Saturday December 20th, 2008, The Kassam Stadium
The 2008 fixture between Oxford and Stevenage Borough had all the makings of a classic. Oxford were unbeaten in the last 5 games and were sitting inside the Conference play-off positions - whilst Stevenage, the previous year’s beaten finalists, had a very strong team and posed a real threat to the Oxford unbeaten run.
4,346 fans turned out to watch the match at the Kassam stadium, of which 86 made up the Stevenage Borough away following.
The match itself wasn’t the epic encounter that had been hoped for, and the Boro took the lead in the 27th minute courtesy of a fantastic 25 yard right footed volley from David Bridges, on his league debut for the Boro.
Oxford themselves continued to press, with the ever dangerous James Constable creating chances, whilst Lee Boylan and Steve Morison kept the home defence on their toes with chances at the other end.
The home team got an equaliser just before half time, after winger Lewis Haldane forced a corner, the resulting cross was smartly controlled by Constable on his chest, who held of Mark Roberts and volleyed home from 12 yards.
Both teams created late chances, but the score remained unchanged at the final whistle.
After the match, the Oxford fans were bemused by the fact that Boro had only managed to send 86 fans for such a key game in the Conference calendar. A debate ensued about attendances and how championships aren’t won by the size of your fan base.
This game heralded the birth of the exclusive Stevenage ’86 Club’, a tongue in cheek recognition of the hardcore fans that made the journey to Oxford that day, whilst the rest of the Boro faithful were Christmas shopping.
Boro fan John Gardner even designed and produced some ‘86’ pin badges, which were sold to fans and the spare ones were handed to the Stevenage supporters association.
Our thanks to Matt Ranson for providing the ’86 Club’ image above. The mural is made up of a number of portraits, taken of the Boro fans who attended the following Oxford game. Also our thanks to Mervyn Stokes-Geddes for providing the match report.