Teams:

 

Middlesbrough: Ironside, Fleming, Phillips (C), Gittens, Mohan, Pollock, Slaven, Falconer, Wilkinson, Hendrie, Ripley.

Subs: Payton, Peake.

 

Goals: Gittens, Wilkinson.

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Stowell, Ashley, Venue, Burke, Madden, Mountfield, Birch, Cook, Bull, Mutch, Downing.

Subs: Kelly, Dennison.

 

Goal: Mutch.

CLASSIC MATCHES

Extraordinary events surrounded the final game of the season for Middlesbrough away to Wolverhampton Wanderers, on Saturday 2 May 1992.

The game which Boro needed to win to guarantee promotion to the newly formed FA Premier League, was nearly postponed following an arson attack on Wolves, Molineux ground the night before.

Boro fans awoke the morning of the game, to the news that a 5 am arson attack, which was the second in a week, had seen ten fire engines attend and had caused £100,000 worth of damage, to the derelict Waterloo Road stand.

SWAT teams and the bomb squad arrived to find 32 live shotgun cartridges, disguised in green tape, buried beneath the booby trapped Molineux turf.

Reserve keeper Ian Ironside made his Boro debut, in front of 5,000 travelling supporters, stood on the steep South Bank terrace, behind the goal.

And Republic of Ireland international Bernie Slaven got the nod to partner Paul Wilkinson up front.

 

On loan defender Jon Gittens, replaced injured captain Alan Kernaghan in the centre, while left back Jimmy Phillips wore the captain’s armband.

Mohan and Fleming were the others in defence, with Ripley, Falconer, Pollock and Hendrie in midfield.

 

Boro went into the game in good form, winning five of the last seven, and needed all three points to pip Derby County and Leicester City to runners up spot, and join Ipswich Town in promotion to the Premier League.

The game started in a tense and frantic fashion, with ex-Boro player Mark Burke involved in the first Wolves attack. A low cross driven across the box by Wolves midfielder Cook was cut out by Boros Nicky Mohan.

Next was Boros Jamie Pollock’s turn to have a go with a 25-yard effort, which went just wide of Stowell's goal, in front of the travelling Boro supporters.

Minutes later Jimmy Phillips whipped in a cross, for Paul Wilkinson to nod down to Willie Falconer, whose shot was somehow deflected on to the crossbar and cleared.

At half time news filtered through that Derby were winning at Swindon, meaning only a Boro victory would do.

 

SECOND HALF...
 

The second half started with Boro on the attack, after a long range shot from Paul Wilkinson went narrowly wide. The Boro number nine had a clear penalty shout when he was pulled down just inside the Wolves area.

A free kick was given on the edge of the Wolves box, which Jimmy Phillips put over the bar.  

 

The game took a turn on 65 minutes, when a late tackle from Jamie Pollock on Wolves legend Steve Bull, provoked an angry response from the England striker.

The resulting melee on the edge of the Wolves box saw defender Nicky Mohan sent off for a second yellow card, meaning Boro would have to play the remaining 25 minutes with ten men.

Within a minute a Wolves cross was converted by number ten Andy Mutch, who headed home unmarked at the back post on 66 minutes, past a stranded Ian Ironside.

 

Boro hit back on 73 minutes as Willie Falconer rose highest, to head towards the Wolves goal, from a John Hendrie corner. Slaven reacted quickest to Stowells save sliding in first when on loan defender Jon Gittens pounced to tap home the equalizer from two yards out.

 

1-1...
 

Minutes later after some head tennis in midfield, Stuart Ripley picked up the ball and ran at the Wolves backline, where Pollock took it and raced into the Wolves box. Manhandling one defender and avoiding a second, he somehow managed to cross to the back post for Paul Wilkinson, to head home in off the post, making it 2-1 Boro.

 

After holding on for the final minutes, Middlesbrough won 2-1 and gained promotion to the inaugural Premier League finishing runners up, beating Derby County by 2 points who finished in 3rd place.

 

Lennie Lawrence, who had achieved promotion in his first season as manager, celebrated with his triumphant players in front of the 5,000 travelling Boro supporters.

On loan defender Jon Gittens, who had written his name in Boro folklore with his equalizing goal, joined Boro permanently at the end of the season.

The tension proved too much for injured skipper Alan Kernaghan who slipped out of Molineux and spent much of the second half wandering around a nearby Asda, buying a newspaper and some cans of lager. Apparently, Big Al heard the noise of the crowd and thought the Boro were 3-0 down!

 

On Sunday night/Monday morning Wolves were targeted yet again when a firebomb was thrown into the club secretary's office.  

 

Sadly it would be the last time fans favourite Stuart Ripley would turn out for Middlesbrough, who was sold in July 1992 for £1.3m to Blackburn Rovers, where he won the Premier League title in 1995.

 

Record signing Andy Payton’s substitute appearance would also be his last for Boro leaving for Celtic in the close season.

 

Middlesbrough were relegated from the Premier League the following season, finishing 21st with 44 points, five points adrift of safety.

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS v MIDDLESBROUGH

Molineux

Saturday 2nd May 1992

Football League Division Two.

Att: 19,132

Police combed the pitch with metal detectors and surprising to some, the game was allowed to go ahead.

Disillusioned Wolves fans angry at Graham Turner's underperforming team were blamed for the attacks, but to this day nobody has ever been caught.

There was even a far fetched rumour going around the black country that it was Boro fans trying to get the game called off, due to an injury to Goalkeeper Stephen Pears!