Stevenage goalkeeper and local lad Chris Day is on his way to Wembley, and maybe he will get to go twice this season. Day and his team mates are currently battling to get into the play-off spots of the Blue Square Premier. Promotion to the football league for the first time would be a dream come true for Stevenage Borough. A team that was founded just 33 years ago.
UF loves an interview and we know you do too, so we posed some questions to Chris about his impending big day in England’s capital and his current thoughts on Boro’s promotion push.
BD:Chris, First of all let me congratulate you on reaching Wembley in the FA Trophy. Having lived in Stevenage I can imagine the whole town excited for the big day out. I remember boro’s memorable FA Cup tie against Newcastle a few years back. Has ‘trophy’ fever swept through the club?
CD: The whole town is looking forward to a great and hopefully succesful day out but the feeling in the camp and around the ground is that we have the main job to do in the league and the only focus at the moment is to reach the play offs and ultimately the league – one step at a time starting Saturday.
BD: When you played at Ebbsfleet recently, was there any sense that they are a “non-traditional” club because of the ownership situation there, the fans owning the team or was there no obvious difference that you could see?
CD: Although Ebbsfleet are unique in the way they are run, you certainly do not get a different feel as to any other – they are just a bunch of professionals getting on with winning as many games as they can.
BD: Do you think the fans owning the club is a good thing? Could it work at Stevenage?
CD: I think we are very lucky to have the chairman and the board we have in place at Stevenage and although I dont think fans owning a club is the way forward at the end of the day, the club always belongs to the fans and the town as they are the guys who pay their way and put bums on seats to keep their club moving forward.
BD: You’ve had a lengthy career at many clubs and battled back after a horrible leg break, Is reaching Wembley the pinnacle for you?
CD: I have had one or two highs and lows but playing at Wembley for my “home” town team will certainly be up there – maybe not the pinnacle in terms of league status but a day I am sure I will look back on with a sense of pride (fingers crossed).
BD: What was it like playing at Anfield with Watford?
CD: Playing and winning at Anfield with Watford is probably my best result in football and to be given a standing ovation as a team by the kop for our efforts is what you dream about when you are growing up.
BD: Stevenage currently sit 4 points from a play-off spot and have a legitimate shot at gaining promotion to the Football League for the first time. Is there a genuine excitement amongst the players? A belief that you can make the play-off final and return to Wembley?
CD: We are on a great run at the moment and the confidence , belief and work ethic amongst all the players is at a level where we all have high hopes of finishing as high up the table as we can and then to go on to conquer the play offs.
BD: Borough are currently unbeaten (before last Saturday’s defeat to Kidderminster) in all competitions over the last 23 games. A remarkable run. Does it surprise you that you are not higher in the league with a run like that? And that the other teams around you are also in good form?
CD: Our run which now stands at 24 unbeaten (I was close-BD) and which is a club record is all down to hard work and application from the manager down to our supporters – it does show the strength of the league that we are not higher , teams around us have also stepped up to the plate in terms of results and but for an indiffernt start when we didn’t gel as a side, we may be just that little bit higher, but fair play to Burton for setting a cracking pace at the top.
BD: Many players have strange pre-game routines and believe in superstitions and lucky charms. Do you have any rituals or habits on a match day before taking to the pitch?
CD: I wouldnt say we have too many rituals or superstitions amongst the camp but there are a few heads which have grown hair and stubble whilst on the run , a cd which we always play and I am wearing a pair of socks which have holes in the toes which I will not be changing hopefully for a while yet!
BD: I used to drink in the Emperors head in Chells Manor when I lived in Stevenage, it was my nearest pub (now run-down to an absoute dive). What’s your favorite boozer in Stevenage and why?
CD: I will have to be very biased when it comes to my favourite pub in Stevenage, whether it be to watch a game or have a drink or some food – it is called The Crooked Billet and is owned by myself and my wife Andrea !!!
BD: I know it well, Bigus has spent many an evening in the Billet, but not for many, many years! When you are not between the sticks, what do you like to do with your spare time?
CD: I help run the pub – Mainly the food side with ordering and stock etc . I am also a big Spurs fan and enjoy following all kinds of sport and like a game of golf and a nice meal out.
BD: When I used to go to Broadhall Way, (Now the Lamex Stadium) there used to be a lad who stood by the half way line and screamed “IVE SEEN THESE MISSED ________”( insert team name or players name ), incessantly, much to the joy of the people around him. He could be heard by the fans sitting on the other side of the pitch. Is he still there? Screaming at the opposition?
CD: I wouldnt know if he is still there as I generally get great support from our fans one half and a bit of stick from the opposition the other half!
BD: You mentioned Spurs. Were they your team as a lad?
CD: As a child I supported Spurs and still do, although with our games I struggle to get down to the lane.
BD: What kind of manager is Graham Westley and does everyone get along with him?
CD: Graham Westley is a very passionate hands on manager who gets on with all of the squad . He is very motivational when he speaks and has a drive to take this club upwards and onwards .We are very lucky to have good facilities and stay at the best hotels when we travel and alot of this and the planning is down to the gaffer and this creates a real environment where we can work towards our results and goals.
BD: Who is the best manager you have played for and why?
CD: I have been lucky to work under some very famous managers and coaches but Ian Holloway with Kenny Jackett as his assistant at QPR are probably among the best as we achieved promotion and “Ollie ” was never short of a one liner or two whilst still getting the job done . At Watford Graham Taylor managed us to two promotions on the bounce to the Premier League which was also an unbelievable achievement.
BD: Who is the biggest dressing room joker at Stevenage and what’s the best joke they have played and at whose expense?
CD: We have one or two jokers in the pack but it always makes me laugh when somebody posts pictures of lookalikes of the players on the dressing room walls -even if it is at your expense!
BD: Do any of the current players have a big head? If so, who’s the big time Charlie?
CD: We are a very level headed bunch of lads at Stevenage and I am sure if anyone ever got carried away, the dressing room would bring them back to earth
BD: If you could go back in time, would you have done anything differently? Apart from avoiding the tackle that broke your leg.
CD: I think you can always look back and want to change things but to me the most important thing is now and what you can learn to change looking forwards – you never know what is round the corner so make sure you do what needs to be done in the present.
BD: Thanks ever so much Chris. All the best for the rest of the season and good luck at Wembley!
Stevenage Borough play in the FA Carlsberg Trophy against York on the 9th of May.