Long before Ali G had put the name of Staines in lights, Boro' had already been there and done that in battles with the Swans
Photo: "Ali G from Westside/Eastside" by Atle Grimsby is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Long before Ali G had put the name of Staines in lights, Boro’ had already been there and done that in battles with the Swans. That said, we don’t quite have the cultural clout of Sacha Baron Cohen and our seven meetings with them (to date) aren’t exactly the stuff of football folklore in this country. But we guess we’re just trying to say that our adventures have taken us to all sorts of places in our time. And it’s only in more recent times that such places have found fame.

Who are Staines Town Football Club?

Now, the town’s footballing reps – Staines Town – are yet to make much of an impression upon the nation as a collective. Yet, they’re a part of our tale and that’s more than enough for us. The Swans first came to be in 1892. But it would appear the club folded in 1935; coming back to life just before the end of World War Two as Staines Vale. Their official website isn’t exactly clear on this – and doesn’t explain when or why they binned Vale and added Town to the name.

In 1953, the Swans were one of the Hellenic League’s founder members. But they moved on just five years later to join the Spartan League; a decision that was vindicated when they came top of the pile in 1960. The club’s next step was to join the Athenian League; a competition they signed up to in 1971 and then left in 1973. Mind you, they did claim the Division Two title in their debut campaign, before finishing second in Division One in their second.

Why do we know the Swans?

Instead of trying their luck in the Premier Division, the Swans decided the Isthmian League was the place to be. In just two years, they’d gained promotion from Division Two to Division One. It was renamed as the Premier Division two years later. Just in case you thought there’d been one more promotion in there.

The 1981-2 campaign was arguably the pinnacle up to that point – and indeed since. The Swans came fourth in the table; a point behind Wycombe Wanderers if you can believe that. But things started to go wrong. And, just two seasons later, they were relegated to Division One – despite a mid-table finish. The reason? Their ground wasn’t up to scratch, or so we believe.

It meant the Swans had to go again in getting back to the top rung of the Isthmian ladder. After falling some way short with both of their first two efforts to do so, the 1986-7 season saw them joined in Division One by a Boro’ side who had taken just two years themselves to pass through Division Two North. And the Surrey outfit were just one of many teams at that level who’d offer us a stern test of our credentials as we looked to continue our rise northwards.

What is our record against them?

Of course, things didn’t work out so well for us. Two seasons after we were promoted, we were sent packing to Division Two North once more. And the Swans’ part in our downfall? Well, they didn’t have it all their own way. In fact, things started with a 3-3 draw at Broadhall Way in early November 1986. By the time we first visited Wheatsheaf Park, though, the wheels had come off for that campaign and the Swans recorded a 1-0 victory.

The 1987-8 season was an ill-fated one for us. But it wasn’t written in the stars. Indeed, we won 3-1 at home to the Swans on 29 February (a rare Leap Year game). So, we hadn’t yet gone into a slump that’d cost us our place in Division One. It was the return fixture at Wheatsheaf Park that sealed our fate. After a run of five games without a win or a goal to speak of, the Swans claimed their second 1-0 home win against us. And our relegation was confirmed.

Staines Town: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 7 — W 2 — D 2 — L 3 — F 11 — A 10 — Pts 5 — WR 29%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 2-0 Staines Town, 07 October 1995

What happened to them?

This isn’t the end of the story, of course. We caught back up with them in 1992. The Swans lifted the Division One trophy in 1989 to secure promotion to the Premier Division. And they were still clinging on by the time we arrived after our resurgence under Cloughie. You could argue that us and them were in two very different frames of mind at the time. We were on the way up. For the Swans, however, they only just held onto the Premier Division status in the previous two years.

Even so, Cloughie’s side – maybe adjusting to life in the Premier Division for the first time in our history – couldn’t overcome the Swans. A 2-1 home defeat in March 1993 was followed by a 2-2 draw at their place on the final day of the season. The four-point haul wasn’t enough to protect their Premier Division status. Even a win, to be fair, would’ve only put them level with Yeading above them. And down they went on league position for the first time in a good long time.

But for a one-season return to the Premier Division in 1996, it took the Swans just over 10 years to re-establish themselves at that level. And their fortunes seemed to improve with it; securing promotion to Conference South in 2009. In finishing eighth in 2014, they recorded their highest position for some time – and weren’t too far off the playoffs in the end. After that, however, the good times started to fade and the most recent few seasons have been less favourable.

After relegation back to the Isthmian League in 2015, the Swans moved across to the Southern League Premier Division South. It was a disaster. Their maiden season saw them lose 38 of the 42 games that campaign; conceding 168 goals in the doing so. They immediately went back to the safety of the Isthmian League (Division One South Central) in 2019. But, for Covid reasons, they haven’t completed a season since. That will no doubt change (hopefully) in 2022.

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Staines Town club profile

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