From Boro With Love
As cards, chocolates and flowers exchange hands between happy couples today, it brings a smile to my face thinking about my slightly early experience of Valentine's Day at the weekend.
As romantic settings go, the Middlesbrough FC home dressing room is probably not the first location that springs to mind. However muddy boots and sweaty shirts were replaced by rose petals and perfectly laid out tables on Friday and Saturday evening to host loving couples who had signed up to the inaugural Riverside stadium experience.
Soft lighting and a relaxing soundtrack greeted guests as they were shown to their seats within the locker room surroundings. A three-course meal followed and, I imagine, a more joyful time spent than some of the diners had witnessed on the adjacent pitch over the years.
One participant was clearly in the mood during the Saturday hosting. As I took customary photos pitchside of each couple before dinner, the gentleman in question suddenly dropped on one knee and produced a ring from his pocket. Initially his partner and I both thought it was some sort of joke, but when the reality hit, she said yes without hesitation as I tried to compose myself and capture the moment.