Ah, Middlesbrough. It’s a town that is frequently depicted by the media as a post-industrial slum populated by the illiterate, the poor and the criminal. We usually make the list for highest unemployment figures and unhealthiest people.
But those same things that make the town infamous can also be viewed in a positive light. We shouldn’t be ashamed of the things that have been detrimental to the town in the past; instead we should look for ways to turn them into something we can be proud of.
Here are a few examples:
A Premiership team for 11 consecutive seasons, Middlesbrough FC were relegated in 2009 and have spent the subsequent seasons in the Championship. There have been occasional whispers of promotion, but ultimately the team have missed the target, to the cry of ‘Typical Boro’ from the weary supporters.
Even as a Premiership team, Boro were often regarded as underdogs, a club forever destined to battle the mire of relegation.
Then there’s the infamous incident from the 1996/7 season where Boro failed to fulfil a fixture against Blackburn Rovers due to a massive outbreak of illness within the team. Despite hiring a celebrated barrister who had rarely tasted defeat in his long career, Boro were deducted three points and given a fine. Oh and because of those three points, we got relegated. Typical.
They might not be Manchester United, but Middlesbrough FC has achievements to be proud of. Winners of the Carling Cup in 2004, Boro enjoyed two seasons in Europe, competing for the UEFA Cup. In 2006, they made it to the final after two heart-stopping rounds against Basel and Steaua Bucharest respectively, where the team came back from 3-0 down to win 4-3 on aggregate. I was at the Basel game and I have never in my life experienced an atmosphere so electric.
Location, Location, Location
In 2007, Phil and Kirstie presided over the show that voted Middlesbrough as the worst place to live in the UK. Yeah, thanks for that.
Naturally, the town was outraged. Us northerners are known for our self-deprecating humour, but we can only take so much. Complaints were launched against the programme and what was felt to be an unfair depiction of the town, but they weren’t upheld by Ofcom.
One of the best things to come out of the Location, Location, Location debacle was the Love Middlesbrough campaign, which was implemented by the council in 2008. The team from @lovembro work tirelessly to promote everything that’s happening in the town, from exciting business news to family fun days and new exercise classes.
We’re known for our very own dish, the parmo. However, as a takeaway staple, it’s not one of the healthiest dishes around.
Perhaps this influenced the statistic on the fateful Location, Location, Location show, which claimed that 9 out of 10 people in Middlesbrough do no exercise? They’ve clearly never tried to get into the gym on a Monday night.
Er, we have the parmo; didn’t you hear what I just said?! If you don’t enjoy eating great slabs of chicken slathered in béchamel sauce and cheese, with a good portion of garlic mayo on the side, then you’re missing out, my friend.
Most people will recognise the sweeping vista of cooling towers and chemical plants that the media so frequently use to represent Middlesbrough. Our industrial legacy is what led to the ‘Smoggie’ nickname and the perception that our local area is heavily polluted and unpleasant.
Early industry in Middlesbrough was built around iron and steel production, hence the nickname of Ironopolis. A local company, Dorman Long, were responsible for producing the steel components of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Nowadays, the chemical industry dominates Teesside, alongside a number of engineering and manufacturing firms, and Teesport, located on the River Tees, which is the third largest port in the UK. Plus, Middlesbrough is fast becoming one of the largest centres in the country for digital business, thanks to the success of the computer game design and animation programmes at Teesside University, and the growth of DigitalCity.
So next time you’re denouncing Middlesbrough as a shithole that has nothing good going for it, stop and think if that’s really true.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the So I’m a Smoggie series.