If we thought naming our Player of the Year was tough enough, then to decide upon our Match of the Season is an equally troubling matter. Not least because there are so many potential candidates to choose from, and reducing that to the five on our shortlist called for the sort of level-headed thinking that we just don’t want to be known for.
But here we go, the all-amazing, totally-fantastic nominations for 2011/2 Match of the Year:
We can already hear some howls of derision. Not the 4-2 win against MK Dons? Nor a trip to White Hart Lane in the FA Cup? Even Peterborough in the Carling Cup?! Well, how can we put it… no, not these ones. And if you bear with us, you’ll see the logic behind all five of these shortlisted selections and, of course, the eventual winner of the 2011/2 Match of the Year accolade.
So what were your expectations when Sheffield Wednesday came to town during the initial stages of the season? A club of Titanic proportions, with resources and backing beyond the reaches of most in League One. It almost certainly wasn’t to be four goals up by half time – as you well know. But we believe the sole home game in the shortlist has been surpassed in scale since that September evening.
The Boxing Day trip to Colchester United was an odd affair. The first half of the season had been so good that we could almost consider ourselves on a par with our hosts. The stage, it seemed, was set for a tight game. However, Don Cowan tore the defence apart; Scott Laird was gifted the most “textbook” goal from a free-kick; and Jon Ashton found time to have a little showboating session. Immense, but not the ultimate.
Boro’ successfully navigated the choppy waters of plucky non-league underdogs to get past Stourbridge in the FA Cup for a third round encounter with Reading. It wasn’t a draw that quite got the romantic juices flowing (steady!), but Boro’ did a great, professional job. You wouldn’t have known who the lower placed team was; nor would you have forecast Reading storming to the Premier League.
This one gives away the winner. But Boro’ were without a win in seven when they travelled to Yeovil Town in April, a team who used to defeat us for fun in the Conference. A win was vital to revitalise the promotion chase, and Gary Smith’s men ran riot. A sending off for the hosts barely had any significance as virtually anyone who fancied it got on the scoresheet – and it was the catalyst for a strong run-in.
However, we come to the match that we deem to be Boro’s best this season. The departure of Graham Westley was a great blow. The team were seemingly directionless, and all of the momentum that got us to League One was on the cusp of vanishing. But Mark Roberts was the man to step forward as caretaker gaffer, rally the troops and secure an imperious 5-1 at Rochdale.
Cher asks us if we believe in life after love, and we reply “very much so”. The king is dead, as they say, long live the King Robbo. And Vive la Stevenage… Vive le Boro’! C’est magnifique, Hooky Street…