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28 October 2014

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Ground of the week

You are in: London > Radio > The Non League Football Show > Ground of the week > Ground of the Week: Broadhall Way

Broadhall Way

Broadhall Way

Ground of the Week: Broadhall Way

The Ground of the Week is Broadhall Way, home to Stevenage Borough. Want to nominate your ground? Why not drop us an email explaining why! Email nonleague@bbc.co.uk

Fact File

Address: Broadhall Way, Stevenage, Hertordshire, SG2 8RH

Capacity: 7,100

Transport:

By road: Approach Stevenage on the A1(M). Take the Stevenage South (A602) exit off the A1(M), and the ground is on the right at the second roundabout. A large car park is opposite the stadium.

By rail: The ground is approximately one mile from Stevenage station. If you don¹t fancy the 15 minute walk take the footbridge into the town centre past the Gordon Craig Theatre. The number four bus will take you to the ground and takes five minutes.

There is also a Taxi rank at the Station and a taxi should cost no more than five pounds.

By Stuart Croll

When Peter Taylor was appointed the new manager of Stevenage Borough, he revealed he was tempted by the professional and ambitious set-up and excellent facilities at Broadhall Way. And the ex-England boss is right.

He is also echoing the dozens of nominations on our website championing the Hertfordshire side's venue as one of the best in Non League football.

The League Snub

In fact, visiting Broadhall Way today it is hard to believe that 11 years ago Stevenage Borough were denied promotion to the Football League because of insufficient ground capacity and facilities. But then their stadium mirrors the turbulent history of the side itself.

The Stevenage Borough that we know today was formed in 1976 by a group of enthusiasts following the bankruptcy of the former town club, Stevenage Athletic. The new team couldn't play at Broadhall Way as the council had sold the land to a local businessman who dug up the pitch with JCB's in a determined effort to ensure it never saw football again.

So they started out playing in the Chiltern Youth league on a roped-off pitch at the town's King George V playing fields and moved up to intermediate status joining the Wallspan Southern Combination.

Becoming Borough

After a couple of years Broadhall Way had become such an eyesore, the council repurchased it and by the end of the '70s the club moved back there - adding the name Borough. With the council as their landlords and a refurbished stadium, Stevenage Borough took on senior status and joined the United Counties League.

Since then, the progression of the team through the Non League pyramid has been matched by the development of the stadium over those 30 years. With help from the local authority, there has been a continuous re-build of the stadium, culminating in the splendid 7,100 capacity ground that is recognized today as one of the best outside the Football League.

The Stands

On one side is the all seated and covered, Main Stand. At the back of the stand there are a number of glass-fronted areas to various club offices and executive boxes.
Opposite is the East Terrace, which is covered and quite steep. This is where the home fans congregate and the atmosphere created can be impressive.

Despite being relatively new the terrace does have a gable with a clock sitting on its roof above the halfway line, which gives it a touch of character. Away fans are located behind one of the goals in the Buildbase Stand, which is a new single tiered, all seated covered stand. This is a stand of modern design and offers excellent facilities and a fine view of the pitch.

The only downside for away fans is that they can't see the electronic scoreboard on the roof. They have to sit bemused when the rest of the ground are cheering a goal from another game.

Behind the other goal at the North End of the ground, is a covered terrace, just seven steps deep, which although doesn't match the ambition of the rest of the ground does provide an excellent viewing platform for the disabled fan.

Warming Up

The Broadhall Bar, popular with both home and away fans, is open every home game offering a big screen television, a good choice of drinks as well as a wide range of bar meals.

It is advisable to wrap up warm when visiting Broadhall Way in the winter as being located on the hilltop of old farmland it can be quite chilly.

While knocking down and redeveloping inner-city stadia and moving the club to a new ground on the outskirts of town has become all the rage in the past decade, Stevenage did this in 1960s. The original London Road ground stood in the town centre, next to the railway station and the site is now covered by the Leisure Centre.

Best ground in Non League?

When the club move to Broadhall Way in 1961 it had wire and posts surrounding the pitch. Now it is one of the best grounds in Non League and would certainly not look out of place in the Football League.

A ground with executive boxes and an electronic scoreboard oozes ambition. And there can not be a repeat of 1996. That was when Stevenage Borough won the Conference but was denied promotion to the Football League because their stadium did not meet the required total capacity of 6,000 (including 1,000 seats) for league grounds.

So Broadhall Way has now overtaken the team and is waiting for Peter Taylor's side to repeat the glories of 1996 and gain promotion.

last updated: 13/02/2008 at 15:00
created: 12/11/2007

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