Everton, Ipswich Town, Newcastle United, Stourbridge? There are some teams we seemed to always get paired with in cup draws...
Photo: "West Midlands Railway Stourbridge Shuttle 139001 at Stourbridge Town Station - Welcome to the Stourbridge Shuttle" by ell brown is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Everton, Ipswich Town, Newcastle United, Stourbridge? There are some teams that we seemed to always get paired with in cup draws. OK, we’re being a tad over-the-top there. After all, we’ve played the Toffees twice and that was in the same season. But you can’t deny that we’ve had a fair few cup pairings that had a little hint of déjà vu about them? The Glassboys count as one of them for us. Twice in three seasons we ran into the Midlands side. And, both times, it was at the same stage of the FA Cup. We’ll soon get to that…

Who are Stourbridge Football Club?

The Glassboys outlast Boro’ by exactly 100 years. Formed as Stourbridge Standard in 1876, they binned off the ‘Standard’ bit inside four years. The club also found a home in the Birmingham & District League; a competition they spent almost a century in. It wasn’t until 1971 when they got handed a place in the newly-expanded Southern League. As it goes, they were placed in Division One North alongside Stevenage Athletic for the start of the 1971-2 campaign.

So, the history of Stourbridge and Stevenage in footballing circles isn’t exactly a recent one.

Why do we know them?

After Athletic went bust, the Glassboys continued on their merry way in the Southern League. In fairness, this is a side who had form with bedding into a competition and staying put. Mind you, their stay didn’t last as long as their time in the Brum & District League. In 2000, they went down into the Midland Alliance after a torrid season. Using this as a chance to sort themselves out, the club won the title twice inside three seasons – before returning to the Southern League in 2006.

Fine, so what – right? What does that have to do with us? It still put them two divisions below us. Well, they made their way back up to the Southern League Premier Division and grew in strength as the 2000s came to an end. The decade, that is. Not the century. We’re still in that. And this was important because  their cup runs started going longer. In 2009-10, they reached the First Round proper for the first time. Two years later, they went one better and made it to the Second Round.

What is our record against them?

This is where we first come up against them. The Round Two draw sent us to their War Memorial Athletic Ground. And a whiff of potential upset was in the air. Yes, we were in League One – three leagues above. But we know more than others how this doesn’t always count for much.

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The Glassboys held out for the first 45 minutes and kept us at bay as the second half went on. It looked like a replay could be possible. But Chris Beardsley popped up with a brace to end their hopes; Robin Shroot then adding a third in stoppage time. The 3-0 win was comfortable enough – but we still had to work for it. Graham Westley said as much afterwards too: “I knew we’d have to prepare and be right to get the result. The boys put in a tremendous performance.”

So, was that our ‘once-and-never-again’ moment? No.

Two years later, the Glassboys got their second shot at a cupset. And they’d come off the back of a very promising Southern League Premier Division season in 2012-3. If they were going to make mugs of us, they’d have to do it at our place. Mind you, we were finding things difficult in League One. The chance was there. And the first half was again goalless – right up until the 44th minute, when Francois Zoko put us ahead. From there, the Glassboys had no way back.

Boro’ added three more second-half goals to seal another comprehensive win. GW’s verdict was similar to what it was two years previously: “It was one of those we had to dig deep in, grind out, and find enough quality to win through in the end”. The bottom line, however, was that we were through to Round Three at the Glassboys’ expense again. It was a run that ended in Round Four against… Everton. There’s nothing like a bit of variety when it comes to these cup draws, eh?

Stourbridge: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 2 — W 2 — D 0 — L 0 — F 7 — A 0 — Pts 0 — WR 100%
Our last tango: Stevenage 4-0 Stourbridge, 07 December 2013

What happened to them?

The 2012-3 and 2013-4 campaigns ended in playoff disappointment for the Glassboys. We can’t tell if the heartache got to them or whether there were other reasons, but 2014 saw them move to the Northern Premier League. It wasn’t until their third season (2016-7) that they managed to get themselves firing again. Yet, it would all be in vain; their National League North hopes ended in the playoffs again.

One more year in the NPL is all they managed before moving back to the Southern League. The curse of the playoffs still followed them. The 2018-9 season saw them fail once again in the end of season promotion battle. And we’ve now had two seasons abandoned due to Covid-19. That means the question now is whether the Glassboys can finally end their run of back luck and get into the National League North. You’d think it was a promotion that was long overdue…

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Stourbridge club profile

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