Stevenage History: Where Are The Older Stories?

By Pete H

As we look back across Stevenage history, we know that a lot of the tales we tell are fairly recent. But what about older stories? Is there nothing worth sharing from the 1980s or the early 1990s? Of course there is! And we get why you might be asking why BoroGuide still hasn’t touched them? If that is a burning question on your lips, we felt that it was only right to answer it. Believe it or not – it frustrates us as much as the older fans looking to relive a completely different time in our club’s journey.

Stevenage History: Why don’t we look further back?

It’s all very well us taking a look back and laughing at the complete non-impact of loanees such as Deimantas Petravicius or lapping up the delights of our dramatic 2009 league win away at Mansfield. But it’s not like we didn’t have mystery men taking to the pitch in 1982 – or jaw-dropping performances; our 1986 Herts Senior Cup semi-final win over a top-flight Watford side is one example there. So, why aren’t we talking about these moments in time; events and people that are just a part of Stevenage history as Rodney McAree.

It’s quite simple.

We don’t have the inside scoop. We weren’t there. And we lack first-hand experience.

As the internet was only invented by Mark Zuckerberg to track us all in 2004, we can’t just do a Google and pull up stories from the time. We need to delve into the archives; request every local newspaper the British Library has on file. Buy up the few old programmes that occasionally make it onto eBay. And sometimes hope that someone else’ll do that work for our benefit because they were there. But none of those are easy – if always possible..

Damn that coronavirus *shakes fist*

On three separate occasions over the last 12 months, we’ve tried (and failed) in our bid to get back to the British Library. It’s not our fault either. This little thing called Covid-19 got stuck in the way; closing the institution’s newsrooms to hopeful souls such as ours. And it frustrated us in more ways than one. The first is because our match data is still unfinished. The second is that we have at least two stories from the 1980s we wanted to explore.

We’re not into posting half-backed, ill-planned articles where we can avoid it. Until we can get back to the British Library, those stories (and others like them) remain on ice.

But what about programmes? Well, sure – our collection has a fair few dating back as far as 1980. They don’t always tell you a lot, however. Early programmes are thin on content. You had a few manager notes, the team news and some other bits and pieces. It wasn’t a lot, though. Most of the programme tended to be taken up with advertising. It’s a bit like having to sit through all those long commercials on Channel 4’s streaming service.

So, we can’t rely on our programme collection either.

What are we going to do about it?

The hope is that – soon enough – we can get back to the British Library and bring those old stories to life. The current League Two campaign is doing just enough to keep us busy at the moment. And we don’t see too much harm in building up a bank of articles to drag us through the close season silence. The problem is we just don’t know when we’re going to be allowed back into the reading rooms and run amok with old Comets and Gazettes.

In the meantime, however, feel free to reach out if you have memories of Boro’ from back in the day that you want to share. We’d be happy to chew the fat – we love learning more about our club. And you can even write for us if you’re at a proper loose end. Just drop us a line by emailing [email protected]. Oh, we’d also love to hear from anyone with a collection of programmes that can help plug our match data gap. Or photos we could use.

We’ll get there with the older stories as soon as we can. For now, though, don’t be shy…