Stevenage fan column: Swindon FA Cup memories

Stevenage Fan Column

Stevenage Fan Column - Credit: Archant

Our Stevenage fan column by Ogsy is becoming a must-read among Boro fans – here’s his latest dispatch as he recalls *that* Swindon game and a host of other FA Cup memories...

The FA Cup came thick and fast for Stevenage Borough back in the mid-1990s.

Set against the backdrop of a number of audacious promotions up the non-league pyramid, the elusive goal amongst all of this success was to reach the 1st Round Proper.

And it took until the club’s first Conference winning season of 1995/96 before they would achieve that feat, pulling Hereford United out of the velvet bag.

A long coach journey with a stash of cheese sandwiches and a smuggled bottle of scotch took us to Edgar Street, where we were unjustly undone.

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The following year we were back at it, defeating a league club (Leyton Orient) for the first time in our history; our reward being a 3rd round tie against Birmingham City of the second tier.

Perhaps unwisely we forewent home advantage, moving the fixture to St Andrews, with the main stand being packed to the rafters with boisterous Boro fans. We lost 2-0 but it was ok, we’d had our big day out. We didn’t know what was to happen just 12 months later.

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So it’s January 3rd 1998. We have just beaten Cambridge United over two matches in Round 2 and, for a club with little pedigree in the cup, we’re wrapping tin foil around cardboard cut outs of the FA Cup once again as we’re due to play Swindon Town at the County Ground. Three whole divisions separated us.

And this is where I have an admission to make. I’d made the journeys to Hereford and Birmingham.

I’d been to both Cambridge games the previous month.

But, after looking at the weather forecast, I made a decision that has haunted me ever since. I stayed at home.

It’s all there on YouTube though – Cloughie’s ankle length coat, Town manager Steve McMahon’s permanent scowl.

A blistering wind-assisted goal by ex-Liverpool winger Mark Walters to give Swindon the lead. Jason Soloman’s exquisite equaliser before half time. Then the comedy of Fraser Digby taking a goal kick into the force of an Atlantic hurricane, the ball reaching the edge of the area, and Giuliano Grazioli poking the ball into the bottom corner. Every time I look at the ensuing mayhem on Boro’s open stand behind the goal, with people soaked to the skin and wrapped up in all manner of plastic to protect themselves from the elements, I wish I’d been there.

Newcastle was our reward in the next round and we all know the story of that fixture.

We meet Swindon again in the cup this weekend, almost 20 years to the day from that original fixture.

This time we’re on equal footing.

Let’s hope it pelts it down.

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