“Welcome to Broadhall Way,” announced Andy Green. But our humble home was looking a little bigger and much more blue when we took on Birmingham City in the third round of the 1996-7 FA Cup. It’d been a fair old slog to get that far as well. By the time we came to stroll out onto the St Andrews turf, our FA Cup run was into its fifth month; starting back in mid-September with a 3-0 win at Arlesey Town in the First Qualifying Round.
All in all, the Brum cup tie ended up being our ninth in that season’s competition. After the win over Arlesey, we suffered the indignity of needing a replay to get past Baldock Town in the second of four qualifying rounds. Braintree Town (3-1) and Gravesend & Northfleet (5-1) were formalities for us as reigning Conference champs, however. But, once more, we’d need a replay to see off Hayes in the proper First Round. Now things started to get a little bit exciting.
Birmingham City v Stevenage Borough, 1996-7 FA Cup Round Three
At last, the Second Round put a Football League team in front of us; Boro’ making a joke of the decision not to let us up by beating Leyton Orient away. For the first time, we were in the Third Round and had a shot at the big boys. Except we drew Birmingham City; the Blues slowly climbing up the Division One table after bouncing back from Division Two in 1995. It wasn’t quite the glamour tie we might have hoped for.
But, hold on. We were drawn away. Why are we banging on about being at “home”? Well, we weren’t drawn away. Boro’ got a home tie – but people frowned upon the idea of non-league clubs wanting to play such games indoors. So, we did what was the done thing in the day. The tie was switched to St Andrews, we had “home” advantage and lads such as Barry Hayles and Efe Sodje got a chance to show what they were really capable of.
In the end, the records just say that we lost and were sent out of the cup. But not without making Brum work for it. And you could say the experience of switching the tie was a big factor in not wanting to move the Newcastle game during the 1997-8 season. Not that we remember any problems or complaints about playing that one at Broadhall Way…
Here are the highlights of that Brum game.