Jose Whishaw felt like a prodigal son returning home in 1981; a talented midfielder who was Stevenage through-and-through. Boro’ gaffer Derek Montgomery brought him into the ranks ahead of the 1981-2 United Counties League Premier Division season. And, at a ripe age of 28-years-old, Whishaw certainly had much to offer a Boro’ team who were stepping up a level in only their second season as a senior football side.
At first, the boss “arranged” for Whishaw to both train and play with us during our pre-season. But that soon saw the midfielder becoming a key part of the squad. And it was a deal that The Comet described at the time as one that “will please all the club’s longer-serving supporters”. Why was that? Well, the player had a close association with Stevenage Athletic; playing nearly 400 times for our predecessor club.
He came to Boro’ after a year out of the game. And that was a year in which he welcomed twin sons into the world. You’ll recognise one of his twins if you’re a fan of the Bond franchise. The reports also suggest that Whishaw went on to work in IT. Apparently not, says Ben. Anyway, a young family meant the Boro’ proposition in 1981 was exactly what he was looking for: “I have had good offers to play Athenian League soccer this season,” he told The Comet.
“But, with a young family, I don’t want to play in a standard that would require too much travelling. The UCL Premier is a competitive division and suits me ideally.”
In the end, however, Whishaw’s Boro’ career spanned a mere seven months. During the 1981-2 campaign, he turned out 18 times; the last of which was a 1-1 draw versus Kempston Rovers at Broadhall Way on 23 January 1982. Our research doesn’t indicate why his time with us came to an end. Suffice to say it was a shame, though. A return of five goals from his appearances in the Boro’ red and white is thoroughly decent. And it maybe begs the question what could’ve been.
Jose Whishaw: Before Boro’
As mentioned, Whishaw had been out of the senior game for 12 months before ‘coming home’. Before that, he’d played for Boreham Wood and Hitchin Town. But it was Stevenage where the player’s heart lay. “Had Stevenage Athletic not folded I would never have left them. Stevenage has always been my club.”
From Shephalbury School, Whishaw joined Athletic as a 16-year-old; stepping up to their first team within a year. His talent was clear to see too. In fact, it’s reported that First Division sides such as Aston Villa and Arsenal were showing an interest in the budding prospect. Sadly, we’d assume, no big move came about. And perhaps that suited Whishaw just fine in the end? You can’t deny that it worked out well for “us” (Athletic). You don’t play someone nearly 400 times when they aren’t any good. And that shows why Monty was so happy to land his man in 1981.
Photo: The Comet