The 1979-80 season was the prelude to our step up into senior football. But we first had to find a competition to take part in! That’s because, as mentioned in 1978-9 despatches, the Chiltern Premier League folded with only five teams standing at the end of the previous campaign. Luckily, Boro’ would find a spot in the Wallspan Southern Combination. Not quite senior football at this point – but getting there. And further strides were taken as Derek Montgomery came back from his short exile to take up the managerial reins.
In too came Paul Peterson as assistant; someone that Monty knew for years from their time at Leeds United. Peterson also turned out at Stevenage Athletic for a time.
Boro’ were still turning out at the King George V Playing Fields as newly-sown grass at Broadhall Way meant the home ground was still not ready for use. Technically, you could also say that 1979-80 was our first senior season. In came an array of names befitting the status. It’s just that we didn’t find ourselves in a league that matched it. And there were to be some notable results. That included a win against Aylesbury United on 20 October 1979. At the time, the Ducks had top spot in their grasp and had only conceded twice all season!
It wasn’t all plain sailing. An incident in Germany at Easter 1980 saw three players struck off the club roster. Tony Shafe, Brian Carter, and Billy Bennett no longer had a part to play in the Boro’ story. Nigel Roberts, Graham Pearce, Frank Tyler, and Jerry Abbiss also felt the wrath of management – but were only suspended or reprimanded. In the short-term, that left us short for our league cup semi-final against Luton Town ‘A’. The first ‘home’ leg went 4-2 in their favour, while the second ‘away’ leg (at Hitchin’s Top Field) ended in a 2-2 draw. No silverware.
But certainly silver linings.
Info from Lloyd Briscoe/matchday programme (2014-5) via stevenagefootballarchive.com