The words of a legendary passage of commentary have been immortalised on walls near the Riverside Stadium in a project jointly funded by Middlesbrough Football Club and Middlesbrough Council.
Alastair Brownlee’s evocative heart-felt description of what it meant to the area on reaching the UEFA Cup final on the most memorable night of cup football ever to be played at the Riverside, has been painted onto the walls underneath Shepherdson Way as part of the Middlesbrough Public Poetry initiative.
“Alastair would have been so proud of this,” said his wife Wendy, who along with the rest of the broadcaster’s family has been fully supportive of the project.
“Everyone knows how much he loved the Boro, but he loved the town and the area as well.
“I think this is a really nice thing, and a fitting tribute.”
On Thursday April 27 2006 Boro were minutes away from going out of the UEFA Cup at the semi-final stage and then, with a minute of normal time remaining, Stewart Downing whipped over a perfect cross from the left and Massimo Maccarone launched himself into a diving header.
Cue mayhem with grown men forgetting their age and a passage of commentary from the legendary commentator:
“That is it. It’s Eindhoven. It’s Eindhoven. Boro have made it one of the most glorious nights in the history of football. We go back to 1876, the Infant Hercules, fathomed out of the foundries of Teesside, mined out of the Eston Hills, we’re roaring all the way to Eindhoven and the UEFA Cup final. It’s party, party, party! Everybody round my house for a parmo!”
Downing was on hand at the unveiling of the work on Friday afternoon, heading straight down as soon as training had finished.
“I had to be here,” he said. “Ali was a legend and everyone knows about that commentary. I remember the game, the night and what it meant as if it was yesterday.
“It was one of the best moments of my career and I’m sure that’s one of the best bits of commentary Ali came out with. Mind, there were a few!
“I have to say this whole project is great for the town, what they’ve done around Bedford Street and that area is great. “
Alastair’s youngest daughter, Emily, his dad Malcolm and Ali’s dog, Benjamin the Labrador, were joined by the Mayor of Middlesbrough Dave Budd, Council Chief Executive Tony Parkinson, Dan Thorpe, managing editor of BBC Tees and the curator of the project Nicky Peacock.
Nicky said: “When I first I heard the commentary, I, like everyone else, was moved by its joy and eloquence. The sheer excitement and incredible warmth in the tone of Alastair’s words surprised me in the best way. Phrases such as ‘Fathomed out of the foundries of Teesside’ just trip off the tongue. The words are truly celebratory and very poetic. I’m so happy to have included this piece in the project.”
*The Public Poetry project aims to find an impactful way of revitalising the town centre and enhancing the social, civic and cultural life of its inhabitants. It enhances the overall vibrancy of the town centre as a desirable destination as well as supporting Mima, the Town Hall and Teesside University in the cultural agenda.
The chosen pieces range from classic literature to niche contemporary works; there are also some texts that relate specifically to the locale and heritage, and these are great for enhancing a sense of connectedness and pride in the area.