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Middlesbrough Football Club are a Premier League team who are based in Middlesbrough in North Yorkshire. They were one of the founding member of the Premier League. Promoted to the English top flight again in 2016, Middlesbrough have spent the majority of their history in the top two divisions of English football, with only two seasons spent in the third tier of English football in their professional history.
The Middlesbrough history timeline starts in 1876. Like many football clubs formed around that time, Middlesbrough F.C were founded by members of the local cricket team, who wanted to play sport in the winter months when the cricket season had finished.
The club had amateur status until 1889, when they turned professional. Around this time, some Middlesbrough F.C players left the club to form their own - Middlesbrough Ironopolis. Three years later, the clubs tried to merge to stand a better chance of achieving Football League status, but after this offer was refused, the clubs split and Middlesbrough F.C went back to being an amateur side.
The club won the FA Amateur Cup in 1895 and 1898 and the following season they turned professional once more. This time, their application to join the Football League was a success and they were awarded a place in the Second Division.
The history of Middlesbrough Football Club continues with their first season in the Second Division. Whilst the club endured a tough time of it in their first season in the Football League, the following season was a success. Middlesbrough finished in second place, and with it earned promotion to the First Division.
The 1902-1903 season saw the club move to Ayresome Park, which would remain the home of Middlesbrough Football Club until 1995. Middlesbrough became a middle-of-the-table First Division club, and even went two years without winning a First Division match away from home. This led to into the transfer market, the Middlesbrough transfer history includes the record signing of Alf Common who helped the club achieve a sixth place finish in the 1907/1908 season.
Controversy then hit the club. After Middlesbrough beat local rivals Sunderland in 1910, it was discovered that Middlesbrough manager Andy Walker had tried to bribe the Sunderland players to lose the match on purpose. Walker was suspended by the Football League.
The 1913/1914 season saw Middlesbrough achieve their highest ever league finish. The Boro finished third before the football calender was suspended due to the First World War.
When the football season resumed, Middlesbrough began to slide down the table. This lack of good form continued and in the 1923/1924 season, Middlesbrough finished bottom of the table and were relegated back to the Second Division.
In 1927, Middlesbrough achieved promotion once more, but their time in the top flight lasted for just one season. However, they immediately won promotion by winning the Second Division title and the 1929/1930 season was the first of 18 consecutive campaigns in the First Division.
The 1930’s saw Middlesbrough establish themselves as a good First Division side. As the decade progress, Middlesbrough consistently finished in the top half of the table, before the Second World War caused another suspending of English football.
When the Football League resumed in 1946, Middlesbrough couldn’t replicate their pre-war form and eventually succumbed to relegation again in the 1953/1954 season.
The 1954/1955 season was the first of 12 seasons in the Second Division. This era, however, saw the rise of a man who would become one of the most famous and important names in English football history - Brian Clough. Clough first appeared for the club in the 1955/1956 season and went on to score 204 goals in 222 appearances before leaving for Sunderland in 1961.
After their star striker Clough left, Middlesbrough started to slide down the Second Division table and in the 1965/1966 season, the club were relegated to the Third Division for the first time in their history.
Their time in the Third Division was short-lived. They gained promotion at the first time of asking, finishing second in the table. They again established themselves as a good Second Division side, with top half finishes each season, and in the 1974/1975 season they stormed to the Second Division title, amassing a club record 65 points.
Middlesbrough carried on their good form, and established themselves as a mid-table First Division team. However, during this period, the club sold some of its star players, including future Liverpool legend Graeme Souness, and the club lost momentum. Another relegation followed in the 1981/1982 season after Boro finished bottom of the league, and another spell outside the top flight loomed.
The club struggled to adapt to life back in the Second Division. Serious financial troubles hit the club off-the-pitch and had a major negative impact with on-the-pitch performances. The club season finishes got worse as each season progressed, with 16th, 17th and 19th place finishes preceding another relegation back to the Third Division in the 1985/1986 season.
In 1986, Middlesbrough Football Club history nearly ended. The club was wound up and the Official Receiver sacked all non-playing staff. With no funds to pay for their Football League registration, it appeared that the club would be folded on a permanent basis. However, just before the deadline to register with the Football League, a consortium headed by Steve Gibson, then a board member, managed to find the required funds and complete their registration, thus saving the football club from going under.
The end of the financial saga seemed to breathe new life into Middlesbrough Football Club, and consecutive promotions followed. A second place finish in Division Three was followed by a third place finish in Division Two, where Boro beat Chelsea in a promotion/relegation play-off, and Middlesbrough once more found themselves in the top flight of English football.
However, their First Division joy was short lived, and they were relegated. In the 1991/1992 season, though, Lennie Lawrence led his club to a second place finish and promotion to the newly formed Premier League.
The inaugural Premier League season was Middlesbrough’s last for two years. Finishing in 21st place, they were relegated again to the second tier, now called Division One. The club could only muster a ninth place finish, and Lawrence left the club at the end of the season.
He was replaced by Bryan Robson, who became the Middlesbrough player/manager. He spent a huge amount of money for that time, but it paid of as Middlesbrough lifted the Division One title in his first season in charge, thus regaining their place back in the Premier League.
More money was spent over the next two seasons. Juninho, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Emerson joined the club but Middlesbrough were unable to retain their Premier League place and were relegated again in 1997. That season saw the club deducted three points for failing to fulfill a fixture after illness struck the Middlesbrough squad, and that deduction eventually cost them their place, relegated two points behind 17th place Coventry City.
Middlesbrough’s yo-yo reputation was further enhanced when they bounce back at the first time of asking. The club finished second, gaining promotion back to the Premier League.
The 1998/1999 season saw the start of eleven consecutive seasons in the Premier League. Robson left the club in 2001 and Steve McClaren, a future England manager, took over the reigns. Under McClaren, Middlesbrough established themselves as a steady Premier League side. McClaren also led Middlesbrough to their first ever major trophy, the League Cup, in 2004. This victory also saw Middlesbrough qualify for Europe for the first time in their history, and they made their first appearance in the UEFA Cup qualifiers the following season.
The 2004/2005 season saw Boro reach the last 16 of the competition, and the following season saw them do even better in Europe, reaching the final of the UEFA Cup before being beaten 4-0 by Sevilla.
In 2006, Steve McClaren left the club to become the England National Team manager. Two more mid-table finishes led to another relegation as the club finished 19th in the 2008/2009 season. Middlesbrough spent seven consecutive seasons in the second tier of English football, now called the Championship, before achieving promotion once more in the 2015/2016 season.
The Middlesbrough F.C crest has undergone four changes since the club was formed. The Middlesbrough badge history started with a crest featured a red lion and the Middlesbrough town crest. In 1973, the town crest was removed, leaving just the red lion and the addition of the initials M.F.C underneath.
In 1986, to symbolise the saving of the club from permanent liquidation, a new Middlesbrough crest was designed. This new Middlesbrough badge kept the image of a red lion, but this time the image was situated inside a circular design, bearing the words Middlesbrough Football Club and the year 1986.
This badge was replaced in 2007. The new Middlesbrough badge dropped the circle, instead employing a shield design, with the famous red lion inside the shield and the date of formation, 1876, along with the club name underneath.
Middlesbrough are famous for the red and white kits, but when they were first formed the Middlesbrough F.C colours were blue and white.
Middlesbrough’s first kit consisted of a white shirt, dark blue shorts and dark blue socks. Four years later, the colours of the shirts and shorts were swapped to dark blue shirts and white shorts, before reverting to the original kit in 1891.
1899 saw the first appearance of the red Middlesbrough kit, and the Middlesbrough colours of red shirts has generally remained the same. The shorts colour has alternated between red and white over the Middlesbrough kit history, with the colour of the socks being red or white, or a combination of both.
In 1973, a white stripe was displayed across the shirt, a design feature that Middlesbrough supporters voted to reappear on their team’s kit in 2008.
The current Middlesbrough F.C stadium is the Riverside Stadium. The club moved into the Riverside in 1995, after 92 years at Ayresome Park.
Before the club played their home matches at Ayresome Park, beginning in 1903, the club used various locations for their home games. Still amateurs, Middlesbrough used Albert Park. After two seasons, the club left and played at Breckon Hill. After a dispute over rent, Middlesbrough F.C played at the Linthorpe Road Ground, where the cricket team still played their matches.
After being awarded a place in the Football League, the club had to find a new stadium. Archibald Leitch, who had helped design many football grounds around that time, was the architect of the project.
After the Taylor Report which advised that all Premier League grounds should be converted to all-seater stadia, the Middlesbrough hierarchy had a decision to make - either renovate Ayresome Park or find a new location. They decided on a new location and the Riverside Stadium was built.
The Middlesbrough Riverside Stadium was named by the supporters. It was the first ground in the top two English divisions that featured all of the recommendations found in the Taylor Report.
The Middlesbrough football stadium has a capacity of 33,746, and there are new Middlesbrough stadium plans to extend this to over 40,000.
The majority of Middlesbrough supporters come from the local area. 80% of Middlesbrough season ticket holders are from Middlesbrough and the surrounding areas, one of the highest percentages in English football.
There are a number of supporters clubs and Middlesbrough fans forums. The official Middlesbrough Supporters Club maintains close links with the club itself, and organises meetings and occasions to give the fans the chance to meet the Middlesbrough players past and present. The supporters club also has its own football team.
The Middlesbrough owner is Steve Gibson. A lifelong Middlesbrough fan, Gibson joined the board of directors when he was 26, and brought together a group of businessman to save the club from liquidation in 1986. Gibson continued to buy shares in the club and now owns the majority of the Middlesbrough Football Club shares.
Gibson became chairman in 1994, and bankrolled the signings of some of Middlesbrough’s best ever players in the late 1990’s.
Tim Williamson is the Middlesbrough all-time leading appearance maker. Williamson made 602 appearances for the club from 1902 to 1923.
The most recent Middlesbrough player to break into the top ten of Middlesbrough leading appearances is Mark Schwarzer. Schwarzer made 446 appearances in all competitions for Middlesbrough from 1997 to 2008.
George Camsell is the Middlesbrough all-time leading goalscorer. Camsell scored 345 goals in 453 appearances for the club, including 24 hat-tricks, from 1925 to 1939. Camsell is also Middlesbrough’s top goalscorer in a single season, scoring 59 goals in the 1926/1927 season, and went on to be Middlesbrough’s top scorer for ten consecutive seasons.
Middlesbrough’s record win came in 1890, when they beat Scarborough 11-0 in the FA Cup. In terms of league matches, their highest victory is 9-0, which occurred in the 1958/1959 season against Brighton and Hove Albion.
The highest number of spectators a Middlesbrough side has played in front of was 53,802 in 1949. This was at Ayresome Park when Middlesbrough took on local rivals Newcastle United.
At Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, the biggest attendance to date is 34,836 in a match against Norwich City in 2004.
The player who has earned the highest number of international caps whilst playing for Middlesbrough is Mark Schwarzer. Schwarzer made 51 appearances for Australia while playing his club football at Boro.
Afonso Alves is Middlesbrough’s most expensive signing in their history. Boro bought Alves from Heerenveen in 2008 for a reported amount of £12.8 million.
The highest transfer fee Middlesbrough have received is £12 million. This fee was received twice. Firstly, his was in the sale of Juninho to Atletico Madrid in 1997 and then in 2009, Middlesbrough received the same fee from Aston Villa in the sale of Stewart Downing.
Middlesbrough gained a reputation in the late 1990’s for signing some of the world’s most exciting players. Brazilian players Juninho and Emerson joined the club and went on to attain cult status. In terms of global recognition, it was Middlesbrough players in the 90’s who got the fans’ imagination stirring and made other teams from across the world take notice.
Other notable ex Middlesbrough players include Brian Clough, George Camsell, Graeme Souness, Tony Mowbray, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Gareth Southgate. Clough, Camsell, Mowbray and Southgate along with George Hardwick, Wilf Mannion, John Hickton, Willie Maddren, Juninho and Bernie Slaven make up the list of the top ten players in Middlesbrough history as voted for by Middlesbrough fans.
Current Middlesbrough Football Club players number 27, not including the youth sides and the Middlesbrough F.C academy players.
As a newly promoted club, the Middlesbrough F.C players wages are amongst the lowest in the league.
The current Middlesbrough F.C manager is Aitor Karanka. Karanka became boss in 2013.
Aitor Karanka is Middlesbrough’s most successful manager in terms of games won, with a win percentage of 52.50. Harold Shepherdson has a slightly higher percentage at 52.94%, however Shepherdson only managed the club for 17 games from January 1973 to May 1973.
The total number of Middlesbrough managers throughout their history is 30. Bob Dennison is the club’s longest serving manager, managing 381 matches between 1954 and 1963.
The only major honour Middlesbrough have won came in 2004, when they won the League Cup.
Other honours include the Division Two title (now known as the Championship) in 1927, 1929, 1974 and 1995. Middlesbrough also won the promotion/relegation play-off against Chelsea in 1988.
Middlesbrough’s best ever FA Cup campaign came in the 1996/1997 season when the club reached the Semi-Final.
Boro’s best performance in a European competition came during the 2005/2006 season, where they were beaten finalists against Sevilla.
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