After a nomadic first two decades of our history, Boro’s Football League ambitions at the turn of the century presented the need for a new home.

Shaun Wilson


Fans were delighted with a prime town centre location for the new Ayresome Park ground, built at Paradise Field adjacent to the old Paradise Ground, home of Middlesbrough Ironopolis. The club unveiled the venue with a prestigious friendly match versus Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic on September 1st 1903, when 7,000 supporters watched a Willie White penalty settle for the game for Boro.

The official opening came on September 12, when local rivals Sunderland were the first visitors in a competitive league meeting. A special key, which the public had been able to view the previous week in the watch shop of director Thomas Gibson-Poole on Linthorpe Road, was used to open the gates.

James Clifton Robinson, chief executive of the towns tram company, declared the ground open, and an estimated 30,000 were in attendance as the Union Flag was hoisted and a brass band played the National Anthem.

As for the game itself, Boro took the lead through Joe Cassidy, who has the honour of scoring the first competitive goal at the new ground. Sunderland then equalised in the second half before Sandy Brown put the home side 2-1 up. However goals from Hogg and Robinson secured the points for the visitors. 

*Many thanks to Boro fan David Harnby, who sent us a copy of the postcard from the opening game at Ayresome v Sunderland.