Boro’ have taken on their fare share of opponents over the years and some of those teams have simply been no more than passing acquaintances. Meanwhile, there are also those others that became – well – annoyingly familiar, right? For all the many times that we’ve faced the likes of W*king, for example, there are no shortage of rare match-ups either. So, it makes sense for us to look back through our archives to see how many you can remember. For example, where do Kempston Rovers stand in the grand scheme of things?
The Walnut Boys (yes, really) are another proper blast from the past. And we’re talking United Counties League here. Our time in that competition was, as you know, short. Boro’ have now spent the same amount of time in League Two as they did the UCL. For Kempston, however, the association was a much longer one. In fact, this is the first season in 1953 that the Bedfordshire side have had a change of scenery. We’ll come back to that later, though. Right now, we’re here to talk about our shared past – and it begins at Halloween 1981.
Kempston Rovers: Us and Them?
31 October 1981 – the first time Kempston Rovers and Stevenage Borough went into battle with each other. It came about, clearly, after Boro’ went up to the United Counties League Premier Division. The match finished 0-0. And that’s as much as we can say on that front. Goals did follow, however. The second meeting (and return leg at BHW) was another stalemate; Malcolm Ward getting us off the mark in front of goal in a 1-1 draw. It was perhaps fitting both games ended level – the 1981-2 campaign saw us finish in 12th. Kempston ended up 11th.
The sparks started to fly during the 1982-3 campaign. It was memorable for Kempston Rovers, albeit for the wrong reasons in the end. Our 4-0 rout in October 1982 was one of 23 defeats sustained by the Walnut Boys that term. And that’s 23 out of 34 matches. Kempston finished seven points adrift at the foot of the table and went down to Division One. Mind you, they had the last laugh as far as we’re concerned – beating Boro’ 3-1 in the penultimate match of the season.
It took three seasons for them to return to the Premier Division – holding out until the 2000s, when a slightly rocky period saw them down again. That was in 2003. A year later, the club changed its name to AFC Kempston Rovers after a merger between Kempstons Rovers, Colts and Town. 2006 saw promotion; 2007 relegation. It was 2011 before they were back in the Premier. Finally, last season – for the first time ever – the club went up to Southern League Division One Central. They now play the likes of Arlesey, Bedford and even Farnborough!
Image h/t Kempston Rovers Twitter
BoroGuide’s Kempston Rovers club profile – for old time’s sake…