New year, old habits. It’s how it’s meant to work, innit? At a time when we we’re all making forward-thinking resolutions, you can’t beat a slice of backward-looking nostalgia. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, after all, how on earth do you know where you’re going. Or even if you be? Woah now, this is all a bit deep in the middle of the first week of 2018. And to think our intention was nothin’ more than talking about the life and times of Letchworth Garden City Football Club – and, of course, how Boro’ found themselves a part of it.
Letchworth Garden City: Who Are They?
A club now no more, the Football Club History Database has let us trace the tale of Letchworth Garden City back as far as 1906. Known as just Garden City at this point, they joined the Herts County League Northern Division and finished bottom in their debut season. Did that experience lead them to change name in 1907 to Letchworth Athletic? We just don’t know. But it did happen. And, in the years before the First World War One, the club finished third, second and second in the Herts County League Championship play-off pool.
After the Great War, Letchworth Town (another name change) saw similar levels of success at Herts County League until the trail goes cold in 1924. FCHD’s radar doesn’t pick the club up again until 1955; the point at which the club joined the Delphian League – and another three years – the Corinthian League. Their time in Corinthian competition was nearly as brief, but not necessarily of their choosing. The league was disbanded; Letchworth Town finding a new home in the Athenian League as a result and going on to win the title in 1975.
By this point, the footballing paths of Letchworth and Stevenage had already crossed. Town (ours) overcame Town (theirs) in the 1958-9 FA Cup (3-2 at home) and 1960-1 FA Cup (6-2 away after a 2-2 draw indoors). And yet, weirdly, that wasn’t the biggest story of that season’s cup. Some side called Tottenham were, apparently. There was also an encounter with Athletic in the 1975-6 FA Trophy; Letchworth this time on the winning side after a replay. It was the last Trophy match Athletic ever played, for anyone looking for some tenuous trivia?
Us And Them…
Into 1976, then, and another name change: Letchworth Garden City. The 1976-7 season – Boro’s first-ever – was to be Letchworth’s last hurrah in the Athenian League. After coming second, they joined Division Two of the Isthmian League. Our first meeting, however, came three years before we caught up with them in league circles. The pre-season Woolwich Trophy (One for Arsenal? Ed.) saw us take on our more-established North Herts neighbours for the first time in July ’81. We lost comfortably at home, going down by two goals to nil.
Our next four meetings were in cup competitions too. But for a 3-1 win in the 1981-2 East Anglian Cup, they came out on top each time; once in the HSC (0-1) and twice again in the Woolwich Trophy (0-3 and, er, 0-3). It wasn’t ’til Boxing Day 1984 for our first match as equals; Boro’ defying the overall trend in our head-to-head record up until that point with a fine 2-0 win. Not that it marked a shift or anything; we lost the return at their place 1-0 just over a week after losing 2-1 to them in the Herts Senior Cup.
The 1985-6 Vauxhall Opel League Division Two North season saw us trade 1-0 wins; us getting in first at our place in September and them at theirs on Boxing Day. If us going up to Division One at the end of that term was meant to put an end to our regular skirmishes, no-one told the Herts Senior Cup organisers. Our loftier position counted for nowt, either; Boro’ losing after extra time by the odd goal in five after an ill-tempered semi-final in March ’87. Just over a year later, we were heading back down to join them in Div Two North.
And Then What?
Boro’s return to the same level as Letchworth Garden City did, however, sort of herald the start of a purple patch for us against our near neighbours. In five further meetings that were to follow, we won two – once in the league and once in the Televised Sports (Int.) Senior Cup – and drew the remaining three. Two of those draws came in the last season we’d share the same division as Letchworth and both ended goalless. It wasn’t because we went up that we started drifting apart, though. It was actually them going down…
As the club got more familiar with its new surroundings in the South Midlands League Premier Division, Boro’ were moving up through the pyramid and widening that gap. At about the point we reached the Conference, Letchworth were propping up the SML – finishing bottom in two successive seasons and dropping the Garden City from their name. The early 2000s saw better times; promotion from the Spartan South Midlands League Senior Division and the runners-up spot in the Premier Division that next season.
A handy cash boost and the management of Kerry Dixon had made it seem as if good times were about to roll at the County Ground. Far from it, however. After just eight games of the 2002-3 season, the club went under; Wikipedia citing a dispute with the Herts FA as the cause. It meant the Baldock Road stadium didn’t see regular football until 2008 either, when a new Baldock Town (going under the name Baldock Town Letchworth) set up home there. Baldock returned to their hometown in 2011, however and dropped Letchworth from their name.
Letchworth Garden City: Boro’s Record
P16 W5 D3 L8 F14 A19 – League Points: 12, Cup Meetings: 8, Win Rate: 31%
• BoroGuide’s Letchworth Garden City – for old time’s sake…