12:32 15 February 2012
By Mitchell Jones
A short history of the club...
Page under construction... - Almost a fitting title for the history of the club, as Boro continue to rewrite their history on what seems a weekly basis! But where did it all begin...
Football in Stevenage can trace its roots right back to 1884, when a number of Victorian “gentlemen” (who were also members of the Stevenage Cricket Club), resolved to form a football club. Chaired by Herbert Salmon, this was the very first Stevenage Football Club.
In 1896, the Stevenage Wanderers FC and the Stevenage Rovers FC combined forces to become Stevenage Town Football Club, and the fledgling club joined the newly-formed North Herts League. In their first season, they finished a creditable 3rd out of seven clubs.
At the behest of committee member William Wadsworth, the team colours were established as red and white – the same colours which still remain to this day.
Stevenage Town FC played at London Road, just about where the Stevenage Leisure Centre is located now.
In the early 1960’s the club relocated to Broadhall Way and in 1963 joined the Southern League - whilst at the same time turning professional. This move ultimately proved catastrophic for the club, which went under just five years later, incurring debts it just couldn’t service.
In 1968 Stevenage Town FC was replaced with Stevenage Athletic FC, another venture into professional football, which again turned out to be ultimately unsuccessful. In 1976 another debt-ridden club went to the wall having lasted for only eight seasons.
In an attempt to resurrect a senior club in Stevenage, a number of like-minded volunteers organised themselves and at a meeting at the Stevenage Swimming Pool on Thursday September 30th 1976, Stevenage F.C. , our present club, was born.
The first chairman was Keith Berners. Vic Folbigg was tasked with arranging a team to play Hitchin Town Youth at Broadhall Way on November 6th as a curtain-raiser for this new venture. Volunteers prepared the pitch in anticipation, but their plans were scuppered when the ex-chairman of Stevenage Athletic F.C. - and stadium lease-holder - desecrated the playing surface at Broadhall Way by digging a trench across the full length of the pitch.
The new club persevered, and with help from the Stevenage Borough Council, they started life by playing in the Chiltern Youth League at the King George V playing fields. In recognition of the Council’s help, the Stevenage Football Club were granted consent to incorporate the name “Borough” in their title and to adopt the town’s civic emblem as the club badge.
The Stevenage Development Corporation 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. The stadium was re-occupied in 1980 and has been the home of Stevenage Borough FC ever since.
Having its own ground again, the Stevenage club secured senior status and joined the United Counties league, winning both the 1st Division Championship and the League Cup in the very first season.
By 1984, the progression of the club saw it compete in Div. II (North) of the Isthmian League, and achieved promotion to Div.I in a single season. Sadly the momentum could not be maintained and just two seasons later, Stevenage were, for their first and only time, relegated.
With new manager Paul Fairclough at the helm, the club soon found its way again and embarked on a succession of promotions through the Isthmian League, achieving Football Conference status in 1994. After just two seasons, Stevenage won the Conference but were denied promotion to the Football League due to a technicality – the Broadhall Way Stadium was deemed non-compliant for the League’s standards.
Stevenage thrived in the Conference for 16 years, often achieving a top-of-the-table finish and picking up accolades along the way, particularly in the F.A. Cup and F.A. Trophy competitions.
In 2010, Stevenage were the Football Conference Champions and secured their place in the Football League for the very first time. Here the club achieved promotion again to League 1 in a single season – followed by challenging for promotion to the Championship in the “play-offs” in 2011-12.
Watch this space!