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United Fates

Posted: Sat 18 Mar 2017
Author: KD

AN offbeat look at the history of Middlesbrough and Manchester United with KEN DALY...

What It Means: Mamucium, the Latin version of the Ancient Britons' Mamm, the breast-like hill, later Mancunium. Newton Heath, United's original home, was literally the new place on the heath between Manchester and Oldham, which is why United were originally known as the Heathens.

Why It’s There: the Roman fort of AD79, a small weaving town in one of England's literally swampy backwaters until the 18th century when it turned into Cottonopolis. Still arguing with Birmingham two centuries later about which was the world's first industrial city, and with Liverpool about everything - it even built the Ship Canal to stop paying Mersey dock fees.  

Why They're There: literally a pub team, started in 1878 by workers at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway depot in Newton Heath, using the nearby Three Crowns as a changing room - and with wonderful irony all organised by a Scouser, Frederick Attock. Joined the League in 1892, became Manchester United in 1902 after nearly going bust.

First Footing: April 1900, Boro’s first season in the league, and one of only eight in division Two.

Local Heroes: Sir Alex, Sir Matt, Sir Bobby; George Best, Duncan Edwards, Eric Cantona, Denis Law, Bryan Robson.

Local Villains: City, naturally, and for the last half-century Liverpool, and Leeds fans singing about Munich. Even for Sir Alex, whose first team talk famously told the players they were going to knock *@# Liverpool off their *@# perch (*@# being a popular Govan). Michael Knighton, who tried to buy the club in 1989, and before the game when he though he had, juggled a ball down the pitch wearing United kit. And the FA, who ordered them not to defend the FA Cup in 2000 but play in a World Club championship instead, part of its (already) doomed World Cup bid.

High Point: European Cups in 1968, 1999 and 2008; 20 league titles, 11 FA Cups (and all three together in 1999); four League Cups, a Cup-Winners' Cup. Plus a Super Cup, a World Club Championship and its predecessor the Intercontinental Cup.

Low Point: finishing bottom in their first two seasons in the League; relegations in 1922, 1931, 1937 and 1974; losing their first 12 games in 1930; avoiding the Third Division by one point in 1934; the last four seasons. But all that pales into insignificance compared to the Munich air crash.

Boro Highs: 5-0 (September 1901, January 1909 and April 1953), 4-1 (October 2005)

Boro Lows: 1-4 (November 1948, August 1951 and September 1953); and the 13 meetings from 1938-52, which produced just one point. Boro have won twice at the Riverside and four times at Ayresome Park in the last 69 years.

Hello to: Willie Wardrope (April 1900), Jimmy Watson (April 1907), Joe Crosier (March 1911), Albert Ross (December 1936), Derwick Goodfellow, Bill Whittaker and Ronnie Dicks (August 1947), Phil Boersma (December 1975).

Goodbye to: Harry Allport (April1900), George Hodgson (January 1901), Arthur Layton (April 1912), William Barker (October 1912), Jim Windridge (February 1914), Wallace Clarke (April 1921), Dean Glover (January 1989), Jamie Pollock (May 1996), Steve Baker (May 1999), Massimo Maccarone (December 2006). 

Hello and Goodbye to: Jim Gallagher (April 1921).

Boro Hero: Sammy Cail (April 1912) all the goals in 3-0; Micky Fenton (December 1936) all of them in 3-2; ITV (January 1989), who forced United to play at Ayresome Park the day after beating Liverpool.

Boro Villain: Jack Rowley (November 1948) hat-trick in 1-4, part of a run of 13 goals in nine games against Boro; Darren Fletcher (December 2003) two yellows, Stuart Parnaby and Bolo Zenden the victims. Danny Mills (December 2003) deflected Quinton Fortune’s shot for the only goal of the game, then lucky to stay on after taking a swing at Ryan Giggs.

Typical Boro: 5-0 (May 1953), United were reigning champions with two away defeats in six months, Boro two points off the bottom; Phil Neville (April 2001), first goal in three years; David May, only six United goals, two against Boro; Darren Fletcher (January 2005) first United goal, after 54 games. 

Champagne Moment: Wilf Mannion (May 1953), spectacular backheel for Arthur Fitzsimmons so score the fifth - with a header! Juninho (May 1996), flicking the ball over Gary Pallister’s head (and that’s a long way up) then turning, killing it and speeding off into the distance.

World in Union (amid more champagne) Moment: May 1996, a dramatic end to the Riverside's first season, as United’s 3-0 win denies Newcastle the title, and “Cheer up Kevin Keegan” rings out around the ground.    

Unexpected Item in Bagging Area: Peter Davenport’s winner in January 1989 - not just as it was his first goal after 13 attempts (in the tradition of record Typical Boro striker signings) but as Bernie Slaven passed when he was only four yards from goal. Just six more (and relegation) followed.

The Floodgates Open: 2-2 (April 2008 ) first two Boro goals for Afonso Alves, the 21st century Davenport/Boersma. Just eight more (and relegation) followed.

Fake News: has a habit of claiming to be the birthplace of railways, and the world’s first club with its own TV channel. Visiting fans can muse that without the Stockton and Darlington railway they wouldn’t be at the Riverside, as Middlesbrough wouldn’t exist, and next February celebrate the 20th anniversary of Boro TV. As the (very) loud voice of its first presenter would no doubt remind them from the grave, MUTV came along six months later.

The Wall of Death: January 1980, after a 1-1 draw a brick wall and two gates on the Clive Road corner of Ayresome Park collapsed, killing Norman and Irene Roxby from Eaglescliffe, when United fans, locked in after the game, pushed and the huge gates gave way. It was a year before an inquest recorded a verdict of death by misadventure. The ground had no safety certificate (Hillsborough was nine years away, Bradford five) but amid conspiracy theories galore Cleveland County Council said it was in the process of issuing one. The directors, officials and police all escaped censure. Boro players and coaching staff were pall bearers at the Roxbys' funeral.

Omen Corner: Boro’s record, especially in recent times, after going out of the FA Cup in the sixth round or later. The number of post-exit wins in those 13 seasons: 2-4-1-6-6-2-2-3-0-0-3-3-1. That's 2.5 on average. The two 6’s were 1970 (going for promotion) and 1975 (going for Europe).

Roman Corner: Aitor Karanka left Boro on the Ides of March. Julius Caesar left the world the same day, and that led to the establishment of an empire (Boro as Champions League regulars anyone?) Also the day another Spaniard left for home after a long time abroad - Columbus in 1493 (no Juninho without him), and another empire fell as Tsar Nicholas II abdicated exactly 100 years ago.

Your Boys Took One Hell of a Beating: among United supporters’ clubs from Novoya Zemlya to New Zealand, an unholy trinity of 1) The home-grown like Steve Coogan, John Cooper Clarke, Mick Hucknall, half the cast of Corrie; 2) the wider British Isles, James Nesbit, Angus Deayton, Geoffrey Boycott, Olly Murrs, Eamon Holmes, Rory McIlroy; and 3) anyone from Hollywood/Asia/Australasia with a decent publicist  - Justin Timberlake, Sachin Tendulkar, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Paquiao, Megan Fox. And Usain Bolt, who once gave Cristiano Ronaldo tips on how to run faster. If only Colin Jackson had given him tips on how to hurdle Boro players.