Nuneaton, Hampton & Richmond, Scar… Eastbourne Borough are one of many Boro’s that we’ve been up against over the years. Hang on, we also forgot Desborough Town too. But we feel that’s our point well and truly made. Anyway, coming across another bone fide ‘Borough’ has a unique feel to it. There are more Towns, Cities, or Uniteds than you can shake a stick at. Boroughs? That is something a bit different, innit. Even if some of them don’t even use Boro’ as a nickname.
Mind you, we’re not trying to open old wounds about our decision to drop our Borough in 2010.
Who are Eastbourne Borough Football Club?
One of the Boroughs that don’t call themselves Boro’ will be the focus of our attention right here (right now). Formed in 1964, Eastbourne Borough are otherwise known as The Sports. And there is a very good reason for this. It’s because, up until as recently as 2001, they were actually called Langney Sports. No foolin’. The club originally started out in the Langney district of Eastbourne, but changed names to reflect the wider town in which they played.
For the first 20 years or so, the club weren’t much to speak of; playing their football in local and district competitions. That changed in 1983 when they became founder members of the Sussex County League’s new Division Three. By the end of the decade, they had reached Division One – as far as you could go in that structure. Second in 1992 was their highest ever finish too, until an epic 1999-00 campaign saw them crowned champions for the first time.
Why do we know the Sports?
As a result of that title, the Sports took the next step and joined the Southern League’s Eastern Division. A respectable first season saw them end in ninth… and the end of the Langney Sports name. That’s when ‘Eastbourne Borough’ first appeared on the footballing map. Two years on, promotion took them into the Premier Division; edged into second place on goal difference. It was a short stay in the Southern League’s top flight, however.
That wasn’t down to promotion or relegation. Instead, the 2004-5 campaign saw them join the newly-created Conference South. In their maiden season, the Sports made it all the way to the combined North/South playoff final – only to lose to Altrincham. After a duff follow-up season, they finally made it up into the Blue Square Premier in 2008. It capped a fairly quick rise up the pyramid since changing their name. And it’d put them on equal terms with us.
What is our record against them?
Of course, that 2008-9 Blue Square Premier season isn’t the first time we’d met the Sports. Oh – did we forget that bit? It was actually back in October 2003 when our paths first crossed; Boro’ drawn away to them in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round. Dino Maamria and Anthony Elding scored the goals as we earned a 2-2 draw and a replay back at ours. It took a rare Steve Watson strike to separate the sides back at BHW – and send us through at their expense.
Maybe they hung onto that disappointment. Or maybe they just wanted to prove a point as the new kids on the block. But they certainly took advantage of our dire start to the 2008-9 season; going back home from BHW with a 3-1 win. It was just two-and-a-bit months into the campaign when our return fixture came around too. Boro’ had improved – but a stoppage time winner for the Sports secured a 2-1 win and a clean sweep of the points on offer that term.
This time, it was our turn to seek some sort of revenge. Early in the 2009-10 campaign, a lesser-spotted Ronnie Henry goal(!) helped us to a 2-0 home win over the Sports. But it was the away fixture that would capture the lasting imagination; Mitchell Cole coming off the bench at Priory Lane with 18 minutes left on the clock and scoring a great hattrick. We galloped to a 6-0 win on that Tuesday evening – and continued on to win the title and promotion to League Two.
Eastbourne Borough: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 6 — W 3 — D 1 — L 2 — F 13 — A 7 — Pts 6 — WR 50%
Our last tango: Eastbourne Borough 0-6 Stevenage Borough, 02 March 2010
What happened to them?
The Sports narrowly avoided the drop as we went up. But the battle for survival was a futile one as the following season came around. And so back down they went into Blue Square Bet South. That’s where you’ll still find them. In the past few seasons, they’ve jumped around between the very centre of the table and the lower reaches. For three straight seasons, they ended up 18th – including the curtailed 2019-20 campaign. The good old days seem a distant memory now…
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Eastbourne Borough club profile