We’ve Never Had it so Good


1. A clarification 

Back in darkest August , we happened to get royally bummed by a Peter Crouch inspired Stoke City.  We were slightly peeved by this but, as they were Prem All Stars and we were 4th Div sticklebacks, we took the defeat on the chin and just felt happy we’d seen the Welsh Pirlo doing his thing at The Lamex.  Anyhoo, one comedic moment stood out in the form of Glenn Roeder.  Taking up his customary stance in the dug out in the 64th minute, he had the unmistakable physical appearance of Father Ted in the episode when he was remotely controlling Father Jack Maguire around the pitch in the over 75s football match, concealing said remote control with the liberal use of prosthetic arms.  It made us, and at least one other person, chuckle so much that The Daily Stevenage posted a pic of Ted and Dougal on twitter, but we said it was Roeder and Sarlly.  It was an in-joke that made us laugh and nobody else, but it drew the attention of one half of the BBC3CR commentary team.  A man we love and admire.  A man we’d jump over Jack King to share a bed with.  But he wasn’t happy with this perceived attack on our management team.  Quite rightly.  So we would like to clarify that it was nothing more than a hilarious gag that only we found funny and we’re sorry that we sent you emojis of a peach and an aubergine in response to your criticism.

2. An admission

Having said all that, there were times during the tail end of last season and the first few months of this season when we were questioning whether Sarlly was the right man to be steering HMS Stevenage through tricky inland waters.  Two performances at the start of his tenure (specifically Cambridge and Exeter at home last saeson) had us foaming at the loins for his attractive passing football.  We even lost the second of those games in a customary smash and grab by our six-fingered country cousins.  But things then went a little stale, I suppose.  Now our questioning was never more than that, and we tried to remain as objective as possible.  We leave it to Kent-based investment bankers to organise hate campaigns and lynchings.  But our inability to jump as high as the opposition at countless set pieces was starting to get a little tiring.  After all, we’re all getting old and when your only excitement in life comes from tuning in to the latest episode of The Shuttleworths on Radio 4, you know that life needs to be grabbed by both sticky hands.

3.  A revelation

So what went right?

When Malcolm and Angus Young formed AC/DC, they were no doubt on to something.  They had the raw ingredients.  They had potential.  They had ability.  We’re actually guessing all of this; we weren’t actually about in Sydney in 1973.  For all we know they might also have been spanked by Donny Rovers at home.  But they needed to recruit Bon Scott before they started to become a fully formed package.  It still took them a further 5 years before they released their magnum opus, Highway To Hell.  Darren Sarll has taken roughly 12 months to achieve similar things.

So who is the Bon Scott of Stevenage FC?  That is not an easy question to answer as Bon comes in many guises.  Firstly, there’s our style of play.  We’ve been screaming out for years for us to close teams down and to win the ball back.  It’s taken perhaps 5 years to see it happen with regularity, but it’s now happening.  Regularly.  Once we’ve won the ball back we’re keeping hold of it.  We’re playing it around in neat little triangles; like the sort you used to see in Mayfair before fashions changed.  We’re not lumping it forward at all costs.  Unless lumping it forward is the right thing to do.  Cos we’re playing with intelligence.  Attractive and intelligent?  We’re making ourselves blush.  Our high pressure game also results in mistakes by the opposition.  Goals since Xmas against Newport (Godden), Grimsby (McAnuff) and Wycombe (Pett) are the evidence of the gains to be gotten from exploiting these errors.  There must be others but we’re too lazy to research it.

But what of the personnel?  At the forefront of this new style of play is undoubtedly our midfield.  Charlie Lee – a player we at The Daily Stevenage have more than once shrugged our shoulders at in a Gallic way – is absolutely phenomenal in the holding role, protecting the back four, breaking up play and distributing passes with abandon.  Three months ago we were publicly saying that we couldn’t care less if Tom Pett never played for us again.  We were bloody stupid.  Steven Schumacher?  Jobi McAnuff?  Just picking up their last pay checks before opening up a used car lot off the A505.  Except, they’ve started running around like teenagers.  And McAnuff is literally everywhere.  Back in the old days, Wezza would get our wingers changing wings every 10 minutes – McAnuff doesn’t care for all that contrived nonsense.  As a result, our midfield is fluid.  It’s more organic than one of Prince Charles’s overpriced biscuits.  And feeding off this drive and creativity: Matthew Godden and Benjamin Kennedy.  Let’s enjoy them while we can, cos they’re both going to be playing at a much higher level soon.  And as for the defence, well it can defend again.  No doubt because of the added protection of what goes on in front of it and, as they say, the best form of defence is attack, but because it has the confidence to be able to defend; to leap as high as the next man.  And because of Jack King.  Surely his name is the wrong way around?  We’re as heterosexual as the next man, but we’d happily slug it out with Deano for his affections.  And I’m not even going to mention Chris Day in all of this because what’s to say that’s not already been said?

So yeah, things are pretty bloody positive at the moment.  Let’s just hope they don’t go the same way as Bon Scott.

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Bunse Blocked by Baffling Bumptious Beaurocrats

In a decision that has stunned the football world, Stevenage Borough Council has today refused to hand over the week’s takings from the car park behind Marks and Spencers (RIP) in order to fund the new North Stand at the Lamex Stadium. 

A council spokesperson, who we haven’t made up, told The Daily Stevenage that the decision wasn’t made lightly, with the monies instead being diverted to putting up a mural of Ashley Young’s brother at the railway station.

“Despite our previous commitments” said our source in a thick northern accent whilst stoking a pipe, “we have come to the realisation that football has become a middle class recreation. The last time that one of our councillors went to the Lamex – I think there was an election in the offing – she realised that it had become inhabited by hipsters wearing trilbies and Kicker boots. There wasn’t a flat cap to be seen. We cannot endorse the spending of money on any group of people other than the proletariat. You get me, comrade?”

It is understood that the council will only release the appropriate funding on the following terms:

  • The renaming of The Lamex to the Fidel Castro Memorial Stadium. 
  • The playing of Between The Wars by Billy Bragg after every goal. 
  • A life sized gold statue of Tony Blair on the centre circle. 
  • All burgers from the snack bar to be made of lentils and quinoa and to come on granary Hovis. 
  • A ban on trilbies. 

At the time of going to press, we had no time to make up a quote from the football club. 

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In Praise of the CheckATrade Trophy

Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley. Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner. Mark E Smith. Steven Morrissey. All names that will be familiar to readers of a certain age, as well as to Liam Govey. So what’s the link? Well they were all allegedly in an audience of two dozen that witnessed The Sex Pistols play the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester in 1976, and they all were thus inspired to form bands of their own. 

The Daily Stevenage predicts that a large percentage of the crowd at Tuesday night’s CheckATrade Trophy match between Stevenage and Southend Utd will be similarly inspired. Out of a total attendance of 209, we estimate that as many as 70 supporters will go on to pursue a career in football bureaucracy. 

Harry Gustav-Klimt, a 19 year old student, told us “When I finish my degree in applied astrophysics, I want to be a faceless pen-pusher, just like Shaun Harvey. Before the CheckATrade Trophy match I would have probably become an astrophysicist. I don’t even know what one of them does. But now I want to save the future of the England national team by coming up with increasingly bonkers schemes and cup competitions.”

12 year old Sally Duckworth-Lewis told The Daily Stevenage that she was planning to redecorate her bedroom with official English Football League wallpaper and put up posters of Mr Harvey. “He’s my hero. I want to be him, or Sepp Blatter, when I’m older. What Shaun has done for the England football team is indescribable. He deserves a medal.”

Hugo Wall-Eye, 37, told us that the  CheckATrade Trophy match had made him re-evaluate his career. “I’m a little fed up of being a commodity broker in the City,” said Hugo. “I want a desk job at the EFL. Or, if that’s not possible, maybe I could become an environmental health officer at the council. It’s the faceless bureaucracy that appeals.”

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Corruption, Chaos and Corruption in Club’s Chaotic Corruption Conundrum

Working hand in hand with our sister rag The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Stevenage today brings you a world exclusive exposé of corruption at the very bottom of English football. Bypassing some of the toughest security measures ever seen at a Hertfordshire League 2 club, we have managed to install an undercover agent (employed in a high up role within Darren Sarll’s management team) within the hallowed halls of the Lamex Stadium to bring you the following revelations, which we plan to serialise over the coming weeks. Some of the following abuses go back many years:

  • The appointment of Teddy Sheringham was a sham, bypassing FA regulations, with the FIFA video game legend being plied with pints of Liebfraumilch before signing a contract to deliver what he believed to be keynote speeches to Far Eastern audiences on the subject of online poker and the dating of models. It was only upon sobering up that the dark realisation hit him that he had to spend the next two years of his life in Stevenage; something he ultimately managed to get himself out of a short time later. The FA are understood to be investigating whether any offence was committed. 
  • All but one player (believed to be Tom Conlon) have failed to declare their half time cup of tea and free match day programme on their tax returns. Inspectors from the HMRC – a Government organisation tasked with snooping on, and ruining the lives of, ordinary people – are known to be on the case, with the fraud estimated to amount to close to £100. 
  • Illicit gambling is rife at the club. It is a well known fact that several high profile players are members of a lottery syndicate – a secretive cartel that places high stakes on the outcome of a game of chance – although they’ve never actually won anything. And Charlie Lee once bought a fifty fifty ticket at a match he was playing in. We’re not sure if any of this is illegal, but we’re certain that it’s immoral, indefensible, and illegal. 
  • The HMRC are known to be looking very closely at the way that Jack Jebb was able to sign a contract at Stevenage Football Club when he had already shown his potential during a prior loan spell. A HMRC official has told The Daily Stevenage in confidence that “there’s no explanation for it other than money must have changed hands, probably in a toilet cubicle in the Shell garage on the A405 at Bricket Wood. You know, the one next to the Starbucks, that years ago used to be a Little Chef.” 
  • The club has constantly flouted rules surrounding the third party ownership of players, with it being revealed that former player Patrick Agyemang is jointly owned by the Burger King corporation and former Stevenage manager Gary Smith. And former midfield scouser Greg Tansey is wholly owned by Peter Stringfellow. And vice versa. 
  • Even the half time entertainment at the ground is rotten to the core, with the tyre challenge being rigged in the club’s favour. “I see the same faces doing it every week,” said our inside source, “but they never win the bloody thing. The club gives them free entry and a cup of Bovril, just for missing the target on purpose. If both contestants won the £50,000 jackpot every week, it would cost the club and its sponsors £2.3 million a season. Where does that money go instead? It’s certainly not on the catering facilities. In the meantime, I’ve seen evidence of club officials driving top end cars. Such as Golfs and Mondeos.” It is thought that this corruption goes way back to when the half time challenge was to kick a football into a garden shed from the halfway line, which immediately aroused suspicions due to the impossibility of this happening, as well as allegations of insider trading with Wickes. 
  • The corruption also goes back to the days of Graham Westley, with the club regularly making payments to off-shore bank accounts in his name believed to be registered on the Isle of Wight. It is certainly no coincidence that Westley has chosen Newport as his new abode. 
  • The tax returns of many previous employees of the club are also under investigation, with a number of them listing their profession as ‘professional footballer’. Our source at the HMRC said “what a fucking joke.” Under particular suspicion are the tax returns of Lee Hills, Marcus Haber and Anthony Grant. 

We have passed hours of secret recordings carried out by our mole to the FA for its consideration. But, when we tried to contact them, they were all down The Ivy having lunch, bought for them by Harry Redknapp’s dog. 

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Club Convinced by Cash Connivance Controversy

Stevenage Football Club has today explained its ticket pricing strategy in the wake of the Exeter City game being classified as Category A. Club spokesman Harry Flannel said “It’s clear to anyone that came today that there was an enormous gulf between us and Exeter. It was as if Barcelona, or maybe even Stoke City, had come to entertain the home crowds. Stevenage supporters went away having enjoyed a footballing feast of football, which we consider to represent great value for money. It would cost you almost double that to watch a West End show, such as School of Rock: The Musical. I also understand that Jack Black isn’t even in it. We’re definitely going to be introducing a Category AA category to matches next season, but only when the calibre of the opposition merits it. Such as when we play Yeovil. Or Accrington. ”

Game of Life

George Jelly, a lifelong supporter, told The Daily Stevenage that “the extra few quid I paid today was well worth it, even though it means I won’t be able to feed my kids tonight. I would happily pay upwards of £40 to watch us be totally outclassed by Crewe Alexandra on a freezing cold afternoon in January next season.”


Brian Chuff told The Daily Stevenage that he purposely avoided Category B matches. “I’m not a fucking pikey you know” said the Metropolitan Police officer. “I want to be entertained at the football. Category B means that some really shit team will turn up. Who wants to watch two shit teams.”

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Limerick corner – in praise of Darren Sarll

There was a young fellow named Sarlly,

Who rides to work on his Harley,

He’d joyfully sing,

“We all love Jack King”,

To the song ‘Jamming’ by Bob Marley

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Poetry corner – homage to Jack King

I remember it well,

The day that Bostwick left,

‘Twas a living hell,

I was alone and bereft.

But everyone’s replaceable, right?

And through the revolving door,

Came a succession of Bossie-lite

Midfield journeymen, all with a flaw.

Tansey, with more tattoos than ability, 

Jimmy Smith, he of the fist pump,

Anthony Grant, no less than a liability, 

And Jack Jebb, who gave me the right raving hump.

James Dunne with his pigeon chest,

And somehow our player of the year,

Which perhaps shows we weren’t the best, 

And that the end was getting near.

But wait, it’s transfer window deadline day,

And who’s that signing on the dotted line?

Sure to keep the blues at bay, 

It’s a lad from Scunnie with the vintage of fine wine. 

Jack King’s his name, 

Or, if you like, just Jack,

And I’d rather Jack, 

Than David Mac,

Or Tansey, Shroot, Grant or Risser,

Heslop, Walton, or Andrew Bond,

And I can’t think of anything that rhymes with Risser, 

Which makes me think we were always conned. 

But at last, at number 4,

It’s our midfield saviour, Jack King,

And there’s no longer need to be sore, 

Just cos Bostwick fucked off to the Posh.

Pam Ayres, 2016

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