Stamford are sporting one of the most unusual nicknames in football. But we’re more fussed about our record against them. And so should you be. Don’t worry. We’ll come storming back to the reason this club is known as The Daniels. But this particular tale takes us back to our United Counties League days; a completely different time for all concerned. For a start, our editor wasn’t even born. Yet others, of course, were – and we’re going to see if our head-to-head is one to cherish. Or deeply, bitterly regret…
Who are Stamford?
Formed in 1896, Stamford Association Football Club have a long enough story to tell. But it’s also one you could call, let’s say, “stable”. Well, OK. That much is true after their early years. To start, everything reads back a bit hectic. The Daniels went straight into the East Midlands League. For one season. Then came some time in the footballing wilderness. It wasn’t until 1909 that a new home was found: the Northamptonshire League.
In 1933, this competition took on a brand-new name; one that we’d know it better as. By the time it was christened the United Counties League, the Daniels had already claimed their first title. That was in 1912. By 1939, however, they hadn’t added to that crown and – in an acute sense of good timing – left to join the Peterborough & District League. World War Two came along and, by the time it was over, the Daniels were back in the UCL.
For whatever reason, they still weren’t comfortable in the UCL; opting to leave again in 1955. By that point, they’d come out on top in the league’s own cup competition and the Lincolnshire Senior B Cup in the same year (1952). Still, 1955 saw them up and leave; this time switching to the Central Alliance; then moving onto the Midland League in 1961. But we’re well aware we still haven’t touched on the all-important question on your lips.
Why the Daniels?
Well, that’s all down to a chap called Daniel Lambert. He wasn’t a former player. He isn’t a successful ex-boss. And he wasn’t chairman. In fact, he had nothing to do with them. He is, however, believed to be the heaviest British man ever; a resident of Stamford who died in 1809 at the ripe old weight of 52ish stone. He lies in rest in St Martin’s churchyard; totally unaware of the ‘athletic’ legacy he’d leave his hometown.
Why do we know Stamford?
Anyway, on we go.
The Daniels came back to the UCL in 1972 and went on a hot streak; reaching the FA Vase semi finals in 1975 and then reaching the final in the following season. While they ultimately fell short in the final, they did claim their first UCL league crown since 1912. The club almost made a successful defence too; finishing second in the 1976-7 season, before reclaiming the title a year later. Oh, and they added the FA Vase to their trophy cabinet (at last) in 1980 – together with the UCL league cup.
The Daniels were on a roll and they kept it going into the 1980s; claiming the 1980-1 UCL Premier Division title and crowning themselves champions for the second year on the hop. It’s at this time that Boro’ enter the equation; ourselves champions in 1981 with our senior football story starting with the UCL Division One title. For the 1981-2 season and our first-ever crack at the Premier Division, the Daniels were the standard we needed to match.
What is our record against the Daniels?
Did we manage it? No. How is our record against the Daniels? Grim. As they were still on their flying run of form, it stands to reason that we couldn’t deal with them first time up; losing narrowly 1-0 at home in October 1981 and then 4-0 at theirs in January 1982. They went onto claim a third straight title win that season; edging out Irthlingborough Diamonds by a point. But, while their title-winning bubble was about to burst, their hold on us wasn’t.
That’s not to say that we don’t have any highlights to share. Our 5-0 home triumph in April 1983 was perhaps one of our finest moments as a club up to that point. The Daniels didn’t hesitate in setting things straight in their eyes, though; coming out on top in the return by two goals on the last day of the 1982-3 season. The Diamonds that had run ’em close the previous season claimed the title; ending eight points ahead of third-placed Stamford.
Little did we know that, when it started, the 1983-4 season was our last in the UCL. But if we had any hopes of building on our home win from the previous season, the Daniels did not agree. We battled to a goalless draw early on in the season at Broadhall Way; taking at least some of the spoils from the six on offer that season. Our Linconshire friends were clinical in the return at Hanson’s Field. Three goals for them, none for us. Bish bash bosh.
What is also means, of course, is that we failed to score in five of our six meetings. Ouch!
Stamford: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 6 — W 1 — D 1 — L 4 — F 5 — A 10 — Pts 4 — WR 17%
Our last tango: Stamford 3-0 Stevenage Borough, 10 March 1984
What happened to them?
The Daniels again ended the season in third; this time 11 points adrift of that campaign’s champions: Buckingham Town. They also made it through to the FA Vase final – only for Stansted to claim the silverware. That’s a little side detail, of course. As we moved on to pastures new that summer, Stamford stayed put in the UCL. But their fortunes were now waning; sliding down the table during the 1980s and 1990s.
Between 1986 and 1995, the Daniels only finished in the top half of the table once. In 1994 came a watershed moment by the club’s own admission. In came a certain Steve Evans as boss. And, in his first managerial gig, the Scot signed several high-profile players – including Daley Thompson. In three years, the club were back at the top of the UCL pile. After following up with a second straight title in 1998, it was time to move on.
For the first time, the 1998-9 campaign saw the Daniels take part in the Southern League. Evans moved onto Boston United after resigning his position in September 1998. It was a new era for the club; one starting in the Southern League Midland Division and continuing on in the next season in the Eastern Division after the competition had a rejig. There was even a couple of seasons in the Premier Division (2004-5 and 2006-7).
After a respectable eighth-placed finish come the end of the 2006-7 season, the club was on the move again; this time to the Northern Premier League. Immediately relegated from the Premier Division, the Daniels returned five years later (2013) for another three-season spell at the top of the NPL tree. Again, it didn’t last and not even the move to their current Zeeco Stadium could inspire them to survival in 2016.
The 2016-7 season did bring with it a first-ever appearance in the FA Cup First Round. At the same time, though, they were getting used to life back in the NPL Division One South. And it’s at that level you’ll still find them today, albeit moving around the regional divisions from South, through East and now into the South East. Covid-19 hit at the wrong time for them too; top of the table with 22 wins from 29 when the 2019-20 season was axed.
But we only have one question left. If we played the Daniels today, would we again find it hard to breach their defence. Or have we moved on enough to take the upper hand? This may well be one we’ll not find out for a while to come…
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Stamford club profile