Boro legend Bernie Slaven is backing a call for the club’s supporters to come forward with memorabilia for a forthcoming exhibition celebrating the 25th anniversary of the club’s rebirth.
The former fans’ favourite was one of the stars of a Boro team that bounced back from the brink of disaster with successive promotions after the club went bust and almost ceased to exist during the dramatic summer of 1986.
Now Slaven wants supporters to back the exhibition that will be displayed in Middlesbrough’s Dorman Museum from January.
The exhibition is part of Middlesbrough 86, an exciting heritage, theatre and education project that was launched by Boro manager and 1986 captain Tony Mowbray.
Supported by a £42,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the project aims to encourage the Teesside community to share their 1986 memories of the club and the town itself.
The exhibition will play a key role in the project but the organisers are keen for fans to loan or donate memorabilia relating to the club’s history.
Boro memorabilia enthusiast John Culley has already agreed to loan several unusual pieces of club history – including a piece of the old Ayresome Park goalposts, an Ayresome Park seat and a car badge from the 1966 World Cup when the old ground famously hosted North Korea’s shock 1-0 victory over Italy.
Lifelong supporter John is owner of the town’s Longlands Hotel, where the Riverside Season Card holder displays his impressive collection of photographs, banners and ephemera.
“I started collecting matchday programmes when I was a young lad and it just snowballed from there,” he said. “I tend to go for off-beat items like the piece of goal post. It will be fantastic to see parts of my collection go on display at the museum.”
Robert Nichols is also loaning two toilet signs, once displayed at Ayresome Park, but purchased by the Fly Me to the Moon fanzine editor at an auction soon after the ground closed in the mid-1990s.
Born and bred in South Bank, Middlesbrough, project director Alan Spence said: “The project is all about remembering the past and celebrating the future, so we want memorabilia that relates to pre and post-1986 as well, of course, from that dramatic era when we so nearly lost our beloved football club forever.
“Whilst we will consider most pieces of memorabilia including scarves, rosettes and 3D objects, we are particularly interested in unusual items so we hope fans will come forward with the weird and wonderful! It’s a great chance to share the memorabilia with thousands of fans.”
Anyone who is interested in loaning or donating items to the exhibition can contact project worker Richard Antill on 07828 409483 or email Richard_j_antill@hotmail.com. The deadline is the end of November.
Along with the exhibition, a series of activities will be held at Teesside’s cultural institutions, culminating in Theatre is Real Life performing “The Boro’s 37 Minutes”, a play written and directed by Alan Spence. Inspired by the events of 1986, the play will be performed over five nights, December 5-10, at Teesside University.
Adults tickets are priced just £5 for the opening night and £9 for the rest of the week, with concessions for students, pensioners and the unwaged priced £7. They are available from Middlesbrough Town Hall Box Office or by calling (01642) 729729 or 815181.
Other events taking place include an education and outreach programme, author events and family activity days.
Event locations include the university, mima, Dorman Museum, Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, Middlesbrough Central Library and many local schools.
Key supporters for the Middlesbrough 86 project include Middlesbrough FC, Middlesbrough Council, Teesside University, Fly Me to the Moon, the Co-operative Membership and Brian Debnam Associates.
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported more than 30,000 projects allocating £4.7billion across the UK including £223million in the North East. Website: www.hlf.org.uk