Ali Brownlee is remembered by countless people as The Voice of the Boro, and his passionate commentary sound tracked the ups and downs of Middlesbrough Football Club for decades, his career spanning 33 years.
Former banker Ali started out his commentary days in 1982 with phone-in reports for then BBC Radio Cleveland where he was paid a whopping total of £13 a game. He turned out to be a hit and was subsequently asked to report on games home and away. His voice soon became synonymous with the highs and lows of following the Boro. Every twist and turn, the freezing cold Tuesday night games, euphoric promotion clinchers – all voiced by Ali.
As the club moved from near extinction in 1986 to the final days at Ayresome Park then into the shiny new Riverside Stadium, Ali was there all the way. But he wasn’t just into his football; he constantly championed the people of Teesside, and was often out in the community rooting out hidden stories. Similar to that now famous clip of Jeff Stelling, Ali was determined to show his beloved Middlesbrough in the most positive light and always celebrated the area whichever way he could.
After so many years of hurt, the cup final losses and relegations of the late 90s, Boro finally got their hands on a trophy when they beat Bolton 2-1 in the then Carling Cup final. In fact the early 2000s led to some of his finest commentary moments. From Mark Schwarzer’s “GERRIN YA BIG AUSSIE” penalty save to the truly iconic “It’s party party party, everyone round my house for a parmo!” after Boro’s miraculous 4-2 comeback win over Steaua Bucharest in the 2006 UEFA Cup, Ali’s voice is always remembered alongside his beloved club’s finest moments.
Ali’s legendary career included hundreds upon hundreds of Middlesbrough games all over the country, charity events, early mornings on the radio, Boro TV and just generally being an all-round local legend. You spent so much time with him, he ended up feeling like your favourite uncle.
Ali Brownlee sadly passed away in February 2016 at the age of 56 after a battle with cancer. Fans, and not just from Boro, alongside the Teesside diaspora were devastated that this great man had gone and tributes poured in from across the globe. Boro got promoted in the same year, a fitting tribute to one of Teesside’s greatest sons.
A man who inspired so many without even knowing it, his legacy still lives large. And that is why the Ali Brownlee Social Club exists online and in the flesh at Base Camp and other venues – to carry on this legacy by bringing people together from all walks of life.
The Ali Brownlee Social Club has been designed to be a place where people can celebrate their similarities and differences, talk football and culture and celebrate this proud area. Join us.