Bishop’s Stortford FC v Boreham Wood
Saturday 15 July 2023, 15:00
R & D Advisors UK Stadium, Pre-Season Friendly
The Wood travel north of the M25 to Bishop’s Stortford for their first away fixture of pre-season after three games in the space of a week against Championship and Premier League opponents. The Blues come off a league-winning season and return to the National League North
IN FOCUS: BISHOP’S STORTFORD FC
Bishop’s Stortford FC, also known as the Blues, was formed on 28th January 1874 in the heart of the town. Just two weeks later, the club played their first match with the East of England Non Conformist Grammar School but fell to a 2-1 defeat. In their first full season, 15 games were played which ended in a record of 3-7-5 (W-D-L). The club originally played in a vivid crimson and olive green kit. After several years of playing solely friendlies, the club became a founding member of the Hertfordshire Football Association in 1885 and played their first competitive match beating Aspley 2-1 away from home. The Blues progressed into league football in the 1890’s. Their most successful seasons in the early years of formation were the “double” seasons in 1912 and 1919-20. The club joined the FA Cup for the first time in the 1924-25 season. In the 1970-71 season, the club reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time, losing 6-1 to Reading.
In 2003-04, the club finished 11th and were placed in the newly formed Conference South. That same season, the club reached the first round of the FA Cup again, this time losing 6-0 to Mansfield Town. They appeared in the FA Cup first round again, sadly losing to King’s Lynn 5-3. They were then moved into the Conference North in 2011 after Rushden & Diamonds’ expulsion from the Conference. The club made their twelfth appearance in the first round of the cup but losing 2-1 to Hastings United. At the conclusion of the season, they were transferred back to Conference South and the following season saw another FA Cup first round appearance, losing narrowly 2-1 at home to Northampton Town.
In recent years, they were relegated to the Premier Division of the Southern League at the end of the 16-17 season after finishing second-from-bottom of the renamed National League South. In 2021-22, they made another first round appearance of the FA Cup, losing 3-2 on penalties at Brackley Town after a 3-3 draw in regular time. In 2022-23, the club went onto win the Premier Division title, earning promotion to the National League North.
2022-23 SEASON REVIEW
The conclusion of the 2022-23 season saw Bishop’s Stortford as champions of the Isthmian League and return to National League football in the North division. In the 42-match season, the club recorded 27 wins, seven draws and only eight loses, and finished ahead of runner-up Hornchurch by four points. The team scored a total of 75 goals in the league with 21 of them coming from club top scorer Frankie Merrifield. Merrifield also went on to become the Supporters’ Player of the Season due to his stunning scoring form (25 goals in all competitions) in what was a major factor of their title triumph.
The Blues beat Harlow Town in the first round of the FA Trophy but a second round tie away to Leamington saw them knocked out after a 1-0 defeat back in November.
SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW
It’s been a busy summer window for the club so far after promotion to National League North, competing with some of the strongest clubs outside of the Football League. Supporters’ Player of the Season Frankie Merrifield departs the club, signing for Isthmian League Premier Division side Billericay Town. Experienced midfielder Jonathan Giles also departs moving to National League South side Slough Town.
League Two side Colchester United’s Billy Cracknell joins the Blues for a second spell after leaving in 2022 to join Colchester when he was only 18. Bishop’s Stortford have signed two centre-forwards in George Sykes from National League South side Aveley FC as well as Olajuwon Ogunwamide from Hornchurch. Another notable signing is Edet Ekpiteta, a centre-half with plenty experience across the pyramid with a spell at Newport County despite being sent on loan to Ebbsfleet United in their search of National League football.
IN THE DUGOUT: STEVE SMITH
Bishop’s Stortford’s manager, Steve Smith has been in charge since the 2019/20 season, when the club were in the Isthmian League Premier Division. It was his second stint at the club but first as manager after being the assistant manager to Rod Stringer up to 2016-17, when the club had a season to forget finishing 21 (out of 22) and being relegated from National League South. Since Smith’s appointment, he has finished 17th (22), 7th (22), 2nd (22) and 1st (22). With the club ready to take on National League North, it will be the next big test for the manager in his short managerial career.
ONE TO WATCH: OLIVER PETERS
Oliver Peters is a midfielder with an eye for goal, scoring eight goals in 46 games for the club across all competitions last season. Most notably scoring a hattrick in the Isuzu FA Trophy First Round against Harlow Town in the 4-0 victory. Making his name known across step 3 football throughout last season, he signed a new contract at the club to keep him in their campaign in National League North after playing 61 times for the Blues. He won the 2022/23 Young Player of the Year at the club for his contributions, as well as scoring their Goal of the Season from a fantastic free kick on Boxing Day 2022, against Hornchurch. He is a crucial player in their line-up, ultimately helping the club achieve their first league title in 29 years.
HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE?
Hertfordshire Senior Cup Final.
Bishop’s Stortford 1-1 Boreham Wood
Wood Win 3-1 on Penalties
It was a dream start by Wood with Lee Angol netting the opener in some style after just 103 seconds. Graeme Montgomery lost possession down the right, with the ball cleared up field as far as Luke Garrard. His ball back into danger was perfect for Angol who unleashed a superb dipping drive from twenty yards out over Joe Wright.
Bishop’s Stortford drew level after 17 minutes. Reece Prestedge delivered from the right and Montgomery failed to track the movement of Michael Richens who rose to bury an unstoppable header beyond Russell.
The game ended 1-1 which meant it was set to be decided on penalties. James Russel was the hero with three remarkable saves during the penalty shoot-out to secure the Herts Senior Cup.
Concessions and students (ID required) – £5.00
Under 16’s – £1.00
OUR CLUB. OUR TOWN. OUR COMMUNITY.