Video of the Day: Middlesbrough – Match of the Seventies
Tomorrow lunchtime, Middlesbrough play Brighton & Hove Albion in the most important Football League Championship match of the season. A win or a draw will be enough to return Boro to the Premier League for the first time since 2009, but a home defeat would mean that they drop into the play-offs and, most likely, a two-legged match against Sheffield Wednesday. So, to calm a few Teesside nerves, here’s a trip back in time to a compilation of the club’s exploits in the 1970s.
A regular fixture in the First Division from the start of the twentieth century, Middlesbrough’s decline started in the post-war years, culminating relegation from the First Division in 1954 and then – albeit briefly – from the Second Division in 1966. The club spent only one season in the Third Division, but it took until 1974 for it to get back into the top flight, under the guidance of rookie manager Jack Charlton, who had just retired from playing after a lengthy career with Leeds United and managed the team on a non-contract basis for his first season in charge of the club, and with a team that was sprinkled with the fruits of a successful youth system that brought through such players as Graeme Souness, David Armstrong, Stan Cummins and Mark Proctor.
The team that won the Second Division title in 1974 did so with a record points tally of sixty-five – as a means of reference, this would have equated to ninety-two points under three points for a win, from a forty-two match season – and the club stayed in the top flight until relegation again in 1982. Wearing distinctive shirts of red with a white horizontal band across the middle, it might be argued that Middlesbrough found much of its modern identity during those heady days of the middle of the 1970s. Should the team get back into the top flight come the end of this season, it will be its sixty-first in the top flight of English football.