In football, location has almost zero impact on how often you'll come up against another team – much like us and Baldock Town
Photo: BBC

In football, location has almost zero impact on how often you come up against another team – much like us and Baldock Town. Just 10 road miles separated Boro’ and the Reds. And yet, meetings between us were few and far between. Is that a surprise? Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll find out more about the forces that seemed to keep us apart in a sec. But there can surely be few other neighbours of ours so near – yet may as well have been so far away?

Who are Baldock Town?

Formed in 1905 as plain old Baldock Football Club, the Reds didn’t hang around and were straight into Herts County League action. In their early years, they were a middling team in the Northern Division. The 1920-1 season saw them finally finish top of the division. But a win and a defeat in the championship playoff saw Welwyn of the Eastern Division take the title. The summer of 1921 was, however, the year they added Town to their name.

Four years later and the Herts County League came to an end; the Reds moving on to the Bedfordshire & District County League in 1925. It took just three years to get the measure of the competition; crowned Division One champions in 1927. For some more context, the competition was rebadged as the South Midlands League in 1929.

With no more honours to speak of, World War Two came and went. For their first post-war season, the Reds opted for a return to the Herts County League. It was a disaster; ending up propping up the table with 15 defeats from 20. So, back to the South Midlands League they went. What followed was a bit of a whirlwind six years; promoted from Division Two in 1948, winning Division One in 1950 and finishing second in the Premier Division in 1954.

The Reds upped sticks again at this point; joining the Parthenon League for five years and then moving into the London League’s Senior Division. But the draw of the South Midlands League was just too much to keep them away. In 1963, they returned to the competition for the third time. And it ushered in a golden age; winning the title three times in six seasons.

Why do we know Baldock Town?

The Reds dropped back from the summit of the South Midlands League during the 1970s. Third position would be as close as they’d get to reclaiming league glory. We’re not sure if they got bored of trying to win the title again. Or perhaps they just fancied a change. Either way, summer 1983 saw them leave the competition (again). This time, they set a course for the United Counties League; joining us in the Premier Division for the 1983-4 campaign.

By that point, however, we’d already met. Twice, in fact; the 1982-3 season throwing up a couple of cup encounters.

What is our record against the Reds?

The first of those cup ties came in September 1982 and a East Anglian Cup date at home. And it was Andy Hughes‘ goal that ensured Boro’ got this new North Herts off to a winning start. In April that season, however, the Reds claimed the honours in our Woolwich Trophy tie; again at Broadhall Way. It meant we’d go into our first league season together with one win apiece. So, it’d be all to play for.

And yet we still had another cup tie to get out of the way before we’d meet them in league action; Boro’ coming out on top in the Herts Charity Semi-Final in October 1983. It was an outcome that we’d repeat when we finally got to the bread and butter of the league in mid-December. But he who laughs last loudest and we guess the Reds’ win at Norton Road in April tickled them. They ended up finishing second in the table, by the way.

Oh – there was still time during that season for us to lose at home in another Woolwich Trophy clash too.

After that, however, we moved on. By moving into the Isthmian League and leaving them behind, it meant we’d never meet the Reds in a league match ever again. In fact, it was six years between games; joining together for the Televised Sports (Int.) Senior Cup Final in April 1990. Boro’ clinched it at Hitchin’s Top Field thanks to Mark Timpson‘s goal.

By this point, the Reds had also moved on from the United Counties League. Their choice, however, was to go into the Southern League. And, in April 1990, they were coming to the end of their third campaign in the competition’s Southern Division; the level they’d stay at for another five seasons.

Baldock Town: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 13 — W 8 — D 1 — L 4 — F 19 — A 16 — Pts 3 — WR 62%
Our last tango: Baldock Town 1-2 Stevenage Borough, 02 October 1996

What happened to them?

As we rose up the Diadora League and into the GM Vauxhall Conference, we enjoyed the occasional meet-up with the Reds. There were some Eastern Floodlit League fixtures and the 1993-4 Herts Charity Cup Final (which we lost). To be fair, it was a Baldock squad that contained future Sunderland and England striker Kevin Phillips

There was once a time when Baldock Town could count future England striker Kevin Phillips as one of their own...
Photo via The Comet

It felt as if our paths weren’t going to meet for much longer, however. We quit the Floodlit League for a start. And any hopes they had of reaching the Conference themselves were a little wishful. The Reds did get promoted to the Southern League Premier Division in 1995. But their stay lasted just two seasons; relegated at the end of the 1996-7 campaign.

That season saw us break new ground as a club; making our first ever appearance in the FA Cup Third Round. Did you know, however, that our cup run stretched right back to the First Qualifying Round? And it’s a run that included what now forever go down as our last-ever games against the Reds?

We’d meet them at home in the Second Qualifying Round. Our neighbours came close to springing an upset too; earning a 1-1 draw and a replay in the process. We eventually got through (just) with a 2-1 win at Norton Road in the replay. The rest that season is history.

So too soon, regrettably, would the Reds. After two seasons back in the Southern League Southern Division, the club were shunted across to the Eastern Division in a restructuring move. Two more seasons later, the club folded in summer 2001; the reasons for which we don’t know.

It wasn’t until 2003 when a new club formed in its place; first known as Baldock and then adding Town to the name in 2006. For three years between 2008 and 2011, they carried Letchworth’s name too; part and parcel of their move up the road to play at the County Ground in the town next door. But they moved back to Norton Road in 2012 and ditched Letchworth in the name too..

The drama wasn’t over there, however. The Reds were denied promotion to the Spartan South Midlands League after winning the 2011-2 Herts Senior County League title due to ground issues. After coming second the following season, the club agreed a groundshare with Hitchin Town and were allowed up at last. As of the 2020-1 season, the Reds play in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division; set on tracing old footsteps maybe?

(Except for the UCL, of course)

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Baldock Town club profile