Stevenage F.C.

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"Stevenage Borough" redirects here. For the council, see Stevenage Borough Council.
Stevenage
Stevenage crest
Full name Stevenage Football Club
Nickname(s) The Boro
Founded 1976 (as Stevenage Borough F.C.)
Ground Broadhall Way, Stevenage
Ground Capacity 6,722[1]
Chairman Phil Wallace[2]
Manager Graham Westley[3]
League League Two
2013–14 League One, 24th
(relegated)[4]
Current season

Stevenage Football Club (known as Stevenage Borough Football Club until 2010) is a professional association football club based in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. The club participates in League Two, the fourth tier in the English football league system. They play their home games at Broadhall Way in Stevenage.

Founded in 1976 following the demise of the town's former club, they joined the United Counties League in 1980 and enjoyed instant success; winning the United Counties League Division One and the United Counties League Cup in the club's first year of formation. Following three promotions in four seasons in the early 1990s, the club were promoted to the Conference National in 1994. Despite winning the league in the 1995–96 season, the club were denied promotion to the Football League due to insufficient ground facilities. Stevenage were finally promoted to the Football League after winning the Conference National in the 2009–10 season. On securing Football League status, the club dropped the word 'Borough' from its title. Stevenage earned back-to-back promotions when they beat Torquay United 1–0 at Old Trafford in the 2010–11 play-off final.

The club has also enjoyed success in national cup competitions in recent years, becoming the first team to win a competitive final at the new Wembley Stadium in 2007, beating Kidderminster Harriers 3–2 to lift the FA Trophy in front of a competition record crowd of 53,262. The club won the competition again in 2009, beating York City 2–0 in the final.

History[edit]

For a statistical breakdown by season, see List of Stevenage F.C. seasons.

Stevenage Borough were formed in 1976 following the bankruptcy of Stevenage Athletic.[5] Chairman Keith Berners,[6] and "a number of like-minded volunteers" were tasked with arranging a team to play Hitchin Town Youth at Broadhall Way in November 1976, as a "curtain-raiser" for the new club.[6] However, the Broadhall Way pitch was subsequently dug up for non-footballing purposes after the council sold the land to a local businessman; who dug a trench across the full length of the pitch to ensure no football was played.[6][7] Consequently, the new club started out playing in the Chiltern Youth league on a roped-off pitch at the town's King George V playing fields, and moved up to intermediate status joining the Wallspan Southern Combination shortly after.[8] In 1980, the club reacquired the lease for Broadhall Way and the asset passed on to Stevenage Borough Council, who in turn allowed the football club to become its tenant.[6] The club were also granted consent to incorporate the name “Borough” in their title and to adopt the town’s civic emblem as the club badge.[6][5] With the council as their landlords and a refurbished stadium, Stevenage Borough took on senior status and joined the United Counties Football League in the same year.[7] The club's first competitive league match was a 3–1 victory over ON Chenecks on 16 August 1980, played in front of 421 people.[9] In their first season as a senior club, the side won the United Counties League Division One championship, scoring over a hundred goals en route to taking the title.[10] The club also secured the United Counties League Cup the same season.[5]

After three successive seasons in the United Counties Premier Division, the club joined Division Two North of the Isthmian League in 1984, and the following season earned promotion to Division One after finishing the season as champions.[4] However, two years later the club were relegated back to the Division Two North, having finished second bottom of the division.[4] After two fourth-placed finishes, under the new management of Paul Fairclough, the club won promotion during the 1990–91 campaign, winning 34 of their 42 games, including every match played at home, scoring 122 goals and amassing 107 points. The following season, the club won the Division One championship, remaining unbeaten at home again, and were promoted to the Isthmian Premier Division. The club's long unbeaten home record was finally ended by Dulwich Hamlet, with the streak lasting 44 matches, of which 42 were won.[4] During the 1993–94 season, Stevenage won the Premier Division, and were subsequently promoted to the Football Conference.[5] Two seasons later, they won the Conference,[11] but were denied promotion to the Football League, due to insufficient ground facilities,[7] thus reprieving Torquay United, who had finished bottom of Division Three.[12] During the same season, the Hertfordshire club reached the First Round of the FA Cup for the first time, but lost 2–1 to Third Division side Hereford United at Edgar Street.[13]

The 1996–97 season witnessed the club progress to the Third Round of the FA Cup for the first time after a 2–1 win against Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road.[14] The side were drawn against Birmingham City at Broadhall Way, but ground issues saw the tie switched to St Andrew's; Birmingham won the match 2–0.[15] The following season, the club went one better, reaching the Fourth Round, where they drew Premier League club Newcastle United.[16] A temporary stand was erected behind the away end to house the Newcastle supporters, which increased the stadium capacity to 9,000, enough to satisfy The FA.[5][17] Borough held Newcastle to a 1–1 draw, with Giuliano Grazioli famously equalising after Alan Shearer had put Newcastle ahead.[18][19] Stevenage were unfortunate to lose 2–1 in the replay at St James' Park, losing to a goal from Alan Shearer that "appeared to not cross the line".[20][21] Despite earning a vast amount of revenue from the two respective cup runs, news emerged that the club were in financial difficulties and that the chairman, Victor Green, was going to close the club down if no buyer was found.[8] However, after several weeks of uncertainty Phil Wallace purchased the club and set about rebuilding the finances and the relationship with the local council.[5]

In 2001–02 season, the club reached the FA Trophy final for the first time, but lost 2–0 to Yeovil Town at Villa Park.[22] The following season, Stevenage started poorly and were rooted to the bottom of the Conference National in January, seven points from safety.[23] However, the club's fortunes changed following the appointment of Graham Westley as manager.[24] Westley guided the club to a respectable 12th position,[25] winning 8 games out of a possible 12 in the league.[26] The 2003–04 season witnessed Boro' consolidate their position in the league, making steady progression, finishing in eighth position.[27] During the 2004–05 season, Boro' managed to make the play–offs after finishing fifth under the guidance of Westley.[28] After beating second–placed Hereford United over two–legs in the semi–final,[29][30] the side lost 1–0 to Carlisle United at the Britannia Stadium in the final.[31] The following year, however, Boro' failed to reach the play-offs after finishing sixth,[32] and Westley's contract was not renewed, ending his three-and-a-half-year reign as manager.[33] Shortly after Westley's departure, Boro' announced the appointment of former–Grays Athletic boss, Mark Stimson as their new manager.[34] Despite finishing in a disappointing eighth position in Stimson's first season as manager,[35] the 2006–07 campaign saw the club reach the FA Trophy final again,[36] where they came back from 2–0 down to beat Kidderminster Harriers 3–2 in front of a record FA Trophy crowd of 53,262.[37] The victory meant that Stevenage were the first team to win a competitive final at the new Wembley Stadium.[38]

Stevenage players celebrating winning the FA Trophy at Wembley Stadium in May 2009

After the FA Trophy success in 2007, as well as keeping the majority of the first–team at the club, Stevenage started the 2007–08 season well,[39] breaking a new club record when the defence kept eight consecutive clean sheets.[40] Stimson was offered a new contract by Stevenage in October 2007,[41] but resigned the following day and subsequently joined Football League club Gillingham.[42] In November 2007, he was replaced by Peter Taylor.[43] However, after failing to make the play-offs,[44] Taylor resigned at the end of the season[45] and was replaced by former manager Graham Westley.[46] On Westley's return, Stevenage started the season slowly, but went on a 27–game unbeaten run from December to March and reached the play-offs,[47] where they lost in the semi-finals to Cambridge United, 4–3 on aggregate.[48][49] During the same season, Stevenage enjoyed success in cup competitions; winning the Herts Senior Cup for the first time, beating Cheshunt 2–1 in the final,[50] and the FA Trophy, where they beat York City 2–0 in the final.[51]

The following season, Westley retained the majority of the squad and Stevenage found themselves in first place by New Year's Day.[52] The squad continued to perform well, winning eight consecutive games through February and March 2010,[53] and Stevenage were promoted to the Football League for the first time in the club's history with two games to spare. Promotion was secured thanks to a 2–0 win at Kidderminster Harriers, as Stevenage finished the season 11 points clear at the top of the table.[54][55] The club reached the final of the FA Trophy again, but lost to Barrow 2–1 after extra–time, having played seventy minutes of the match with ten men.[56] Shortly after the end of the season, chairman Phil Wallace announced that the club will start its life in the Football League as Stevenage Football Club, dropping the word ‘Borough’ from its name as of June 2010.[57]

Stevenage's first ever Football League fixture was against Macclesfield Town in August 2010, ending in a 2–2 draw at Broadhall Way.[58] Following four defeats in six games in December 2010 and January 2011, the club found themselves in 18th position, just four points above the relegation zone.[59] However, during a congested period throughout February and March 2011, Stevenage won nine games out of eleven, propelling the club up the league table and into the play-off positions.[60][61] Stevenage subsequently reached the League Two play-offs, the club's first season in the Football League, following a sixth place finish.[62] The club overcame fifth placed Accrington Stanley over two legs, winning by a 3–0 aggregate scoreline.[63][64] The victory meant Stevenage faced Torquay United in the League Two play-off final on 28 May 2011 at Old Trafford.[65] Stevenage won the game 1–0, securing a place in League One for the first time in the club's history, meaning the club had also earned back-to-back promotions.[65] During the same season, Stevenage equalled their previous best performance in the FA Cup, reaching the Fourth Round of the competition before losing 2–1 to Reading.[66] In the previous round, Stevenage were drawn against Premier League side Newcastle United, who they had previously met, and lost over two "bitter" games, during the 1997–98 season.[67] Stevenage subsequently beat Newcastle 3–1 at Broadhall Way,[68] the first time the club had ever beaten first tier opposition.[68][69][70]

Despite the dramatic rise through the leagues in such a short space of time, Stevenage started their first ever season in League One brightly, securing notable victories against a number of the promotion-chasing clubs.[71][72][73] The club found themselves on the edge of the play-off places following a fourteen-game unbeaten run that lasted for three months.[74] In January 2012, Westley attracted the interest of fellow League One side Preston North End, and opted to leave Stevenage in order to take up the vacant managerial position at Preston.[75] Former Colorado Rapids manager Gary Smith replaced Westley.[76][77] A run of four wins in their last five games meant that Stevenage rallied late to finish sixth, thus taking the final play-off place,[78] although they went on to lose by a 1–0 aggregate scoreline to Sheffield United in the semi-final.[79][80] Stevenage also reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history during the campaign, eventually losing 3–1 to Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in a replay at White Hart Lane,[81] after the two teams drew 0–0 at Broadhall Way.[82]

Stadium[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Broadhall Way.

The club plays at Broadhall Way, previously home to Stevenage Town and Stevenage Athletic. Following the bankruptcy of the town's former club, the stadium was not used for three years.[7] However, the newly formed Stevenage Borough moved into Broadhall Way in 1980 as a result of the council re-purchasing the stadium.[5][8][83]

View of the East Terrace from the Main Stand at Broadhall Way

Following Stevenage's successful 1995–96 Football Conference campaign, the Hertfordshire side were denied promotion to the Football League because of insufficient ground capacity and facilities.[7] Consequently, in the early 2000s, the ground was upgraded, with a new £600,000 stand opening,[7] including an executive suite underneath.[84] The stadium now has a capacity of 6,722 people, including 3,142 seats.[85] The capacity was reduced from 7,100 following the club's promotion to the Football League.[86] In January 2009, Stevenage announced that they had signed a seven-figure sponsorship deal with the Lamex Food Group, resulting in the renaming of Broadhall Way to The Lamex Stadium.[87] As a result of the club securing promotion as league champions during the club's 2009–10 campaign, Broadhall Way hosted League football for the first ever time during the 2010–11 season.[54]

The ground's pitch includes four stands – the East Terrace, the North Terrace, the Main Stand, and South Stand.[84] The Main Stand is all-seated and covered, and covers the length of the pitch, although it has open corners to either side of the stand. At the back of the stand there are a number of glass–fronted areas to various club offices and executive boxes.[7] The club shop is situated next to the Main Stand, opposite to the club's official car-park.[88] Opposite to the Main Stand is the East Terrace, which is a covered terrace for home supporters. The terrace has a gable with a clock sitting on its roof above the half-way line,[7] as well as holding a television gantry on its roof.[89]

The North Terrace is situated behind the goal at the north end of the ground and is just seven steps deep.[7] Three–quarters of the terrace is covered, whilst one–quarter is open and without cover.[90] The stand can hold a capacity of 700 people,[91] and also offers facilities for disabled fans.[7] In January 2013, the club announced they were due to present plans to replace the existing North Terrace with a new £1.2 million 1,700 seat stand.[92] Opposite the North Terrace is the South Stand, which is a single tiered, all-seated covered stand. The stand was built in 2001, costing £600,000.[93] The South Stand is reserved for away supporters and can hold a capacity of 1,400.[84] The stand also has an electronic scoreboard in the centre of the roof, which was installed in 2001, making it visible to home supporters.[7] The scoreboard was replaced in October 2011.[94] Behind the stand is the supporters' club.[84] A new set of floodlights were installed before the start of the club's 2007–08 campaign.[85]

In terms of training facilities, a £5million training facility was opened in nearby Shephalbury Park in the Autumn of 2002.[84] In June 2011, the club announced it had secured a 40-acre former sports ground in Bragbury End[95] — with the intention of developing the site into a new training complex.[95] Work began on the development in the summer of 2011,[95] and the staff began to use the complex towards the latter stages of the 2012–13 season.

Players[edit]

As of 05 July 2014.[96]

Current squad[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1
England GK Sam Beasant
3
France DF Bira Dembélé
4
England DF Harry Worley
5
England DF Jon Ashton
6
England MF Andrew Bond
7
England MF Chris Whelpdale
8
England MF Simon Walton
9
England DF Darius Charles
10
Democratic Republic of the Congo FW Calvin Zola
11
England MF Tom Pett
13
England MF Dean Parrett
No. Position Player
14
England FW Adam Marriott
16
England GK Chris Day
17
England MF Rohdell Gordon
19
England DF Dean Wells
25
England DF Ronnie Henry
27
England DF Ryan Johnson
28
England MF Joseph N'Guessan
31
England FW Fejiri Okenabirhie
34
England FW Roarie Deacon
England FW Chris Beardsley
England MF Charlie Lee

Notable players[edit]

Player of the Year[edit]

As voted for by Supporters Association members and season ticket holders at the club.[97]

Backroom staff[edit]

Directors[edit]

Management[edit]

Honours[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]