Interview With A Stevenage Supporter
We caught up with Stevenage blog fcboro.co.uk ahead of Saturday's trip to Broadhall Way to get the lowdown on Stevenage's season.
Here's what was said.
1) Being the league's new boys, give us a quick run down on Stevenage F.C...
We are a pretty young club, formed in 1976 after the demise of the former club in the town Stevenage Athletic. Stevenage Borough made quick progress in the non-league reaching the Conference in 1994. It won the league just 2 years later, but were denied promotion to Division 3 due to the ground not being up to League standard. The club continued to make progress off the pitch and finally got it's long awaited promotion this year when they won the Blue Square Premier by 11 points, beating the likes of Oxford, Luton and Mansfield to the title. However, you may know us better from our infamous FA Cup tie with Newcastle in the late 90's?
2) You rubbed out the 'Borough' from your name during the summer, was it a popular decision amongst fans or just a bit of a publicity stunt?
I'm not sure myself! It was an idea that our Chairman had a couple of years ago as he has never liked the 'Borough' at the end. He put it out there as a poll, which came back as a resounding 'No, keep it to what it is'. However, once we got promoted and while everyone was still on a high, he announced that we would become just Stevenage FC. I don't see the point to be honest. Everyone still refers to us as Stevenage Borough and if anything it must have cost us more in changing the name than it has brought anything in. Totally pointless.
3) So, how has your first month as a Football League club gone?
It's been mixed, but overall I don't think we are doing too bad. The first game against Macclesfield was a bit of an anti-climax. The Carling Cup came and went and we outplayed Bradford at Valley Parade, but lost 1-0! However, we continued our good performances and beat Stockport convincingly 3-1 at home before getting a good point at Aldershot last Saturday. Tuesday's JPT defeat to Brentford has dampened a few spirits, but on the whole we are doing ok.
4) How do you see your season going from here? Seeing so many former Conference sides climbing the leagues recently must give you cause for optimism.
I don't think we will be getting promoted. There's a chance that we can get into the play-offs, but I think we've learnt that there is a gap between the two divisions. We seem to be lacking in a clinical finisher at the moment, which has already cost us a couple of points. The Bradford game comes into mind. Also, our defence was our real strong point last season, but this year it seems to be struggling a bit early doors. If Dario has done his homework, he'll know our weakness seems to be defending crosses from our left.
If we can learn from our mistakes and bring in a quality finisher then we have a good chance of reaching the play-offs, but if we stay as we are then I think mid-table would be a more realistic aim.
5) Anthony Elding played for both clubs; how's he viewed by Boro fans? Got to say he didn't make too many friends with us, still irks that we paid £150,000 for him!
He's not viewed too favourably with us either to be honest. To be fair, as a player, he did a good job for us and was our main striker for a good couple of years. His goals helped us stay up back in the 02/03 season and he always popped up with some memorable goals in his time at the club. However, Elding had a bust up with Westley which led to us offloading him to Kettering. He seemed to have an attitude problem when he was with us and this led to many supporters taking a dislike to him. You can't argue with 57 goals in just over 120 appearances though.
6) On to Saturday, who are your star players? The ones we should look out for on Saturday?
Michael Bostwick is probably our best player and was wanted by Charlton and Peterborough in the summer, before deciding to renew his contract with us. He usually plays in midfield, but can also do a good job at the back. He seems to have got a good partnership going with John Mousinho, who we signed from Wycombe in the summer.
As for attacking talent, then Robbie Sinclair has impressed since his summer move from Salisbury. He is an attacking midfielder with a good touch. He likes to run with the ball a lot and unlocks defences for us with his ability on the ball. Another one to keep an eye on is Yemi Odubade for his pure pace. He lacks a finish though!
7) And where does it start to fall apart? Any players you'd drive to their next club free of charge?
This one is difficult. I personally don't rate Joel Byrom who sometimes plays in midfield. He seems to struggle in the position Westley deploys him in although I think he would perform better in a 'free role' behind the strikers. Other than that, there isn't anyone I would get rid of at the moment.
8) It'll be our first visit to Broadhall Way, anything we should know? Places to eat and drink?
The ground is well located, just off junction 7 of the A1(M). There are plenty of fast food restaurants nearby as the Roaring Meg Retail Park is on the opposite side of the road. If you go about half a mile down Monkswood Road, there is the town centre that has a number of other food outlets as well as a couple of pubs.
Best bet to drink though would be the 'Broadhall Suite' which is located behind the away stand. It's open to away supporters and is a good place to meet up before the game and have a pint.
9) What's your knowledge/views of Crewe Alexandra? Be honest, we won't be offended!
My knowledge of Crewe is mainly through Dario Gradi's famous youth scheme. The likes of Danny Murphy, Dean Ashton and Rob Hulse have all started at Crewe and gone on to do well at the top level. Other than that I know that Efe Sodje joined your club at some point and he was a big favourite at Boro before he moved to Macclesfield.
Crewe come across as one of those typical league clubs that go up and down the leagues constantly. It wouldn't surprise me if they end up getting promoted this season.
10) How do you see Saturday going?
Our home form is usually pretty strong. We only lost 1 game at Broadhall Way all season last year and have drawn 1 and won 1 so far. I'm going to go for a 2-1 Stevenage win.
A big thanks to fcboro.co.uk for that!
Vital Crewe of course returned the favour and answered questions put to us by fcboro.co.uk. You can see what we said [and disagree with it] on fcboro.co.uk.