A Chairman Speaks

Stevenage: Chairman Phil Wallace wants new manager by end of season - BBC  Sport

I don’t know where you lot get it from that Leon Hunter (no relation) is responsible for signing all of our players, cos he’s not. But when I say that, what I mean to say is that he’s not responsible for signing all of the shit ones. Leon is, however, responsible for the signing of all of the good players. And I mean every single one of them. That includes Matty Godden, Luke Freeman, Steve Morison and Barry Hayles. In fact, if it wasn’t for Leon (no relation), who identified and signed a young protege by the name of Martin Gittings, who went on to score 744 goals for us in 25 games, we would never have won the United Counties League in 1981.

The signing of shit players was entirely down to Dino Maamria, Darren Sarll, Graham Westley Mark 3, Teddy Sheringham, Graham Westley Mark 4, Gary Smith, and Mark Sampson (when he was caretaker manager responsible for signing shit players). On each and every occasion that each of these hopeless managers came to me and Leon with a name of someone that he wanted to sign, both me and Leon would say “but, Graham Mark 3 (or whoever it was that was trying to sign Noor Husin), they’re shit” and we would definitely say that there’s no way that we’re going to let you sign Noor Husin. This transfer policy has been so successful we can proudly claim to be the 21st best team in League 2.

On occasions, managers will ask Leon to scout, for example, a ball winning midfielder who is able to pass the ball 5 yards to a player in the same coloured jersey. It’s not Leon’s fault that these players can do this on FIFA21 but, when it comes down to it, Jonathan Smith (for example) hasn’t got any of these attributes. It’s entirely the fault of the manager who, when furnished with the name Jonathan Smith (for example), then chooses not to travel around the country to watch him play. In fact, me and Leon vividly recall telling whichever manager it was that signed Jonathan Smith that he shouldn’t ultimately sign Smith because, judging by other recent acquisitions that the manager has made after being given that name as a recommendation by Leon, then he’s bound to be shit. It’s this sort of stand out advice that has made Leon (no relation) not only a trustworthy and astute Head of Recruitment, but also a damn fine son-in-law.

So, to reiterate, managers are bad and Leon is good. Supporters should always blame the managers. Apart from the current manager, who can’t be blamed until he’s been sacked in May 2021. Especially as (checks notes to see who this week’s manager is) Alex Revell has such a happy squad that none of his players would ever dare to suggest otherwise on social media immediately after another home defeat.

Also, should anyone be stupid enough to blame Leon for recruiting our hopeless managers, then that would be plain stupid because we are still trying to work out who we can blame for manager recruitment. I can, however, confirm that Leon appointed Revs, who has taken us to the dizzying height of 21st in League 2 with a strong and happy squad. Until it all goes tits up, when we’ll say that Leon had nothing to do with it.

So, in conclusion, Leon is a top notch Head of Good Player Recruitment and a brilliant relative through marriage, although I have no vested interest in saying so.

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2020 Review of the Year – Part 2

Stevenage v AFC Wimbledon: Three Borough stars who could down the Dons -  MyLondon
Tom Pett – yesterday

July

On the basis that the club was likely to commence the 2020/21 season in the National League, Leon Hunter started recruiting players of a standard normally seen in the National League South (and below). You could never accuse Leon of a lack of forward planning. Our media team immediately started releasing compilation videos of our new recruits scoring 30 yard worldies against the Dog and Duck FC, thus whetting the appetites of some of our supporters that had forgotten that the club had done this for the past few seasons, selling the idea of Greg Tansey to us on the basis of a couple of 25 yarders into the top corner but failing to mention that he couldn’t pass the ball a fifth of that distance. Or showing us evidence that Jonathan Smith could hit a 25 yarder into the top corner but omitting the fact that if he remained any more static during a match, ‘patriotic football supporters’ would come and protect him from Marxist hooligans.

We also started getting rid of the dead wood that had taken us to the very bottom of the Football League. Luther must have been hiding in the store cupboard while all this was taking place.

August

We’ve had a few run-ins with the twitter account formerly known as HartleyBoro in our time. Hey, who hasn’t? But, no matter how much abuse we dished out to each other, he remained a constant in my timeline. That was until the time he ended a thread on encouraging teachers to go back into the classroom in the midst of a pandemic (whilst he worked safely from home moving money from one side of the computer screen to the other) by announcing (for the umpteenth time) that he was going to have a beer whilst looking out over his “half acre” of back garden. Through some fairly rudimentary detective work, and with the benefit of a scale rule, I worked out that his whole house sat in just 0.22 acres, meaning that his back garden was in the region of 0.13 acres. When I pointed this out to him, he instantly blocked me. Not much has sustained me during these dark days of Covid, but the memory of this twitter exchange has.

Oh, we almost forgot, but somehow finishing bottom of the league doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to get relegated and, on 11 August 2020, the EFL relegated Macclesfield instead of us. This was solely on the testimony of Chuds who stated that “no way are we worse than Macclesfield and Morecambe”.

September

P3 W1 D1 L1 F5 A3

So, with our squad of Sunday league players and part-time painters and decorators we kicked off the new season in League 2. And what a start. Attractive, entertaining, pressing. These were all adjectives that we almost used when describing those first three games. And our first win since January against Dino Maamria’s Oldham, reasserting the fact that he had been a bit shit and we were therefore justified in sacking him.

Unfortunately, Boris told us we weren’t allowed to go and watch the game in the flesh, so our fans all piled on top of each other down the Coopers to watch it on a laptop cos you can’t catch the virus if you’re drinking Dark Fruits. Or some such. Those of us too old to drink Dark Fruits made do by watching at home. Now, I’ve always fancied the Plymouth to Santander ferry journey but have heard some horrendous tales of sea sickness as it crosses the Bay of Biscay. Thankfully, the iFollow cameraman has given me my sea legs and I’m booked on the April 2027 ferry, just after Boris has rolled out the next batch of vaccine.

October

P7 W0 D3 L4 F0 A5

Jesus. No wins in seven games. No goals in 7 games. No shots on target in seven games. Our players doing an impression of Liam Neeson’s daughter in all three Taken films. And Lennie Lawrence doing an impression of the fella out of Weekend at Bernies on the bench. Wait a minute: there’s been three Taken films? Jesus.

As an aside, I suppose if you tweet often enough to defund the BBC, there’s a certain irony when your favourite ex-footballer/pundit is subsequently dropped by 3 Counties Radio.

November

P4 W1 D1 L2 F5 A7

The month starts with the return of Tom Pett to the Lamex which, if it wasn’t for Covid, would have prompted a ticker tape parade through the streets on a scale not seen since Neil Armstrong pretended to set foot on the moon (look, if you’re going to come out with conspiracy theories about Covid vaccinations and nano-particles being used to track our every move, then I’m allowed to perpetuate a load of old bullshit that I also read on the internet). The most happy are our younger fans who remember when a Tom Pett drinks break would allow them to go and get another Dark Fruits in.

After 11 games without a league win we finally turn over (checks notes) Port Vale. Leon’s recruitment policy is finally starting to bear fruit. If only Danny Newton could learn to (a) pass the ball, (b) acknowledge that he has team mates (albeit very shit team mates) and (c) stop kicking the ball onto Broadhall Way. We also win both of our FA Cup ties on penalties against Concord Rangers (fuck sake Boro) and Hull City (well played Boro). Lennie Lawrence also departs after finding a bed at the Premier Inn.

December

P5 W1 D3 L1 F3 A6

At last, the crowds are back at The Lamex. We don’t go on the basis that we’re the wrong side of 50, the wrong side of 14 stone, and that most of the East Terrace have spent the past 9 months licking supermarket trolley handles. We also can’t go because we didn’t invest in a season ticket on the basis that we predicted that a pandemic would probably result in matches either being cancelled or played behind closed doors (I can assure you that I’m not always this much fun). Anyway, it’s nice to see crowds enjoying a 0-0 draw with Southend after being starved of such shit football for 9 months. It’s also nice to see our media team interview the fans as they come in the turnstiles (presumably with a fresh microphone for each supporter cos of, you know, Covid).

The middle of the month is a bit of a washout as matches are postponed due to an outbreak of Covid at the club. Still, at least we used a different microphone on the players for post-match pressers than the ones we used on the fans. But finally, we’re back at it and a comprehensive defeat of Cambridge ends the year on a high note. As one erudite supporter put it on twitter (before it was stolen by others with larger numbers of followers) 50% of our league wins in 2020 have come against the U’s (again, seriously? 108 years and that’s all you’ve got. You could have gone with The Particle Scientists. Or The Inbreds. But no, you went with the U’s. Such a lack of imagination is what’s wrong with this country. That and Jacob Rees-Mogg. So fuck you Cambridge).

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2020 Review of the Year – Part 1

Graham Westley 'relieved' after Stevenage's win against Cambridge United -  Cambridgeshire Live

By our editor, Geoff Wode.

January

P7 W1 D2 L4 F6 A7

The last two days of 2019 consisted of finding out that the Mutual do Ghost Ship at £1.90 a pint (other pubs please take note) and partaking of my mate Bob’s Glenmorangie on NYE. As a result, I vowed to do dry January and dry February. In a leap year. 60 days without a drink. Fucking idiot.

Graham Westley was now firmly back in charge but the same old story was unfolding on the pitch. We couldn’t even beat the Dino Maamria sideshow of Oldham even though we’d sacked him just 4 months previously for being a bit shit. In response, Dino had made a series of formal complaints to the EFL, including that the club had used comic sans instead of helvetica on club team sheets; that the music we played to the crowd before matches was generally uninspiring, inaudible and shit (which, to be fair, it is); and that Mark Sampson is a bit racist. Cambridge – generally regarded as the worst away day of the season where our fans think going to a Spoons is the height of away day culture – was spent drinking a Becks Blue in the Dobblers like the wanker I am before watching us smash 4 past (looks up the nickname of Cambridge on Google) the U’s. Seriously, you’re a club for 108 years (thanks again Google) and the best you can come up with is the U’s? No wonder your fans are a bunch of in-breds. Nevertheless, even stone-cold sober this is a great result. Perhaps if I laid off the booze I’d always enjoy going to Cambridge. In fact, maybe the last 5 visits to Cambridge were this enjoyable but had turned into drink-addled nightmares whilst trying to find a karaoke bar that no longer exists (thanks Google Maps). Unfortunately, we lost at home to Plymouth the following week and I then remembered that every other visit to Cambridge had genuinely been shit.

February

P5 W0 D0 L5 F2 A11

Nobody truly knows whether Graham Westley “stepped down” or whether he was pushed. But after 6 defeats on the bounce after the Cambridge game, GW was gone. Always looking to boil the piss of its older supporters, the club immediately announced that Alex Revell would take over for the last 12 games of the season. The highlight of February actually occurred on the very last day of the month when our home match with Walsall was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. This prompted Dino Maamria to complain to the EFL that Phil Wallace had performed a rain dance on the Friday evening.

March

P1 W0 D0 L1 F1 A3

Crewe is always a good day out, especially when you haven’t been drinking for 60 days. Knowing full well that our younger supporters frequent the pub closest to the railway station, we arrived at Crewe by going to the second closest pub to the railway station. We then entered Gresty Road and immediately one of our contingent caused a diplomatic situation by chanting that Ben Nugent is a wanker, prompting young Ben, as well as his mum and dad, to look angrily in our direction and for as many as 20 Boro supporters (50% of our away following) to hurl abuse at our acquaintance. As a group we immediately distanced ourselves from our ‘friend’, just as we had in Mansfield some 9 months earlier when he was found chucking up in a drain at 12.30 in the afternoon. After another abhorrent 90 minutes of football – during which we saw Luther actually sprint for the first and only time in history – we realised that our friend’s only error was not calling all of our players wankers, so we went and bought him a few beers and slapped him hard on the back.

However, thanks to some people 5,539 miles away (thanks Google Maps) eating some bats, this was to be the last match we were to play this season (thanks, people of Wuhan). Boris Johnson would have had us all meeting up, going to horse races and Stereophonics gigs (fucking sadist) but no, the EFL wisely said that there would be no more Stevenage matches “on compassionate grounds”. Instead of getting our photo taken with the Eric Morecambe statue in, err, Morecambe, we spent the day selling toilet rolls on ebay and getting our Heineken order from Sainsburys substituted with a 3% version of Amstel. Oh, the humanity.

April

P0 W0 D0 L0 F0 A0

Without even playing a game, we managed to equal our points return of both February and March joined together. We suddenly realised that Revs was the tactical mastermind that we needed. At his helm was goatee beard wearer of the year 2019 and occasional fare-dodger Mark Sampson and, employed as ‘old man who falls asleep on the bench’, we had Noddy Holder out of Slade. As soon as football could restart, we knew we’d be ploughing our way up the league.

Instead of getting eaten alive by bed bugs at the dive your mate had found for us on the internet and/or getting eaten alive by the clientele of Deja Vu, our last match of the season at Carlisle was spent weeding the block paving and/or twitching the net curtains to see whether our neighbours were breaking lockdown restrictions. Happy, simple days. In the meantime, Macclesfield were getting more penalties than John Akinde-Penalty and Dino Maamria was making a formal complaint to the EFL that Phil Wallace had shipped a dodgy consignment of frozen bats to Wuhan, China.

May

Nothing to report other than the bloke over the road with more cars than friends decided to break lockdown by having a picnic on his front lawn with 3 friends that he must have found off of some sort of agency. The worst part of this was that there wasn’t an alcoholic drink to be found. I nearly sent over my bottles of Amstel 3%, but I was saving these for occasions when I had to drive somewhere or operate heavy machinery.

A homing pigeon also started to live in the back garden (this genuinely happened, by the way, unlike the rest of the stuff in this review). As try as we might to encourage him to fly away, he kept coming back. After a week we called him Graham, before he disappeared for ever. We’ve missed him ever since, although the back garden is much more settled these days and there’s not so many styrofoam cups littering the place.

June

Well, would you believe it, the EFL only went and relegated us. Just because we finished bottom of the league. The unfairness of this still rankles, especially when you consider how many sandwiches the club had delivered to vulnerable people during the pandemic.

Even more of a blow came when I was in the click and collect line at Sainsburys. Not only did they substitute my San Miguel order with Camden Hells but I also received a notification on my twitter account that legal action was being taken against me for calling an ex-player “a racist”. As I pointed out, taking the piss out of somebody isn’t the same as calling them a racist but I suppose even the most hardened investigative journalists have to put up with these sort of things. Also, I would be the first person to travel to Morecambe to protect the statue of, err, Eric Morecambe from Marxists intent on toppling it due to some of Eric’s risque humour of the 1970s, such as when he objectified Angela Rippon.

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Covid Clampdown Closes in on Kick-about Crapsters

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is boris.jpg

Boris Johnson has this evening warned Stevenage Football Club that it is on the verge of moving out of Covid Alert Level: Medium and straight into Covid Alert Level: Fucking Rubbish.

If the club moves into the new alert level, it will find itself subject to a host of draconian – but entirely justified – measures that will ensure that the present situation doesn’t escalate into the wider community.

The government’s chief boffin, Chris Twitty, has elaborated by saying that “in the first instance, we expect Stevenage Football Club to stop all incoming players from telling reporters that they only signed for Stevenage after speaking to the manager, Alex Revell”.

If this doesn’t have the desired effect, the government is expected to tell the football club to place its Head of Recruitment on compulsory furlough; to explain the role of Lennie Lawrence to the world’s press; and to order the defence to pass the ball to the midfield, with the midfield subsequently being ordered to pass the ball to each other and/or the 7 forwards that are on the pitch.

The present ban on supporters attending matches is expected to remain in place, for the sanity of the general public, with a likely ban on the streaming of future matches in order that the club can wage a propaganda campaign where they tell the world that every defeat was “unlucky”, “against the run of play” and “wouldn’t have happened if Danny Newton was fit”.

The club’s players are also expected to be ordered to wear face masks in public so that nobody recognises them, although, as long-standing fan Barry Bread-Knife said, “I wouldn’t recognise any of them useless bastards unless I saw them aimlessly kicking a football to the opposition and then posting a clip of it on twitter”.

Alex Revell-Horwood was unavailable for comment as The Daily Stevenage went to press.

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Leon’s List Leaked; Littered with Lazy, Listless Layabouts

The list of potential Stevenage FC recruits has today been leaked after a document was found on the edge of Chairman Phil Wallace’s leafy Hertfordshire mansion.

Handwritten and titled ‘Players Daddy Should Buy’, it is believed to have fallen from the man-bag of the Head of Recruitment after a visit for a socially-distanced, frozen meat barbecue.

We’ve left a message with Alex Revell to understand how many of these players have been approached but we are yet to receive a response.

 

leon

 

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Lennie Laughingly Leads us into the Lion’s Den

lennie

Chaos, confusion and even further chaos engulfed Stevenage Football Club yesterday afternoon when, at a hastily convened press conference, the club made the announcement that stand-up comedian and game show host Lennie Bennett had been appointed as Managerial Consultant to Alex Revell.

However, the man brought out to meet the press had none of Bennett’s trademark curly hair, nor did he make any wise cracks to the crowd.  And he could offer no explanation when Brian Breadbasket from The Comet asked him “isn’t it true that you died in 2009?”  Instead, he garbled on about being manager of Charlton Athletic in the 1880s whilst offering Werther’s Originals to the attending journalists.

At this point, chairman Phil Wallace intervened.  “Leon spotted Lennie re-stocking the shelves at the BP garage on the B4146 at Stoke Poges.  He instantly recognised that Lennie’s experience as a panelist on Celebrity Squares made him the perfect candidate for the job.  We also hope that Lennie’s A-list status will bring in some interest and sponsorship from other celebrities, such as Les Dennis and Dustin Gee.”

At this point, Breadbasket asked Wallace “isn’t it true that Dustin Gee died in 1986?”, before he was ushered outside by a big bloke sucking on a Werther’s Original.

It is understood that Mr Bennett’s duties will involve making everyone laugh in the dressing room, watching one (or possibly two) matches of football a week, and distributing hard boiled sweets.

Wallace confirmed that previous managerial consultants, Slade, departed the club last week in order to record a Christmas song.

 

 

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Loonies Laud Loosening of Lockdown Laws

Drama has engulfed Stevenage Football Club as it has emerged that an important member of its backroom staff drove 264 miles to a second home during the pandemic lockdown.  Going by the shady title of Head of Recruitment, Mr Leon Hunter is believed to wield the true power at the football club, directing every decision that Chairman Phil Wallace makes, including the decision not to allow the club to play European teams in pre-season friendlies.

Worryingly, until yesterday nobody knew what Hunter looked like or had even heard him talk.  That changed thanks to a hastily convened press conference in The Lamex Stadium’s rose garden (the woods behind the away stand), where Mr Hunter – dressed in a creased shirt and Next chinos – gave his reasons for relocating during the lockdown restrictions.

“It was for security”, said Hunter.  This statement is understood to relate to a number of former Stevenage managers that believe that Mr Hunter left them in the shit thanks to a plethora of dodgy signings.  “I can’t help it if Chris Stokes was absolute garbage”, said Hunter.  “That’s certainly no reason for Dino to threaten to let down my tyres.  I needed to move out.  Do you know how much Audi A6 tyres are?”.

When questioned as to why Hunter had also chosen to travel 30 miles to a beauty spot during the pandemic, he was quick to say that “it was to check my eyesight.  Nobody with 20/20 vision would have signed Paul Taylor and Noor Husin, so I needed to make sure that my eyes were ok by driving to a well known beauty spot.  I only got out of my car to walk along the river at the beauty spot because I started to feel nauseous about signing Adam El-Abd from Wycombe”.

Plenty of people were quick to support Hunter on Twitter, including a middle-aged man who constantly tweets videos of British fighter aircraft despite never having served in the military; a middle-aged man who likes to remind people he served in the military 30 years ago; and a middle-aged man named Wasp, who tweeted “Hunter acted with integrity – loony left should leave him alone.  However, if this was a Woking official that had done this, I would expect nothing less than a public execution”.

The Daily Stevenage would like to point out that any resemblance in this article to the Head of Recruitment at Stevenage FC is purely coincidental

 

 

 

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Stupid Sums Surely Signal Stevenage Survival

Hollis3

Exclusive, by The Daily Stevenage’s Chief Medical Adviser, Chris Twatty

Following the Prime Minister’s clear and concise address to the nation on Sunday night, EFL bosses have been working up plans to finish the season using maths instead of games in empty stadia.

Ex-Status Quo guitarist, Rick Parry, said “If Boris can use clear equations, with clear and researchable variables and a non-existent quotient to come up with an answer that he wants, then I don’t see why we can’t do the same thing to establish a satisfactory PPG finish to the season, ensuring that the clubs we want there remain.

To that end, we have come up with the following equation to conclude the season to the satisfaction of everybody.”

hollis1

It is thought that the plan will require an 80% vote in favour.

However, one of the chairmen who will be voting against the plan is our very own Phil Wallace, who has developed his own way of using maths and science to ensure that Stevenage are given a more fair chance of survival.

He said, “Using the number of fans in the EFL equation is purely there to benefit the larger clubs with historic EFL pedigree like Bradford, Scunthorpe and Notts County.

“Historically, I have been a big believer in making sure things are fair for everybody even to the detriment of our own status and I believe there is an alternative approach which would be fairer for the league as a whole.

“Therefore we are proposing the below…”

Hollis2

We at The Daily Stevenage are no maths boffins but we calculate that would see Stevenage finish as Champions with a PPG of 306,666.66

*The DIV has been derived from an inverse of a club’s current league position.

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Artell’s Anodyne Apocryphal Anecdotes Annoy Also-rans

From our Crewe Alexandra correspondent, Andy “I’ll see you outside Rheady” Ruocco:

In a worldwide exclusive, we can exclusively reveal tomorrow’s programme notes of supply teacher “call me Dave” Artell. 

“I would like to wish the 15-20 Stevenage fans making the long trip north today a safe and enjoyable day especially Boro Loyal who we heard just missed out on the TSFC Podcast “Fan of The Season” award.

We are housing the Boro fans in the massive Van Morrison Ice Cream stand which has ordered in extra stock of 99’s in honour of their team.

I hope that after the last match against the Boro back in December that Idris Elba will be starting right back for them. I am hoping to add a few more million to the value of James T Kirk as the guy who played there last time who went by the name of TVC was a very poor understudy.  In fact, what sort of a name is TVC?  It has less vowels than Perry Ng’s name.  Although not as few as that fella Q out of James Bond.

My only worry is Boro have had an extended winter break as they have not had a league game for two weeks. My old mucker Dino told me on his way up to his game last week that he checked their pitch and the standing water on it wouldn’t have affected their game as they don’t play the ball on the ground anyway. He said he was still going to make a complaint though after all that he had done for the club throughout the years and all the decent players he brought in for this season. I still have a chuckle when I remember he signed Paul Taylor on my recommendation.

Enjoy the game.”

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Stevenage Shouldn’t Settle for Stupid Soccer Standard

By Mark Hollis (@hollismark)

Like X Factor, The Voice and the more recent series’ of Silent Witness, #StevenageForLeagueFootball is a cheesefest.

 

And like X Factor, The Voice and the more recent series’ of Silent Witness, it’s got really popular. And I am nothing if not a man who likes to jump on any passing bandwagon so long as it’s not doing any harm.

 

Like much of the Stevenage fanbase, I grew up supporting Arsenal. 

 

I also grew up in a working class house in Pin Green that didn’t have a lot of spare cash to throw about on trips to Highbury and so, my irregular opportunities to watch live football were at Stevenage. My Dad would take me along every now and then when I was a nipper and all I have of that time are hazy memories of the title winning season (that I’vealmost certainly embellished) and the knowledge that I was there for some of it, but I couldn’t really say which bits. 

 

My breakthrough season came the year after. I still remember reading in The Comet about how the Conference Champions had been denied their rightful promotion and feeling like I had to be involved. I told you I love a bandwagon.

 

My Dad had lost much of his interest and my friends weren’t hugely bothered at first so, as a kid with barely a pubic hair to his name, I would pack up my cheese rolls and Wotsits and walk from Pin Green to the ground on my own and sit in the top corner of the unroofed East Terrace.

 

I’d never experienced anything like it.

 

Those were the days of regular 4,000+ crowds and the games against Woking, Macclesfield and Kidderminster would easily top 6,000. The atmosphere was great. Led by the Baldwins (in all their guises!) along with Boycie, Danny-Da-Bass and Nudenut. It wasn’t only loud and passionate it was also hilarious. It was everything I wanted the Barmy Army to be when I ended up a part of that extended group that would lead the chanting all over the country.

 

It wasn’t long before I started to be joined by friends, because those were the days where, having talked someone into coming with you, they would then actually want to come again. I even remember a period of time when my school crush would regularly attend. I never did fing don’t worry about it.

 

The more I went, the more I wanted to go. I’d walk there from Archer Road via Grace Way to pick up my mates and was stopped one day in the street by Keith Berners who handed the three of us Supporter’s Association forms and got us to fil them out almost on the spot.

 

It might not have meant much to him or to anyone who knew better, but to me, at the age of 14 or 15, it was an invitation to join the club and made me want to be involved even more.

 

Finding the Supporter’s Association also meant finding the Supporter’s Association coach and the opening of a completely new world. I don’t actually remember using it much but I do remember a few coach trips away to Woking, broken toilet seats and being chased through the park afterwards by the mouth-breathers of the KRE.

 

The coach trips I do remember though are the ones on the Barmy Army coaches. Basically a metal shell on some bald tyres that can’t surely have ever had an MOT. I wasn’t really a part of the Barmy Army at that point but my Dad knew a man and I felt the absolute nuts to be getting on that bus.

 

Orient away in the FA Cup, Birmingham at home at St Andrews and Swindon. Pick up from the bus stop at The Oval. Blowing up balloons all the way and being shit-scared of Boycie’s brother-in-law who sat on the chair behind me smoking and looking mean. My little innocent world had never seen anything like it.

 

I realise now it was a standard away trip, but it was those moments that had me hooked.

 

In the years that followed, I drifted away a bit due to being of the age of Saturday jobs and the like but I found my way back via the Official website fan’s forum. “Message For BoroGent” has gone down in folklore with those who were part of it but the banter (urgh, sorry) that was dished out in that thread again saw me turn up on my own. This time to the bar to meet them. 

 

BoroGent, Two Hats, Deano (whatever happened to him?), Guzzler,  Dippers, Chairman Clive, Pitbull and the rest of the Row F weapons were all there and I ended up playing pool with them and immediately felt like I was back in the family.

 

From that moment, I would ensure I attended more regularly and, being the busy knob I am, ended up becoming more and more involved. I joined in with Jim Briscoe’s working groups where I could, became an SA Committee member, made TV appearances, wrote newspaper columns and developed the idea of a podcast with Steve Watkins and Deano which we were pretty sure no one would listen to.

 

Watching from the middle of the East Terrace in those early days saw me become closer friends with people who had previously been acquaintances and before I knew it, I was part of a group of 15/20 people that I now count as some of my closest and dearest friends. All because of this club.

 

Standing near the Barmy Army became ‘joining’ the Barmy Army became leading the Barmy Army. There was no left side and right side. There was no division. Just one group of knobheads.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to try and change history and claim it was brilliant every week, there were large portions where it was garbage but the terrace was pretty much always fun. It was always passionate. It always knew there was a goal to achieve.

 

That goal was League football.

 

Yeah, yeah, the FA Trophy was great and I genuinely still miss it, but League football was the goal. Always was. Always should be.

 

Losing in the Trophy final to Yeovil was heart breaking, but it was nothing compared to losing in the Play Off Final to Carlisle. Damn you Mickey Warner. And you too, Darryn Stamp.

 

I’m not going to bad mouth the Conference, we had some monumental days in non-league as Stevenage Borough.

 

Who thought you could ever top the euphoria of the first FA Trophy win? The FA Cup games against Orient, Swindon and Brimingham? The original Newcastle games?

 

Who’d almost given up on the idea of ever getting out of that league at the right end? Or certainly of winning it. I know I had.

 

And then it happened. April 17th 2010. After weeks and weeks of stupidly chanting “Champions Elect, my cock is erect”, it finally happened.

 

I knew it would be a big moment. I didn’t know quite how big. I thought maybe the edge had been taken off because we’d been nailed on to win the league for so much of that season.

 

How silly I was.

 

Other that seeing my son born, that’s the biggest high I’ve experienced. That emotion. That joy. That relief. The tears. The sobbing, sobbing, uncontrollable tears. The embraces with all of the people that I’d come to know and love over the previous 15 or so years.

 

Not being able to sing anymore because my throat was too dry and my mouth was all weird and contorted while it tried to figure out how to smile, sing the Dale Cavese and sob simultaneously.

 

I mean, I even kissed Paulio full on the mouth and just accepted it when he rammed his tongue down my throat despite the fact I know he’s riddled.

 

There’ll never be anything else like it. 

 

Never, ever again. 

 

We could win League 2. We could win League 1. It won’t touch it. 

 

That was it – that was the moment.

 

So, please, when you get a bit of ribbing online for using a cheesy hashtag to try and show what this club means to you, just ignore it. It’s not harming anyone and it might, just might, put a bit of extra fight into someone. 

 

I promise you, the feeling of a random Port Vale fan giving you some stick is nothing compared to what it will feel like to go back to the Conference.

 

You might have only ever experienced us be a football league club. Dropping to non-league might not seem that bad because it’s unknown. It would be a disaster for us. We’ve worked too hard to give it up.

 

Chances are, if we go down, we won’t come back. 

 

Not in a hurry anyway.

 

#StevenageForLeagueFootball

 

 

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