In a move rarely made by Premiership clubs, where making money and appeasing the sponsors takes priority over all else, Middlesbrough have gone one step further in involving the fans in how they want the team to look.
Having ditched the short-term revival of the white chest band at the Riverside as part of the ‘re-branding Middlesbrough FC’ and bringing along a flash new badge, it seems that someone listened to the general cries of outrage from the fans.
Whether its possible return has been instigated by Gibson, Errea, Garmin or the Twe12th Man, the white band, so synonymous with the club since its inception in 1973 (although the 1912 kit is arguably close) is being put to vote on the official site, and so far, it seems set for a comeback next season.
That one piece of individuality which lasted just a short while, but which quickly became synonymous with the club could soon be back to set us apart from Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Barnsley, Charlton, or even our upcoming cup opponents Bristol City. Not to mention Crewe, Leyton Orient, Nottingham Forest, Swindon, Accrington Stanley, Morecambe or Rotherham, who all play in red shirts.
On the other hand, the only other relatively successful clubs using a chest band regularly are VfB Stuttgart and Boca Juniors. We may have only spent 16 years of our long history wearing the band, but it is very strongly associated with us.
According to the online poll, about 75% of the voters want it back, and they’re backed by some pretty impressive names.
Geoff Richardson (Middlesbrough Official Supporters Club), John Donovan and Geoff Thomas (both Twe12th Man), Bob Fischer (BBC Tees presenter), Paul Armstrong (Match of the Day), Robert Nichols (Fly Me to the Moon) and Andy Walker and Geoff Vickers (both Middlesbrough Supporters South) all back the idea.
Jeff Winter, the former Premier League referee echoes the thoughts of many Boro fans in calling for the return of not only the white band, but also the ‘Inter Milan style’ away kit of blue and black stripes.
And according to Alistair Brownlee; ‘The white band is unique to the Boro and is essential as a good parmo!’
All of that without even taking into account that some of our most spectacular football has come with the white band – successive promotions after almost certain liquidation, and more recently, European football.
So surely Middlesbrough must bow down to fan pressure? There are some people against the band still: namely Dave Parnaby (youth coach), and Alex Smith, the kitman.
But hey, when Robbie Mustoe, Alan Peacock and Eric Paylor are supporting the band, who can argue?
And lets be honest, its showing a real ‘bouncebackabality’, which is exactly what we need.