Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)


Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)


Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Underwood

Pride and passion held football fans in its embrace today as Boro's day of destiny on the European stage finally arrived.

The club's legion of expectant fans was urged to ensure the historical event becomes a moment to remember.

Steve McClaren called on supporters to turn the Riverside Stadium into a sea of red while police chiefs urged a carnival atmosphere ahead of tonight's long-awaited debut UEFA Cup tie against Czech champions Banik Ostrava.

Club spokesman Dave Allan predicted a "magnificent atmosphere" tonight after a rush for tickets in the last few days.

"The manager is urging fans to take their seats early, wave their flags and wear their home tops to make the atmosphere as intimidating as possible," he said.

"Tickets went very quickly at first then slowed down but sales have gone very well in the last few days."

Chief Superintendent Mark Braithwaite, Middlesbrough's district police commander, said: "I'm looking for the fans to give us a carnival atmosphere.

"It will be the first night of European football in the club's history and we are looking forward to a positive event."

Rob Nichols, editor of the Fly Me To The Moon Boro fanzine, echoed the call and urged fans to give the Czech supporters a warm welcome.

"I think it is going to be a fantastic occasion, a real first for the town, the fans and Teesside," he said.

"I hope Boro fans extend the hand of friendship and show them some true Teesside hospitality."

Rob added: "This is something every Boro fan has dreamt about for years - to be honest, I don't think anyone really believed we would be here."

About 190 Banik Ostrava fans were due to touch down at Teesside Airport on a charter flight from the "Black City" this afternoon.

Graphic artist and die-hard Boro fan Geoff Thomas has arranged to meet the fans and has even produced pocket maps of Middlesbrough to help them find their way around.

Geoff, 40, of Ingleby Barwick, said: "I've done it all off my own back really. Banik Ostrava hadn't arranged anything for their supporters so I got in touch with them and we've arranged to meet at the airport. …

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