Friday, February 17, 2012

Tottenham - The Stevenage Connection

Tottenham travel north in the FA Cup 5th Round tie to play Stevenage in their first ever competitive match.  Although the two clubs are geographically only twenty two miles apart, historically in terms of football they are poles apart but there are a number if interesting connections between them.

Stevenage, formerly Stevenage Borough, was formed in 1976, Tottenham in 1882.  Spurs, members of the Football League since 1908, Stevenage gained promotion to the Football League for the first time in August, 2010.  In their first season they achieved promotion to League One, defeating Torquay United in the play-off Final at Old Trafford.  Stevenage are currently sixth, once again in a play-off position.  Their home is the Lamex Stadium, renamed in 2009 as previously it was called Broadhall Way.

Stevenage have a reputation as a Cup team, winning the FA Trophy in 2007 when they were the first team to win a trophy at the new Wembley Stadium and in 2009.  They also created a shock by defeating Newcastle United 3 - 1 in last season's FA Cup 3rd Round at their home ground.  This year's involvement in the 5th Round game with Spurs is the farthest they have progressed in the competition, having defeated Notts County 1 - 0 at their Lamex Stadium.  They have yet to concede a goal in the competition this year with three away wins against Hartlepool United (1 - 0) in the 1st Round, Stourbridge (3 - 0) and Reading (1 - 0) in the 3rd Round.

Tottenham-Stevenage Connection
  • Previous Meetings - Pre-season Friendlies: 
Although the clubs have never played competitively, the ground is not unfamiliar to Tottenham as the reserve team used to play their games there during the 2000s and presumably as part of that arrangement the Spurs first team visited Stevenage for a pre-season friendly each July over a number of years.  It would have been at that ground that a number of Spurs youth players would have had a taste of first team football alongside experienced internationals.

2001  Won 8 - 1  Poyet (3), Ferguson (2), Kamanan, Freund 
The one and only goal Steffen Freund scored during his time with Tottenham - some people have bought the t-shirt. 
2002  Won 4 - 0  Anderton (2), Jackson, Rebrov
2003  Won 2 - 0  Acimovic, Postiga
2004  Won 2 - 1  Keane (pen), Defoe
2005  Won 3 - 0  Kanoute, Mido, Defoe
2006  Won 3 - 0  Defoe (2) (1 pen), Berbatov (pen) 
2007  Won 3 - 1  Keane, Bent, Taarabt
  • Former Players
Two players who are regulars with Stevenage are goalkeeper, Chris Day and defender Ronnie Henry.  They both came through the Tottenham youth system without breaking into the League team but have furthered their careers away from the club. 

Now aged 36, Chris Day sat on the bench for Spurs on many occasions in League games as substitute goalkeeper but never got on to the pitch.  He came off the bench in a number of friendly matches in season 1994 - 95 and was in goal for the ill-fated 1995 Intertoto match against FC Cologne when a team of youth, reserves and loanees lost 0 - 8. 

He joined Crystal Palace for £225,000 in 1996 and has made over 300 appearances at eight League clubs including Queen's Park Rangers, Watford where he appeared in the Premier League, Lincoln City, Oldham, Millwall and Preston North End.  His greatest achievement was helping Stevenage gain League status and promotion to League 1.

Ronnie Henry is the grandson of Spurs 'Double' winning full back, Ron Henry.  Like Day, he also made a number of appearances in friendly games, including an appearance at Stevenage in 2002.  That pre-season he scored a goal in a defeat against QPR.  He made it into the League matchday squad but never progressed into the team.  He was released by Tottenham in November, 2003 but was unable to find a club.  He eventually signed for Dublin City but was released due to shortage of funds.  In January, 2004 he joined non-league Stevenage Borough, was made captain and led them into the Football League and further promotion.  He was the first player to raise a competitive trophy at the new Wembley, captaining Stevenage to FA Trophy success.

Terry Dixon was a young player with tremendous potential but serious injury problems resulted in him being released by Tottenham, aged nineteen.  He spent two years at West Ham trying to resurrect his career and in October, 2010 joined Stevenage on trial.  He made a number of appearances as a substitute as he tried to regain match fitness but the following January failed to agree terma with the club.  

Stuart Lewis was a youth team midfield player who started with Spurs but signed for Barnet in January, 2007.  After three mionths there he joined Stevenage and made 30 appearnces before joining Gillingham.

Steven Pitt, a winger, made one appearance for Tottenham in season 1965 - 66 at the age of seventeen, winning 4 - 0 against Blackpool.  He later played for Stevenage having spent time with Colchester United.
  • Stevenage Managers
Stevenage have recently appointed Gary Smith as their manager to replace Graham Westley who went to Preston.  Smith is the son of Roger Smith who was a prolific goalscoring left winger reserve player with Spurs in the early to mid-1960s.   Roger's family all came from Tottenham and Gary recalls playing at his grandparents' house, next to White Hart Lane, and being able to hear the roar of the crowd from their back garden.  Despite his family all supporting Spurs, Smith supports Arsenal, another good reason to beat Stevenage.

The managers prior to Westley had Spurs connections.  In 2006, Mark Stimson, a reserve defender who made two League appearances between 1987 and 1989.  He spent four years with Newcastle United and in 2003 joined Portsmouth.  He also played for Gillingham, Southend, Leyton Orient and Barnet before taking up the manager's role at Gray's Athletic.  After a season with Stevenage, when they won the FA trophy, he joined Gillingham in November, 2007

Peter Taylor replaced Stimson but resigned at the end of the season having failed to reach the play-offs.  Taylor played 140 League and Cup games for Spurs between 1976 and 1980.  He joined from Crystal Palace in the relegation season and scored on his debut at West Brom.  He scored 33 goals before joining Orient.

Tottenham will need to take this game seriously if they are to avoid an upset.  Stevenage are confident playing on their own ground and will be fully prepared and motivated for this match, intending to ad another scalp to their giant-killing list.  Spurs have the ability and skill but will also need the desire and application.


No comments:

Post a Comment