Hear the name ‘Corby’ and what do you first think of? Yep – the trouser press. But not us. Instead, we think Corby Town and how our paths crossed. The Northants town was, at the start, on the edge of Boro’s footballing universe. Don’t be confusing the Steelmen of Steel Park with S&L Corby, however. Or even Corby Gainsborough. This tale is a totally different one. Even though it now does seem we’ve played a lot of teams with Corby in their name…
Who are Corby Town?
Now, this might confuse you and we haven’t even got started yet. The Steelmen came to life in 1948; taking over from S&L Corby as the town’s main footballing reps. As the story on Wikipedia goes, however, the club ended up taking in some of the S&L lads – and their place in the United Counties League. But there is no crossover here. The S&L Corby from our UCL days had nothing to do with the Steelmen.
Corby Town entered the Midland League in 1952 – but quickly moved on to the Southern League in 1958. For the rest of the century, the Steelmen could be found here. Sure, they went up and they went down over the course of the next four-and-a-bit decades. But the closest they came to reaching the Conference was third position in the 1992-3 Premier Division. And that was a looong way behind champions Dover Athletic in that campaign.
It’s also worth saying that the Steelmen applied for Football League membership on more than one occasion; the last being in 1967. But, not renowned for being a progressive way of letting newbies in, the Football League chairmen of the day closed ranks and said “no” each time.
Why do we know Corby Town?
So, what gives? Sure, the Steelmen’s time in the Southern League meant they came up against our own Town in the 1960s and Athletic during the first half of the 1970s. But the chance to take on a third Stevenage side never came about during the 1980s. For all we were rising up the divisions and ploughing further through the cups, we never got paired with one another. Close in geographic terms perhaps, but world’s apart in football.
That was, however, until the 1993-4 FA Cup Second Qualifying Round. While they were easing past Watton United in the First Qualifying Round (Watton in Norfolk, not at Stone), we took two replays to get past Wembley. So, how would we fare? After all, they’d come two places short of a Conference debut the previous season. While Wembley were stuck right in the middle of Diadora League Division One; in 1993-4, the division below us.
What is our record against Corby Town?
It didn’t look good at half time. After falling behind early doors, Venners got his 10th of the season on 12 minutes to level it up. Alan Wilkinson then had us ahead, but his cross-cum-shot was chalked off for some reason. That must’ve spurred on the Steelman too. A rapid double salvo before the break put our guests half way towards the Third Qualifying Round. We had work to do.
And work we did do.
Three second half goals in three minutes turned the tie on its head; Martin Gittings getting us within striking distance, before Venners doubled up for the afternoon – his second goal, our second equaliser. But we were clearly in no mood for more replay shenanigans. Dave Brown came off the bench and scored with his first touch to seal the deal. We even nearly bagged a fifth late on, but four did the trick. Through we went to the next round.
Corby Town: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 1 — W 1 — D 0 — L 0 — F 4 — A 3 — Pts 0 — WR 100%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 4-3 Corby Town, 25 September 1993
What happened to Corby Town?
After coming third in the league at the end of the previous season, the FA Cup misery we inflicted left them free to focus on repeating the trick. Or to push even more for promotion to the Conference. But, while it’d happen for us that term, it didn’t for the Steelmen; ninth being a real downturn in fortunes. Even so, it was much better than what was to follow in the 1994-5 campaign; relegation to the Midland Division after shipping 113 goals.
It’d be a decade until they were back in the Premier Division. And, within another three seasons, the Steelmen made it into Conference North as Southern League champions. After four seasons at that level, they were relegated back to the Southern League – but only on goal difference; theirs being -26 and Histon, who survived, finishing on -25.
That heartache was short-lived; winning promotion back to Conference North again as champions in 2015. Just as short-lived, however, was their time back at that level. Down again, then, but this time into the Northern Premier League. The club has since moved across back into the Southern League; most recently in Division One Central. For now, at least, any future meetings will be pre-season, more cordial affairs.
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Corby Town club profile