Tag: Stevenage

Time Is Running Out For Portsmouth To Avoid Another Relegation

It all starts, as the best laid plans of mice and men so often do, on a whim. The original choice was to head for the coast of West Sussex for a match in the Ryman League Premier Division between Bognor Regis Town and Hastings United, but as the train headed out through the West Sussex countryside an idea struck us that resulted in a sudden and unexpected change of plan. “Hang on, are Portsmouth at home this afternoon?” is the sort of question that raises more questions than anything else. Can you get tickets on the gate? Is Fratton Park easy to get to from the nearest railway station? Is that nearest railway station, Fratton, actually as close to the ground as it sounds as if it should be, or might the name of the club’s home be a sophisticated trick of some description? Travelling in from Sussex makes finding Fratton Park easy. As the train rolls westward through Chichester, it starts to fill with people wearing blue and white, and the ground turns out to only be a short walk from the railway station. There is something fundamentally contradictory about the ground and its location. Fratton Park is a traditional English football ground, situated, as so many grounds built at the end of the nineteenth century were, a short walk from the railway station. It has been...

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The New Town Effect: Brutalism & Abrasive Personalities At Crawley And Stevenage

If the draw for the Fifth Round of this year’s FA Cup was notable for anything in particular, what really stood out was the presence of two clubs for whom an appearance at this stage of the competition would been inconceivable just a couple of decades ago. Last weekend, both Crawley Town and Stevenage chalked up notable wins in the Fourth Round of the competition – both by a single goal, with Crawley’s coming at Hull City and Stevenage’s against Notts County – and the reward for each is a home match against Premier League in the next round, in the form of Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur respectively. Both are clubs that have only recently been promoted into the Football League and both are sides that had something of an adventure in last year’s competition, with Stevenage beating Newcastle United and Crawley almost holding Manchester United to a draw at Old Trafford. Yet both sides remain treated with ambivalence by the supporters of other clubs. Crawley’s FA Cup run last year was treated with a collective shrug of the shoulders from the supporters of other smaller clubs, while Stevenage also remain the recipients of ambivalence in some quarters. There are solid and prosaic reasons as to why this be. The continuing presence of Steve Evans at Crawley Town is a convincing reason as to why the Sussex club has not touched...

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Match Of The Week 2: Stourbridge 0-3 Stevenage

Southern League Premier Division side Stourbridge finally ended their greatest ever FA Cup run at the hands of League One Stevenage at the War Memorial Athletic Ground earlier today, thanks to two goals from Chris Beardsley and a late third from Robin Shroot. Stourbridge started with the same eleven that defeated Plymouth Argyle in the First Round, with the exception of influential midfielder Sean Geddes who missed the game through suspension – his place taken by Drew Canavan. The game started slowly, with both sides favouring a feeling out process, with the first real chance of the game not arriving until the fifteenth minute. Good work by Stevenage’s Lawrie Wilson down the right hand side, his cross reaching Ben May who cut inside, only for his shot to be cleared off the line by Stourbridge’s Nathan Bennett. Ten minutes later, Stourbridge created their first chance, with Paul McCone delivering a through ball for Ryan Rowe to chase, powering past Jon Ashton, only for Boro keeper Chris Day to collect the ball at the striker’s feet. The only other real chance of the first half saw Arsenal loanee Luke Freeman produce a great save from Stourbridge keeper Lewis Solly, making his 300th appearance for the club. That doesn’t stop Stevenage applying a lot of pressure in the latter moments of the first half, and a mistake from Paul McCone almost...

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The Twohundredpercent Play-Off Jamboree: Stevenage 1-0 Torquay United

Somebody hasn’t been smiling on the football authorities at the end of this season. The one year that the play-offs have to be moved from London to Manchester – and this, for the record is not a comment on whether the current volume of matches that are being played at Wembley is anything like a good thing – ends up being the year in which the majority of clubs that would have been playing there would likely have preferred to have been playing in London instead. So it is that Stevenage FC and Torquay United make the long trip north for this afternoon’s League Two play-off final this afternoon. Not only overshone by the spectre of this evening’s clash of the titans at Wembley, the notion that providence is only aided by a major road accident on the M6, which holds coachloads of supporters up on their way to the match. A little common sense prevails, though, and kick-off is delayed by fifteen minutes to allow them to take their places. Needle can come from the strangest places, and there is a history between Stevenage and Torquay United. In 1996, Torquay United finished bottom of the the Football League, but were spared relegation because Stevenage – who had won the Football Conference at the same time – hadn’t brought their ground up to scratch. Stevenage’s owner Victor Green, however,...

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FA Cup Third Round Weekend 2: Stevenage 3-1 Newcastle United

It was in 1969, before man had walked upon the moon and before the introduction of colour television on BBC1 or ITV, that Newcastle United last won a major trophy. They beat Újpesti Dózsa of Hungary over two legs in the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, a tournament that metamorphosised into the UEFA Cup two years later. In the second leg, Newcastle supporters may have taken the opinion that the black and white striped goalposts were a sign; a portent of the victory to come. Few would have believed at the time that, over four decades on, Newcastle would still have been waiting for a repeat of such triumph, but after this evening’s performance another year can be added to one of English football’s more enduring ticking clocks. It was in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in 1998 that Stevenage Borough almost caused one of the great shocks in the history of the tournament, forcing a replay against Newcastle before losing narrowly at St James Park in a match which included an Alan Shearer goal that didn’t seem to have crossed the line. Their supporters could have been forgiven for believing that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that passed them by but this evening, almost thirteen years later, offered them a second bite at this particular cherry. Things have changed somewhat in the...

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