City History | City vs. Boro
Ahead of Saturday's clash at CCS, we take a look at some historic links between City and Boro...
A Famous FA Cup Clash
Middlesbrough were an established Premier League club when they hosted Cardiff City on March 9th, 2008, having been in the top flight since 1997.
The Gareth Southgate-managed side had reached the Quarter-Final FA Cup tie against the Bluebirds by defeating Bristol City, Mansfield Town and Sheffield United.
City had reached the quarter-final with victories against Chasetown and Hereford United in the opening rounds, the latter fixture being notable for providing defender Kevin McNaughton with one of his two goals scored in competitive matches for the Bluebirds across his nine years at the club.
City's trip to the Riverside Stadium was their first in 14 years, where they'd had another FA Cup tie in 1994, coming away the victors with the score 2-1.
In what would become a match to remember for the Bluebirds, City took an early lead against Boro. In the ninth minute of play, Peter Whittingham received the ball from Stephen McPhail inside the hosts’ area.
Feinting a run before pulling the ball back, the midfielder tricked the approaching defenders into backing away slightly, at which point he struck.
The shot was perfectly weighted, and curled around Boro’s defenders before finding its destination in the top right corner of the goal, finding the back of the net and sending the away end into raptures.
The early lead was a surprise given Middlesbrough’s Premier League status, so it would have been an even bigger surprise less than twenty minutes later when the Bluebirds doubled their lead.
This time Whitts found himself assisting Roger Johnson with a free-kick that soared into the hosts’ area. Johnson - who was left free at the back post - dived forwards to head the ball back across the face of the goal, beating 'keeper Mark Schwarzer as it crossed over the line.
Having secured a two-goal advantage, City dug deep to defend their ticket to the FA Cup Semi-Final, and did not concede during the whole 90 minutes of play, even getting the best of the chances for the remainder.
At the blow of the final whistle, City had secured their spot in the Semi-Final at Wembley Stadium, and would go on to reach the Final for the third time in the club’s history in the following months.
Shared Player | Graham Kavanagh
Beginning his youth career in Ireland before joining Boro as a young man in 1991, Graham Kavanagh made his professional debut for Middlesbrough during the 1992/93 season, playing in the Premier League.
“I trialled for Middlesbrough and was going to fly over to join them when I had offers come in from Leeds United and Liverpool. Now, I was a Liverpool fan and the offer was a good one for me, but I had the sense that Boro were a club that brought players through, and I felt that I was really wanted there. They seemed committed to helping me develop and progress in the game, so I made the decision to go there, which was the start of the journey for me.
“It was difficult at first, but the goal was always to give myself the best opportunity that I could. It took a while to get my body used to playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Wednesday, and after first making it to starting on the bench I then made my First Team debut against Nottingham Forest away, later that week playing at home against Sheffield Wednesday
“To make my debut home and away in the space of a week was fantastic. We lost the first game 1-0 and then drew at home 1-1. I was involved in our goal, so it was like the dream starting to come true, and feeling like I was making some headway.
“After a few seasons I wanted to play more football, so I ended up moving to play for Stoke, which turned out to be a different experience for me."
Following a five-year spell with Stoke City, Kavanagh would join the Bluebirds in 2001, with Potters teammate Peter Thorne following shortly afterwards.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t realise how big Cardiff City was as a Club until I went there,” said Graham. “I could see the passion of the fans, as well as the determination of the city for the Club to do well. Also, the responsibility as a player and as a captain was a driving force, which I thrived on during my time there. I felt that with the timing of my arrival it was a really good fit.
“It was good for me having a familiar face in the team, because I knew how Thorney played. I’d been asked about the possibility of him joining from Stoke and really wanted him to make the jump across.
“He was magnificent. I knew his game and what he could bring to the team; where he liked to cross, where he’d put the ball. I also knew that he’d like to hold on near the second centre-half, creating the gap for me to come charging through in the middle of the pitch to get some shots off.
“I’d score some goals off him just winning a header in the middle of the pitch, and even if he didn’t win the header you knew he’d not let his marker get a clear header away. Having him there early on, both as a teammate and a friend, certainly helped me settle in at the Club.”
Falling short of the Play-Off Semi-Final at the end of his first campaign as a Bluebird, Kavs' second season was to follow, ending with a famous Play-Off Final win at the Millennium Stadium against Queens Park Rangers...
"It was a tough game," Graham recalled. "And Queens Park Rangers could have won it if they'd taken their chances. As it happened, we won it with a magical goal from Andy Campbell, and everybody knows the rest!
“Afterwards, it was just the greatest sense of relief for us. We were exhausted, but excited to have cleared that level as we looked forwards to that following season. The energy it created over the Summer was absolutely massive for everybody, from players to fans, and of course we were excited!”