Good Game: The series looking at the amazing, utterly memorable, unbelievably dramatic and downright ludicrous games that involved Stevenage
Borough over the years. But we’ll insist that we accept no blame for memories warped by time, age or alcohol consumption at the time. We’ll never refer to any games involving Macclesfield either – particularly any at Broadhall Way. Those sort of things never happened, dontcha know…
Canal Street, Runcorn — 25 November 1995 — GM Vauxhall Conference
Our front line for the 1995-6 campaign was a formidable one. We had Barry Hayles, Corey Browne, Tony Lynch and Dave Venables all reaching double figures for the season; Bazza being a long way in front, obvs. There were 14 other players with at least one goal to their names by the end of term too. Finding the net certainly wasn’t a problem in a GM Vauxhall Conference campaign that we’d go on to dominate in some style.
With winter now rising in late November, the dye had been cast. Boro’ had won seven and drawn twice from 12 league matches. October and early November was pretty decent too; four league games producing 15 goals and 12 points. The further into November we went, however, bumps in the road popped up. First, Hereford knocked us out of the FA Cup in a close battle. Then Southport came to us and were responsible for our third league defeat.
Next up was the trip to Runcorn – a side who did the double over us the previous season.
Runcorn 0-8 Stevenage Borough: The Game
The ideal way to halt a losing run its track is to strike early in your next match. And that’s what Boro’ did here; Barry Hayles starting us off in the second minute jinking his way into the box and slotting home past the stopper. Bazza made it a brace on 20 minutes; much like his first goal too. It was all looking a little easy for us and that view didn’t change with 36 minutes on the clock. This time, it was Venners’ turn as he piled through and slotted home without much challenge.
A long-range Lynch effort couldn’t quite add to the tally before the interval, while Venners went close just after the restart too. It’d be Bazza, however, who got the scoring back on track by completing his hattrick. It was his first of a campaign in which his record in front of goal hadn’t really yet taken off. It did after this match, though. And it was also the point at which the floodgates seemed to well and truly open.
Next up, skipper Steve Berry scored his first goal for us on 57 minutes. Venners popped up again to slam the ball home three minutes later. Then Corey Browne got in on the action as well; a great downward header from Venners’ assist in what felt like the very next attack. The huge cushion gave Cloughie the freedom to make some changes to his side. But it didn’t mean the end of the goals.
With around quarter of an hour left, some good work from Lynch and Shaun Marshall led to a corner from which our eighth and final goal of the game came. Mark Smith, just back from suspension, collected the ball from the corner and lifted it over a static defence. And the goalkeeper. Into the net. By the time the action an end, Venners had one last effort to claim his own hattrick but found his effort saved. Eight is where it’d end.
Runcorn 0-8 Stevenage Borough: The Timeline
- 0-1 – Hayles (2)
- 0-2 – Hayles (20)
- 0-3 – Venables (36)
- 0-4 – Hayles (50?)
- 0-5 – Berry (57)
- 0-6 – Venables (60)
- 0-7 – Browne (62)
- 0-8 – Smith (76)
Runcorn 0-8 Stevenage Borough: The Reaction
In the matchday programme that followed, Cloughie said: “I won’t dwell too much on last Saturday’s magnificent achievement at Runcorn; other to say that I was deeply shocked at the undignified manner in which Runcorn dismissed their manager, John Carroll.”
Victor Green*, meanwhile, said: “In one of the local papers, there was a ridiculous comment about the determination of the manager and the players to keep up their dedication to winning the league because the ground improvements won’t be completed in time. Well, that was most certainly answered last Saturday with an outstanding performance at Runcorn.”
(* we assume it was VG. It was the column that normally carried his name)
Next up for Boro’ after that Runcorn demolition was Macclesfield Town at home. Well, it was Kettering Town in the Spalding Cup, but “meh”. After our 8-0 win at the Linnets, the Silkmen still held an eight-point lead at the top of the table. But we’d proved we were in the mood to score goals. And that’s what we did; putting four more past Macc.
But that’s another story for another day.