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Light side of the moon.

Byline: By Rob Nichols

It was one of those bona fide big Boro moments.

Last Thursday we experienced a magical Middlesbrough memory that will linger for ever and ever.

My everlasting list starts in disaster at Wolves in 1981 and spans cup final woes, relegation wakes and fortunately a few cup and promotion triumphs.

Last year's golden day in Cardiff is right at the very top but our evening at the Jose Alvalade Stadium is not too far behind in terms of Boro pride if not joy.

With the benefit of time for reflection if the UEFA Cup run had to end, we couldn't have wished for a better time or place than Sporting Lisbon in the sun.

A fantastic stadium, one of the best in the world and not totally unlike a certain Millennium Stadium in Wales. A beautiful city.

Heat wave temperatures up to 31C in the afternoon and opposition fans every bit as friendly and welcoming as those in Graz or Ostrava.

I was the most nervous I've been about a game for a long, long time.

Could we possibly beat all the odds, overturn a deficit with a patched-up side and youth team on the bench?

The answer was, of course, no but didn't we give it one helluva go?

Not just on the field either. There was quite phenomenal support in that red'n'white corner of the otherwise gleaming green stadium.

At the final whistle players, manager and fans applauded each other, in a final show of mutual respect.

Yet what a first UEFA Cup competition we've had. Trips to Ostrava, Athens, Villarreal, Graz and Lisbon.

Home victories against Ostrava, Lazio, Partisan Budapest and Graz.

What an amazing adventure.

All to end in a blaze of glorious singing "Deep in My Heart" and of course "You Are My Boro".

It was emotional. Very moving indeed. Let's keep that memory alive and make damned sure we're back in Europe next season.

ROBERT NICHOLS is editor of the Boro fanzine Fly Me To The Moon, which is on sale before all Boro home games. The fanzine also has its own website which can be reached at: www.fmttm.com
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Title Annotation:Sport Boro
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Mar 23, 2005
Words:361
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