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.