Saturday, April 30, 2005

Stevenage set out to make the Play-offs

The Stevenage chairman, Phil Wallace, has told the Comet all about the season at Broadhall Way.

WE SET out to make the play-offs in August. That was our goal. We knew as a club, with nine new players in the starting lineup, that we needed some time to get the mix right and that the championship was probably beyond our reach.

During the seven or eight months since the start of that season, several players have gone and three or four new ones have arrived. Those new signings by manager Graham Westley have been significant in him getting the mix right.

Darryn Stamp was the subject of a £45,000 move to Chester, winning the Conference title with them in his first year and so when he became available after a change in manager, we moved quickly to secure his signature to provide us with an aerial presence that had been missing in our game.

Simon Weatherstone, another Conference winner with Boston, suddenly became available when the cash dried up at Hornchurch, so Graham brought him to Boro.

Alan Julian was an under-21 Northern Ireland international frustrated at not featuring regularly for Brentford. He felt he needed first team football to further his career and, again, Graham was quick to act to bring him to Stevenage Boro.

Ron Henry had a great football education at Spurs and comes from a well-known footballing family. Although still young, he is growing from regular first team football and proving himself in a number of different positions.

These new players have settled in well with the dozen or so established players and we now have the bonus of continuity to take into next season.

Everyone in Stevenage wants to see their club in the Football League and we're just three games away from that dream.

The run-in to the play-off semifinals next week couldn't have been better planned. The very last minutes of the very last game at Broadhall Way saw us do our bit to deliver maximum points.

Then we had to wait, and wait, and wait for the Morecambe result at Tamworth. We all knew it was 0-0 going into the final minutes of normal time, but then we heard that the ref had posted eight minutes of injury time!

Our game was over, every other game was over - but we had to wait. Our 3,500 crowd never moved an inch - every person praying for Tamworth to hold them.

Five minutes, six, then seven - surely it couldn't go much longer - then it happened.

A sudden murmur, then a ripple, then a roar as we all saw the fulltime result. A draw! The result we all wanted and the result which put us through to the playoffs instead of Morecambe.

Rarely do you get that surge of joy and it's a moment of pure, undiluted pleasure.

However, that's now history. The job now is to get the support of the town for our game on Bank Holiday Monday at 5pm.

We need to fill the stadium and cheer on Stevenage Borough in this game. We only get one home match, so let's all make sure we can look back and say "I was there for the play-offs".

Only in football is a script written and the players then act it out over nine months!

Will we be victorious? Come along and see for yourself on Monday afternoon! Turnstiles open at 3.30pm.