Phil Yelland looks into the archives to reflect on Stevenage's previous visits to Barrow ahead of Saturday's League Two encounter at The Dunes Hotel Stadium.
Saturday sees the fifth meeting with Stevenage (or Stevenage Borough as they were previously) at The Dunes Hotel Stadium. And so far, it’s Stevenage who have enjoyed the better of the encounters.
The first meeting came on the opening day of the 1988/89 Nationwide Conference season.
Owen Brown’s team had won the Northern Premier League Premier Division the previous season and hopes were high of a successful return to the top flight of non-league football. Stevenage had finished 15th in the Conference the previous season but had reached the FA Cup Fourth Round.
A crowd of 2,069 watched as a single goal from Carl Alford gave the visitors the points. Barrow had a number of new faces in the line-up that day, but the biggest talking point was the continuing absence of title-winning keeper Steve Farrelly, who was never to play for the Club again.
Their next visit came over just over ten years later on 30th August 2008. We had made a good start to life back at the top level of the non-league game having won promotion through the Blue Square North play-offs under Dave Bayliss and Darren Sheridan. We went into the game with only one defeat (at Cambridge United) in our first five games. In contrast, Boro were still looking for their first win of the season.
A crowd of 1,764 watched as we got the perfect start when Steve McNulty converted an 11th minute penalty but, on the half hour, a Steve Morison-inspired visiting side levelled through Callum Willock. Then on the stroke of half time, Scott Laird put the visitors in front. They made sure of the points with 15 minutes left after a blunder by Tim Deasy allowed Laurie Wilson to net a third goal.
The following season Boro visited us on the second Saturday of the season and took a point in a drab 0-0 draw. Barrow had won on the opening day at Cambridge United and then lost at home to Altrincham - and the attendance for the Stevenage fixture of 1,254, whilst disappointing, was understandable.
Last season, Stevenage were our first visitors on our return to the Football League after an absence of 48 years. It looked as if we were going to celebrate that return with a win when Dior Angus gave us a first half lead from the penalty spot but, with five minutes remaining, a Sam Hird foul allowed former Bluebird Inih Effiong (now with Woking) to crash home a spot-kick equaliser.
So, Saturday would be a great time to record our first win over the Hertfordshire side.