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Opinion

Middlesbrough fans getting very weird with Newcastle United

12 months ago
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Middlesbrough fans are weird ones.

I can honestly say that as a Newcastle United supporter, I never, with very very rare exceptions, think about their club or supporters.

If you asked me to talk describe what has happened at their club this season, before this morning I would only have been able to tell you three things.

I do recall that Michael Carrick took over at the Riverside sometime this season.

I know they managed to lose quite recently (turns out it was January) to Sunderland despite them (Middlesbrough) on a decent run at the time.

I assumed that this season there are empty seats at the Riverside every home match with not enough Middlesbrough fans to fill them and that turns out to be correct of course (as always).

This was the limit of my knowledge of and interest in Middlesbrough football club this season, until this morning.

I’m still not interested in this club BUT I am intrigued, to a small extent, by the Middlesbrough fans and their weirdness.

This is what has piqued my (very small) interest…

It turns out that Middlesbrough are actually going for promotion this season, having a go at the automatic promotion spots (now four points off Sheff Utd who are second but the Blades also having a game in hand) but set to be in the play-offs.

On Saturday they beat Reading 5-0 at home but the Middlesbrough fans went to the trouble of specially producing this banner above (‘Saudi State Couldn’t Execute A Trophy Win’).

I suppose to an extent it has done its job because myself and a few others have noticed Middlesbrough fans and their club for once.

How bizarre though is this banner? I guess the Middlesbrough fans did it in the hope of getting some rare exposure beyond Teesside for once.

However, when I saw this banner I laughed at the weirdness of a club’s fans, that no Newcastle United supporter cares about, going to this trouble to ‘upset’ us, supposedly.

Nobody cares about Middlesbrough fans or their club. Middlesbrough fans are both friendless and rival-less, a football club nobody has any interest in. I almost feel sorry for Sunderland because due to pretty regularly playing them, they are forced into something remotely like a very small rivalry.

When I saw this Middlesbrough fans banner, it reminded me very much of that very very strange experience back in 2009. We were all gutted to see Newcastle United relegated on the final day of the season but for those that travelled, it was combined with the very strange experience of tens of thousands of Aston Villa fans taking a quite bizarre level of interest and delight in that NUFC relegation, including producing some trampy banners in advance, in the hope Newcastle would be relegated that day.

I still to this day don’t understand why Aston Villa fans went on like that, if the roles had been reversed and Villa had been demoted at St James’ Park. No Newcastle fan would have been upset they had gone down but nobody would have been all that bothered / delighted that Villa had been relegated. As for taking the time and effort to produce banners, that would have been just surreal. Obviously Newcastle fans have reacted to an extent since, due to that Villa weirdness, but 100% this wouldn’t have happened without those crazy celebrations because a club 200 miles away had gone down, a club you have no connection or rivalry with.

Which brings me back to Middlesbrough fans and their club.

Geographically (42 miles from SJP to The Riverside), Middlesbrough may well be a lot closer than Birmingham / Aston is, but for all the interest Newcastle fans have in them, it may as well be 200 miles.

I just checked and it is 13 years since we last played them, turns out it was the 2009/10 promotion season when the two clubs were last in the same division (Middlesbrough spent a rare year in the Premier League in 2015/16 when we experienced our second Mike Ashley Championship experience).

If Middlesbrough fans and their club did get promoted, then next season, how much interest would I take in them?

To be honest, when looking through the 2023/24 Premier League fixtures, I would pay them about as much attention as the likes of Burnley and Sheffield United, if as expected, they get promoted.

Middlesbrough are a bit like Southampton, Bournemouth, Brentford this current season, you take an interest when you play them because they are your next / last opponents and you’re interested in the result. However, a day later and I will be forgetting them until the next time we play them, no matter how many years that might be.

I know that as a Newcastle United fan it can be tiresome when you are exposed to the constant nonsense churned out by the likes of Talksport and the rest.

It is though of course a very backhanded compliment, even when the presenter / pundit / fan of whatever club, is saying how unimportant Newcastle United fans and their club are.

For whatever reason, everybody has an opinion on Newcastle United and no time more so than the present day, when NUFC are at last finally a threat again (three defeats in a row on the pitch doesn’t change that fact).

Middlesbrough fans will never have this worry of everybody talking about them.

However, I must admit I am curious to a small extent that if Middlesbrough did get promoted, just how extreme and bizarre would be the lengths they’d go to when playing us at the Riverside next season, to ‘upset’ NUFC and the travelling fans with their no doubt numerous weird banners.

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