Who Are Ya? - Stevenage (#1)
How Long Have You Supported Stevenage?
I was 9 or 10 when my Dad took me to my first game. It was at home to Lewes circa 1997. I really started getting into it early 2000s when we had Anthony Elding, during Westley's first spell in charge. Been a regular since about 2010.
Last Season's League Finish?
At the time, it was disappointing to miss out on the Playoffs given the position we were in. On reflection, 10th wasn't terrible, and was better than what we had to endure the year before under Sheringham.
What Do You Think Of Your Manager?
I like him, and I like his philosophy, but I do question some of his decisions regarding player selection. Generally I'm pleased with the direction we are heading and I think he's made some fantastic signings.
Hopes/Expectations This Season?
At the start of the season I was cautiously optimistic. The start to the season has been fantastic, and I think a playoff place is realistic. Our squad has much more depth than last season, so barring a major injury crisis, we should be able to keep the momentum up longer than we did last year.
One(s) To Watch?
Our best player is Jack King, by a fair margin. Unfortunately, he's coming back into fitness so we haven't really seen him this season. Danny Newton has been excellent after scoring a boat load for Tamworth last year and looks to be a great acquisition. I also really like the look of Jonathon Smith in central midfield. Him and Bozzie should have a good battle on Saturday.
Top Seven Predictions?
It's really difficult because I don't think there are any standout teams this year. There's the obvious picks, such as Exeter and Luton, but I think if they can keep Nouble fit, Newport will have a surprisingly good season.
Promoted: Exeter City, Coventry City and Stevenage.
Playoffs: Luton Town, Lincoln City, Newport County and Mansfield Town.
Bottom Two Predictions?
Crawley Town and Cheltenham Town. Although I'd prefer if Notts County and Accrington went down. The sooner Accrington disappear the better.
Thoughts on Lincoln City?
I loved Michael Bostwick from his time at Broadhall Way, and he's a great signing for you. I predicted you to have a good season at the start of the year, and I'm sure the momentum from last season will see you through to the playoffs.
Random Fact About Your Club?
Scott Laird was once booked for kicking snow at a referee. Away at Cambridge, if I remember correctly.
What are your proudest and most embarrassing moments as a Stevenage Supporter?
Beating Newcastle in the FA Cup was a definite high point. I was actually living in Vancouver at the time, but we found a bar who would show the game (depsite it being 7am). The place was full of ex-Pat Geordies and, unsurprisingly, I was the only Stevenage fan. That was pretty special.
Low point was losing to Maidstone in the FA Cup. We were always known as being good value for giant killing, so to be beaten by a team 2 (3?) leagues below us at the time (especially after they took us to replay) was pretty tragic.
Do you have a Supporters Trust and what role do they play at the Club?
We have a Supporters Association who do good work organising coaches to away games (amongst other things). I know they work really hard, despite having their hands tied financially.
We once set up some sort of Supporters' liaison team who would meet with the club to discuss how to better improve the match day experience. I think it was one of those 'good ideas' that died a death, though.
Which was your favourite match involving Stevenage?
I remember playing Oxford the year we won the Conference. It was a midweek night game, and it was TENSE. I think Oxford were top at the time, but we won 1-0 and eventually went on to win the league.
Which was your least favourite match involving Stevenage?
See Maidstone, above. Losing at home to Luton the year we won the Conference was pretty bad, too. Especially because their fans were so unessecarily aggressive.
Your chairman had a "spat" with the council and dropped Borough from the club's name upon promotion to the EFL. A tad unfair bearing in mind their history of support during the club's development?
I think myth has replaced the reality here. As far as I'm aware, we dropped the Borough because Phil Wallace (our chairman) wanted to create a cleaner brand image and sound less like a village team. It coincided with us switching from predominantly red shirts to predominantly white shirts, too. So I think it was simply down to branding. Although it did NOT go down well with the fans at the time.
Was it a good feeling to be able to say "non-league Luton" and are they now your principal rivals as opposed to Cambridge and historically but oddly Woking?
Seeing any ex-FL team in the Conference is always funny because they become so bitter. York being in the Conference North is even funnier because they always acted like they were too big even for the Conference. Oxford, Wrexham, Grimsby and Cambridge were all the same.
Anyone over the age of 30 will always hate Woking. I don't think anyone actually knows the story, but apparently they were one of the main instigators of us not being allowed to enter the Football League.
Most of our fans hate Wycombe, and it seems the feeling is mutual, but it's never played up as a rivalry. Luton, Cambridge and Barnet are considered our rivals, although I wouldn't really say any of them are particular heated.
Many years ago (living in WGC) I added to my ground-hopping by travelling to Northwich and Histon on your official coaches. Less than 20 by mini-bus seemed to be the norm, what about now?
Our away following is notoriously terrible. There's an inside joke on Borochat about the 86 Club; the 86 people who went away to Oxford one season. I remember going to Hartlepool and there were around 20 of us, but we've started taking much better numbers to local away games now.
Under Graham Westley Stevenage were renowned for 'staging' drinks/tactics breaks in play. Would you favour formally altering the rules?
We all love drinks breaks, we all love drinks breaks!
I wouldn't be opposed to each team having 1 time out for each half, but I've probably been spending too long watching American sports. I actually think that there are a lot of ways we could improve the game, but often don't embrace them because of tradition or sentimentality.
Are you surprised you kept Godden after last season?
No, not really. He did well to score 20 goals, but it was only one season. I think he needs to show he can consistently perform before someone comes in and splashes the cash.
On reflection do you think your fans were a bit dismissive of the stewarding concerns the other week? Most seemed very flippant about it, but surely if the boot was on the other foot...
This got massively blown out of proportion; our fans weren't dismissive and the perceived flippancy was because the whole story was based on hyperbolic, anecdotal evidence. It was such an outrageous claim that it was impossible to make a comment until the facts of the situation were revealed. I'd suggest the fact that it has blown over so quickly tells you everything you need to know.
Mitchell Cole was a sad loss, is he still remembered/commemorated around the ground eg named stand/bar?
Keith Bell organises a football tournament every year to raise money for cardiomyopathy research, in honour of Mitch. It's a good way to remember him and a nice tribute.
Just what exactly does Ronnie Henry do to his hair?
I wasn't even aware his hair was famous?!
Favourite past player and why?
Marks deducted for any that have featured for Peterborough or Millwall.
Anthony Elding. Not a popular choice, but he was around at the time when I first started to properly understand football and start taking notice of what was going on.
I have a recurring nightmare of seeing a non-chairman doing cartwheels in a fat-suit. Please reassure me this did not happen and advise the most amusing thing that actually did.
I have absolutely no idea what you're on about?!
Who Are Ya? - Stevenage (#2)