By Daniel Gray and Paddy Dillon, Fly Me To The Moon, September 2019
It was George Orwell who observed that all Boro fans are equal but some are more equal than others. What he failed to mention is that the easiest route to supremacy is to use official club travel for away games.
The launch of the club’s new priority points system this summer surprised us, not just because it came from out of the blue but also because of its unnecessary complexity. Alongside the surprise points dished out for choosing to endure official Compass Royston coach packages to Swansea and Bristol away, the scheme involves a veritable quagmire of other minor acts you can perform to boost your points balance, as this made-up list shows.
Fly a Boro car flag on the A19 (2 points)
Are you an automobile ambassador? Please collect two priority points from the kiosk at Exelby Services. True loyalty means building the Boro brand far and wide, and what better way to do that than fly a flimsy sheaf of badged-up polyester out of your car window from Thimbleby to Hutton Henry, from Borrowby to Dalton Piercy, and from Maltby to Osmotherley. Nothing warms the heart as much as seeing a Boro flag billowing on a dual carriageway; you and your fellow motorist are comrades in transit, united by an unshakeable common purpose which even the most outrageous cut-up manoeuvre at the A66 junction cannot blemish.
Host (2 points) or contribute to (1 point) a Boro podcast
There are now more Boro podcasts than season ticket holders, but there’s always room for more. Football is, apparently, all about opinions, and as the human race increasingly eschews the written word in favour of audible noise this is – much like a musician running late for the tour bus – a bandwagon you don’t want to miss. Get your mates round, get recording, and next year you’ll either be a national football media personality or, at the very least, in pole position to get a ticket for Luton Town away.
Wear an old shirt to a match (3 points)
It is hard to virtue signal in football. Any display of remotely liberal behaviour is often met with the words ‘What’s that perrple thing yer drinkin, soft cunt?’ But it is possible to effortlessly show one’s Loyal Supporter credentials by wearing an old Boro shirt. Heritage Hampers, Dickens or Cellnet…pull them out of the wardrobe, over your nobbles and bobbles and we all know that you are one of the True Believers. A bonus two points for buying official retro versions in the club shop. Point deducted for hideous green 1994/95 away top.
Endure an away end queue search (4 points)
Ah Championship away games in 2019…opera ticket prices, car boot sale customer care. Service sector rhetoric, shoplifting suspect reality. Ever wanted to experience the heady rush of being a smalltown criminal pursued by a knowing and familiar Bobby? Go to Ewood Park. Ever wondered what the tired, poor and huddled masses felt like arriving in New York? Go to Loftus Road. Have you been frisked, questioned and intimidated by men with high-visibility issues? Have 4 points, but don’t ever, ever expect to see kick-off.
Vote in favour of goal music (5 points)
Parliamentary democracy may be teetering on the edge of crisis but Middlesbrough Football Club remains loyal to the demos thanks to its annual season ticket holder survey. This summer the club managed to secure a staggering 76% vote in favour of after goal music by offering the controversial incentive of a whopping five priority points for all fans who voted for the status quo. Not those ones, sadly.
Board a rail replacement bus to a match (7 points)
‘An evening with Jim Davidson’. ‘Not actual size’. ‘Can I give you a call?’… There are a number of sentences which chill the average British citizen to his or her wizened bones. Towering above them all is a cluster of letters that can inspire kamikaze thoughts in the mildest of souls: ‘Rail replacement bus’. Nothing diminishes the human experience more than paying a train fare to ride upon on a dubiously-stained, helplessly whiffy coach (insert libellous joke about ex-assistant manager here). As such, those travelling to games by this method will be awarded seven points, a number reached using absolutely no thought process or formula at all.
Express an idiotic opinion (10 points)
Ever let out a ‘Booooooooooo’ because one 45 minute half of your team’s football hasn’t gone to plan? Ever shrieked ‘Gerroff Downing yer fanny’ because you lack a fundamental grasp of how modern football is played? Ever barracked your striker for not running around enough and not being in the box at the same time? Then you are just the man for us. Have 10 points.
Reveal the true identity of Roary the Lion (1000 points)
We’ve seen you, waving to Roary from the back of the North Stand, hoping, just hoping for acknowledgement and thus validation. We’ve seen you, sending your daughter over to Roary so you can ‘grudgingly’ give him a double fist bump. Jesus man, she’s 38-years-old. But have you ever asked yourself this: who is, I mean who really is, Roary the Lion? It is 25 years since our very own Panthera Teesidus emerged from the Pennyman Woods in Ormesby, kicking and screaming so much that he caused Clayton Blackmore to fall over. In all that time, there has been no Scooby Doo-style unmasking and nary a rumour as to Roary’s true identity. Reveal the truth and receive 1000 points. Bookies’ favourite: Maximilian Haas (3/1).