Friday, 6 February 2009

More or Bore 2

My second More or Bore column has appeared in the Evening Gazette tonight. Thank you to those who voted last week for more...
CHRIS Abbott, chairman of the Yorkshire Ridings Society and a member of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, returns for a second week.
I WAS born in Harrogate and as I reached my teenage years Don Revie’s Leeds United team were just beginning to come good. By the time I attended my first match aged 14 they were the top side in Yorkshire.
My grandad was a lifelong supporter of the club and that season they reached the FA Cup final for the first time.
To sit and watch it with him in his living room was just as exciting as it was at Wembley in later years when I stood with my father and brothers cheering ourselves hoarse.
I had watched my first game at Elland Road on March 14, 1965. Leeds United beat Burnley 5-1, with big Jack Charlton scoring two of the goals.
I was hooked and throughout the rest of the 1960s and early Seventies I hardly missed a match.
We were proud of our status as the best team in Yorkshire and United fans loved to let people know about it.
We did not come across Middlesbrough much, if at all, during those years and our chief North-east rivals were Sunderland. In recent years, Leeds United’s bid to buy back the glory years has sent us spiralling into the third division. Since then Middlesbrough have been the top Yorkshire side, that is until Hull City began its first ever season in the top flight, though they seem to be on the slide of late.
With a five million population, the same size as Scotland and twice the size of Wales, the bragging rights to being Yorkshire’s No 1 side are not insignificant and far exceed that of being the best in the North-east. It is the perfect response to the Mackems’ tag that Middlesbrough is just "a small town in Yorkshire".
Why is it then that Boro have not promoted themselves as Yorkshire’s No 1? I suspect two main reasons are:
1. Boro’s fan base stretches across the Tees into Durham and the powers that be at the club prefer to refer to the area as Teesside.
2. The confusion caused by frequent changes in local government administration.
Middlesbrough is still south of the River Tees and is on Teesside but Teesside is not a county. Our real county still remains as the North Riding of Yorkshire. This has nothing to do with local government and is quite separate. We still have a North Riding County Football Association.
The Ridings of Yorkshire were not abolished by local government changes. Neither the Parliamentary Act of 1974 nor 1992 had any effect on them. Governments, legal experts and many other reputable bodies all agree.
Where would cricket be if we no longer had our real counties? The answer is to accept that England’s 39 geographic counties still legally remain for all cultural, ceremonial, sporting and postal purposes.
When Boro overtake Hull, as I know they soon will, they can say, without fear of contradiction, they are Yorkshire’s No 1.
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