It’s a bit of an understatement – but there have been some huge moments in the history of Stevenage (Borough) Football Club since coming to life in 1976. It’s tough to boil them down into a list of just 10 iconic moments; trying to capture the significance of those games, while spanning nearly half a century. Now, your verdict on the biggest Stevenage FC matches of all time will no doubt depend on when you came aboard the Boro’ bandwagon. But we’ve gone all out to cater to everyone’s needs with these 10 of the best and biggest Boro’ matches.
The biggest Stevenage FC matches in history
The biggest Stevenage FC matches in history aren’t always going to be a cup final. And they won’t always be wins that secure promotion. Sometimes, they might be at a moment where we were in transition. Or marked a different type of milestone. Either way, these are fixtures that stick long in the memory or record books for one reason or another. And let’s face it: it won’t always be a good reason. Then again, we’re not sure we’d include those here.
Like our 3-2 home defeat to Macclesfield Town in 1997.
Anyway, let’s get cracking.
10 key Stevenage FC matches and their outcomes
1. Stevenage Borough 3-1 ON Chenecks, 16 August 1980
Here starteth the lesson in more ways than one. As we welcomed ON Chenecks to Broadhall Way in August 1980, it marked the culmination of four years’ effort to exorcise the ghosts of Stevenage Athletic. In our book, it’s one of the biggest Stevenage FC matches of all time due to two key reasons. One, we were ‘back home’ after our to-do with the ex-Athletic chairman. Two, we had been belatedly accepted into a senior competition.
2. Barton Rovers v Stevenage Borough, 01 May 1986
The 1985-6 season was only Boro’s second in the Isthmian League. But it vindicated the call to step up from the United Counties League. With some now-iconic players in our ranks, we wrapped up the Division Two North title – and, with it, promotion. Not that it was simple or set in stone. Going into our final day battle at neighbours Barton Rovers, a slip-up could’ve handed Kingsbury Town the title.
You can argue we’d have still gone up; the top two went up from Division Two North at that time. But doing so as champions? Well, it was yet another trophy for the fledgling Boro’.
3. Stevenage Borough 2-0 Watford, 14 April 1986
Just a couple of weeks before clinching the Division Two North title, Boro’ took on Watford; the first time we’d ever met a Football League team. The Hornets were no slouches during the mid-1980s. But we turned in an epic performance to upset the odds, shock our guests, and establish our credentials as a giantkiller. In terms of the biggest Stevenage FC matches in history, it’s not the best-known. But it’s worthy of inclusion.
4. Stafford Rangers 0-3 Stevenage Borough, 20 August 1994
Right, let’s fast forward a little bit. The early 1990s saw Boro’s stock rise exponentially; Paul Fairclough taking us back to Isthmian League Division One for the first time since 1988. And then we kicked on some more; reaching the Premier Division and then – in 1994 – the top of the non-league tree.
The GM Vauxhall Conference was a brave new world for us – and the highest level that any Stevenage team had played at since Town played in the Southern League Premier Division; albeit in their last-ever season. So, this is one of the biggest Stevenage FC matches for that reason alone. But the way in which we swept past our hosts was impeccable.
We still had a bit to learn in those formative weeks. But we certainly passed our first test.
5. Stevenage Borough 4-0 Woking, 08 April 1996
Easter Monday. Tell that to any Boro’ fan and they’ll know what game you mean. We had a four-point advantage at the top of the table going into Easter weekend. But a defeat up at Morecambe had opened the door for Woking. This was a bone fide title showdown.
For the Cards, our presence at the top was getting in the way of what they saw to be their rightful title. They’d gone close the previous season and were keen on going one better.
Any wobbles that we had maybe felt were totally forgotten. The Cards folded in front of a bumper Broadhall Way crowd. Our lead at the top of the table was restored to four points, with a game in hand to boot. There was still a job to do – but this result made it such a lot easier. And, for many, it remains the best and biggest Stevenage FC match in our history.
6. Swindon Town 1-2 Stevenage Borough, 03 January 1998
Embed from Getty ImagesBy this point in history, Boro’ had a handful of notable cup results to their name. But this, arguably, was the one that really put us on the map. Swindon Town were riding high in the second tier when we rocked up in foul weather. The hosts made their apparent superiority count by taking an early lead. But we fought back, got an equaliser, and made the most of the dreadful conditions to steal a famous win. Next up? Newcastle United…
7. Kidderminster Harriers 2-3 Stevenage, 12 May 2007
If nothing else, this must surely be (to date) our biggest matches on attendance alone; the lure of the ‘new’ Wembley Stadium attracting 50,000+ for this FA Trophy final. The half time picture, however, was instantly forgettable. Boro’ were two goals down in their first final of this nature. A half-time rocket changed all that. We hit back with three goals without reply, though Kiddy ought to have found a third themselves in the dying moments.
It meant we became the first team to win silverware at the rebuilt national stadium. And it was in a style befitting of the occasion… and the biggest Stevenage FC matches of all time.
8. AFC Wimbledon 0-3 Stevenage, 05 April 2010
Ooh, this is left-field isn’t it. Of all the games we could’ve picked from the 2009-10 season, we’ve gone with another Easter Monday number. Yeah, our trip at Kiddy 12 days later that clinched the Blue Square Premier title is the obvious contender – and a huge moment for Boro’ fans who had never seen us as a Football League club. But we’re going with this one.
Let us explain why.
Luton Town weren’t giving up the chase at the top of the table. We’d effectively ended any lingering hopes that Oxford United had of title success with our 1-0 win on 30 March. Next, we had the chance to do it to the Hatters; coming into the game on 03 April with a game in hand and a five-point advantage. Alas, we fell to a 1-0 defeat. Was the momentum shifting?
Our next assignment was a tricky test away at the Dons; themselves a promotion candidate with an eye on the playoffs. A hard-fought encounter at Christmas saw us draw 0-0 at home. So, this was going to be a challenge, yet one we had to meet to keep the Hatters at bay. Cue Robbo and Lawrie Wilson; scoring the goals that put us two up within 11 minutes. We scored a third at the death through Eddie Odhiambo to seal a convincing 3-0 win.
And it was arguably that result that laid the foundations for us to celebrate at Kiddy.
9. Torquay United 0-1 Stevenage, 28 May 2011
Embed from Getty ImagesBack-to-back promotions are nothing new for us. In fact, the early 1990s saw Cloughie take us to back-to-back-to-back promotions; ascending from Division Two North of the Diadora League up to the Premier Division in one go. But we don’t dispute at all that, in 2011, things were a bit different. Having got to the promised land of the Football League at long last, we decided to kick on and pass right through League Two.
The playoff final on 28 May had us against a Torquay United side against whom we’d never beaten before. By this point, though, GW knew how to extract a performance from his men. John Mousinho’s first-half cracker proved decisive at Old Trafford. Boro’ were now going up into the third tier of English football. It was the biggest stage on which we’d ever played. It was a playoff final that was one of the biggest Stevenage FC matches for that reason.
10. Stevenage 2-0 Tranmere Rovers, 23 April 2022
Oh, another controversial one? Maybe – but there is a method to our madness. For far too long, we’d flirted with relegation from the Football League. The 2019-20 season was so bad that it wasn’t our on-field exploits that ultimately saved us. We were well clear of things in 2020-1. But the 2021-2 campaign saw us revert to relegation dogfighting.
The arrival of Steve Evans was by no means a silver bullet for our survival hopes. Indeed, a key reason why we’ve chosen this home win against Tranmere Rovers as one of the biggest Stevenage FC matches of all time is because it ensured we’d be staying up. It left us seven points clear of Oldham Athletic in 23rd. It left us with three to play; the Latics only two.
11. Stevenage v Walsall, 10 March 2023?
Is this a late entrant? Or an early entrant? We can’t tell what the right term is. And we’ll be totally honest and admit this isn’t close to being one of our biggest matches of all time. Of the 2022-3 season? Yeah, why not. Since beating Leyton Orient, our form has collapsed. The buffer we built up in second place is now gone. Our second place is now gone. Only fortune is keeping us in the top three at the moment.
So, Walsall come to town on 10 March; the first of two back-to-back home games. Two wins would allay any fears and get our promotion hopes back on track. Anything less and it’s all but certain that we’ll drop into the playoff spaces – if not worse. Just as Tranmere at home last season was a biggie for the direction of that campaign, so too is Walsall at home in the current campaign. We’re also down to the last of our fingernails, so…
The legacy of Boro’s biggest matches
Looking back at some of the biggest Stevenage FC matches of all time, you can see various legacies that endure throughout the years. From the very first moment we played in senior competition (United Counties League) through to hitting our zenith in the pyramid with our debut in League One, there are those games dotted through history that opened doors and parted waves. We’ve chosen our 10 – but we’ll be intrigued to know what others you have?