Being a full on passionate and addicted Stevenage fan, in which we are in short supply, makes you a complete emotional wreck at the best of times. Not one season like this one shows this emotional wreck that football fans and ‘boro’ fans in particular go through. Not in the wildest of dreams could I imagine that little old Stevenage could be on the verge of what they could be about to achieve and that was still my thoughts from pre-season and up until February. It is genuinely outstanding and crazy how this league can change and how insanity has took over Broadhall way. But do not get me wrong as much as it is unexpected it is deserved, without a shadow of doubt. Should I have known better as a boro fan that this could have occurred, reluctantly I concede and say yes. But all fans would be lying if they don’t say the same. We are all dreaming but we know we can do it, Stevenage football club are deservedly in dreamland.
Up until Grimsby at home in late January, Boro have gone through so many emotions at different times, two alternating extremes. Incredible victories including a last minute win in 90 + 6 vs Luton, a 6-1 demolishing of Hartlepool at home. Moral boosting victories including 2-1 win at Barnet and a victory at Portsmouth. With the highs come the lows. Moral killers including a loss to Cambridge on Boxing Day or the losses that embarrass all including Hartlepool away and Grimsby away. However there was a flickering light of hope, there was great football and at so many points fans were looking up, we were maybe too high but there was flirtation with the play offs. A record 6 away wins on the bounce strengthened that dream. But that dream flickers on and off.
Towards the turn of the year or just after, I know I certainly did as a fan referred to my pre- season desire: A strong showing with shoots of brilliance and then push on next season. It certainly seemed to be heading that way, but in a way it was disappointing because the team and the fans knew we were better than mediocrity. It just needed ignition to get that flickering light blazing. I should know better to write Stevenage football club off. Especially with the quality we had. For the first time in a long time we had a striker who can hit a barn door with a banjo in Matty Godden and one of the best strikers to grace the shirt, he can certainly score, a special find from the depths of the national league. We had wingers who have the ability to rip every defender in league 2 apart on their day. A midfield that can rip opposition attacks apart, find space and create attacking opportunities. A defence who are strong and athletic and a keeper who can stop shots like no-body’s business and amazing squad depth. We were playing really good football, we needed slight adjustments. Under a manager in Darren Sarll who really cares about the club and has the passion often found in conversation with ex-premier league manager Glenn Roeder and ex England international Nick Shorey. Unlike Stevenage under the terrible tenure under teddy Sheringham who put too much faith and expectation in the players and it backfired big time and Sarll knew what was best at the time it was needed and he took no bull**** and was loved by all at the club. We really had to appreciate what was being built at our club with manager and players playing their part. The flickering light really needed a ignition and it was coming, the team knew it, the fans dreamt that we could. We had passion, pride & ambition…. The morals of the club. We could do it.
After a Hartlepool horror show, this was the final straw which begged the question why did it take this long. We went back to the drawing board, we worked harder, more hours at training, many a discussion and I imagine many a disagreement, but a new found passion and want. Don’t get me wrong the players and managing staff and the clubs relationship with fans is second to none and their passion is great and the fans passion this season is probably the best I’ve experienced. Starting from the 28th January onwards the fans would see a new boro. The defence toughened, an organised midfield, a more fluid attack, a new found pressing game, a new understanding, a new manager in many senses after that game, a new passion. That flickering light was about to explode. Our fans could dream again. We knew this wasn’t a flicker, we knew and the team knew Stevenage football club will be known as a club not to be messed with. Given league two is the way it is, we all knew mediocrity could be changed and suddenly we all believed we can be the club that we never would of dreamed of given predicaments of the not so late past. We all had pride, passion and ambition.
As I say the new Stevenage started with a very professional victory at home (now after failing to win for so long home it was 2 in 2) a dominant, controlling and class performance gave Stevenage the three points thanks to Schumacher and McAnuff scoring two beauties for a two nil victory. Fans impressed a sharp rise up the table already. Important we weren’t getting carried away but we knew we were a changed team not in terms of line up but tactics and we could even after one game start to have dreams. The next game was simply crazy, dominance but still one behind till 70 minutes in where we grabbed a scrappy equaliser and we fought and we fought and In the seventh minute of injury time we grabbed a winner in Crawley with a smart finish, nothing all game- two chances – two goals. Fans and players alike going mental all fans (human or dinosaur) rushing over to the players by the corner and the player in the stand itself. The celebrations, that moment, the songs after, the coach after that moment was the moment I knew this season for Stevenage had ignited. Strengthens further by a demolition job on Wycombe at home thanks to Schuey, Godden and Pett. Them a tough grinded out victory v Cheltenham (H) thanks to Godden and Wilko. An impressive draw at Exeter thanks to Jobi then got me no longer in dreaming but back in the real world. Although it felt like dreamland. Victory run over unbeaten streak remains and one point off the play offs. Another tough game to grind 3 points out of but still job done thanks to Godden and Fraser Franks. 1 point off still but now even automatics were in sight, that win at Crewe was HUGE. Then followed another Tuesday night at the Lamex saw a demolition job of Orient thanks to Kennedy, Godden, Wilko and Pett. A controlled performance but still saw us disappointed despite a 4-1 victory which speaks volumes. That win saw us in the play offs and all of a sudden the transformation could be admired, not done yet but incredible and now we were still exploding with more gas to be thrown on. We were not flirting with the play offs, we were in bed and those automatics looked closer than ever. A joy to become expected down Broadhall way on Saturday for Kevin Nolan’s Nott’s county visit. An outstanding performance and three points, we couldn’t afford to lose those points and we didn’t thanks to two Godden goals and jack King. Then despite the recent run I still saw the boro as underdogs for the non-derby derby versus Luton but as they do time and time again we defied the odds thanks to Wilko’s header and a Kennedy stunner. Dreams still on
Dreamland still in full swing, the fire still burning and the passion burning more than ever. HUGE games remained, Boro fans and the club knew it. Stevenage will not back down, pride, passion and ambition ruled. We deserve to be where we were and no one wanted that fire to burn out. Would Sarll let it? No chance. We deserved it and we want it. It was every club for itself in this league. One mistake and that’s it. This was Stevenage football clubs time to show what they are really made of.
Stevenage fans, how would you sum up your season? Let us know in the comments below!