From different teams and times, the best Stevenage goalkeepers all have one thing to unite them – being bloody good between the sticks. You see, all genuine hopes of stopping a ball going into our goal come down to having a decent number one. Try keeping the sheet clean just with the four men stood 18 yards out. It might work. But they can’t use their hands. And having that ability does tend to come in handy from time to time.
No pun intended.
Over the years, we’ve had our fair share of decent shot-stoppers at Stevenage FC. There was Dannie Bulman and Ritchie Hanlon to name two; yeah, some real cats between the sticks. In all seriousness, however, there are some stand-out stoppers to celebrate over the years. And that’s what we aim to do in this 10 Of The Best. If they’re good, you can’t fail to notice. When they make a howler, well, you can’t fail to notice. But we’re not here for the latter…
Here are 10 Stevenage goalkeepers who we remember for the things they did so, so well.
Chris Day — 358 (3) appearances
We try to avoid listing these things in any particular order because we can’t be bothered to argue with you about it. But we reckon there’s little dispute about Daysey (and probably the next lad too). Not only did Daysey show agility that made a mockery of his advanced years after joining Boro’, but he can organise a quiz too.
As shot-stoppers go, only Pope John Paul II had a more impressive sideline…
Des Gallagher — 365 (4) appearances*, 1 goal
Dessie made his first appearance for Boro’ in August 1985. And he probably didn’t think he’d still be turning out for us in 2000. But that’s how it panned out during two spells; two being the same number of goals he let in against Alan Shearer (yeah, we went there). He also has a goal to his name, which sets him apart from, well, everyone else in this list.
It’s not like Jesse Joronen made it in.
Alan Julian — 164 (2) appearances
It’s long been mooted that Jules was signed on the recommendation of Lionel Perez. It’s not hard to see why; his arrival also coinciding with our charge towards the 2004-5 Nationwide Conference playoffs. He might not have commanded his box as well as some others. But his shot-stopping ability was, at times, pure filth.
One that sticks in our mind is a Gordon Banks-esque save at Kingfield against the Woes.
Martyn Thompson — 65 (0) appearances*
Thompson is the man who wore the number one jersey when it all started as far as senior football is concerned. You could argue that it was the 106 goals that carried Boro’ to the 1980-1 United Counties League Division One title. But that wouldn’t have happened if the Goals Against column had read “106”.
That much is down to our defensive efforts; all underpinned by Thommo’s goalkeeping.
Richard Wilmot — 158 (3) appearances
One of the first Boro’ players to graduate to the Football League? It’s quite possible. We weren’t there to keep count. In the early 1990s, Scunthorpe United came calling to sign Wilmot from us. He returned to Broadhall Way, however; sharing the goalkeeping duties with Dessie during our 1995-6 Conference-winning season.
It’s no doubt one of the key highlights of his time at the club – along with the other titles.
Chris Taylor — 103 (0) appearances
The late 1990s and very early 2000s weren’t exactly the most memorable for us. Not least because there we had four changes of manager in as many years. One bastion of stability, however, was Chris Taylor. A very competent stopper, Taylor was pretty much as valuable to us as Lee Harvey and Carl Alford. He was probably a better midfielder than Ian King too.
And he was also our 1999-00 Player of the Season.
Lionel Perez — 36 (2) appearances
Once Jean-Michel Sigere left, we suffered from a severe shortage of Gallic flair, audacity and shoulder-shrugging at Broadhall Way. Quite possibly the first Stevenage goalkeeper to settle on short sleeves, Perez became an iconic figure during GW’s first tenure. And he’d likely have many more appearances to his name but for a serious leg break at Barnet.
We’re not fans of his eye-poking, mind…
Lee Western — 51 (0) appearances
Paul Fairclough clearly thought highly enough of Western to bring the stopper with him from Hertford Town. That decision meant replacing previous stopper Lee Bozier – and it ended up being a justified one. Western kept around 20 clean sheets as a new era at Boro’ started with a Vauxhall Football League Division 2 North-winning bang in 1990-1.
Strange to think we didn’t keep him on after that campaign, mind.
Alex Welsh — 10 (0) appearances
Here for a good time, not a long time; Alex Welsh barely broke into double figures when you tot up his “Games Played” tally. But it was almost 10 of the best in itself. By our count, Welsh only picked the ball out of his net in just two games while here. The first time that happened wasn’t until he already had four outings under his belt either.
His sheets were Daz clean.
Taye Ashby-Hammond — 29 (0) appearances*
The most recent addition to this list is, at the time of writing, still on our books. At the start of the 2020s, we went through a phase of loaning in our ‘keepers. Ashby-Hammond was the 2022-3 edition – and he had a major role in pushing us towards promotion from League Two. His absence during the second half of the campaign through injury was very noticeable.
It was incredible, therefore, to discover that he’d signed permanently in summer 2023.
Ashley Bayes — 12 (2) appearances
We’ll level with you here. This is a bit of a bonus entry. Bayzo isn’t someone we’re sticking in out of deference to his goalkeeping abilities (not that he was a bad one, however). No, we include him because there can surely be few players in Boro’s history who had such a huge and positive impact off the pitch. And sometimes even on the terrace too…