Who is Stevenage FC’s greatest ever Football League loan signing?

By Will Pickworth
June 8 2020, 11.15

From Anderson Banvo, to Deimantas Petravicius, to Steve Beleck via-Watford-via-Udinese, it is fair to say Stevenage FC have signed their fair fix of loan signings in the decade since becoming a Football League club.

Ninety-three players have come in on short-term agreements in total during Boro’s 10 seasons in League Two and League One and it’s reasonable to argue the results have been mixed.

Say the name of Chris Kettings, Jamar Loza or Offrande Zanzala and many Boro fans would look perplexed.

Yet, there have been successes, and Stevenage fans would be hard pressed to have witnessed a talent as dazzling as Ilias Chair while the industrious displays of Steve Seddon and the flair of Luke Amos have seen them subsequently shine levels above.

Reece Donnelly, co-host of the Stevenage FC podcast, said: “We’ve definitely had good and bad loan signings but that’s inevitable at this level.

“Overall, with some of the names we’ve had, there have been some very good footballers at this club on loan and they’ve helped us as much as we’ve helped them.”

But who was statistically the best loan signing?

For this investigation, players who joined permanently within the same season have been excluded.

This discounts Luke Freeman, arguably one of the most exciting players to have played for Stevenage.

Similarly,  Jack King and Dave McAllister both made huge impacts before their Boro careers petered out with injury or loss of form having signed permanently.

In order to analyse the 93 loan signings, the criteria was set at 15 Stevenage appearances which left just 17 players and perhaps demonstrates why numerous Boro managers have had reservations about the loan market.

Appearances, goals, assists and clean sheet data were collected for each player and added together for total points (TP), while the average points per game (PPG), a criteria fundamental for four-time Boro manager Graham Westley, was also quantified.

Points were allocated as follows with each player classified in the position he played in most:

Goalkeepers –  Clean Sheet (CS) – 4

Defenders –  CS – 4, Assist (A) – 3, Goal (G) – 6

Midfielders – CS – 1, A – 3, G – 5

Strikers – A – 3, G – 4

The total points each individual accumulated over their Stevenage careers were then divided by their total appearances creating an average total points (ATP) which was added to their PPG.

The points per game is an important gauge of a player’s impact as it measures a player’s significance to a team and avoids the potential bias that a statistical points-scoring model presents to attacking players.

Mitigating factors must be acknowledged such as which division Stevenage were in, the strength of the opposition and the form of the team. For example, League One relegation in 2013/14.

I Chair (18-19)M16664523.251.634.88
S Seddon (18-19)D25346542.161.323.48
C Ogilvie (15-17)D421211561.331.402.73
S Dieng (18-19)GK16005201.251.382.63
A Gnanduillet (15-16)S16602241.501.132.63
J McQuoid (16-17)M16116140.881.692.57
K Watts (19-20)D20007281.400.952.35
H Cowans (16-17)M22035140.641.552.19
J Fryer (17-18)GK32006240.751.412.16
B Andrade (13-15)M35219220.631.432.06
T King (17-18)GK20005201.001.002.00
P Agyemang (11-12)S1511770.471.532.00
C Obeng (13-14)D15003120.801.131.93
L Amos (17-18)M16202120.751.061.81
M Doughty (13-14)M43229250.581.141.72
C Lakin (19-20)M252011210.840.841.68
J Mousinho (13-14)M16112100.631.001.63

Statistics of Stevenage FC loanees (courtesy of Boroguide)

Notable anomalies

Stevenage fans often bemoaned the impact of Josh McQuoid and therefore the Northern Irishman is perhaps lucky to rank as the sixth best loan signing for the club with an ATP+PPG score of 2.57.

His PPG of 1.69 was the highest, however, this will have been boosted by being part of the side which won 10 from 13 games as Stevenage narrowly missed out on the play offs in 2016-17.

Alternatively, Amos thrived on the pitch for Boro after joining from Spurs but the attacking midfielder scored just 0.75 ATP and had a points per game of 1.06, ranking him in 14th place.

Amos suffered as part of a team that won just four games in 17 but his ability was without question.

“Amos was on par with Chair in my opinion talent wise,” said Donnelly. “For me he was the reason we weren’t dragged into the relegation picture.”

But which players made up the top three?

3rd Connor Ogilvie (Defender: 2015-17) Appearances – 42 Goals – 1 Assists – 2 Clean Sheets – 11 Total Points – 56 ATP  – 1.33 PPG – 1.40 ATP+PPG – 2.73

Signed initially from Tottenham under Teddy Sheringham, Ogilvie was a shining light in an otherwise miserable 2015-16 season before returning in the second half of 2016-17 where he was part of Darren Sarll’s play-off pushing side.

His sturdiness at left-back, coupled with his energetic escapades up the pitch meant Boro fans warmed to the first suitable replacement for legendary left-back Scott Laird.

“He was nothing short of great in both spells,” said Donnelly. “He wore his heart on his sleeve and was a huge part of a resolute back line under Sarll.”

2nd Steve Seddon (Defender: 2018-19) Appearances – 25 Goals – 3 Assists – 4 Clean Sheets – 4 Total Points – 54  ATP – 2.16 PPG – 1.32 ATP+PPG – 3.48

Birmingham City loanee Seddon excelled with his dynamism and zest on the left during the first half of 2018-19.

Donnelly added: “Steve has a huge ceiling as a player and his tactical awareness was possibly his greatest asset. He was always one step ahead and is one of the finest crossers I’ve seen in a Boro shirt.”

1st Ilias Chair (Midfielder: 2018-19) Appearances – 16 Goals – 6 Assists – 6 Clean Sheets – 4 Total Points – 52 ATP – 3.25 PPG – 1.63 ATP+PPG – 4.88

The Moroccan magician who stole Stevenage hearts, arriving from QPR in January 2019 when Stevenage’s season was stagnant, Chair inspired the club to make a late dash towards the play offs and stirred his teammates to new levels with exhuberance and effervescent skill.

Chair was voted into Boro’s Team of the Decade despite just 16 appearances and his face is displayed on the outside of the Lamex Stadium

“Ilias is a genius,” exclaimed Donnelly. “He is so naturally gifted, he doesn’t run, he glides and he was absolutely sensational. Some of the goals he scored defied belief.

“A sensational young talent, who gave everything and will always be fondly remembered.”  


Chair has since impressed in QPR’s first team and is evidence of the benefits of the loan market but how would Donnelly overall evaluate Stevenage’s loan business.

He concluded: “As a club we are a platform for these players to come in. It’s such a big gap between youth and Football League football so sometimes you will make an error but I’d say it has benefitted us more than it has harmed us and there’s no doubting some of the talent we’ve had on loan has been superb.”

Featured image: Ilias Chair (bottom right) on the outside of the Lamex Stadium

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