Teesside Archives have provided some unique insights into the early days of Ayresome Park, including oral history recordings.

Dr Tosh Warwick

Manchester Metropolitan University | Heritage Unlocked

07591093136 | t.warwick@mmu.ac.uk

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A number of recordings held in Teesside Archives’ 700+ listings in the oral history collection, mainly dating from the 1980s, reference memories of attending Ayresome Park across the decades.

Of particular note is that of shopkeeper George Guymer, born in Middlesbrough in 1895. Guymer’s memories reference attending the first league match held at Ayresome Park against local rivals Sunderland on 12th September 1903 (Boro had contested a friendly with Glasgow Celtic earlier that month). His memories provide some insights into the football club’s move from their former Linthorpe Road Ground, life living near to Ayresome and some early Boro stars:

“The first match we played was with Sunderland at Ayresome Park, and it was threepence, threepence! It was very handy and if I hadn’t enough money to go in, I used to wait till ten minutes before time when they used to open the gates, and see the last ten minutes of the match…we went in, most times there was a boys’ part where we could go, and I followed them ever since, I’ve had a season ticket even when I went to live in Scarborough I came to Middlesbrough for the football matches after I retired.”

Recalling some of his Ayresome heroes, Guymer highlights George Camsell’s fifty-nine goal record during the 1926-27 promotion season when Boro scored 122 goals, and makes comparisons to later twentieth century football.

Amongst other Boro memories in the oral history collection include Jack Taylor, born in 1912, who recounts joining friends in walking the not insignificant 18-mile round trip along the ‘Black Path’ in the shadow of the steelworks from Redcar to Ayresome Park, as well as those of Jack Evans who lived in Clive Road next to Ayresome Park.

Evans describes the experience of living near the ground on matchday as ‘heavenly’, recalls going in the wooden stand transferred from the club’s former Linthorpe Road Ground, seeing world record signing Alf Common play for Middlesbrough, and reminiscing about the wider social and family associations of going to the match:

“You used to go there, and you could go there as a family, and you could stand there and have a joke…crack a joke, and a laugh…and it was fun to go and see a football match”.

The oral histories provide an opportunity to access a world of sporting memories (and misremembering at points too!) and it is clear that, just like many supporters who head to the Riverside over a century later, the fans who trudged along the Black Path and packed into Ayresome Park loved the ground and experience it brought.