|nPower League 2||6th – PROMOTED||Won Play-off final against Torquay United at Old Trafford|
|FA Cup||4th Round||Lost 1-2 at home to Reading|
|Carling Cup||1st Round||Lost 1-2 at home to Portsmouth|
|Johnstones Paint Trophy||1st Round||Lost 0-1 at home to Brentford|
15 seasons after Stevenage Borough first won the Conference, the newly named Stevenage FC (the Borough being dropped in the pre-season) joined the Football League for the first time. The first season would prove to be dramatic, both in the League and FA Cup, surpassing the realistic aspirations of the Boro faithful, many of whom were pleased to have finally achieved league status and saw safety as the primary goal for the season.
In the League – the first ever game in the Football League was a little anti climatic with Boro’s opening fixture against old Conference foe Macclesfield Town at the Lamex. Peter Vincenti took the honour of being the first ever Stevenage league goal scorer, but the team lost their way seeming to freeze on their big day and finding themselves 1-2 down with minutes to go. Charlie Griffin grabbed an 89th minute equaliser to ensure Boro gained their first league point and signaled the ‘never say die’ attitude that the team would display continually throughout the season and would ultimately see them promoted to League 1 at the first time of asking.
Wins in the early months of the season were hard to come by, but included Stockport County at home 3-1 – Boro’s first league victory, Lincoln City 0-1, Boro’s first away victory, Hereford United away 1-4 with on loan Chris Holroyd grabbing himself a hat trick, Burton Albion at home 2-1 and a memorable 0-3 victory over Barnet at Underhill in November.
By Christmas, Boro had established themselves as a credible force in the league and talk now was not about league safety but whether Boro could make the playoffs. An indifferent period in early February (3 draws and 2 losses) seemed to put pay to this pipe dream, but the team would prove themselves to be made of sterner stuff as the season unfolded.
March demonstrated the real character of the side with the teams chances discounted in many quarters; Boro went on an impressive run winning 6 on the bounce – Wycombe Wanderers (A) 0-1, Oxford United (A) 1-2, Lincoln City (H) 2-1, Burton Albion (A) 0-2, Macclesfield Town (A) 0-4 and Bradford City (H) 2-1.
Things at the top of the table remained very tight with Boro in and out of the all important 7th spot, not helped by 2 losses on the road to Southend United and Northampton Town towards the end of April.
In a dramatic end to the regular season, Boro went into the last game of the season at the Lamex against already promoted Bury knowing that a victory would guarantee their place in the season’s playoffs. With various permutations as to who could fill the last play off spot, Boro as a minimum had to do the same as fellow playoff contenders Gillingham to ease themselves into the end of season deciders. The game ended in a 3-3 draw in front of over 5,000 fans at the Lamex. Other results went in Boro’s favour, including a defeat for Torquay which meant that Boro finished in 6th spot with the reward being a two leg semi-final against another old Conference foe – Accrington Stanley.
Boro took control of the home tie running out comfortable 2-0 winners with Stacy Long and Joel Byrom finding the net, putting Boro in the driving seat for the return leg, although some doubted that 2 goals would be enough, given Accrington’s fantastic run of home form.
The game at Accrington was a dour affair with Stevenage successfully frustrating their hosts on a poor playing surface. Boro kept to their game plan and with Accrington having to force the pace of the game, the home side lost their discipline with two players seeing red during the second half. Chris Beardsley made sure of an appearance for Boro in the final by scoring the only goal of the leg late on in the match.
Incredibly, Boro had a chance to achieve back to back promotions against Torquay, the team they should have replaced in the league 15 seasons earlier. On May 28th, the game kicked off at Old Trafford, 15 minutes late due to traffic problems on the notorious M6, with many fans arriving after the game had already kicked off. Boro had much the better of the first half and managed to take the lead through a fluid bit of play which was finished by a great low strike by John Mousinho.
The ‘Moose’ celebration has already become an iconic symbol of that day with all the talk at half time was about how well he had taken the chance and whether one goal would be enough, especially given Boro’s domination of the first half.
If Boro won the first half, Torquay certainly took the second, but luckily they did not convert any of their chances, hitting the cross bar was the closet they came to levelling the match.
Stevenage, against the odds had won promotion to league 1, the third tier of English Football at their first attempt.
|Lincoln City||Away (25th Sep)||0-1||Holroyd|
|Home (19th Mar)||2-1||Wilson (2)|
|Burton Albion||Home (16th Oct)||2-1||Laird, Holroyd|
|Away (22nd Mar)||0-2||Mousinho (2)|
|Barnet||Away (2nd Nov)||0-3||Mousinho (2), Roberts|
|Home (3rd Jan)||4-2||Foster, OG, Long, Roberts|
|Port Vale||Away (22nd Feb)||1-3||OG, Winn, Bridges|
|Home (25th Apr)||1-0||Wilson|
On the receiving end
|Northampton Town||Home (11th Dec)||0-1||No Boro scorer|
|Away (30th Apr)||2-0||No Boro scorer|
In the FA Cup, Stevenage FC continued their fantastic history with the oldest football cup competition in the world, reaching the fourth round and beating Premiership opposition in the process.
The FA Cup trail started with a difficult looking home tie against MK Dons. The game went to a reply with the original tie ending in a 0-0 draw. Boro progressed to the second round courtesy of a late Darius Charles equaliser and a 6-7 penalty shootout win after neither side could add to the 1-1 full time score.
Round 2, saw Boro drawn against the other ‘Wimbledon’ in the shape of AFC. A relatively straight forward victory in front if the TV cameras saw Boro progress 0-2 with goals from Watford loanee Josh Walker and Yemi Odubade.
The 3rd round draw saw Boro pitted against old Premiership foe Newcastle United at home. Much was made by the then manager Graham Westley in the lead up to the game, of Boro taking the opportunity of righting the perceived wrong from the ‘98 game between the two clubs. True to his word, Boro comfortably beat Newcastle united 3-1 with an OG courtesy of a fierce deflected strike from Stacy Long, a trademark Michael Bostwick strike from distance and a cool finish from Peter Winn inflicting the damage on Boro’s illustrious opponents. Round 4 saw Boro drawn at home again against Reading but the road to Wembley came to an end for another season with the Royals Shane Long grabbing a late winner to end the game 1-2.
Boro bowed out of the other two competitions at the first time of asking. In the first ever appearance in the Carling Cup, Portsmouth edged Boro out of a close game to run out 1-2 winners despite Boro taking the lead via a Darren Murphy deflected shot. Boro were to replicate the first round exit in the Johnstone Paint Trophy with Boro losing a dour game at home against Brentford 0-1.
In summary, the achievements of Stevenage FC surpassed even the most optimistic supporter. The celebrations and the feeling if true elation at the final whistle at Old Trafford will live in the memory for all who made the journey to Manchester for the rest of their lives!
2010/2011 in numbers……
18 wins in regular season. 2,897 average Lamex attendance
Points won in the season 69 Goals scored in regular season 62
34 squad players utilised in the season
6th place finish in League 2
15 drawn games Goal Difference +17
8 Goals for Top Scorer Harrison 5 FA Cup Games
4th Round of FA Cup Carling Cup exit in Round 1
|1 Ashley Bayes||2 Lawrie Wilson||3 Scott Laird||4 Darius Charles||5 Jon Ashton|
|6 Luke Foster||7 Darren Murphy||8 Stacey Long||9 Charlie Griffin||10 Lee Boylan / Craig Reid|
|11 Yemi Odubade||12 Ben May||13 Joel Byrom||14 Mark Roberts ©||15 Njazi Kuqi / Chris Holroyd /
|16 Chris Day||17 Peter Winn||18 David Bridges||19 Tim Sills /
|20 Chris Beardsley|
|21 John Mousinho||22 Jay O’Shea||23 Rob Sinclair||24 Michael Bostwick||25 Ronnie Henry|
|26 Terry Dixon /
|29 Joe Welch||30 Peter Vincenti||32 Martyn Margarson|
Programme Editor : Mark Venables
Kit image : Copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission.