kei Kamara rifled in the rebound on his home debut. His shot hit Steve Cook on the goal-line but the Cherries defender was unable to keep it out. 

A frenzied first half continued with Middlesbrough levelling just after the half-hour mark as Mustapha Carayol let fly with a superb effort from just shy of the right-hand corner of the penalty box, which flew over Ryan Allsop and into the top corner. 

Marc Pugh twice nearly created a third for Bournemouth before the break, but Grabban and Rantie had shots blocked. 

The game clearly had more goals in it – Carayol and Williams going close for Boro in the second half, while the Cherries had an appeal for a third penalty turned down as Williams appeared to bring down substitute Wes Thomas, on for Rantie. 

With just over 15 minutes left, Boro went ahead for the first time when Kamara played a perfect pass for Grant Leadbitter to cut in from the left and slide the ball past Allsop from an acute angle. 

Bournemouth naturally threw everything forward in search of an equaliser, which came when centre-back Elliott Ward found himself in the unusual position of advancing from the right wing, and when Ward cut the ball back from the byeline in search of an onrushing forward, it met the outstretched leg of a future Bournemouth head coach… Boro defender Jonathan Woodgate, who could only turn the ball past his own goalkeeper as he tried to clear. 

There was more to come as Boro’s Williams was red-carded for pulling back Thomas with four minutes left, while visiting keeper Allsop collected a yellow card for timewasting in stoppage time, but redeemed himself by saving brilliantly from Kamara as the points were ultimately shared. 

“I’m not going to complain about losing the early lead because Middlesbrough are a good footballing side,” admitted Cherries boss Eddie Howe. 

“We knew it would be hard – anything we got here would be a bonus. We had to change shape a few times, but it was an excellent performance.” 

His opposite number Tony Mowbray had to concede: “You can’t give away three goals at home and expect to win. 

“We did very well to come from two down to get into a winning position, but shot ourselves in the foot.” 

Cherries: Allsop, Francis, Elphick, Ward, Cook, O’Kane, Hughes (MacDonald 76), Pugh, Grabban, Pitman, Rantie (Thomas 60). Subs not used: Harte, Addison, McDermott, McQuoid, Flahavan. 


Ayresome Park is most definitely a ground for complaint, with no league points gained from four visits. Results at the Riverside have been better – but the wait for a win in Middlesbrough goes on.  

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