For such near neighbours as Arlesey Town can claim to be, they don’t half feel far away when it comes to a game of football. There the Blues are. Just up the road, like. It’s quicker for us to get there than to figure out if we’re saying their name right. So, what’s the story then? We used to be peas in a pod. Now we’re almost world’s apart; reunited only for a pre-season get-together every other summer or so. Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of this…
Who are Arlesey Town?
Like pretty much any other club that first comes to mind, the story of the Blues goes back a lot further than ours. In actual fact, they are now quite a lot more than 100 years of this world; forming in 1891 and starting out as members of the Biggleswade & District League. In 1922, however, the club launched into what became a long-running, on-off relationship with the South Midlands League (though, at the time, it was still the Beds County League).
The end of the 1950s saw ’em take part in the London League. We’re not sure why either. But the return to the South Midlands League was quick one; heading back in 1961. There was a bit of yo-yoing between Division One and the Premier Division during their first few seasons back in the competition. But, from 1964 onwards, it’d be Premier Division all the way for the Blues. All the way indeed. Until 1982..
Why do we know Arlesey Town?
You see, 1982 is the year the Blues appeared to get bored of the South Midlands League. Probably. The United Counties League is where they saw their future and, arriving at the start of the 1982-3 Premier Division campaign, it’d mean we’d go up against each other for the first time. Though we note they didn’t have to romp through Division One like we did…
What is our record against Arlesey Town?
Our first tete-a-tete took place right at the top end of the campaign; us edging it by just the one goal at Hitchin Road. Yet, the Blues hit back in the return and claimed a two-goal win at our place in February 1983. This back and forth continued into the next season, though we’re not sure a Woolwich Trophy win really counts towards bragging rights? As far as the league meetings went, a goalless point at home and 3-0 away win landed in our laps.
It was a bit of a whirlwind. But that was that. We opted to move up at the end of the 1983-4; joining the Isthmian League. The Blues stayed put. To be fair, it was a decision that did pay off for them. The season after we left, they won the United Counties League title.
Arlesey Town: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 7 — W 3 — D 1 — L 3 — F 9 — A 7 — Pts 7 — WR 43%
Our last tango: Arlesey Town 0-3 Stevenage Borough, 14 September 1996
What happened to Arlesey Town?
The Blues remained in the United Counties League for the rest of the 1980s and into the 1990s. In 1992, however, rising costs saw them return to the South Midlands League. By this point, we’d squeezed in another meeting. And it seemed they had a cup hoodoo over us. By winning our Southern Combinations Cup clash at Broadhall Way, they made it two cup wins in two. Not playing each other in the league had a downside, it seems.
Even though the Blues quit the United Counties League in 1992, the club had a fantastic 1994-5 campaign; dominating the South Midlands League Premier Division with just the 107 points. They also lifted the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium. that was, however, Boro’s first season in the Conference. And the gap between us two had never been greater. It showed when we next met for what is our most recent encounter.
Our 1996-7 FA Cup run saw us go all the way to Round Three and a “home” draw with Birmingham City. But it started long before that cold January afternoon. And it actually started at Hitchin Road against a side we’d never beaten in a cup tie before. Our star-studded line-up featuring Hayles, Sodje, Smudger et al were no match for ’em though. Boro’ eased through with a 3-0 win and made it clear who was the bigger neighbour.
Since then, the Blues did venture into the Isthmian and Southern Leagues. They didn’t fare too badly either. After coming bottom of the Southern League Division One East at the end of the 2017-8 campaign, however, they were relegated.
Back to the South Midlands League. Well. The Spartan South Midlands League.
Same, same though. Innit?
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Arlesey Town club profile