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Stevenage Borough 3-3 St Albans City: Now, who doesn't like a high-scoring draw? It's not a win – but you'll get your money's worth. Just like in this in FA Cup tie...

Stevenage Borough 3-3 St Albans City – October 1992

Now, who doesn’t like a high-scoring draw? It’s not a win – but you’ll get your money’s worth. Just like in this in FA Cup tie. The 1992-3 campaign ended up being our first in three that did not bring title success. As we know now, it was just a blip. But we did break new boundaries in the FA Cup; reaching the Third Qualifying Round for the first time. Well, second time. We did, of course, beat Burnham in our 1988-9 Second Qualifying Round tie – only to be thrown out for fielding an ineligible player. No such hard luck in 1992, though.

Unless being being against St Albans City counts as a stroke of misfortune?

Up until that point, we’d met the Saints four times. Each one had ended 2-1; once to us in the 1990-1 Herts Senior Cup and three times to them. In fact, we’d already played our Diadora League Premier Division match at Clarence Park by the time this cup clash came around. The 1992-3 season was the first that we’d competed as equals. But it was also a season in which they’d ultimately prove to be one of the league’s strongest sides. So, what did that mean for our cup hopes. Could we keep our promising run going even further?

 

Stevenage Borough 3-3 St Albans City
10 October 1992, FA Cup Third Qualifying Round

Our preparations for this match weren’t ideal. After beating Ruislip Manor in the previous round, we lost two on the spin in the league. Stalebuns came into the game with just two defeats so far that season; one in the Diadora League Cup and the other against Staines Town in their recent league outing. The point here is that neither of us were coming into this cup clash in fine fettle. And more than 1,500 turned up at Broadhall Way on the day. So, it’s not like there was any pressure on the two sides. Right?

As far as the game itself is concerned, the guests had the best of the first half. That’s, at least, what we’re taking from the video. But it’s rude to make yourself at home when you aren’t invited to. So, Steve Graham putting Boro’ one up on 43 minutes was a right treat. Now, pay attention as this is a common theme. With us going into the interval ahead, we somehow managed to let Steve Clark equalise from a corner bang on half time.

And here’s a useless fact for you. Clarkey was our Ed’s PE teacher at school. He’s also a legendary Snorbans goalscorer. He’s no Gitts, however.

Into the second half and we came out fighting; getting back in front three minutes in with the man himself, Gitts, scoring our second. As we suggested, there’s a common theme – and that theme is the Saints coming back strong after going behind. We held out for half an hour or so before Allan Cockram got the equaliser; Stalebuns arguably good for their leveller. And a scramble in front of the Boro’ goal nearly saw them go ahead.

With four minutes left, Boro’ grabbed the lead for the third time. Neil Trebble was the man of the moment and it looked as if we’d actually done it. The Fourth Qualifying Round draw had a ball with our number on it. But – oh no! Disaster! Our guests pushed back hard and got themselves a penalty at the death; Martin Duffield slotting past Richard Wilmot to earn a replay. It was in our grasp and we couldn’t hold onto it.

Stevenage Borough 3-3 St Albans City: Epilogue

Three days later, we were out of the FA Cup after a 2-1 defeat at Clarence Park. You can feel even more irritated if you see how Stalebuns progressed. They beat Telford United in the Fourth Qualifying Round, which may well have been a winnable game for us too. But they ballsed it up in the First Round; losing indoors to Cheltenham Town of the Southern League. The Robins finished second in the Southern League that term. Stalebuns came second in the Isthmian. For inter-Conference-feeder-league rivalry, it wasn’t good for us.

In the end, the Saints racked up 103 goals in the Diadora League Premier Division. But this didn’t count for that much; ending up five points shy of champions Chesham United. Neither the Generals – nor the Saints as back-up – could go up to the Conference as a result of their grounds not being up to scratch. One year on, it was us who were named champions. We did get let into the Conference, however. So, you can claim a win when you look at the bigger picture. You wouldn’t say no to holding onto that 3-2 win, though.

Birmingham City v Stevenage Borough, 1996-7 FA Cup R3

Birmingham City – 1996-7 FA Cup R3

“Welcome to Broadhall Way,” announced Andy Green. But our humble home was looking a little bigger and much more blue when we took on Birmingham City in the third round of the 1996-7 FA Cup. It’d been a fair old slog to get that far as well. By the time we came to stroll out onto the St Andrews turf, our FA Cup run was into its fifth month; starting back in mid-September with a 3-0 win at Arlesey Town in the First Qualifying Round.

FIRST!

All in all, the Brum cup tie ended up being our ninth in that season’s competition. After the win over Arlesey, we suffered the indignity of needing a replay to get past Baldock Town in the second of four qualifying rounds. Braintree Town (3-1) and Gravesend & Northfleet (5-1) were formalities for us as reigning Conference champs, however. But, once more, we’d need a replay to see off Hayes in the proper First Round. Now things started to get a little bit exciting.

 

Birmingham City v Stevenage Borough, 1996-7 FA Cup Round Three

At last, the Second Round put a Football League team in front of us; Boro’ making a joke of the decision not to let us up by beating Leyton Orient away. For the first time, we were in the Third Round and had a shot at the big boys. Except we drew Birmingham City; the Blues slowly climbing up the Division One table after bouncing back from Division Two in 1995. It wasn’t quite the glamour tie we might have hoped for.

But, hold on. We were drawn away. Why are we banging on about being at “home”? Well, we weren’t drawn away. Boro’ got a home tie – but people frowned upon the idea of non-league clubs wanting to play such games indoors. So, we did what was the done thing in the day. The tie was switched to St Andrews, we had “home” advantage and lads such as Barry Hayles and Efe Sodje got a chance to show what they were really capable of.

In the end, the records just say that we lost and were sent out of the cup. But not without making Brum work for it. And you could say the experience of switching the tie was a big factor in not wanting to move the Newcastle game during the 1997-8 season. Not that we remember any problems or complaints about playing that one at Broadhall Way…

Here are the highlights of that Brum game.

In front of nearly 6,000 spectators at Nene Park, Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 Stevenage Borough was a full-blooded, festive fight at Christmas 1999

Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 Stevenage Borough

In front of almost 6,000 spectators up at Nene Park, Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 Stevenage Borough was a full-blooded, festive fight at Christmas 1999. With the Diamonds coming to Broadhall Way a week later (03 January), Richard Hill’s side headed for Northamptonshire hoping to put a dent in their promotion hopes. Our own ambitions? Well, they’d faded long before Christmas came around.

Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 Stevenage Borough: Match Details

After six straight wins at the start of the 1999-00 campaign, Boro’ had been – at very best – inconsistent. We’d gone from being unstoppable to being actually quite stoppable indeed; claiming only two league wins in September, October and November combined. December had, to be fair, started better thanks to wins at Doncaster and indoors versus Dover.

But then we lost to Woking the weekend before Christmas. FFS.

As Christmas fell on a Saturday, there was a nine-day gap until our trip to Nene Park; a big-spending club with big ambitions. Add in that (sort of) local edge and you had yourself a big crunch clash; a match that Boro’ could use to make a real statement. Ex-Diamonds forward and Boro’ goal machine Carl Alford thought so; apparently claiming he’d score two here.

Boro’ fans turned out in force. We’re 99% sure that one of the reasons Why We Bothertaking more than the 950 allocated tickets, with fans having to sit on each others’ laps – is about this game. And we’re also sure another reason – Billy Turley inciting the crowd at Nene Park – does too; the Diamonds keeper using his fingers to indicate how many people were sat on some seats. Nothing gets past him.

In the end, it was a gritty display on a bobbly pitch. Alford got one of his two promised goals. But we ended up losing thanks to late winner scored by Jon Brady. With his head! The win sent Diamonds top – but it’d end up being Kidderminster who won the title and went up.

Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 Stevenage Borough: Match Timeline

  • 1-0 – Collins (17)
  • 1-1 – Alford (60)
  • 2-1 – Brady (79)

 

With the 2009-10 title push on, Grays Athletic 1-2 Stevenage Borough was a fifth straight league win for us. But we had to do it the hard way...

Grays Athletic 1-2 Stevenage Borough

A title push was very much on the cards by late March 2010. Or, at least, back on track; a bit of a wobble in February saw us lose twice (at Tamworth and Rushden). With four league wins and a place in the FA Trophy Final now under our belt, 23 March saw us make a midweek trip to Essex. The Blues were cast adrift at the foot of the table and, when all’s said and done, our archives show Grays Athletic 1-2 Stevenage Borough; a fifth straight league win for us.

But it ain’t as straightforward as that. It never bloody is.

Grays Athletic 1-2 Stevenage Borough: Match Details

Just because the home side were heading for the Blue Square Premier exit door, it didn’t mean we were getting a free ride. In fact, we came up against a side with a real desire to upset the applecart. And that became pretty clear when Jamie Guy put them into a shock lead just before the break. It prompted GW (or at least proved he’d made the right call) to make a double switch at the break; Cole and Sills on for Byrom and Beardo.

Boro’ were now chasing the game; an unfamiliar place for much of that season. It took 20 minutes of huffing and puffing until Bozzie headed us level from Andy Drury‘s corner. The pressure started to mount on the home side. But time was starting to run out for us; Yemi Odubade off and Charlie Griffin on for the final 15 minutes. And we can only describe it as an inspired call by the gaffer.

With four minutes left on the clock, Griffin rose highest to meet a Chris Day free-kick; Boro’ ahead and not before time. The highlights here credit it as an own goal. But the Beeb and, more importantly, we give it to Griff. As GW himself told 3CR after the game: “How you get there’s not important at this time of the season, it’s getting there that’s important”. We can only agree with that statement after this close shave.

Boro’ went on to win eight out of the last nine league outings after that; dropping just three points in a home defeat to Luton. But what if we’d been knocked out of our stride at Grays?

Oh, it almost doesn’t bear thinking about…

Grays Athletic 1-2 Stevenage Borough: Match Timeline

  • 1-0 – Guy (43)
  • 1-1 – Bostwick (65)
  • 1-2 – Griffin (86)

 

Kicking a ball onto the bar – nothing to it, yeah? Well, it's the theory that we put to the test when Soccer AM set us the Crossbar Challenge...

Boro’ Crossbar Challenge

Kicking a ball onto the bar – nothing to it, yeah? Well, it’s the theory that we put to the test when Soccer AM set us the Crossbar Challenge. To be fair, “we” means the Boro’ lads. At no point was BoroGuide ever asked about it. Their loss. Anyway, let’s …

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It's hard not to have great memories of the 2010-1 League Two playoffs. So, why not take some time out and relive how we made it to League One?

2010-1 League Two Playoffs – Boro’s Goals

It’s hard not to have great memories of the 2010-1 League Two playoffs. So, why not take some time out and relive how we made it to League One? It’d be our second promotion in as many years; the mid-point of Boro’s remarkable rise to the top end of the third tier.

It’s still strange to think that, at the turn of the year, we were looking nervously towards the bottom of the table. The playoffs and the promotion battle? Well, it just wasn’t on our radar then. The first half of our first-ever Football League season had been a bit of a struggle all told. Our 4-2 win over Barnet on 3 January 2011 was our first league win in two months.

But what a second half of the campaign we had. March saw us win six on the spin as our rise up the table became sustained. Soon enough, there was the outside shot of nabbing one of the four playoff places. Then it became ours to lose – and a late stutter meant that it became a close call; our 3-3 draw against Bury on the last day of term sealing our spot.

 

2010-1 League Two Playoffs: Boro’s Story

It was so tight that we ended up in sixth once the dust settled on the season. That meant our double-header would be against Accrington Stanley and not a Shrewsbury Town side who’d missed out on automatic promotion by one point. Not that Accy was an easy draw; Boro’ picking up one point from a possible six. But we now know how it all unfolded…

They Think It's All Over: Paul Fairclough and Kenny's Bouncy Balls...

Boro’ Think It’s All Over… Again!

Let’s go back into the archives for some light relief – and there’s not too much better than They Think It’s All Over putting us centre stage again. This time, the hit BBC sports panel show does a little number on our friend Kenny Dalglish. You’ll have to go a …

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Gary Crawshaw's 1996 cameo on BBC's They Think It's All Over...

Boro’ Think It’s All Over…

At last! Unlike U2, we’ve gone and found what we’ve been looking for – and it’s a little slice of Boro’ television history, courtesy of They Think It’s All Over. For those of you who may not remember, this was a foul-mouthed, sports-based comedy panel show. It made A Question of Sport look …

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Tony Roberts Gives Us A Helping Hand

It’s a week until Christmas but you’ve been good folk this year and that means you very much deserve an early present. What could be better than George Boyd, three points for Stevenage and Tony Roberts looking a bit foolish. The Sky cameras were at Broadhall Way for this one back in October 2005; the Daggers’ keeper choosing to mark a special occasion by over-egging a simple save and making a snappy camera gesture.

And then, in the 90th minute, he ballsed up a simple save to give Boro’ the win. Poetic.

Want more? Here’s Yemi Odubade taking advantage of another Tony Roberts error.

Boro's 2011-2 FA Cup run stretched to a fifth round replay at Spurs, where even then we dared to dream...

2011-2 FA Cup Run

In the absence of football, it means we get to pick and choose what we watch. And that’s good, because it ain’t always a laugh. The 2011-2 FA Cup saw us break boundaries as a club; reaching the fifth round for the first time. And then bloodying the nose of …

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