You know how it’s *really* funny to laugh at another club if they have a blunder with the admin? We’re talking about “George Weah’s cousin” signing for Southampton. Or when Birmingham City ‘forgot’ to send the FA the paperwork that’d keep ’em out of the 1921-2 FA Cup qualifying rounds? Then there’s dodgy fax machines that stop transfers going through. But it ain’t funny when it’s your club, like it was for us against Burnham in 1988.
Yep, that’s right. The story of Stevenage
Borough Football Club has far more ups than downs, but it was never before or again since our only meeting with the Blues of Buckinghamshire that such a clerical shadow exists. It is, at least, the case as far as we know. And what it means is there is now one lonely head-to-head record in our clubs archive that’d look plain odd to the passer-by nosing in. First, however, a little more about Burnham FC.
Burnham: Who Are They?
Formed in 1878, the club is said to be the second oldest in Bucks. The early years (well, decades) were spent in local leagues, before the Blues moved on to take part in the Great Western Combination (1948), the Wycombe Combination (1964) and the Reading Combination (1970). After one season in the latter of the third, the Blues took on senior status and entered the Hellenic League Division One A; finishing second at the first attempt.
After coming second again the next season, Burnham went up to the Premier Division and won the title three terms later. In 1977, though, their time in the Hellenic League was done and it was off to the Athenian League.
Now, pay attention because it’s going to get a little frantic.
In 1984, they were on the move again; this time, to the London Spartan League. Here, they were champions at the first attempt. Woop! The next year, however, they merged with Hillingdon Borough and took the Hillmen’s place in the Southern League. Now, it’s a story not for today, but the merger came about as Hillingdon were in a spot of bother and on the cusp of verging. And the current Hillingdon Borough are completely unrelated.
Us And Them…
By the time we were paired together in the 1988-9 FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round, a full season had walked on by since the Hillingdon half of the name had been binned off. The Blues were back to being plain old Burnham. And their reward for seeing off Rainham Town at the third attempt in the 1st Qualifying Round was a trip to Broadhall Way. And we were fresh from our relegation from Vauxhall Opel League Division 1.
Boro’ had Mark Timpson, Brian Wright and Graham Cox on the scoresheet; us launching our cup campaign that term with a keenly-fought 3-2 win. So, onto the next round for us… right? Er, well… no. That’s because ‘keeper Brian Aldridge shouldn’t have been playing for us. Brought in from Baldock amid a crisis between the sticks as Keith Allinson was ruled out and Mark Klimek had left, Boro’ fell foul of registration rules and were expelled.
And Then What?
Burnham, then, ‘won’ the tie and went on to battle Dulwich Hamlet in the next round; losing after a replay, we might add. That’s where our story ends too. We went our separate ways; us heading up the non-league ladder in the 1990s and them not so much. After continuing to tread Southern League water in the years after our FA Cup meeting, relegation put them back in the Hellenic League in 1995. Well, if only for four years.
The Blues returned to the Southern League in 1999 and slowly started to take root. In 2013, came promotion to the Premier Division; the highest level Burnham have ever competed at. After surviving their debut season, however, there was no respite in 2015. Things would go from bad to worse too. The Blues suffered a second successive relegation after registering a total of 112(!) players during the 2015-6 season.
The turmoil didn’t quite end with their return to the Hellenic League either, as their Wikipedia page explains.
Burnham: Boro’s Record
P1 W1 D0 L0 F3 A2 – League Points: n/a, Cup Meetings: 1, Win Rate: 100%
• BoroGuide’s Burnham club profile – for old time’s sake…