Hear the name ‘Corby’ and what do you first think of? Yep – the trouser press. But not us. Instead, we think Corby Town and how our paths crossed. The Northants town was, at the start, on the edge of Boro’s footballing universe. Don’t be confusing the Steelmen of Steel Park with S&L Corby, however. Or even Corby Gainsborough. This tale is a different one. Even though it now does seem we’ve played a lot of teams with Corby in their name.
It’s fair to say our first meeting with the Steelmen was an eventful one; Boro’ shading a seven-goal FA Cup thriller. It’s still the only time we’ve met in a competitive match too. Much of that is down to the their long spell in the Southern League – especially during the time we were climbing the ladder. In recent years, they’ve been up as high as National League North and down as far as the Northern Premier League Division One South. It all adds to the sense of drama.
Corby Town: The Facts
Rockingham Road, Corby, Northamptonshire, NN17 2AE
Now, this might confuse you and we haven’t even got started yet. The Steelmen came to life in 1948; taking over from S&L Corby as the town’s main footballing reps. As the story on Wikipedia goes, however, the club ended up taking in some of the S&L lads – and their place in the United Counties League. But there is no crossover here. The S&L Corby from our UCL days had nothing to do with the Steelmen.
Corby Town entered the Midland League in 1952 – but quickly moved on to the Southern League in 1958. For the rest of the century, the Steelmen could be found here. Sure, they went up and they went down over the course of the next four-and-a-bit decades. But the closest they came to reaching the Conference was third position in the 1992-3 Premier Division. And that was a looong way behind champions Dover Athletic in that campaign.
It’s also worth saying that the Steelmen applied for Football League membership on more than one occasion; the last being in 1967. But, not renowned for being a progressive way of letting newbies in, the Football League chairmen of the day closed ranks and said “no” each time.
Why do we know Corby Town?
So, what gives? Sure, the Steelmen’s time in the Southern League meant they came up against our own Town in the 1960s and Athletic during the first half of the 1970s. But the chance to take on a third Stevenage side never came about during the 1980s. For all we were rising up the divisions and ploughing further through the cups, we never got paired with one another. Close in geographic terms perhaps, but world’s apart in football.
That was, however, until the 1993-4 FA Cup Second Qualifying Round. While they were easing past Watton United in the First Qualifying Round (Watton in Norfolk, not at Stone), we took two replays to get past Wembley. So, how would we fare? After all, they’d come two places short of a Conference debut the previous season. While Wembley were stuck right in the middle of Diadora League Division One; in 1993-4, the division below us.
How to get to Corby Town – Travel Information – Distance: 62 miles
Head northbound on the A1 from Stevenage until you reach the junction for the A14. Here, join the Midlands-bound carriageway. Then, stay on the A14 until you get to Junction 12 – the A6116. Take the A6116 north towards Corby and keep going; even when you require the A43 Stamford Road briefly.
The A6116 takes you into Corby. Once you come around the edge of an industrial estate, take the second exit and continue on the A6116 towards Rockingham Castle. Be warned, however, as there’s a left hand turn at a Best Western hotel that leads you to the car park.
The car park behind the stadium seems to be somewhere you can leave your motor. It’s not hard to find somewhere a short walk away either.
Services to: KETTERING (for LONDON ST PANCRAS)
This isn’t an easy journey to make on the train as it calls for three services; changing in London and Kettering. Once in Corby, the walk takes around 40-45 minutes as it’s just shy of two miles. To do it all the same, head north on Station Road, turn right at High Street and then left into The Jamb. At the next roundabout, turn left into Rockingham Road. Stay on this road until you reach the Best Western by the ground’s car park.
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