Let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start. When you read, you begin with “A-B-C”. And, when you’re Boro’, you begin with “O-N-C” – or ON Chenecks, to be exact. Four years after emerging from the ashes of the fallen Athletic, senior football returned to our town as a fledgling Stevenage Borough made their move; stepping up from intermediate level. Of course, few have the honour of saying “we were there” for what was a Big Bang moment for Boro’. And one team wrote themselves into history as our first senior opposition too…
ON Chenecks: Who Are They?
That particular team is, was and forever shall be ON Chenecks; club no. 2 in our database (after ourselves) and the opposition in match no.1. You see, everything that has followed stems from that balmy August afternoon back in 1980. We presume it was balmy, by the way. It was August, so it had to be. Anyway, we know how Boro’ came to be on the pitch that day. The Chens, however? Their tale is a little longer. Not by much, mind; formed in 1946 as Chenecks FC to let boys at “the rugby-playing Northampton Grammar School to play football”.
The name is an acronym, drawing on the names of four school houses. The ON part of the name came into the equation in 1960, meanwhile; the Old Northamptonians inviting the club to become one of their ‘sections’. It’s also what took them to their current Billing Road home. In 1969, senior football beckoned as the Chens joined the United Counties League for the first time. The club have been there ever since, twice winning the Division One title (1978 and 1980) and finishing second on another two occasions (1979 and 2016).
Us And Them…
A dominant force in Division One during the late 1970s, their ground failed to make the grade for the Premier Division; stopping any hopes of promotion in their tracks. It meant that our first-ever match in senior football and in the United Counties League Division One would be against the defending champions. What an amazing statement to make, then, to win 3-1 in our first meeting with ON Chenecks. And, at the same time, vindication for moving up a level. The return fixture at Billing Road came early in the New Year and finished 2-2.
If the Chens had dominated the 1979-80 Division One campaign, it was all about Boro’ in our debut season. To compare, ON Chenecks won 24 of their 34 games; scoring 85 and racking up 56 points. With the ‘benefit’ of two fewer fixtures in our title-winning campaign, Boro’ won 23 of our 32 outings; scoring 106 and amassing 53 points. Our ground was, however, good enough for the Premier Division and up we went. We did manage one final meeting despite and after our promotion; a 5-3 win in the 1981-2 United Counties League Cup.
And Then What?
The Chens failed to reignite their Division One dominance and slumped into mid-table during our time in the Premier Division. After that, our journey took us into the Isthmian League and up further still. ON Chenecks, meanwhile, continued plugging away in the First Division. More often than not between 1984 and 2016, their final position involved double figures. There were, of course, some highlights. None would top 2016, though. After doing up their ground, finishing second delivered a long overdue promotion to the Premier Division.
ON Chenecks: Boro’s Record
P3 W2 D1 L0 F10 A6 – League Points: 4, Cup Meetings: 1, Win Rate: 66%
• BoroGuide’s ON Chenecks club profile – for old time’s sake…