Date: 7th December 2009 at 11:19am
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SeasideEssexXile takes a look at the Riverside Stadium ahead of tomorrow’s Championship clash.

The Riverside Stadium – Middlesbrough
By SeasideEssexXile

Tuesday night sees the first of 2 hard away games in just 4 days.
If only Pool could recapture some of last season`s away form then we really would be laughing. But these are the sort of games we could only dream of a couple of seasons ago. Just down from the big league, Pizza Hut Gareth has gone and Strachan is back chancing his arm in management. Now as a Pool fan when you think of small Jocks you think of KP, let’s hope we can kick one of the big boys right in the nuts and push on with confidence in to the oncoming festive season.

The Ground
Ayresome Park, do we miss it? Not a chance. What a horrible, run the gauntlet place that was. Following the Taylor Report, Boro realised that the old place would be limited to 20000 with seats so they took the decision with Teeside Development Corporation to build a complete new ground. Ayresome Par, the home of football to the Boro for 92 years was doomed. There were 14 options for the ground offered along with several sites, and eventually the Middlehaven site by the river Tees was taken up. The fans chose the grounds name following the final game at AP. Opened in 1995 the opening game saw Boro beat Chelski 2-0. It only took a mind boggling 32 weeks to complete, and even by today’s standards a total build cost of £16million looks excellent value for money. There is still a reminder of Ayresome Park- the gates which were famously locked when the club went in to liquidation have been erected at the entrance to the Riverside, a constant reminder of the bad old days.

The ground has a capacity of 34,988. It has been extended over the years and is now completely enclosed. Now we’ll know that we’ve been to a big club ground as they have, wait for it, and 2 electronic scoreboards!!!
And to think, we thought we’d made it when we had the countdown clock.

How’s this for a bit of forward thinking? The club have had planning permission granted to construct a wind turbine at the site of the stadium, standing 125 metres high and capable of generating 3 Megawatts of electricity, the turbine will be used to power the stadium, with the excess being sold to the National Grid. I can see the headlines now – ‘BFC wind turbines PLC, a Latvian funded energy company’.

This will be our first visit to The Riverside.

We’ll be sat in the South Stand at one end of the ground. Room for 4500 here, but the game couldn’t have come at a worse time for those wanting to cross it off their list. A December midweek game just weeks before Xmas means that around 550-600 will travel. The view is supposed to be great and the legroom not bad.

How To Get There
M55, M6 North, that’s right NORTH. Leave the M6 at J38 (Brough) and join the A685 at the 2nd exit off the roundabout. Stay on the 685 for 16 miles then join the A66. Just after Scotch Corner Services, join the A1 North. After 4 miles and only 1 junction leave at J57 and join the A66.

The ground is well sign posted from the A66. The 66 heads eastbound towards Middlesbrough, continue on the A66 through the town centre to the next roundabout, take the first exit into Shepherdson’s Way for the ground, and take the third exit for the town centre.

Parking is non-existent at the ground, for a £5 there’s plenty of pop up parking on wasteland nearby. Alternatively for the YS crew (we know t’moneys t’tight round t’time of t’year) the UCI Cinema car park is free after 6pm and is a 5-10 minute walk from the ground.

Sat navvers – TS3 6RS

For the Virgin Lovers amongst us – The ground is walkable from Middlesbrough train station. If you come out of the main entrance turn left onto Zetland Road. Then left again, onto Albert Road, and go under the railway bridge. Turn immediately right into Bridge Street East, going past the Bridge pub and then take the next right onto Wynward Way. The stadium is down this road. If you come out of the rear station entrance, turn right onto Bridge Street East. Go straight past the Bridge pub and then take the next right onto Wynward Way for the ground.
For those taking up the Samm Airways flight, Teeside Airport is 13miles away.

Where To Drink
I wonder if the Riverside set the trend for new grounds having crap parking and no pubs nearby?
Doctor Browns allows a mix of home and away fans and is a ten minute walk away from the ground at the bottom of Corporation Road, in the city centre. The Bridge Inn, which is next door to the railway station on Bridge street has mixed reviews, no colours should see you safe.
The town centres not a million miles away but for the rest of us, we`ll be drinking in the hamlet of Yarm.

Plod & Stewards
Despite electronic turnstiles it’s not unknown for some stewards to check ID’s before allowing the concessions in to the ground, the ‘old chancers’ have been warned!

With no history between the 2 clubs, I’d hope for a low key approach.

Fear Factor Rating – Old memories fade slowly, 5

Boro are one of the biggest clubs in this league, but they certainly aren’t unbeatable. They have the names, the have the ground but do they have the togetherness of a team like ours? As grounds go this is a first for many of us, here’s hoping that come 10pm on a cold December night the pool have given us our 2nd away win of the season..

Onwards + Upwards