Our first-ever encounter with Stafford Rangers was a milestone in our evolution. It marked the first time that we were dining at the same table as the non-league elite; opening up our debut GM Vauxhall Conference campaign at their Marston Road home. They’re a team we’ve enjoyed a perfect record against so far. Of course, the risk is that we’ve now talked our famous last words. But that will need us to meet Rangers sometime soon. And that’s a pretty unlikely situation as things stand; Rangers now a Northern Premier League side.
By the time Boro’ went up to the Football League in 2010, two years had passed since we’d last met; our sixth game against them ending in a sixth straight win. So, whenever our next meeting is, we have a precious record to protect.
It’s not 100% certain when the club came into existence. According to their official site, it goes back to a Staffordshire Advertiser reference in September 1876. Another theory, says Wikipedia, is that 1877 was year zero. Either way, the club is bloody old. And it should come as no surprise that, with such uncertainties over their formation date, we have no idea why they ever came to become known as Boro’. Honest – that’s their nickname. Without ever being called Borough.
Or, at least, not that we know of.
In the early years, they moved around a bit. The Birmingham & District League, however, would be a familiar stomping ground for them right up until World War Two. That was despite the fact that the 1930s were a period of financial strife. Rangers even disbanded during the War; coming back to life in 1946. At first, it was in the Birmingham Combination. Next, came the switch to the Cheshire County League. Finally, in 1969, they joined the Northern Premier League.
Why do we know the, er, Boro’?
For all the various issues off the pitch up until that point, the 1970s were very kind to Boro’. They won the league and FA Trophy double in 1972, before claiming another FA Trophy crown in 1976. All the while, they were a formidable contender in their league. So, it makes perfect sense that – in 1979 – they were among the founder members of the Alliance Premier League. To start with, it was a struggle. And the club were relegated back to the Northern Premier League in 1983.
The hiatus was brief, thankfully. Their second NPL title in 1985 took them back up to the Alliance Premier League, which became known as the GM Vauxhall Conference in 1986. Their record was patchy over the next few years; twice coming sixth, but also finding themselves towards the foot of the table. They did, however, manage to hold on at that level for the promotion of the punchy upstarts that were Paul Fairclough‘s Stevenage Borough in 1994.
Stafford Rangers Travel Information – Distance: 124 miles
From Stevenage, head towards the M6 however you wish. That could be the A1/A14 or through Barton-le-Clay to M1 Junction 12. Once on the M6, however, you want Junction 14 – NOT Junction 13, as this will haul you through the centre of Stafford.
Take the turning for Uttoxeter (A518/A34), which is the third exit on the roundabout. Go over the first two roundabouts you come to and you should be on the A513. Just after a second roundabout, there’s a right turn into Common Road. Take this.
Follow the road down past the Evode factory, over the old railway bridge and around to the left at the bottom of the hill. The ground is on the right; opposite a car dealership.
While the official car park fills quickly, a road past the Land Rover garage opposite leads into an industrial estate. Here there should be plenty of on-street parking.
Services to: LONDON EUSTON
Leave the station; turning left towards a mini traffic island and a grim-looking office block. With this building on your left, cross the river bridge and keep going in the direction of the next mini island. Go between the new Court building, College building and the ‘Whiteley Building’. You should see the war memorial, while the Hogshead is on the left.
The Bird in Hand is across the road on the right for extra reference.
Take the path on the left; St. Mary’s Church now on your left hand side. Go through the metal gates and down the side of McDonalds, with the tall timber timber frame building on your right. At McDonalds, turn left into the main street and head straight on through the Market Square. At the end of the market street, cross the four lanes of the ring road.
Next, bear right towards the pelican crossing. Then, go left after the crossing and head towards Stafford Prison. With this on your right, go past the funeral directors and the Greyhound pub on your left. Pass the petrol station too; heading towards another mini island. Turn right here, going down Sandon Road with a car dealership on the right.
Head straight on at the next traffic lights/crossroads and pass the Princes Royal pub – you’ll also pass the Tap & Spile too. After the next petrol station, bear left at the traffic lights. The ground will be opposite the Land Rover dealership.
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