Our county town ain’t all that much of a footballing force. But we still had our battles with Hertford Town in our time. Not that it should mark the Blues out as anything special, you realise. After all, we must’ve now had ding-dongs with pretty much all of the senior clubs that Hertfordshire has to offer? But there were times when a) the Blues looked down on Boro’ and b) we were found at the same level. So, what changed? And how different might things be in a parallel universe?
OK – did we lose you on that last one? Do bear with us, however.
Who are Hertford Town?
The Blues’ tale starts in 1908 in official terms – but their roots stretch back seven years before that. Port Vale Rovers formed in 1901; changing their name to Hertford FC soon after to carry the town’s name. This club merged with Hertford United, before absorbing two more clubs (Blue Cross and Horns) to establish the club that we know today in 1908. That’s how it all started for the Blues. Now, time to move onto a bit about ’em.
In truth, there’s not much to report. After spending time in the Herts County League and Spartan League, the Blues’ best years (up ’til that point, at least) came at the start of the 1960s; picking up two successive Delphian League titles. Bad weather had a big impact on the competition during the 1962-3 season. At the end of it, the Delphian League was no more. So, the Blues became a founder member of Athenian League Division Two; winning promotion at the first attempt.
Why do we know Hertford Town?
Just nine seasons into their time as an Athenian League side, the Blues left; deciding to go into the Eastern Counties League instead. But it was short-lived. A year later, the Isthmian League came calling. And they answered with arms wide open. This was in 1973, so there’s still a bit of ground to cover before we are even a thing – let alone in a position to meet ’em. It’d be another 12 years before we’d catch them up in the league.
We didn’t need to wait that long for our first encounter, however. Nope – that all happened courtesy of the East Anglian Cup…
What is our record against Hertford Town?
In the 1981-2 season, we made it through to the East Anglian Cup semi-final. It put us up against the Blues; a side who, at that time, were starting to nudge their way up Isthmian League Division One. The gap in class showed. They swept us aside 4-1 to make the final. Three years is what it’d be before we’d get a chance to make amends for that experience. This time, however, we’d be equals – in Servowarm League Division Two North. Our stock was on the rise. The Blues’ fortunes were on the wane..
Yet, this state of affairs didn’t show in our first league game; a 2-1 loss at Hertingfordbury Park in November 1985. Don’t panic – the tide will start to turn in our favour. We won the return match at BHW in March 1986 on our way to the league title. And what that meant was that we were riding off into the Division One-shaped sunset. It’d be another two-and-a-half years until our next encounter.
The 1987-8 season saw us relegated from Division One. But it also saw the Blues end up bottom of Division Two North. It could be having nowhere else to go. Or it could be sides toddling off and leaving the Isthmian League short at the end of the campaign. Whatever reason there was, the Blues stayed put. So, there they were; lining up against us for the 1988-9 campaign. And, after a tame reunion in September 1988, sparks started to fly.
A golazo-fest at our place in January 1989 saw the Blues run out 5-3 winners; the last of their three wins against us to date. The next season, Boro’ didn’t come too far away from a the much sought-after return to Division One. But it did see us take six points off our near neighbours. It was the first time that we’d really asserted our authority over them. But the guy in charge at Hertingfordbury Park had also made his mark on the Boro’ hierarchy…
Hertford Town: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 10 — W 5 — D 2 — L 3 — F 19 — A 17 — Pts 14 — WR 50%
Our last tango: Hertford Town 2-6 Stevenage Borough, 14 August 1993
What happened to Hertford Town?
In summer 1990, Paul Fairclough came up the A602 to take charge at Broadhall Way. This ended a couple of years as the Blues’ boss; leading them to third at the end of the 1989-90 Division Two North campaign. The appointment had a seismic impact – on both of us. The Blues had sunk to 15th in the table at the end of the 1990-1 season. We, meanwhile, had broken all sorts of records on the way to a swashbuckling title win.
Not that it was made easy for us by the Blues. Our first meeting of the season came early on; a goalless draw at their place. We followed that up with a 1-0 Boxing Day win indoors. And that was that. Up we went. And it meant that, by the time we met in the Herts Charity Cup in August 1993, we were operating on two very different plains. The scoreline – a 6-2 win for us – shows as much. We weren’t done with our upward path either.
For the Blues, though, things didn’t change all that much. Promotion from Ryman League Division Three in 1998 was followed by immediate relegation back down. The rejigging of the league in 2002 earned another ‘promotion’; this time to Division One North. Again, the club lasted just one season before relegation to Division Two. A few years later, that same division disbanded; leading them to join the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division.
The 2015-6 season saw the Blues score a huge 112 goals – but still only end up in eighth. One season on, however, and they kicked on to finish second to London Colney. But they didn’t stick around to see if they could just go that one better. Instead, 2017 saw ’em head back to the Isthmian League. And that’s where we’re now at. If Cloughie had stayed on as their boss in 1990, would it be them now sitting pretty in the Football League?
Or is that simply too much of a leap?
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Hertford Town club profile