Here’s one team from our humble county that doesn’t get too much of a mention in the Boro’ tale. So, where exactly do Hoddesdon Town fit in the grand scheme of things? After all, it isn’t like we ran into them year after year down in the Isthmian League. Ware? Yeah, we know them well. Cheshunt? We’ve had our battles too. But it’s almost like that little patch of land halfway between the two on the A10 is a mystery to us; at least until you reach Harlow on t’other side.
So, what’s our beef with Hoddesdon?
Who are Hoddesdon Town Football Club?
We bet you’ll struggle to find too many football teams that are older than the Lilywhites. And we’re talking about clubs that are still going too. Formed in 1879 (without the ‘Town’ in their name), that’s 142 years of history at time of writing. In that period, we can’t see any evidence that they might have folded and then come back to life; something that a few other sides are trying to pull. Mind you, there were a couple of mergers in the early days.
Nonetheless, the name Hoddesdon (Town) continued on through the early years of the Herts County League from about 1908 onwards. Of course, by this time they’d already won the first-ever Herts Senior Cup and were founding members of the Hertfordshire Football Association. Put in the context of the Boro’ story, it’s like waking up to find that your other half has run the London Marathon before breakfast or something.
Why do we know the Lilywhites?
In 1925, the Lilywhites left the Herts County League; joining the Spartan League and having a mixed bag of fortunes. The 1960s and 1970s were arguably their best time in the competition; winning it once (1971) and finishing second on four occasions. The last of these came in 1974, the year before the club achieved another notable first; turning out at Wembley Stadium and winning the inaugural FA Vase.
As the 1970s wore on, the club binned off the Spartan League and joined the Athenian League for seven seasons. Why the short spell? Well, the Athenian League disbanded in 1984. So, next for the Lilywhites was the South Midlands League. Now, you’ll now realise that we’d come into being by this point. And we’ve never been in the South Midlands League. So, what’s going on? The truth is that we met for the first time during their final Athenian League campaign.
What is our record against them?
Yeah, yeah – we know. We didn’t play in the Athenian League either. But it was in fact the East Anglian Cup that paired us together. A competition now long forgotten in the memories of any Boro’ fan who was around at the time, it wasn’t usually one that was kind to us either. And the Lilywhites underlined that point; sending us out of the 1983-4 edition at the first hurdle with a narrow 2-1 win here at Broadhall Way. Paddy Butcher got our goal, by the way.
Hoddesdon Town: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 1 — W 0 — D 0 — L 1 — F 1 — A 2 — Pts 0 — WR 0%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 1-2 Hoddesdon Town, 13 October 1983
What happened to them?
For a large chunk of the period between 1984 and the present day, the Lilywhites stayed put in the South Midlands League; later known as the Spartan South Midlands doo-dah or something when it merged with Hoddesdon’s old stomping ground, the Spartan League. This was all until 2018, when – despite not hailing from the county – they transferred to the Essex Senior League. And they’ve only managed one full season there to date due to Covid-19, finishing ninth.
As for us and them, there’s a large gap to be bridged if we’re to add a second fixture to our H2H record. And you’d like to think that, if it happens, we might get off the mark against them too…
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Hoddesdon Town club profile