The View from the Other Side - Stevenage - 13/08/22

Stevenage fan Reece Donnelly has kindly given up his time to answer a few questions for us ahead of this weekend’s fixture.

Here’s what he had to say…

Q. Have you been to The Poundland Bescot Stadium before, and will you be attending this weekend?

A. Yeah, massively looking forward to it! We haven’t had too many happy visits to your place, but I have always enjoyed the away until the football! Me and a few other fans are staying in Birmingham and are really looking forward to what will be a massive game

Q. What is your view on Walsall FC as an away day? (If you have been before)

A. Yeah, I always enjoy Walsall. Quite a big arena to play in, not too far away, not outrageously priced, easy to get too. Just wish we could get a result there!

Q. Onto your team now, Stevenage survived in League Two during the Covid-era, once via a reprieve when Macclesfield were expelled - how was this period for you as a fan, and for the club?

A. IT was very intense. We didn’t even know how the world was going to turn out never mind the team! Every week there seemed to be some hope and then some news that would kill that hope. Just relentless. Starting preseason, the same day we found out what league we’d be in is just something that won’t be seen again.

Chaos inside the club too as they honestly had as much idea as anyone else in the club which meant we had a national league side prepared for a league two season. It was just something that’ll never be repeated. Chaos.

Q. In March 2022 you appointed the much-maligned Steve Evans as manager. Was this a popular choice with the fans, and what are your thoughts on this appointment?

A. For the first time it feels like we have a properly successful EFL manager, we usually go with risks or up and coming or someone that raises questions but there is never any disputing what Steve Evans brings to the party. He always causes controversy post appointment due to what everyone knows of him but since he has come in, he has been a breath of fresh air and as you would have noticed going from Taylor to Flynn, there is just something experienced managers bring to the party which you just can’t compensate for. Its not ugly either which is a common misconception of Evans.

Q. How have things changed since Steve Evans came in to the club?

A. The standards and experience of being the underdogs mean Evans and Stevenage are a match made in heaven. There is a nastier streak to what the team do. We can play well and win. We can play badly and win. No matter the game we are able to adjust and it’s not something we are used to seeing. There are similarities between him and our iconic bosses but there are differences between the two and that is shown in the CV.

Q. You’ve had a good start to the season, similar to us in many ways with 2 wins from 2 in the league, and progression to the 2nd round of the Carabao Cup - what can Stevenage FC do this season?

A. Anything. As I said if there anything we know about a Steve Evans side its that they win. Three wins in the last minute against the two promotion winners and against championship opposition. Two of which was undoubtedly deserved.

League Two isn’t about your names its about what you do as a side, and I have real trust in this side. You never know. That isn’t me saying I expect promotion or anything like that. But I think Stevenage might cause a rumble this year wherever that might be position wise.

Q. Looking specifically ahead to this game, who are the Stevenage players that Walsall should be wary of?

A. Dan Sweeney was purchased from Champions Forest Green Rovers, and he’s been fantastic, his composure on the ball and natural defending is way above the level and he will be a huge part of this team.

Jake Reeves is known throughout the EFL and is a really clever operator and Luke Norris is a tank of a centre forward, nightmare in terms of the physicality but also a superb finisher

Q. Which Walsall player(s) do you fear the most, if any?

A. Danny Johnson is just a relentless finisher at the level, feed him chances he will score. I am actually somewhat relieved that is a six-month loan as I feel he was a missing piece at Walsall. His movement is very good at the level which is superb with the chances I think Flynn teams create.

Isaac Hutchinson is a player I’ve respected, never quite had the rub of the green so a consistent run of games could see his goal contribution numbers explode I feel.

Q. How do you see this game going?

A. We both have a lot of momentum and I think it’ll be somewhat feisty both aggressively trying to protect that and both teams going at it. Pedal to the metal.

Q. Score Prediction?

A. I think both teams would probably take a point and that’s how I think it’ll be. 1-1

Q. Anything else you might want to add mate that isn’t covered?

A. Just best of luck. Not too much and let’s hope for an entertaining game

Thank you to Reece for taking the time to answer these questions, and if anyone would like to follow him and interact with him, you can find him on Twitter under the handle @ReeceDSport.

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Excellent feature Rob, it’s nice to hear from a genuine League 2 fan. Keep it up mate…:+1:

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Great work Rob :+1: Fully expect it to be a clogfest from Stevenage despite Reece’s testimony of Evan’s ugliness being a misconception. Don’t anticipate it being worse than when we played them in 2019 though. That Stevenage team were the worst side I’ve seen at the Bescot in many a year and we still couldn’t bloody beat them, or even score!

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The 0-0 draw in November of 2019 is one of worst games I have ever seen, with both teams contributing generously to the awfulness.

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Must admit not a club or set of fans I have a huge amount of respect for, but Reece seems a genuine fan and that’s fair enough for me, really like this addition to the match thread @RobHarv3y My dislike of Stevenage fans is coloured by a trip to Stevenage for a nothing match on a Tuesday night few years ago when me and @Blazing_Saddler were on the lash. After a mind numbingly rubbish match that ended nil all me and Blazing stumbled back to station and popped in adjacent boozer for a pint while waiting for train back to London. 2 Stevenage fans came in, one was a mute but his mate was gobbing off about “we should be beating teams like Walsall”. Que Blazing going into a classic (non-aggressive) rant about “Teams like Walsall??? FFS…we have well over 100 years of history, OK we’ve never actually achieved much, but it’s still history” :grin: The Stevenage fan replied that Stevenage had history and he followed them after previously “supporting” Spurs, then Arsenal… At this point me and Blazing just chatted to the mute (amazing what a few pints can do to improve sign language and communication) who was obviously the brains of the outfit.

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Graham Westly and Steve Evans, they like an insufferable manager in Stevenage it seems. Expecting a battle today.