Goalkeepers. In a lot of ways, it’s much easier to notice their impact on a team – compared to other positions on the pitch, anyway. Think of Gordon Banks and that save from Pele in 1970 is probably what comes to mind first. What about Massimo Taibi? We bet the first thing you’ll see is Matt Le Tissier’s weak long-range shot squibbling between his legs. It’s no different for Boro’ either. And Chris Day is one stopper who had a big impact on us for the better.
In this latest edition of My Favourite Player, Dean Thompson tells us what makes Daysey so special that he’s head, shoulders, knees and toes above anyone else to turn out for the Boro’.
Why Chris Day is my favourite player
You can choose players that come in and have an immediate impact – like Ilias Chair. Or the players that hit the back of the net regularly for two seasons – like Matt Godden. Oh, or the charismatic – like Anthony Elding. But, me being me, I like to go for longevity, reliability and class. When he arrived in 2008 just after the start of GW Mk II, things hadn’t started too well for Ashley Bayes. In came Chris in late August; taking up his place in the goal.
And he was still there 10 years later. Young pretenders tried to shift him – but failed.
It’s easy to give reasons why. He was our keeper during the glory years of this club. And no-one had more fun than us for nearly 10 years; Wembley, promotions, FA Cup runs, FA Trophy wins and local derby upsets. Chris was always at the heart of them. It may be a brilliant save or an important catch – or just take an age and take the sting out of the game. Some could say it’s an easier job when you have an awesome back four in front of him. But that defence wasn’t infallible. And the saves that he made were crucial.
The best thing about Chris Day…
The thing is: there was never any panic. I said so many times during commentary that, as the whole ground were out of their seats thinking the ball was heading for the back of the net, I just had to watch Chris. If he wasn’t diving, then I knew we were safe! He didn’t exert himself unless he needed to! Cool and calm, he could defuse a situation by plucking the ball out of the air if our team was under pressure; how he could pat a teammate on the back and instil a belief and a confidence in them.
Lots of young goalkeepers want the photograph save. These shall all remain nameless! But, basically, the thing that sets Chris apart was he was there to make the save. That’s all. Just save the ball, then organise the defence, point out the error of their ways and occasionally give them a good shouting at! But that didn’t happen too often.
What is my favourite Chris Day memories?
We all have our favourite moment. Goalkeepers are in the firing line; having either a great game or a poor one based on one mistake! So it was really difficult to choose a couple. Who could forget the 2-0 win at Kenilworth Road in 2017; Chris making a tackle outside his box and then getting the follow up, as well as a reflex save in the second half.
Then there’s the penalty save in front of the Portsmouth fans when the ball was struck straight at him! Or the Southend play-off game; a one-man wall keeping the hosts at bay in a game we eventually lost after extra time, It was an absolutely phenomenal performance. But how can someone possibly pull just one highlight out of 358 appearances?
I do, however, have a couple of personal ones. During our 2011-2 FA Cup run, Sky TV was showing the Fifth Round draw; cameras at the Broadhall Suite and the like. All the usual excitement and hullaballoo was going on: “who do you want” or “a home tie would be nice”. I sat myself quietly at the back. With Chris.
The Stevenage number was drawn at home. A cheer! Then, of course, out came the name Tottenham Hotspur. It’s the club where it all started for Chris. The room went mad, and I remember leaning over the table and shaking his hand. Cool and calm, remember.
Chris is also known for running his pub and was famous for his pub quizzes at the Billet. In 2018, I had the honour of hosting a quiz with him in the Broadhall Suite to raise funds for the Stroke Association. Just another great occasion in the long association between Chris Day and Stevenage Football Club.
MY FAVOURITE PLAYER:
Chris Day – 358 (3) appearances, 0 goals (2008-18)
• Our huge thanks to Dean for taking the time to tell us about his all-time favourite Boro’ player. Do you want to tell us about yours? We’d love to hear from you. Just drop us an email and we’ll tell you what you need to do…