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Baffling Boro hoodoo has gone on for 65 years

There was nothing particularly remarkable, at the time, about Wolves' 2-1 victory away at Middlesbrough on April 11, 1951.


The late Roy Swinbourne scored both goals as Stan Cullis's team recorded what would be their only victory in the final 13 league games of a disappointing season, in which Wolves finished 14th in the old First Division a year after being runners-up.

In fact, the only thing remarkable about it was that Wolves won against the odds that day, battling not only poor form against a Middlesbrough team who were sixth that season – they've never finished as high since – but also the loss of Bert Williams, Billy Wright, Johnny Hancocks and Jimmy Mullen, four of the greatest players ever to pull on a gold shirt, all unavailable that day.

Great times were just around the corner, of course.

But little did Swinbourne even begin to suspect the history he had created with that regulation Ayresome Park victory.

Because 65 years and 21 draws or defeats later, Wolves are still waiting to win another game away at Middlesbrough.

Football throws up these quirks or fate sometimes. In this case, the quirk is remarkable. And unexplainable. The 21-game run is almost the equivalent of Wolves playing half a Championship season's worth of away games at Middlesbrough, and earning just nine points.

They played three more times at Ayresome Park in that most famous of Wolves decades in the 1950s, and didn't win.

They played there on five occasions between 1974 and 1980, during which time Wolves won two League Cups and finished sixth in the table, and didn't win.

Middlesbrough even moved to a new stadium in 1995, but that hasn't helped either, with Wolves losing four and drawing one of their five trips to the Riverside.

The most high-profile fixture of the barren six-and-a-half-decade run was an FA Cup quarter-final in 1981.

Wolves took an early lead when Andy Gray jumped highest to nod home a Mel Eves cross.

But the lead was short-lived, with Terry Cochrane equalising on the half-hour-mark.

Wolves would go on to win the tie, but, of course, they needed the home comforts of Molineux to do so, 3-1 in a replay.

On the opening day of the 1989/90 season, Graham Turner's Wolves made the long journey north full of optimism, on the back of successive Steve Bull-inspired promotions.

However, Boro – just relegated from the top flight – brought Wolves back down to earth with a 4-2 win, goals from Andy Mutch and Andy Thompson proving inconsequential.

In 1998, Wolves' first trip to the Riverside, they took on a nervous Boro team for whom victory would have all-but guaranteed promotion.

Mark Atkins gave Mark McGhee's Wolves the lead at a packed Riverside, but Hamilton Ricard soon levelled to earn a share of the spoils.

In 2003, Wolves had Alex Rae sent off after being goaded by Danny Mills in a 2-0 Premier League loss.

And of course they have already lost at the Riverside this season, with a much-changed side comfortably losing 3-0 in the League Cup.

It's a logic-defying hoodoo, and one that Kenny Jackett – who was still 11 years away from being born when Wolves last won in that particular part of the north east – will look to finally end on Friday


If he manages it, then why not raise a glass to Roy Swinbourne.

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