Every British team in the UEFA Europa league was dumped out last night! Rangers, a team with a storied past and one of the 2 best teams in Scotland, were knocked out by PSV Eindhoven 1-0 on aggregate, by far not the worst one of the night. Multi-billion pound Abu Dhabi juggernaut, with their Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli (who struggled to put a bib on) were knocked out 2-1 on aggregate to Dinamo Kiev, and Liverpool, one of this countries most successful teams, complete with £35 million striker Andy Carroll up front, were beat 1-0 on aggregate by Braga!
Now this got me all nostalgic, thinking back to 2006 when my beloved Middlesbrough embarked on their second season in what was then known as the UEFA Cup.
What a time! I watched or, most importantly, was there for this. The finest time in the club's history. We beat teams like AS Roma, and came from behind on not one but two occasions, in the quarter final and semi final. Most importantly, which something that the teams mentioned above haven't done this season, we reached the final. That's right! Middlesbrough, the unfashionable club, from the unfashionable area of the country, reached the final. With a smaller fan base than those clubs, and a squad put together by a fraction (all be it still a very expensive fraction but a fraction all the same) of the prices of Liverpool's and Manchester City's teams.
At the time, I don't think I quite appreciated it, I was brought up a Boro fan at the time of Juninho (Probably the best player I will ever see in a Boro shirt and one of my favourite players ever) and Ravanelli. As a young lad, I didn't quite appreciate what I was watching. History in the making. I was older when the UEFA Cup team was around, at a time when I lived and breathed the Boro. Yet, I still didn't appreciate it.
I watch the team struggle now and I appreciate it. I just wish I had done at the time.
My advice to Birmingham City fans, and who knows either Stoke or Bolton fans, is enjoy it where you can and appreciate it. The nature of football is that you will spend a time where we are now, rebuilding with no clear purpose, and you will think back to those teams with fondness, so don't feel like you wasted it, or expected it.
I have read plenty of blogs and the like about this from Boro fans, they are all pretty much the same as this. I just felt like sharing it with you now more for me. A chapter to look back on and say "Yes I do appreciate this, but we still should have had that penalty." So who knows if we get back into the Premiership again (not Europe, I am resigned to that fact) I will enjoy it and appreciate it, so I won't be writing this and kicking myself again.