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Stevenage Managers Paul Fairclough

Fairclough
Date Of Birth:

31/01/1950

Place Of Birth:

Liverpool


Previous Club(s):

Arsenal
Stevenage Borough
Hertford Town

Later Club(s):

Barnet
England C


Playing Career:

Stevenage Borough, Hertford Town, Harlow Town, St Albans City, Wealdstone, Liverpool

Boro' Honours:
  • GM Vauxhall Conference (1995/6)
  • Isthmian League Premier Division (1993/4)
  • Isthmian League Division 1 (1991/2)
  • Isthmian League Division 2 North (1990/1)
Complete Record:
P W D L F A Pts* WR%
594319119156112670179154
Best League:

1st, GM Vauxhall Conference (1995/6)

Best FA Cup:

R4 (1997/8)

Best League Cup:

n/a

Best FA Trophy:

QF (1995/6)


Right, where do we begin with Paul Fairclough? The school teacher who transformed Stevenage Borough from a bottom-rung Isthmian League team into the finest non-league side in the country - an epic tale that spanned eight years at Broadhall Way, before an additional spell completed the decade.

We begin in 1990 and Cloughie's arrival from Hertford Town. Under his leadership, Boro' went up from the relative obscurity of Isthmian League Division Two North thanks to promotion after promotion. It's a yardstick by which we must deem the 1992-3 campaign a failure, when there was no promotion.

Within two seasons of arriving at non-league football's top table, Boro' were undisputed kings. Not only had Boro' given Woking the right hump, but Cloughie's side were firmly banging on what was still very much a glass ceiling at the time. And so the remarkable rise of Stevenage Borough had stopped.

Cloughie did receive offers during his time at Boro' go to and manage league clubs, but it wasn't a go-er. Instead, he remained at Boro' to continue the job he had started. And but for the archaic ground regulations imposed by the Football League, he would have succeeded.

Not that the journey had been plain sailing, however. The rise through the Diadora leagues would be quick enough, with no others coming close during those first two campaigns particularly. But life in the Conference proved a trickier prospect and the 1994-5 season started slowly.

After beating Stafford Rangers on the opening day, Boro' failed to win a league match in eight attempts. Cambridge City dumped us out of the FA Cup and Chertsey bagged five against us in the Diadora Charity Shield. It wasn't a great start by any stretch.

But some shrewd acquisitions (as ever) turned the tide and Boro' soon made themselves feel very much at home in the Conference. And by the time Cloughie was inexplicably sacked by Victor Green in 1998, we'd also bloodied the noses of Premier League giants Newcastle United in the FA Cup.

Sadly, however, Boro' went out 1-1 in the replay.

Cloughie's return to the club came in 2000 after both Richard Hill and Steve Wignall had fallen by the wayside. By now, Phil Wallace was in charge at Broadhall Way and hopes were high the club - after a period of malaise in the late 1990s - would be restored to its rightful place at the top of the table.

It didn't quite happen, though. Cloughie's second stint at the club would deliver little in the way of success - although who knows what the outcome would have been if Cloughie had been given time to pursue the 2001-2 FA Trophy run; one that Wayne Turner took over to deliver a runners-up medal.

Life after Boro' hasn't been too shabby for Fairclough, either. He moved to Barnet and - somewhat gallingly - finally got the Football League experience he deserved after leading the Bees to the title. He has also been an excellent manager to the England semi-professional - or 'C' team - over the years.

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