Just down the A1 there, the Citizens from Welwyn Garden City are right up there with the nearest of our neighbours. But what does all that mean on the pitch? After all, you can live right next door to someone for years. It doesn’t mean you ever see them or talk to them or pop round for sugar. So, do we know little more than the fact they exist somewhere off J6? Or is there something more? Because everybody needs good neighbours…
Who are Welwyn Garden City?
Not for the first time, we have a club history that (to start with) is less than straightforward. But, hey, we’ll give it a go. The Citizens formed in 1921; a time when the ‘city’ itself was in its fledgling stages of development. After going it alone at first, the club merged with local rivals Shredded Wheat in 1934. It was in part due to cash concerns at WGCFC – plus the fact that SWFC were miffed at no more works teams being let into the Spartan League.
The Citizens’ offy site tells us how the deal worked: “City would be regarded as the team representing the town… in the Spartan League and have first call on players, while Shredded Wheat would play in the South Midlands League. Separate committees would be retained and both teams would play at Shredded Wheat’s ground.”
Disaster hit a year later; the use of SWFC’s ground withdrawn and debts totalling a score forcing the Citizens to resign from the Spartan League. In July 1935, the club was wound up. But things have a funny way of working themselves out. In 1937, company managers wound up SWFC; still miffed about not being let into higher leagues. Instead, they offered use of the ground and financial help to bring WGCFC back to life.
(Check out the WGCFC offy site for the story in full)
Why do we know Welwyn Garden City?
In the years after World War Two, the Citizens were mainly found in either the London or Spartan Leagues. But that all changed in 1973; the South Midlands League came calling. And they won the title at the first attempt. Yet, that was the peak of their achievements in the 1970s and 1980s. So, how the hell did we end up on the opposite side to them? It all comes down to the Herts Senior Cup and, later, the Knights Floodlit League.
What is our record against Welwyn Garden City?
First time up, we drew them in the 1983-4 HSC First Round. It was down the road at their Herns Way ground and it did not go well for us; the Citizens running out 3-1 winners. That was our only action against ’em for Arthur Decade. Not ’til the 1988-9 Knights Floodlit League draw did we meet again. And, yet again, the very idea of beating them seemed an unachievable dream; a 2-2 draw at their gaff, followed by a goalless stalemate indoors.
We cracked it next season, though. Again, it was the Knights Floodlit League. First up was a 2-0 win at Herns Way, courtesy of goals from Noel Blackwell and Robbie O’Keefe. Boro’ doubled up on victories two weeks later thanks to a Gary Williams goal. And that was that for the next three-and-a-half years.
The next time we came to meet was – shock horror – in the Eastern Floodlit League once again. By this point, however, it was the 1991-2 campaign and Knights (it seems) were no longer sponsors. Boro’, meanwhile, were on the charge through the Diadora League under Cloughie‘s leadership. In much the same way as before, the trip to Herns Way was first up – but ended in a draw. The return, however, was a comprehensive demolition job by Boro’.
Welwyn Garden City: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 7 — W 3 — D 3 — L 1 — F 13 — A 7 — Pts 0 — WR 43%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 6-1 Welwyn Garden City, 24 February 1992
What happened to Welwyn Garden City?
Well, the Citizens continued to plug away in the South Midlands League. At the start of the 1997-8 season, the club were among the founder members of the Spartan South Midlands League – a combination of the Spartan and South Midlands leagues. WGC’s history rolled into one neat package.
There were peaks and troughs over the years to come; some highs taking them close to the top of the table and other lows that led to relegation to Division One. But 2018 was a great year for the Citizens, racking up 100 points and 100 goals on the way to the title. It meant promotion to the Southern League for the first time ever. After finishing 14th in the club’s first campaign, 2019-20 saw another promotion in their sights – until Covid-19…
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Welwyn Garden City club profile