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Middlesbrough 2005

Event Photography and Filming - Over 500 fantastic action photos of this year’s game at The Riverside are available from Matt Nuttall Photography, please visit his website for full order details – www.mattnuttallphotography.co.uk
In addition there is a superb DVD available, it includes footage of the pre-match build up as well as full match action and can be ordered by contacting Shane Wilkinson on tel - 07976 509335, or by e-mail at - neishka@blueyonder.co.uk
A percentage of all these sales will go towards Football Aid’s chosen charities.

It was always a dream to play at The Riverside for Steven Bevington. But he wasn't dreaming much the night before as the nerves and excitement meant that he got no sleep at all. It also meant that he got there on time. 0845 to be accurate despite the official invite saying 0945.

Most of the other players were just as excited, especially 'away' team captain Michael McGuinness, whose son Macaulay was also a team mascot. When asked how it felt to be skipper of a side including John Hendrie, Michael was philosophical;

"I'll keep him right, don't worry. I'll also tell him that he'll have to carry the other ten players..."

John was taking this one seriously as the groundsman noted with amusement;

"If Hendrie's team last ninety minutes after what he's just put them through in the warm-up, I'll be amazed..."

But if he really had done them in during the warm up, surely the adrenalin would carry them through. After all, some of the players had been looking forward to this for the best part of twelve months.

A makeshift version of 'Pigbag' boomed out, courtesy of the crowd, who were largely made up the player's family and friends. This was a dream come true for them as well.

The two teams lined up side by side, international style and the nerves started to jangle and the tension started to mount as the throng of cameras reminded the players that they really were in the spotlight now.

Richard Bowden of the 'away' side had the first attempt on goal and it was good for keeper Andrew Fletcher to get an early feel of the ball. He would be seeing plenty more of it during the opening exchanges as the team in white made most of the early running.

The 'home' team found it difficult to settle, until the commanding Paul Tribe made a crunching tackle just outside the box and for a short time, the 'red's' confidence was restored.

However, it was going to take more to muscle the 'whites' out of the game and when they restored parity and found a way past the 'home' side's defence, Michael McGuinness finished superbly well to open the scoring. 1-0 to the 'home' side after six minutes.

The 'reds' were almost back in it immediately when Colin White and Tim Abercrombie combined well to set up Paul Tribe who was unlucky not to level. The move was almost duplicated again shortly afterwards but once again, the score remained 1-0.

Dean Raynor was looking the part in midfield as he tried to subdue Hendrie's onrushing attackers and the Boateng-esque midfielder cut out more than one dangerous looking move with a solid tackle. For the 'whites', right back Chris Anderson worked tirelessly and gave his team-mates confidence by taking control of the backline.

Despite a terrific save by keeper Chris Brown from a cracking Colin White shot, the 'reds' were right back in it on fourteen minutes as Ian Mitchell's chip gave Chris no chance. Ian had received the ball from Brian Hobbins who had lobbed the complete defence from the half way line and at 1-1, it was game on.

Tim Abercrombie went looking for the second straight after the restart but his effort was thwarted by Stephen Holmes who cut him out with more than a dash of style.

Sensing that his side were under the cosh, John Hendrie stepped up the pace and came very close to restoring the 'whites' lead after he beat literally everyone with a mazy dribble. Jonathan Bishop and Brian Kennedy interacted well though and although the scored were kept level courtesy of a goalmouth clearance, the defensive pair always had the danger covered.

But there was little that they could do to stop Richard Bowden as the midfield man cut out a counter attack on thirty yards, took the ball a few paces forward and unleashed a curling screamer into the left hand net. The 'whites' had the signal to gain the ascendancy now and it was at this point that Adam Wilkins came to life.

Adam's first attempt on goal came after he created the chance himself by flat-footing two red midfielders and as he saw his effort sail narrowly wide, you sensed that he would have another chance.

But it was Darren Liddle who further increased the lead with a superb 30-yard strike that had Andrew Fletcher beaten all the way. Twenty-six minutes played and the 'reds' were 3-1 down and looking like they were tiring.

But they did receive a boost just after the third goal when John Hendrie was forced to call it a day with a hamstring problem. David Thompson took his place and did a great job in the master's old position.

Back to Adam Wilkins who was now starting to single-handedly take control of the match. He made a determined tackle that almost led to another opening and then finished off in fine style after a brilliant pass from Richard Bowden. It was a 30-yard effort and it was taken so well that the calls to 'give him a contract' were not unjustified.

But all credit to the 'reds' for not throwing in the towel at 4-1 down. Chris Brown was forced to make a couple of saves from long range efforts and from a third attempt, he demonstrated his bravery by diving at the feet to Ian Mitchell to deny him a shot on goal.

Andrew Fletcher showed himself to be worthy as well with a fine stop but he was not able to keep out that man Wilkins who looked like a real pro as he rounded the goalie to slot into an open goal on fourty-two minutes for his team's fifth goal and his second.

And the half wasn't over as two minutes later, the excellent Richard 'are you Downing in disguise?' Bowden made a pin-point cross and Wilkins completed his hat-trick to make it 6-1 at half-time and the writing was now on the wall for the 'reds'.

The Second half

Referee Trevor Wing was called into action immediately after the restart as an early 'reds' attack was ended when John Gaffney was shoulder barged off the ball. John stepped up to take the penalty himself and made absolutely no mistake as he brought his side right back into it.

Chris Brown was forced into making two tremendous saves as the rejuvenated 'reds' fought their way back into it and if defender Ged Holmes had not been on the pitch, the deficit could have been further reduced.

Ged not only kept the opposition at bay but also managed to create a 'whites' counter attack which Craig Wilkinson nearly finished off. Craig was very unlucky to see his powerful shot go agonisingly wide.

The 'reds' were determined to get back into the game and Wayne Sowden instigated some marvellous team play with Colin White and Paul Tribe in the first third of the second period. They must have worked on those moves at half-time but Martin Wright and Stephen Holmes were having none of it as their defensive abilities matched the smart inter-play of the 'reds'.

But it was the fans of Andrew Hamilton who were nearly out of their seats when he came oh so close to finishing off the best free kick of the game. Brian Hobbins took the kick from the half-way line and Andrew was unlucky not to find the net.

Brian had another free kick opportunity on sixty-seven minutes and this time, he almost beat Chris Brown himself. Chris did exceptionally well to parry the shot and could do little to stop Tim Abercrombie converting the rebound. There was now real hope for the 'reds' at 6-3 with twenty-three minutes to play.

Whether it was concern or determination that spurred Jamie Martin on matters little. What does matter is the manner in which he led the counter attack after the 'reds' had come close again. He took the ball and covered over half the length of the pitch before losing out to Martin Wright who produced one of the tackles of the game and surely saved his side from being clawed back even further.

But the 'whites' were not to be denied their victory and increased the lead to 7-3 with a stunning goal from Jamie Martin from the edge of the box. But his super-strike couldn't have happened without the perception of Darren Liddle who made the goal with a visionary pass from midfield.

Eddie Moir deserves a special mention as well for blocking several red midfield runs and playing his full part in his team maintaining the lead. Jonathan Bishop for the 'reds' also made a huge impact and may well have played an even bigger part on another day.

However this was the 'whites' day and they made the scoreline 8-3 with six minutes to play when Jamie Martin latched onto a through ball, rounded the keeper and coolly slotted home. He fully deserved his moment of glory.

Despite tired legs and minds, every single player gave gave his all until the final whistle, none more so than Andrew Hamilton who gave his enthusiastic supporters what they had been shouting for in the dying moments. Another shoulder barge, another penalty and Andy nearly burst the net with a supreme effort that brought it back to 8-4 at the final whistle.

And the players trooped off, exhausted, ecstatic and with full knowledge that they could dine out on this story for years to come. And every one of them deserves to.

So many people deserve a huge credit for making this very special event happen, none more so than Stewart McGuire, Football Aid's operations Manager.

"This was a fantastic occasion. The participants enjoyed it enormously and the captains were superb. I want to praise Middlesbrough Football Club for their tremendous support and we are looking forward to continuing our great working relationship with the club."

Keeper Andrew Fletcher echoed the same sentiments.

"This is my third year running, along with my mate Jonathan Bishop and we are grateful for this fantastic opportunity. It's the only chance we'll ever get to stand on this pitch without getting arrested."

Football Aid's General Manager David Jenkins was another who couldn't praise Boro highly enough.

"This was one of the best events we have had. It seems to get better each year and we are already looking forward to coming back in 2006."

Steve Vickers was clearly happy to have played a big part as well.

"It's nice to be back here. It's been a long time for me but this isn't about John (Hendrie) and myself. It's about the fans and I'm delighted that they had their moment out there."

And on the subject of returning to The Riverside, perhaps John Hendrie was a little overwhelmed by it all.

"It really is great to be back here. A lot of memories came back and I actually ran into the home dressing room by mistake. It was a lovely day and I'm pleased that we could do so much for the worthy charities that will benefit."

But the final word goes to the men of the match, Brian Hobbins for the 'reds' and Adam Wilkins for the 'whites'.

Thanks to Steve Goldby, the Editor of ComeOnBoro.com