Just how much did signing Brian Stein help to swing the tight 1993-4 Diadora League Premier Division title battle in our favour? Well, if you’re pushed for time, we’d tell you “quite a lot” is our answer. But, as we find with all things Boro’, the joy is always in the detail. And surely it’s worth sticking with this to see how an ex-Luton Town and Barnet forward became one of Cloughie‘s most inspired signings. Even if the player did leave Broadhall Way at the end of that same season.
When did Brian Stein join us?
In terms of the 1993-4 season, Stein didn’t exactly get much time to make his mark at Broadhall Way. He joined us in mid-February 1994; making his debut (and grabbing a goal) at home to St Albans City on the 19th. After that first game for us, Cloughie said: “Brian Stein played intelligently and slotted quite nicely into the side”.
Fun fact: Barry Hayles also made his debut in that match.
Where did he play for Boro’?
Up front. Obviously.
What makes him an unsung hero?
At the time of Stein’s arrival, Boro’ were heading into that game with St Albans City with much to do in the race for the Conference. According to that matchday programme, our path to the summit had four teams ahead of us – including Hitchin Town. The very same programme didn’t list Stein among the players either. So, it was clearly a deal done late on. But what a pleasant and productive move it turned out to be.
The goal he scored against St Albans started a run of form both for himself and us as a whole that would transform the direction of the season. Our run was something silly; 13 league wins from a possible 16. We think we counted that right. It meant not even a 1-0 defeat to Enfield could reverse the pendulum swing. We never failed to win a match that Stein scored in either; 13 goals in 18 total outings showing you why we won so many.
Stein came in at an important time too. Martin Gittings had been prolific in the first half of the campaign. But the second half was arguably less so. Dave Venables picked up some of the slack, ending the season on 20 goals (half of what Gitts managed). And, yet, in the short space of time he was with us, Stein became only the third Boro’ player to reach that 10-goal milestone. Gary Crawshaw netted eight from 19. Otherwise, the goals were being shared around. It needed that wisdom and know-how from Stein to keep it ticking over.
The bottom line is that Boro’ won the league that season. If we take out Stein’s goals, the crude way of working this out suggests we’d have dropped 10 points; all the wins against Hendon, Kingstonian, Grays, Wivenhoe and Wokingham turning into draws. And that will change the course of history; handing Enfield the title and the place in the Conference. If that happens, who knows what path Boro’ would take next.
Brian Stein: Epilogue
As we can’t check out the newspaper archive at the British Library at the moment, it’s not possible for us to check for reports that explain Stein’s departure. Maybe the Conference was a level that he didn’t wish to play at. It’d certainly explain his switch to St Albans City ahead of the 1994-5 season.
City looks to be the last stop in his playing career; Stein returning again to Luton in 2000 as reserve team coach. In 2004, new Hatters gaffer Mike Newell made him assistant. It’s the role that’d eventually see him take charge of the club (albeit as a stop-gap) after the 2007 sacking of Newell. Kevin Blackwell was next man in and he changed up the whole backroom staff. So, Stein left Luton once more at the end of the 2006-7 season.
A reunion with Newell at Grimsby Town pretty much ended up with the same conclusion. Now, with footballing brothers Mark and Edwin, Brian Stein is the co-founder of the Stein Foundation. It is a charity that, inspired by parents Isaiah and Lillian, uses sport in Cape Town and the UK to educate; providing support and assistance to young people coming from a place of disadvantage.
BRIAN STEIN – 16 (2) appearances, 13 goals (1994)