Cult Classic: Jose Whishaw

By Pete H

It’s not often you find a one-club man these days. Even our highest appearance makers, Ronnie Henry and Mark Smith, turned out for other clubs in their time. But, in a parallel universe, Jose Whishaw is a genuine one club man. Such was his affinity for Stevenage, you can even use that analogy about red and white blood coursing through his veins. Mind you, red and white blood cells are two of the main components of blood. So, that statement is actually a biological fact.

Jose Whishaw: Why Is He A Cult Classic?

So, what do we mean about parallel universes and one-club men? Well, had it not been for the demise of Stevenage Athletic, it’s unlikely that Whishaw would’ve played for anyone else. In an article from The Comet in 1981, he admitted: “Had Stevenage Athletic not folded, I would never have left them. Stevenage has always been my club”. And by the time Athletic had folded, there were nearly 400 appearances to his name.

He picked up the baton at Athletic after leaving school as a 16-year-old. And it’s reported that a couple of big clubs were interested in signing him during his time at Athletic. But he didn’t end up moving anywhere until his hand was forced. By then, that First Division interest cooled off – and he ended up playing for Boreham Wood and Hitchin Town. So, it was almost joyous for the Boro’ fans who had come across from Athletic in 1976 that Whishaw “came home” in 1981.

At the Boro’

His time at Boro’ was short, but sweet. Whishaw joined us ahead of our 1981-2 United Counties League Premier Division campaign; turning down Athenian League football for the chance to be in the red and white of Stevenage again. There were also family concerns to consider. The birth of his twin sons, including James Bond star Ben, meant that being close to home was a big draw. In our heart of hearts though, we know that playing for a Stevenage side was the main one!

A total of 18 appearances between July 1981 and January 1982 wasn’t perhaps as many as we’d have liked. And it certainly didn’t make a significant addition to his near-400 appearances for the Athletic. But it was a coming together that felt right. Whishaw added five goals from midfield in a season where only six others managed as many (or more). Why his ‘second’ stint with us came to an end before the season was out, we can only guess. But it is what it is. And that’s fine with us.

You still knew he was special, though.

It’s why The Comet ran with the headline “Jose Comes Home”. It’s why Whishaw’s name remains closely linked with football in Stevenage – Athletic and Boro’. It’s how you felt when Smudger or Ronnie returned. And it’s why gaffer Derek Montgomery did what he had to do to make sure the inspiring midfielder felt at ease with the idea of coming back: “He’s a naturally fit lad. He wants to play and everyone at the club wants him to play. I envisage no problems.”

Jose Whishaw 'came home' in July 1981
Photo: The Comet

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