Joel Byrom first joined Stevenage Borough during the early close season in 2009 in a five-figure transfer from cash-strapped Northwich Victoria; the young midfielder coming highly recommended. Some regarded him as a better player than fellow former Vics teammate, Mark Roberts. Those familiar with Robbo’s role in the our team, of course, will appreciate how bold – but not necessarily wrong – a claim that is. And such is the regard in which he is held, news of his return in June 2018 for a second spell went down a treat.
As a former England C international, Byrom was regarded among his peers as one of the top performers at non-league level. The next stage of his career saw him easily cut it in the Football League; continuing to develop his game while wearing the red and white of Boro’. Byrom made a firm impression on the Broadhall Way faithful after a slow start and capped his debut season in 2009-10 with a sublime 50-yard goal at Crawley Town and the goal at Kidderminster that sealed the points we needed to secure our first title since 1996.
Opportunities in the Football League weren’t immediately forthcoming but Byrom certainly took his chances when they came. After spending most of the 2010-1 campaign on the fringe of the first team, he came in to the starting line-up against Accrington Stanley in the npower League Two playoffs and scored a crucial goal. He then set about helping us edge towards an unprecedented promotion from League One.
Injury to John Mousinho opened the door for Byrom in the 2011-2 League One season. He formed a solid partnership with Michael Bostwick; adding to his list of iconic goals from the penalty spot as Boro’ took the lead against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup at White Hart Lane. But, in hindsight, the end was nigh for that Boro’ squad. With GW already gone and Gary Smith now in charge, things were changing. Byrom declined the chance to remain at Boro’ in 2012; a new era was coming.
Joel Byrom: After Boro’
Like some of the best of the bunch, Byrom’s next port of call was Preston North End; the midfielder following GW to Deepdale. But it wasn’t a happy time. In fact, the man himself described that period of his career as “awful“. Three years on the books there included a couple of loan spells; first at Oldham, then at Northampton. And it was the Cobblers who would sign him next in January 2015.
After winning the League Two title with the Cobblers, Byrom fell out of favour and was let go in December 2016. On the same day, he joined Mansfield Town. The midfielder was a regular at Field Mill in the 18 months he was there. After that, destiny – or Dino Maamria – brought him back home; seeing more action than anyone else apart from Scott Cuthbert in 2018-9. While older, his technical skills were still very much there in abundance.
Stats do not include expunged Chester City fixtures in 2009-10.