‘We used to beat teams before we got on the pitch’

Joel Byrom. Photo: Northampton News

Joel Byrom. Photo: Northampton News - Credit: Archant

Joel Byrom remembers the dominate Stevenage team he was a part of ahead of his return to the Lamex with the Cobblers

AFC Wimbledon away in April 2010 does not have any significant meaning for Boro fans.

It wasn’t a game that saw the club lift a trophy or achieve one of those wonderful giant-killing results Stevenage have been renowned for down the years.

But to Joel Byrom, the former Boro midfielder who won two promotions with the club before leaving in the summer of 2012, it was a game that sticks in the memory.

“You don’t really realise it until it’s gone. Once [the team] got split up, you start to realise how special it was,” says Byrom, who returns to Boro this weekend with his new club Northampton Town.

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“It probably wasn’t the greatest side in the world, technically, but we had a belief and everybody worked for each other.

“Going in to some games in League 2 and the Conference, we were winning games in the tunnel. Before we had even got out on the pitch.

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“Playing Wimbledon at Easter that time, we knew we were going to win. We had that belief. We were sitting in the dressing room before and just knew.”

And he was right, as Boro won the game 3-0.

“Graham [Westley] gets it going, he gets teams on winning runs,” Byrom added. “He looks like he’s done that [this season] and they have the momentum but hopefully we can get the result.”

The Cobblers are currently 11th in the League 2 table, five points adrift of the play-off places.

They drew 2-2 with AFC Wimbledon on Friday before losing 1-0 at home to Cambridge United on Monday.

Chris Wilder’s men are the second highest scorers in the division, and Byrom says fans should be in for a good game this weekend.

“I’ve been back once or twice, but I don’t think I’ve started a game there,” the midfielder said.

“We didn’t have the best weekend over Easter, and we had a bit of a step back. But it’s like cup football now really.

“When you come to the end of the season and have nothing to play for you’re playing pointless football; it’s good to be involved and to go for the play-offs.

“Prior to Christmas we struggled a little bit, but since the turn of the year we’ve been better. We’ve got a good team spirit going and the lads are on board and are pushing in the right direction.”

Byrom has been here before, of course. In 2010-11, Boro’s first season in the Football League, he missed almost five months of the season before starting the final league game, a 3-3 draw at home to Bury. He then played in both play-off semi-final matches and then the final.

“I had a lot of injuries that season, it was hard to get going,” Byrom said.

“Towards the end of the season [John] Mousinho and [Luke] Foster were sent off at Northampton. David Bridges got injured. I was playing by default really, as I was the last one left.

“I played through that last game and through the play-offs just on adrenaline.

“I hadn’t really played since January.”

And while Stevenage will be hoping to repeat that season’s achievement this time around, Byrom will be hoping to transfer some of his success to his new club.

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