Creative Soccer Culture

Residence #32 | 'Riverside Stadium' Middlesbrough FC

The North East. One of the most passionate footballing hotbeds in England with some of the proudest, most vocal and loyal fan bases in the country. An area deprived of top-flight success but rich in sell outs and ambition. Rowing up the River Tees and docking in time for a pre-match Bovril we find ourselves at the Riverside Stadium, home of Middlesbrough FC, and the latest stop in our Residence Series.

One of the first 'new-build all-seater' stadiums in English football, the Riverside became the home of Middlesbrough FC in 1995 after the club left their former Ayresome Park ground, a place they called home for 92 years. The fact the Riverside Stadium is now over two decades old contributes to the atmosphere – an atmosphere that is far more vocal than other more recent new build stadiums – for the Riverside is very much a settled home, especially for the younger generation of Boro fans who have been raised by the edge of the Tees.

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The old gates from Ayresome Park serve as a reminder to the club's history, but now back in the big time of the Premier League, Middlesbrough are very much a forward thinking club and the Riverside Stadium complements that ambition with a capacity of just over 33,700 and room to expand.

The Riverside is one of those grounds that has a stop-in-your-tracks impact upon first sight on approach to match-day. The architectural awe of the roof providing that top stadium feel. Whereas grounds in residential areas often have that extra slice of character, the Riverside stands alone, proudly baring every aspect of its immense structure for all to see. Yeah, it's away from the town centre, but it holds its own. Throw in the back drop of cargo ships and the river lit up by busy match-night lights and there's a special football feeling at Boro.

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Fully enclosed and fully expectant, the Riverside is built to let in as much natural light as possible, a beautifully eerie sight on a non-match day that sees us slip in lucid daydreams of Massimo Maccarone rising to nod home in front of a raucous North Stand. The exterior of the Riverside is what is most impressive about this stadium, a sight that enhances the match-day experience. Once inside, it's tidy and offers uninterrupted views of play. It's the people that make the Riverside home. Take them away and it's a red bowl with a tremendous roof that makes it somewhat unique. Unless you've ever been to Derby County, then it's the same stadium, just redder and further north.


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