Stevenage’s Conference winners 10 years on: Byrom on the poor start to the campaign

Joel Byrom

Joel Byrom - Credit: Archant

With the 10th anniversary of Stevenage’s Conference winning season coming up, CometSport spoke to Joel Byrom to get his memories on the campaign. In part one, the midfielder reflects on the poor start to the season.

Byrom joined the club that summer from Northwich Victoria having worked under Boro assistant Dino Maamria and played alongside Mark Roberts, who moved to Hertfordshire the previous season.

The unity in the dressing room was immediately apparent to the midfielder

“It was a very tight dressing room when I arrived,” he told CometSport.

“I think Graham Westley only maybe signed five players that summer and kept the majority of what he had from the season before when they won the FA Trophy and lost in the play-off semi-final.

“As soon as I came in I could tell it was a tight dressing room and everyone was pulling in the same direction.

“We knew we were going to try and win the league that season, but you never knew how far that team was going to go.”

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Stevenage hosted Tamworth at Broadhall Way on the opening day of the season, but things didn’t go to plan for the promotion hopefuls as they drew 1-1.

Things certainly didn’t go to plan for Byrom either as he was sent off on his debut.

The draws continued for Boro as they were held 1-1 by Hayes and Yeading in their first away game, before a 0-0 draw with Barrow at home.

A first win would come in their fourth game of the season as Stevenage beat Ebbsfleet United 3-1, with Byrom on the scoresheet alongside Chris Beardsley and Lawrie Wilson.

But, then came the first defeat, a 2-1 loss to Oxford United, meaning Boro had picked up just six points from a possible 15 in their first five games.

It wasn’t the start that Graham Westley and his side would have been hoping for, but Byrom admitted there was little panic in the dressing room.

“It was a strange start,” said Byrom.

“I think with a lot of Graham’s teams over that period they got better as they went on. In pre-season, it wasn’t really aimed at being firing on the first day of the season which we weren’t.

“He would build teams around being stamina and that helped us later in the season when others were struggling.

“There wasn’t really any concern with the start to the season.

“I think we expected to start a bit better but we weren’t worried.

“We thought it was a winnable run of games, but there was no alarm bells ringing, it was just stick to what we believe in and it’ll come good.”

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