The 1988/89 season saw Boro, on the wave of two consecutive promotions, gain a new shirt sponsor in the form of Heritage Hampers. Off the pitch, the club were trying to rebuild after the trials and tribulations of liquidation two years earlier.
Ayresome Park was starting to look a little tired and the club asked the new sponsors if they would fund the painting of the North Stand. The company agreed, on condition they could adorn the iconic stand’s roof with the firms name.
Shortly after a group of four men, which included Dael Fry’s dad Gary carried out the required painting. The famous Guinness Book of Records were soon contacted enquiring whether the advertising ‘hoarding’ was the biggest in the world. Norris McWhirter, co-founder of the book, visited the ground to check the stand and see if it could be a record.
Then in the early part of 1989, Heritage Hampers received a letter from the Guinness Book of Records declaring that at a size of 23,228 sq.ft, the freshly painted hoarding was indeed the largest in the world!
The striking picture was taken by local electrician Martin Schumm, who was working on the floodlight situated in the South East corner of the ground. As well as the North Stand, it clearly shows newly advertised roofs on the South and West (Holgate) stands. Behind the Holgate End, you can see the old Middlesbrough General Hospital.
It seems that Boro were never averse to ground sponsorship as an aerial photograph of Ayresome Park in 1934 shows.
Again, the North Stand was chosen, and this time it was local company Stantonia Footwear, who were resplendent on the famous barrelled roof. The photo also shows the original South Stand, transported piece by piece from the old Linthorpe Road Ground.
The open West End, yet to become known as ‘The Holgate’ is featured without a roof. Likewise opposite the vast expanse of the East End, untouched until it was redeveloped for the 1966 World Cup.