Boro Flashback: Opening Day Against Wolves In 1989

The last time we met on the opening day it was to prove the start of an eventful season for Boro, nearly three decades ago. 

It was the summer of 1989, and Wolves headed to Ayresome Park as Division Three champions, and on the back of a second successive promotion. 

Boro, on the other hand, having earned consecutive promotions of our own since narrowly escaping the threat of liquidation in 1986, had just been relegated from Division One. 

The Teessiders’ line-up that day included the likes of Stuart Ripley and Stephen Pears, whose sons Connor and Aynsley are now with the club, as well as Garry Gill and Tony Mowbray. England international Gary Pallister started amidst rumours of interest from Manchester United, and would eventually make that move for a record fee between British clubs just shy of a week later. 

The goals flowed in front of a raucous crowd. Bernie Slaven, an ever-present that season, scored two of 32 goals he’d bag that season, while Mark Proctor and Peter Davenport also netted in a 4-2 win for Boro.

Trips to Sunderland and Leeds United followed, while Sheffield United, who will be our first home opposition this season, were the next side up at Ayresome Park. 

It was far from a successful campaign for Boro, and Bruce Rioch would depart the club the following February to be replaced by his assistant Colin Todd. 

But it did end in memorable fashion. A dramatic 4-1 win against Newcastle United on the final day meant Boro avoided relegation to the third tier, and also meant the Magpies missed out on promotion – which instead went to fierce rivals Sunderland.

Elsewhere, Boro would also see a first trip to Wembley for the Zenith Data Systems Cup final, where Chelsea were 1-0 winners. 

Our return to the top flight would not be sealed until a little under three years later, on the eve of the first Premier League season. 

Boro’s opponents that day as a 2-1 win guaranteed automatic passage to the top flight were, of course, Wolves.

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