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Pints & Parkruns: Albert Park, Middlesbrough

When the going gets Clough ...

By Andy PottsPublished 6 months ago 3 min read
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Think Brian Clough, think Nottingham? Not round here. The famously outspoken football genius was a Middlesbrough boy and proud of it. He never managed at Ayresome Park, something of a lingering regret for Boro fans of a certain vintage. But he began his prolific playing career with his hometown club (albeit via a brief stint at nearby Billingham Synthonia), rattling in goals with metronomic regularity before moving to Sunderland and continuing in the same vein, scoring 251 times in 274 games before a career-ending injury cut him down in his prime.

That’s why there’s a monument to the young Clough, marching across Albert Park towards the site of the old Ayresome Park ground. Parkrunners go past him twice, confronting that notoriously steely gaze every Saturday morning in Boro’s oldest parkrun.

Up close with Clough.

The course notes suggest that he’s an inspiration for reluctant runners, but on a bright and breezy New Year’s Day, it’s very much a self-motivating crowd. Although this is a big, popular parkrun, there’s a strong sense of community among the core team. This was a special day for run director Adam Thomas, taking the helm for the last time, and his contribution was warmly noted by many. Running milestones are enthusiastically applauded, and not just for human runners. Eric the dog, making his first appearance on the end of the lead of an Albert Park regular, got plenty of friendly attention as he tried to come to terms with a very different kind of walkies.

An appropriate spot for New Year's Day.

If the attraction for the regulars is obvious, what about the tourists? Well, paying tribute to footballing legends aside, there’s plenty on offer. Albert Parkrun is one of those fast-and-flat affairs, with nice wide paths paving the way to a potential PB. Despite the big turn-out (average of 234 runners here), it doesn’t feel congested at any point of the 2.5 lap course. There’s more good news for runners who tend to avoid trail conditions: this course is pretty much always good in road shoes. Even after days of heavy rain that left the grass boggy underfoot, the course posed no unexpected obstacles beyond a couple of shallow puddles. The only risk comes after a hard frost, when icy patches can force cancellations.

In addition, for runners in the northeast, Albert is one of just two ‘A’ parkruns, making it a popular starting point for alphabeteers. And if anyone fancies a challenge based around names, there’s a Middlesbrough double in the offing with this one joined across town by Stewart.

Parkrun paraphernalia in Middlesbrough.

Best of all, though, Albert feels like the kind of event parkrun had in mind when it was born. It’s right in the heart of town, accessible to many on foot or public transport. It makes full use of a fine Victorian urban park, one of those open spaces originally conceived as a way of getting labourers out of their factories (and pubs) and into the fresh, healthful air. OK, the air in 19th-century Middlesbrough, choked by ironworks, may not have been all that healthful. But, broadly in line with the parkrun ethos, something, however modest, will always be better than nothing.

The Pint

A conversation with Andrew Ferriman, the brains behind Shildon’s George Samuel Brewery (see Hackworth parkrun for more) put me onto his work at Play Brew. This Boro-based house, as the name suggests, loves to experiment with its flavours. If you tend to like your brews traditional, this won’t always be your pint of bitter. But if you’re up for something a bit big and fruity, the likes of the Eton Mess Sour or the Black Forest Gateau Stout could be just the job.

First run: Jan. 2024. PB: 26:54

Thanks for reading. For more Pints & Parkruns, check out my website.

athletics
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About the Creator

Andy Potts

Community focused sports fan from Northeast England. Tends to root for the little guy. Look out for Talking Northeast, my new project coming soon.

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  • Angie the Archivist 📚🪶6 months ago

    Thanks Andy, for an enjoyable, informative read! I especially liked: "Eric the dog, making his first appearance on the end of the lead of an Albert Park regular, got plenty of friendly attention as he tried to come to terms with a very different kind of walkies." The dogs make the event so much more fun!

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