It’s occurred to me that it’s been quite a while since my last blog, so, apologies for that, and herewith my next instalment.

FA Cup

A good draw for us, with rekindled memories of 1998 and all that. My memories of the first tie are vivid. I can remember arriving at Broadhall Way at about 9.00am on that cold Sunday morning. Already Warren Barton was there, jogging around the perimeter of the pitch, and I remember thinking to myself “there’s a £4m footballer running around our pitch – how bizarre..!”

We’d never seen the like at Stevenage before. Media coverage up to and including the match was unprecedented. I remember seeing a copy of the South China Times newspaper, and we were their back page headlines. This was global news!

I’m pleased that we’ve drawn Newcastle, – especially at home. I’m so glad we didn’t draw Sheffield Wednesday (!) – ask anyone who knows me why.. 

 Chelsea, Man Utd, or Liverpool would have been fantastic, but we’ll settle for “The Toon”. Actually, I’m an admirer of Chris Hughton and what he’s achieved at Newcastle. I got to know Chris quite well because he’d attended every Spurs Reserves game for the six years when Broadhall Way hosted their games. I used to pour his tea at half time. He know us, he knows our club. An opportunity to bury the hatchet of old, and move on.  The Geordies are welcome here.

SA Membership

At the time of writing, our membership had achieved 680, which is great. By implication we can honestly say that we probably represent one in five of the average home support at the Lamex. I sincerely believe that the SA represents good value for money to its members. Our buses to away venues so far this season have been comfortably subscribed, and my thanks go to John Carroll for facilitating.

Given that SA members are traditionally offered priority with regard to ticket purchases for cup-tie matches, I anticipate a rush of potential new members in the next few days & weeks. Watch this space !

Football Supporters Federation (FSF)

I recently received an email from Nina Donkin of the FSF. She has cordially invited our SA to affiliate with the FSF. The FSF is an organisation with a fully constituted structure, engaging with the majority of football clubs in the national pyramid. The Federation regularly meets with the national Football Authorities and exists to represent the views of you, the football supporter.

I’ve responded to Nina, registering our interest. I hope to attend the next regional Divisional meeting of the Federation in order to ascertain its value to our SA.

What to wear?

 It has been the custom for visiting fans who wear their club’s colours, shirts, etc, to be chaperoned to the “away end” by the match-day stewards. It happens to visiting fans at the Lamex, and it happens to Stevenage fans when we go to away grounds.  It is the routine. It’s called segregation – a sad but necessary reflection of the times we live in.  On September 4th, we played Crewe at home.  Their supporters were corralled in the South Stand and proudly sang their songs and sported their colours. However, from where I was sitting, I witnessed the spectacle of a middle-aged man strutting up and down the principal thoroughfare of the Stevenage Main Stand, brazenly wearing a Luton Town shirt and matching Baseball Cap. The audacity of the individual demonstrated an arrogance which invited comment – whereupon more than a few Stevenage fans were happy to oblige..!

It made me think.

He wasn’t wearing Crewe’s colours, so, was he in the right place?  Would our stewards have been right to have “invited” the individual to relocate to the South Stand?

What would you say?  Yes?

If so, then where do you draw the line?  I challenge you, – if it is not reasonable to provocatively wear a Luton shirt at a Stevenage game, then should we allow spectators to wear the shirts of Arsenal, Spurs, or Chelsea during a Stevenage home game either?

Who would make a judgement call on this?

I’d appreciate your views on the matter. I say this because when I saw this individual defiantly wearing the apparel of our local rival in our own stadium amongst our own supporters, it is my opinion that it wouldn’t have taken much for him to have incurred something significantly more than the rhetorical banter that I was privy to.

Player of the Year

Yes, I know we’re only four months into the season, but do you have anyone in mind as a candidate yet? We’ve witnessed some truly outstanding performances by a number of our players so far, and I’m sure we’ve many more to come. Get your thinking caps on, and bear in mind who you’ll vote for when the time comes at the end of the season.

Players of Yesteryear

Most of you will know about my aspiration to put together a comprehensive archive of the history of football in our town. I personally consider it to be vitally important that a comprehensive history of our club is preserved for future generations, especially now that we are a Football League club – and all that this entails.

It was therefore, with great personal delight, that I was invited around to the house of Mick Ward last week. Mick used to play regularly for Stevenage in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and it was a real pleasure for me to be able to hear of his time with the club. Whilst his lovely wife Hazel made me tea, we looked at his scrap-book, with photographs of the team he played for. He then went on to show me the medals which his father had won when he too played for Stevenage all through the 1920’s and 30’s. For me this was an absolute privilege. I hope to write up an article about Mick and his father, in a future match-day programme.

Not only have I been in touch with Mick, but was also pleased to receive an e-mail from another ex-Stevenage player, Ray Peacock. Ray used to keep goal for the club during the 1960’s. Acknowledging his communication, I’ve yet to go see Ray, but hope to soon at his Milton Keynes home.

Revised plea…

In accordance with my “mission”, can I invite anyone who has, or knows someone who has, any old programmes, artefacts, photographs, or whatever – connected with senior football in our town. I am particularly interested in Stevenage Town, Stevenage Red Cross, Stevenage Athletic (both the 1920’s club and the 1970’s club), Stevenage New Town Rovers (early 1900’s), Stevenage New Town Rangers (1950’s), and Stevenage Borough (especially pre-Conference).

Although delighted to receive anything concerning the above, I’m equally happy just to borrow, scan, and copy – returning to the owner in the condition received.

I’m even keen to document individual experiences of fans and players alike, from episodes of the past.

To-date I’ve accrued a large number of programmes, several club neck-ties, some blazer badges, a wooden rattle, and even a clock !  I even had a number of individual scrap-books donated. Anyone donating anything can rest assured that the collection will be documented, archived, and eventually offered to the Stevenage Museum, to be held in trust for the people of the town.

Please – contact me via the SA website if you have anything which you may feel belongs in a collection of this nature. Thanks….

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