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Last Updated: Monday, 8 May 2006, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Boro go from liquidation to jubilation
Mark Clemmit
By Mark Clemmit
Radio Five Live reporter and Boro fan

When I think back to 20 years ago and the final game of the season - a 2-1 defeat by Shrewsbury - that sent us down to what is now League One and into liquidation, I never thought we would be where we are now.

The club collapsed in the hands of the liquidator and the Ayresome Park gates were locked.

We only got the go-ahead to start the Football League season at 5.20 on the Friday night and the first game of the campaign was on the Saturday afternoon. From that perspective it is an enormous journey.

They were training at the local park, Albert Park, where Boro legend Brian Clough would walk every morning from his family home to Ayresome Park.

If we win in Eindhoven it will be the greatest moment in the club's history
Mark Clemmit

There was training, with jumpers literally used for goalposts, and there was a tiny squad of mainly youngsters.

That's where it all began really. The journey since then has been extraordinary.

In the last decade Robbo (Bryan Robson) came in as a figurehead and that started to put the club on the map, attracting the big stars to the club.

But it was the Steve McClaren era that has put the whole thing on a more technical and competent footing from a coach's perspective.

Empty seats at the Riverside for the Uefa Cup group match against Litex
Empty seats at the Riverside for the Uefa Cup group match against Litex

He put a real imprint right the way through the club and delivered the first trophy in 128 years.

If he and the players were to deliver the Uefa Cup in only their second season in Europe, it would be quite staggering.

Some might say that bringing the club back from the brink and just making them exist was arguably the most important moment in the club's history.

But to potentially lift Europe's second major club trophy is a dream come true and would most certainly be the greatest moment in Boro's history.

The quarter-final and semi-final second legs stick out for me as the high points of this campaign.

Most people would be lucky enough to witness those comebacks once in 10 years and Boro fans have seen them twice in less than a month. Both of which were absolutely incredible.

The disappointment came when the competition meandered in the early rounds and against Dnipro in front of 10 thousand people it was quite depressing.

Boro's prepare to face Steaua Bucharest
Boro's route to the final was completed with a dramatic win over Steaua Bucharest

We had waited so long to get there, once we finally got there it did not really capture the imagination.

"We're just a small town in Europe" is what the fans have been singing this season and that is what we still consider ourselves to be.

But if we put a Uefa Cup win in the cupboard that will certainly elevate the club.

When you are born half-a-mile from Ayresome Park, have followed the club from the early 70s, have trooped and stood in the rain at places like Sutton, you want to make sure that you are at the final.

The priority of every Boro fan now is just to get to Eindhoven. It is going to be a glorious couple of days in the history of the club.

We have had a bumpy ride but those second legs from the quarter-final and semi-final have made me feel that our name is on the cup.


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