We had somehow managed to get a couple of tickets for the first home match of the 1996-7 season . The last time I had watched Boro was at Ayresome Park, I now found myself stood amongst thousands of fans outside of our shiny new stadium on a beautiful sunny day, it was quite a surreal moment. As we waited to go through the turnstiles we saw a couple of policemen stop a fan and search his bag, they pulled out three large pizzas. ‘What as these for?’ they asked ‘They’re for Ravanelli’ was the reply, sadly the pizzas were confiscated.
The match was against a very good, on-form Liverpool side, more importantly for us, it was the debut of Fabrizio Ravanelli, the White Feather. Ravanelli had signed for the club in the summer from Juventus, a Juventus player coming to the Boro! It was a time when there was a great feeling of optimism around the football club, we had a new stadium, a forward-thinking club chairman and a team that included world class players such as Juninho, Emerson and Festa.
In terms of the game and atmosphere it was probably one of the most enjoyable football matches that I’ve ever watched. The game ended a 3-3 draw, Ravenelli scored a hat trick.
It was a strange season for the Boro, they reached two cup finals, lost both and ended up being relegated from the Premier League. Ravanelli scored 31 goals in 48 appearances that season and was the highest paid player in the Premier League. He left the club the following season to join Marseilles.