From different teams and times, the best Stevenage goalkeepers all have the same thing in common – being bloody good between the sticks. You see, any genuine hopes of stopping a ball going into our goal rest on having a decent number one. You could try and keep a clean sheet just with the four men stood 18 yards out. 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. Dannie Bulman, Ritchie Hanlon… yeah, we’ve had some real cats between the sticks. In this 10 Of The Best, we’ve decided to celebrate those fellas who often stand alone in battle. When they’re good, you can’t fail to notice; when they make a howler, well, you can’t fail to notice.
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 — 354 (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 most is a Gordon Banks-esque save at Kingfield against the Woes.
Martyn Thompson — 59 (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”. And that much is down to our defensive efforts; all underpinned by Thompson’s goalkeeping skills.
Richard Wilmot — 156 (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 he picked up with us too.
Chris Taylor — 103 (0) apperances
The late 1990s and very early 2000s weren’t exactly the most memorable of times for us. Not least because there we had four changes of manager in as many years. One bastion of stability and reliability, however, was Chris Taylor. A very competent stopper, Taylor was pretty much as valuable to that side as Lee Harvey and Carl Alford. And he was probably a better midfielder than Ian King. He was also our 1999-00 Player of the Season.
Lionel Perez — 36 (2) appearances
After Jean-Michel Sigere left the Boro’ ranks, we suffered from a shortage of Gallic flair, audacity and shoulder-shrugging at Broadhall Way. Quite probably the first Stevenage goalkeeper to adopt short sleeves, Perez was an iconic figure. And he’d have many more appearances to his name but for a leg break at Barnet. Not fans of his eye-poking, mind…
Lee Western — 51 (0) appearances*
Paul Fairclough clearly thought enough of Lee Western to bring him here from Hertford Town after Cloughie himself left Hertingfordbury Park. The decision to replace previous stopper Lee Bozier was justified; Western keeping around 20 clean sheets as a new era at Boro’ started with a Vauxhall Football League Division 2 North-winning bang in 1990-1.
Alex Welsh — 10 (0) appearances*
Here for a good time, not a long time; Alex Welsh barely got into double figures with his “Games Played” tally at Boro’. But it was almost 10 of the best in itself. By our count, he 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.
Paul Farman — 75 (0) appearances
The most recent addition to this list is one that few will argue with. It says a huge amount about Farms’ role at the Lamex to be considered one of our star players even when we’re propping up an entire division. That we finished bottom of the 2019-20 League Two table (PPG or otherwise) has little to do with the ex-Lincoln stopper. He did as best he could between the sticks. The 10 other lads – or 42 or however many we had on the books that season – did not. It’ll skew his record for us – but numbers don’t always tell the full story.
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…