Football: Non-League Notebook: Hill the hero for Stevenage

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STEVENAGE BOROUGH have achieved a feat that has been beyond any club in the Premiership or the Football League - they can boast a 100 per-cent start to the season.

The Hertfordshire side have an impressive seven-point lead over the pre- season favourites, Rushden & Diamonds, at the top of the Nationwide Conference. In winning all six games so far they have scored 14 goals and conceded just one.

This achievement is particularly praiseworthy because Stevenage endured a summer of some turmoil. Rumours were rife that the club might merge with Barnet or even fold because of alleged financial difficulties caused by a dispute with Stevenage Borough Council over rental payments for their Broadhall Way stadium.

In June, though, the outspoken Victor Green was replaced as chairman by Phil Wallace, a millionaire Essex businessman who was previously in the chair at the Ryman League club Boreham Wood. He has helped restore stability to Broadhall Way - but even he did not expect the sort of start on the pitch his new team have enjoyed.

"It's `Boy's Own' stuff," Wallace said this week. "This is something else. It's just what the doctor ordered." Much of the credit must go to Richard Hill, the former Northampton Town midfielder who is starting his first full season as a manager.

Hill, who was assistant manager under John Gregory at Wycombe Wanderers, replaced the successful Paul Fairclough at Stevenage last season. "It's early days," he said. "We need to keep our feet on the ground. But it's nice to put a team out on the pitch that people want to come and watch."

A crowd of 4,017 turned out to see Borough beat Kettering Town 3-0 at Broadhall Way on Monday and a similar attendance is expected tomorrow, when Hill's men entertain Kidderminster Harriers hoping to do what Rushden did last term and win their first seven games of the season.