Pride of Lions

TWENTY-ONE years ago day Middlesbrough FC were making their historic first ever appearance at Wembley Stadium.


The following day readers of the Evening Gazette were greeted by a headline which screamed: “Just because some bloke in blue scored a goal it doesn’t mean we lost.”
The bottom line is, of course, that they had lost. Only by a 1-0 margin to a Chelsea side a division above them in the Football League hierarchy, but the bottom line was that the trophy stayed in London.
But it was still a victory. Just four short years after it had looked like the club simply might not even exist any more, Boro were playing in front of 70,000 fans at the national stadium.
When the gates of Ayrseome Park were locked, the club had all but gone the way of the dodo, the dinosaur and the digital watch. Now they were alive, kicking and playing on the hallowed turf.
If that isn’t worth celebrating no matter what, then I don’t know what is.
So fans of the Leicester Lions could equally be saying today that: “Just because some team with a Bear on their race jackets won, it doesn’t mean we lost.”
Because, nearly 28 years after their Blackbird Road stadium closed its doors to speedway, the Lions were roaring again.
OK, our new-look Bears made a flying start to their season with a comfortable 54-39 win, but this historic match represented the rebirth of Leicester Speedway.
It was their first fixture since being revived – and whatever the result, that too was worthy of celebration.
Here on Teesside we know what it is like to go 10 years without a speedway team to call our own – but to wait nearly three decades? You could have been forgiven for thinking there was no hope.
So welcome back Lions – we look forward to visiting your new stadium in May.
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