How Do I Get There?
As has become customary when we face our neighbours from Teesside, SAFC are providing free bus travel to those making the short trip down the A19. The buses will begin boarding at 5pm, from the car park just outside the East Stand of the SoL and will depart at 5.30pm. They’ll drop you off right outside the away end, where the boys in blue will give you an escort into The Riverside.
If you don’t fancy the buses, you can always get the train direct from Sunderland to Boro. It takes just under an hour but trains are pretty frequent (roughly every half an hour), and the station is around a 15 minute walk from The Riverside.
You could of course, always just drive down but if you need directions on how to get from Sunderland to Middlesbrough then I think you have bigger problems to address.
It terms of getting home, it’s worth noting that all Sunderland fans will be held in the stadium for a short period of time after the final whistle to allow time for the home crowd to disperse. With that in mind, hopping on the free buses to get back to Wearside will probably be your best option, if you haven’t travelled by car.
Where Can I Get A Pint?
With the stadium being close to the town centre, Middlesbrough gives you quite a few options for a pre-match bev. On Cooperation Road, a handy ten minute walk from The Riverside, is Doctor Browns, and The Lord Byron is even closer - just five minutes away on Dock Street. Both pubs allow children in so, even though this isn’t a particularly intense derby, you’re unlikely to get any bother while you have an undercover pint.
I wanted to recommend The Hairy Lemon as well but it’s unfortunately changed its name. I was only going to mention it due to its superb name and for the fact that I once saw Morrissey at Middlesbrough Town Hall and he gave it a mention on stage. It’s named The Pig Iron now and while I’m sure it’s fine, it’s just not the same.
What Else Can I Get Up To?
It’s a bit weird doing this section, given the match is only just down the road. Rules are rules though and some of you reading this might be exiles who are looking to kill some time.
If you’re a bit of a music nut then a visit to Sound It Out is a must. The last record shop in Teesside was the subject of an excellent 2011 documentary which didn’t just delve into the music and the store’s staff, but also the characters who visited the shop and how the decline of the record store mirrored the decline of the high street in places such as Stockton. Pay them a visit, buy yourself and vinyl and then stick the documentary on.
You can’t mention Middlesbrough without mentioning The Transporter Bridge either. Despite Jimmy Nail’s best efforts to sell the blue titan, it still stands proudly on the Tees and given its links to the shipbuilding industry, it’s something that will chime with any Sunderland supporter. Stand beside it and realise just how small and insignificant you truly are.
What’s The Ground Like?
Opened in 1995, The Riverside is a rather typical ground for a one built in that era. It holds just under thirty-four thousand fans, with the West Stand (the side of the stadium where the dugouts are) being the only one to have an upper tier. There has been an effort to preserve the memories of Ayresome Park around The Riverside, however. The gates from Boro’s former home reside outside the main entrance and statues of club legends Wilf Mannion & George Hardwick (who went on to manage Sunderland) serve as a reminder of the club’s past.
Since Sunderland last visited Middlesbrough the away fans have been relocated ever so slightly. Rather than being directly behind the goal in the South Stand - where Sunderland fans will remember celebrating goals from Michael Reddy, Liam Miller & Stephane Sessegnon - visitors have been tucked into the South East Corner. For reference, if you were watching a game from The Riverside on TV, this would be just to the left of the main camera.
Since it’s a modern stadium, the view will be fine wherever you are in the away end; let’s hope we witness The Lads bag a crucial three points, in the battle for 19th place.