Michael Tonge Player Profile
Debut: Portsmouth (A, 1-1), 20/10/2015
Michael Tonge was announced as Stevenage’s latest midfield addition in October 2015, making the switch to the Lamex on a free transfer having left Leeds United at the end of the 2014-5 campaign.
The signature of Tonge brought with it no shortage of experience, with the midfielder never having played outside the top two tiers of the League pyramid prior to his arrival at the Hertfordshire club.
Tonge began his career as a youngster at Manchester United, but was to soon find a home at Sheffield United – appearing more than 300 times in a Blades shirt, contributing 24 goals in the process. He stayed seven years at Bramall Lane, gaining a healthy reputation in that time.
In September 2008, Tonge was bought by Premier League outfit Stoke City for a rumoured £2m. But his five-year spell at the Britannia was one of frustration, failing to fully establish himself as a first team player and finding himself out on loan back in the Championship.
Preston North End (twice), Derby County and Barnsley were among a series of temporary homes for Tonge during his time at Stoke. But it was in 2012 that fortunes seemed to pick up, reunited with former Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock at Leeds United.
After a successful three-month loan spell in late 2012, Tonge made the switch to Elland Road on a permanent basis in January 2013. He made 39 appearances and scored five times during his first season there, although opportunities started to dwindle after Warnock’s departure.
Another loan move – this time to Millwall – gave Tonge the opportunity to play first team football once more, but it only lasted until the end of the 2014-5 campaign – at which point Tonge was allowed to leave Elland Road upon the expiry of his contract.
In joining Boro’, manager Teddy Sheringham was bringing in someone with enough know-how to work the midfield – but with senior status came a degree of responsibility that Stevenage fans hoped would help fire the club back up the League Two table.
His experience often proved invaluable as Boro’ roared back following the departure of Sheringham as manager in 2016. Another full season followed, with Darren Sarll in charge. At the end of the 2016-7 season, however, Tonge was among a number of Boro’ players to be released from their contracts.