Tyler Walker wasn’t hanging about at the weekend, was he? The loan ranger from Nottingham Forest capped his Stevenage debut by moving to within 215 goals of Martin Gittings’ long-standing club record. If you’re going to begin your Boro’ career with a bang, an overhead kick is how to do it. It nearly glosses over the fact that his second was delightfully clinical. If the lad keeps putting ’em away like that, we’ve got nothing to fear this autumn. We hope. But that’s not the point. We’re here to talk about something a little more historic.
Walker’s brace helped to put Hartlepool to the sword and it got us thinking. And, when we say “thinking”, we did have a particular thing in mind. You don’t need to suggest some because we’re way ahead of you on this. We had a gander at all the lads who started life at Boro’ in an ostentatious manner. We’re talking about all those various new arrivals who used their Stevenage debut to make their scoring presence felt. Now, because our research remains incomplete, this isn’t a definitive list. But these are – at least – eight of the best…
8 Stevenage Debut Darlings
Now, we’re going to do this in date order. And, because we’re still doing our homework, we’re not yet able to say for sure when the lads pre-1988 made their debut. So, our apologies to Kevin Lowe and Ricky Marshall who may well have had a Stevenage debut to remember. We just don’t know right now…
1. Paul Grant vs Berkhamsted Town, 1988
First up, a Boro’ side back in the Vauxhall Opel League Division 2 North and racking up two defeats in their first two games of term. But there wasn’t a third, as Paul Grant inspired Boro’ to a 5-1 thrashing of Berkhamsted.
2. Mark Smith vs Bognor Regis Town, 1992
Boro’s record appearance maker was a striker when he first came to the club? In what we can only guess was a protest at not playing in defence, however, Smudger stated his case to Cloughie by scoring four times on debut. Hang on…
3. Daley Thompson vs Ware, 1994
It was the last season we’d take part in the Eastern Floodlit League, so we thought we’d try something different. Enter Olympic legend Daley Thompson, who bagged a casual debut brace against Ware and then rode off into the sunset.
4. Carl Adams vs Gateshead, 1996
The only man to *nearly* match Smudger’s Stevenage debut, Carl Adams scored three of his four Boro’ goals in game one. Not even namesake Carl Alford managed that sorta thing, and Alford scored nearly 60 goals during his time ‘ere…
5. Dean Wordsworth vs Farnborough, 1997
Dean Wordsworth came to Stevenage (us, not Farnborough, obviously) in November 1997. After nabbing a pair on debut, had Boro’ finally found their man to replace Barry Hayles? In the end, the answer turned out to be “no – not really”.
6. Drewe Broughton vs Forrest Gump, 2000
Boro’ were nowt but inconsistent during the first half of the 2000-1 season. Cloughie drafted in Drewe Broughton on loan and the forward had an instant impact. He only featured in four games, but still returned three goals during his stay.
7. DJ Campbell vs Hayes, 2001
The goalscorer that Boro’ had been crying out for? DJ Campbell capped his Stevenage debut with two goals down at Hayes. Not sure we had him down as a potential Premier League player, however. He proved us wrong there, though…
8. Darryn Stamp vs Farnborough, 2005
In need of that extra leg up to the Conference playoffs in 2005, G-Wezzle snapped up Stampy from pre-expunging Chester City. He hit the ground running with a brace, before notching six more to help put Boro’ 90 minutes from the League.
Paging Michael Warner.
Not only, but also…
And what do we have here, then? Oh yes, it’s a little tip of the cap to those lads who made, hmmm, a less impressive start to life at Stevenage. Yes, that’s right – lest we all forget Brian Statham (vs Kingstonian, 1999); Joel Byrom (vs Tamworth, 2009) and Tom Hitchcock (vs Notts County, 2015), for whom their Stevenage debut ended, shall we say, a bit early…
Image: Mark Smith (Action Images); DJ Campbell (The Comet library)