A history of Middlesbrough FC in chronological order by decade.
Founded in 1876, Boro had only turned professional in 1899 and moved into Ayresome Park in 1903.
Steve Bloomer, the finest player of the early 1900s, was signed soon after but Boro’s best-ever league finish, third in 1913-14, was achieved after he had gone back to Derby.
The next great players to don the red and white were all drawn from nearby: prolific, loyal striker George Camsell, stalwart left-back George Hardwick and inside-forward Wilf Mannion, England internationals all either side of World War II. The club subsequently spent two decades in the Second and even Third Divisions until the mid 1970s. This despite the near goal-a-game record of another great, forward Brian Clough, who met Peter Taylor when his later long-term managerial assistant was a goalkeeper at Boro.
With Jack Charlton in his first, impressive post as manager, overseeing players such as midfielder Graeme Souness, goalkeeper Jim Platt and centre-back Willie Maddren, Boro promised much in the return to the top flight. But relegation in 1982 was followed by a near complete disappearance in 1986.
That was when Steve Gibson stepped in. With Boro saved, manager Bruce Rioch had enough young talent signed by Willie Maddren at his disposal in Gary Pallister, Stuart Ripley, Brian Laws and Bernie Slaven, to achieve two successive promotions.
Boro really took off with the arrival of Bryan Robson as player/manager, Gibson finding funds for players such as Nigel Pearson and Jan Åge Fjørtoft, as well for a new stadium on the banks of the Tees, the Riverside.
With Boro back in the Premier, Gibson broke the bank for young Brazilian midfielder Juninho and Nick Barmby, then Fabrizio Ravanelli – only for his club to lose top-flight status. Appearances in the two cup finals of 1996-97 also ended in defeat, to Leicester and Chelsea.
Boro bounced back in one season, even making the League Cup final again, another defeat to Chelsea.
With incoming coach Steve McClaren in 2001 came more big signings, including Gareth Southgate and former La Liga stars Boudewijn Zenden and Gaizka Mendieta. All combined to secure Boro the first trophy in the club’s history, the League Cup of 2004, with a 2-1 win over Bolton.
The McClaren era ended in 2006 with a dramatic run to the UEFA Cup final, late goals from Mark Viduka, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Massimo Maccarone inspiring unlikely comebacks against Basel and Steaua Bucharest. Outclassed by Sevilla in the final, Boro turned to Southgate as the replacement for McClaren.
But Boro had lost their mojo in cup games and league form had never been consistent. Southgate lasted until 2009 and neither Gordon Strachan nor Tony Mowbray could fully revive a club now back in the Championship.
Incoming coach Aitor Karanka brought in compatriots Kike and Daniel Ayala for Boro to reach the play-off final in 2015. For 2015-16, it was Uruguayan international striker Cristhian Stuani who proved the key, scoring Boro’s vital goal in the 1-1 home draw with Brighton that sealed promotion on the last day of the season.