The History of Broadhall Way Stadium

By Simon Mortimer

Broadhall Way Stadium 1961
Stevenage Museum P6787

Stevenage Town, as they were known in the early 1960s, had their playing pitch and headquarters west of the Great North Road. When this was required for the warehousing and service industry, Stevenage Development Corporation offered them a new site south of Broadhall Way and opposite the Roaring Meg.

A temporary arrangement

According to local architect Leonard Vincent this was a temporary arrangement pending the provision of a permanent football pitch and stadium in the area south of the Water Pollution Research Laboratory.

Nevertheless the Corporation undertook to prepare the Broadhall Way pitch and equip it as neccessary with pavilion and dressing rooms in the 1961-62 season. The weather during that first season was terrible and the pitch became virtually unplayable. The ground was said to have been used too soon, the drainage alleged to be inadequate.

The years that followed were full of controversy and failure. Management of the Club was continually changing, the Club being made bankrupt or nearly so on more than one occasion. Everyone who had tried to help, the contractors who provided the floodlighting, the District Council which paid for the relaying of the defective pitch, and the Corporation which not only provided the initial pitch and equipment but also built and paid for the spectators’ stand, all lost their investment and rarely received more than complaint or abuse in return.

Indeed things were made worse when wealthy sponsors threatened to pull out. As a football team, the Stripes as they were known then, earlier amateurs and later professionals, met with mixed success and were supported just as fitfully by fluctuating gates and other money-raising ventures.

The final debacle

The final debacle occurred after the Corporation threatened proceedings against the Club for forfeiture of the lease. The pitch was vandalised with a massive trench dug through the middle, and no football was played there from 1977 onwards until  Stevenage Borough Council stepped in once more to rescue the situation.

The Council took an assignment on the lease, repaired the pitch and associated buildings which had also been vandalised, and invited a recently formed club (now known as Stevenage Football Club) who had been playing their matches on King George V Playing Field the chance to try once more to give football a go on the Broadhall Way site.

 

This page was added on 31/01/2011.

Comments about this page

  • The Stevenage Youth League was a fantastic set up with so many good teams using all the pitches on Sunday afternoons. I enjoyed my time playing for Noke Boys Club before being ‘poached’ by Championship winning Longmeadow Lions. Winning trophies was good but my time with Noke BC was much more enjoyable.

    By Derek Cripps (18/09/2013)
  • Its really funny how no one has commented on Stevenage youth leagues. Any young boy worth his salts knew or played in that league, most, if not all playing fields were given over to football pitches, Teams lasted years and years, Blue-star, Pin Green, Three-way wonder’s, and many more. There is some fantastic Stevenage football history out there.

    By Phil Lean (08/07/2012)
  • And now they are 3 games away from the Championship and even if not league 1 it’s a big rise for the towns club

    By PETER HERBERT (10/05/2012)
  • I was in the youth team at the time of the pitch being trashed, there was a photograph of the then youth team jumping over the trench in the paper – I still have it!. I remember we had a match arranged on the day of the photo and had been called down to the ground. Vic Folbick was the manager and Ted (not sure of his surname) was assistant. I understand Vic received an award a few years back for services to football in Hertfordshire. I moved to the west country around the late 1970 and played for Dorchester Town and Yeovil and other, but met up with Vic when he brought a county side down to Bridport in Dorset for a match. Some one should start a Stevenage Miner League page for the football. My father Tony Lean along with Len Greyling and others started one of the best leagues around. Any boy who lived in Stevenage in the 60 and 70 would have played or known someone in one of the teams.

    By Phil Lean (14/08/2011)

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