Stevenage Captains


By Pete H

We asked. You voted. And here are the five Stevenage captains that stand out from the rest – even though it was pretty close. In fact, we really could’ve included 20 skippers here and not complain. But we’d have to change the title and write a lot more. We don’t think the result’ll disappoint, though. The names that don’t get a mention down below are no less important in our club’s story. Yet, these are the six you wouldn’t hesitate to rally around most…

6 of the Best Stevenage Captains

Graham Cox

As things stand, we have Graham Cox down for just shy of 300 appearances for us

It wasn’t unusual for the armband to be passed round more often during the 1980s. But there were some lads to whom it stuck. Denny Tyler, Paul Peterson and Peter Shadbolt are three examples of skippers who took up the responsibility. So too was Graham Cox. And Coxy (we’re going to assume that was his nickname) gave a lot to Boro’ across two spells with us.

As things stand, we have him down for just shy of 300 appearances for us. We’re still on the hunt for some match data from his time with us, so you can assume the reality is the milestone was passed. That doesn’t put him too far off the all-time record-makers. So, it can’t be much of a surprise that he took on the armband; cutting a talismanic leader for Boro’ during the 1980s from the heart of midfield.

It’s just a shame that a) he didn’t see the success he deserved with us and b) ended up leaving the summer that Cloughie came in and took us onto new heights.

Honours on his watch:
  • None

Denny Tyler

Long before Ronnie and Smudger and came along, Denny Tyler was our longest-serving player; his time with us falling just short of five years

For a long stretch during the 1980s, Denny Tyler was an important part of the Boro’ back line. From the United Counties League to the Isthmian League, it’s probably alright to say he was one of our rocks – not unlike Cox above. Tyler was a commanding full-back, with more than 200 appearances to his name. At a time when it wasn’t unusual for players to come and go, he was one of the constants in our side. And it’s no surprise he was given the armband as Boro’ took next step after next step in the 1980s.

On his watch, we went up a gear by moving into the Isthmian League in 1984. Two years later, we won the Division Two North title. But it wasn’t all plain sailing for Boro’. We were relegated back down from Division One at the end of the 1987-8 campaign. Such was his dedication to the cause, however, that Tyler is seen to have retained the armband for the 1988-9 season; aiming to put right a wrong and not let one relegation stand in the way of what would ultimately be long-term progress.

Honours on his watch:
  • 1985-6 Vauxhall Opel League Division Two North Table

Steve Berry

If it weren't for the off-field farce being run by the Football League way back then, Steve Berry would be our first-ever skipper in the top four divisions
Photo: The Comet

The man who led us to the brink of the Football League. If it weren’t for the off-field farce being run by the Football League way back then, Berry would be our first-ever skipper in the top four divisions. And who knows what history would think of Mark Roberts then. It’s not how things panned out, however. Berry was denied his rightful chance to lead us into the old Division Three. But he did get to lift the Conference trophy.

And no Woking captain has yet managed that.

Berry left us in summer ’96 for Kettering Town. We’re not too sure what the Poppies had that we didn’t. It certainly wasn’t a place in the Football League. But that’s football – and that wasn’t the end of the story either. The midfielder did return in 1998 for a season. But not as skipper; nor with us being the force we’d been two seasons before. There was no repeat title on Berry’s second watch. We’d have to wait another 12 long years for that.

Honours on his watch:
  • 1995-6 GM Vauxhall Conference

Jason Goodliffe

The leader of our football team across several different eras, Jason Goodliffe was the kind of player to wear his heart on his sleeve and go that one step beyond
Photo: Keith Mayhew

We’ll drink, a drink, a drink to Jase the king, the king, the king. The leader of our football team across several different eras, Goodliffe was the kind of player to wear his heart on his sleeve and go that one step beyond. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Brought in during the summer of 2001 by Paul Fairclough, the armband was his soon enough. Not even a change in gaffer during the 2001-2 could undermine his influence on the side.

In all, Goodliffe’s time with us spanned six years. And much of that was as captain. The arrival of GW in early 2003 saw him usurped as skipper. But it didn’t get to him. Instead, he rode out a tricky storm for the players that Westley inherited – and then replaced with the magnificent seven from Farnborough. He regained the captaincy and led us to within that hair’s breadth of the Football League; losing in the 2004-5 playoff final to Carlisle.

His time with us ended on Stimmo’s watch, which leads us onto the next skipper. But did you get a feel that Boro’ were starting to step up a gear by that point? Maybe. And it took the leadership of Jase to help make that happen. In our humble opinion, of course…

Honours on his watch:
  • 2001-2 FA Trophy final
  • 2004-5 Nationwide Conference playoff final

Ronnie Henry

Embed from Getty Images

From one record-breaker to the next, Ronnie Henry is the only lad in this list to skipper us in two different spells. He first got the armband under Mark Stimson; becoming the first of many captains to now lift a trophy at the ‘new’ Wembley Stadium. After his time with Luton Town in the mid-2010s, Henry then came back under GW MkIII and took the armband yet again; holding it for much (if not all) the time he remained with us.

And that was a long time. You don’t nudge yourself towards 500 appearances if you aren’t putting in the time at a club. He was skipper under four different managers between 2014 and 2019; Teddy Sheringham, Darren Sarll and Dino Maamria all taking charge after GW. Now, we aren’t ones for making tenuous connections. But Ron left us for good in summer 2019. And our first season without him? Well, it was frankly a disaster.

Draw your own conclusions.

Honours on his watch:
  • 2006-7 FA Trophy
  • 2014-5 Sky Bet League Two playoff semi-final

Mark Roberts

Embed from Getty Images

If we gave you a pen and paper and asked you to write down the first name that came to mind if we said “Stevenage captains”, we bet 50p that Robbo’s name would be scribbled down before we’d even finished. Chelsea fans used to bang on about John Terry as their captain, leader and legend. The same can only be said about Mark Roberts. Leading by example on and off the pitch is what Robbo did. And plenty good came of it.

It wasn’t until summer 2009 that Robbo stepped up to the role after Steve Morison left us. But it was a big part of the blue touch paper being lit under us. Up we soared to the 2009-10 Blue Square Premier title and the Football League at last. And we didn’t stop there. At the front of the advance, Robbo led us up another division – and to new milestones in the FA Cup. By the time he left in 2013, there was arguably nothing more he could give.

You wouldn’t turn down the chance to sign him again, however. Even now.

Honours on his watch:
  • 2009-10 Blue Square Premier
  • 2009-10 FA Trophy final
  • 2010-1 npower League Two playoff winner
  • 2011-2 FA Cup Fifth Round
  • 2011-2 npower League One playoff semi-final

Hang on, what about…

We have to talk about Smudger. It's no wild claim to suggest that Mark Smith is one of the best players to never feature in the Football League...
Photo: Michael Steele/Empics

We have to talk about Smudger. It’s no wild claim to suggest that Mark Smith is one of the best players to never feature in the Football League. After switching from front to back and proving himself to be a rock in the heart of our defence, Smudger was part of our 1995-6 Conference-winning side. And he was there as Boro’ pushed ever-more boundaries in the FA Cup and FA Trophy in the years that followed.

He had Alan Shearer in his back pocket, ferchrissakes.

Needless to say, Smudger was a guy that deserved much more silverware from his 460+ outings for us. But don’t let the lack of that on-field success take anything away from the legend that he is and forever will be at Broadhall Way. The only reason we don’t include him as one of our top five all-time Stevenage captains is because we’re not all that sure – after everything – that he was skipper that often. No doubt someone will put us right?

Honourable Mentions

Anyway, it’s tough work to whittle down alist of great Stevenage captains to a six-a-side team. And it’s tough to ignore the efforts of the fellas who miss out. It’s why honourable mentions are very much due to Peter Shadbolt, Noel Blackwell, Paul Peterson, Duncan Hardy, Richard Nugent, Paul Barrowcliff, Sam McMahon and Robin Trott. Oh, and Steve Morison, Jon Ashton and Scott Cuthbert.

And Steve Watson.

OK. Maybe not that last one. And to the genuine others we haven’t listed too. We’re sorry to miss you. But don’t think your efforts were in vain – even if on-field success didn’t come.