Give us a break from league action and we come to life. Well, sometimes. Here are five of the best cup matches that Boro’ have been involved in. Now, don’t go all funny on us if the five we’ve gone for don’t match up with your thinking. This is Boro’ we’re talking about. We had lots to choose from. And that means lots we had to take out or not include. We bloody loved smashing Merthyr in the 2006-7 FA Trophy. But we had to apply some method here.
So, here are those five tip-top cup matches. And here are the reasons for picking ’em.
5 of the Best Boro’ Cup Matches
12 May 2007 – Kidderminster Harriers 2-3 Stevenage
Yeah, no, definitely; Boro’ first to win at Wembley. It’s possible that some people sneered at the idea that us and Kiddy would play out the first competitive match under the Arch in 2007. But it was one helluva show, if you ask us. And we would say that, given that we’d come back from the dead to make history in more ways than one.
Two goals from James Constable had put Kiddy in the box seat going into the break. For us, things seemed lost. But Stimmo sent us back out with a rocket up our bums; Mitchell Cole getting us back into things, before Craig Dobson levelled it up. We’d have taken the extra time that was looming. But Moro wanted to get home and take the trophy with him.
We’d bet this Wembley final would stand up against even the very best of ’em.
25 January 1998 – Stevenage Borough 1-1 Newcastle United
In the lead up to our 2011 win over Newcastle, some of the pre-match prattle was about us being out for revenge. To understand why, you’ll have to go back to 1998; the start of what became an unlikely grudge match. As a humble Conference side, we’d have taken the scalps of Cambridge and Swindon as decent return from our 1997-8 FA Cup run.
But the draw paired us with a Premier League club. Let’s see what we’re made of, eh?
Newcastle didn’t like the idea of coming to ours for the Round Four clash. And they were uptight about it. Very uptight. Alan Shearer came back from injury, putting us a goal down inside three minutes. After that, however, we gave ’em the cold steel; one goal disallowed and Neil Trebble superbly denied, before Graz grabbed the equaliser to secure a replay.
It made the Magpies even grumpier.
14 April 1986 – Stevenage Borough 2-0 Watford
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: this could be the greatest Boro’ cupset you’ve never heard of. You won’t often find memorable sporting shocks in the Herts Senior Cup. But we think this gets a place in this little list because of where we both were at the time; the Hornets up at the top end of the top flight and us, well, six leagues under that sea.
You’d be a rare breed of Boro’ fan to see this one live. By which, we mean older than 40? As Frank Cornwell and Paul Peterson wrote ahead of the next home match, this is one of our top all-time cup matches as “probably one of the best games seen… at Broadhall Way in a long time”. Even the Hornets’ ressies had players who’d seen some top flight action.
07 March 2012 – Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Stevenage
Predictable? Yeah. A worthy inclusion? Hell yeah! This cup tie came at a time when we’d never been higher in the pyramid; our North London oppo the strongest we’ve ever faced in a competitive match. And we’d taken them to a replay after a goalless draw indoors. It meant a replay under lights at the Lane. A glory, glory night – as we hear they’re called.
For the first half of the first half, it was shaping up that way. For us, anyway. Joel Byrom‘s early penalty let us think the unthinkable. Could we actually pull this off? Sadly, no. Spurs turned to their big guns to wrestle control of the tie. Yet, we still had them on the run; two chances (at least) went begging that, on another day, would’ve made things interesting.
04 January 1997 – Stevenage Borough 0-2 Birmingham City
“Welcome to Broadhall Way” – you gotta admire Andy Green’s front to reel that one off at the home of Birmingham City. This was, however, a home cup tie for us. Switching the tie to St Andrews arguably put us on the back foot from the off; travelling to take on a side in mid-table Division One. Not that it knocked us off our stride at Swindon the following year.
That’s not the point here, though.
Let’s get back to the matter at hand. Boro’ were reigning Conference champions; our side littered with talent that should’ve been turning out for a Football League team at this point. Bazza, Sodje, Browne, Barra… why wouldn’t we fancy our chances? We did give it a right go. Sadly, our efforts fell just short against a polished Blues side. You can’t win ’em all.
It did, however, help to make our reputation in cup matches. One year later, Boro’ did get the better of Division One oppo and, well, you know the rest. You’ve read about it above…