Middlesbrough: Martin Tyler shares his memories of commentating at the Riverside Stadium

The story of terrifying a football legend on the drive home from Middlesbrough

Around the grounds with Martin Tyler
Image: Martin Tyler looks back on a surprising rivalry between Boro and Man Utd at the turn of the century

At a time when football grounds have closed their doors, we've asked Martin Tyler to share some of his favourite facts and memories of the homes of clubs around the world.

This week, Sky Sports' Voice of Football is looking at some grounds at clubs that used to be in the Premier League. Today, he takes us on a trip to Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium.

Keep an eye on The Football Show on Sky Sports News and @SkySportsPL for some special Tyler's Teasers from Martin.

How I get there

It is not easy from a base in the south. There used to be regular flights to nearby Teesside Airport, but they have been discontinued. There were occasions when Sky Sports chartered a private plane to transport the television crew.

In my days with Yorkshire Television back in the late 1970s I would drive and was once asked for a lift back south from the then Boro base of Ayresome Park by the legendary commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme, who found such perfect words for the 1966 World Cup final.

I was thrilled and looking forward to hearing about his illustrious career, but after a few miles he fell asleep and only woke when we got close to London.

I found out later that he had faked his tiredness because he was terrified of my youthful driving and would not be asking for any lifts again! When you think Ken had been a wartime RAF pilot, I must have put my foot down!

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What it's like to commentate there

When Middlesbrough returned to the Premier League in 2016 the television gantry was switched from the Main Stand to the opposite side. It is a bigger position than the original and gives the action a better backdrop.

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Did you know?

The Riverside Stadium took only 32 weeks to build and was opened in 1995. It was designed to fully comply with the Taylor Report on ground safety.

My memories of the ground

Alen Boksic of Middlesbrough scores the opening goal against Manchester United
Image: Alen Boksic of Middlesbrough scores the opening goal against Manchester United

In their Premier League years there have been a lot of Middlesbrough connections with Manchester United, who were actually presented with the trophy at the Riverside Stadium in 1996.

Bryan Robson was manager when Boro moved from Ayresome Park with Viv Anderson and Gordon McQueen on the coaching staff. Gordon Strachan would later have a spell in charge and the manager for a game which has stuck in my memory was a former assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson, Steve McClaren.

The two clubs met on Teesside on Boxing Day 2002. A difficult fixture for Middlesbrough who had not beaten United at home in the league since 1989. It was not the easiest assignment either for the television crew at this festive time of the year. Niall Quinn was my co-commentator.

United would go on to be champions, but although they had a lot of the ball they came off second best that afternoon as Middlesbrough fans got the Christmas present t hey all wanted.

Gareth Southgate was at the heart of the defensive resolve of the home team and a goal either side of half-time built the platform for a famous win. Alen Boksic, the Croatian striker, had hardly had a decent touch until in the 43rd minute when that enterprising left-back from France Franck Queudrue put him though. Boksic had scored a memorable winner at Old Trafford nine months earlier and now beat Fabien Barthez for only his second goal of this campaign.

Two minutes into the second half Szilard Nemeth burst past Laurent Blanc and John O'Shea to double the lead. It was Nemeth's first game against United, though he had scored for Slovakia against an England team containing four players from Old Trafford.

Boro were defending an unbeaten home record in the league stretching back to the previous April and the only time this was threatened was when Ole Gunner Solskjaer's low cross was turned in by Ryan Giggs.

But with four minutes to go Joseph-Desire Job made sure of the victory from close range - Job done! A couple of seasons later McClaren's men would beat United 4-1 at the Riverside and there were other cracking matches in this period which showed a real rivalry between the two clubs.

Then it was back home to my family, at a more circumspect speed than some 25 years earlier when I unwittingly scared the wits out of Kenneth Wolstenholme!

What I like about this ground

I have always been full of admiration for the speed in which the stadium was built, an early initiative from one of the game's outstanding chairmen, Steve Gibson.

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